It was within an hour of arriving in the city of St. Petersburg, Russia, when I found myself walking down the wide city street next to my hostel and across from a river. Ornate buildings with white moulding on yellow walls filled my view, and that's when my boyfriend asked if this city reminded me of another place.
I immediately responded with “Europe”, and further contemplated my exact location. While the buildings gave me more of a Victorian feel, the canals flowing through the city and the arched bridges running across the top of them screamed “Venice”.
In its former glory days before the Soviet-era, St. Petersburg was commonly known as “The Venice of the North”, owed to its water-lined streets and overall European vibe. It's a beautiful city to walk, yet boats and boat tours prove to be another method of getting from A to B – something I would recommend if at all possible to avoid the insane city traffic.
I was lucky to have arrived by fast train from Moscow at the end of the Trans-Siberian train trip mind you, during the season of White Nights, which is a period of time from mid-June to early July where the sun barely sets. Nothing lends itself to becoming a night owl better than when there is pretty much no night at all! Can you imagine the sky still bright at midnight and a sunrise that starts at around 4 am? Travelers love this part of the year, so if you do visit then, be sure to book in advance!
Like Moscow, beauty and grand architecture present themselves in almost over-the-top manners, and it makes me wonder why big cities like New York and Chicago can't be quite as spectacular. Russia was but a far cry from the gray and dull former Soviet countries I had traveled to prior, and St. Pete's actually made the list of cities I could see myself living in somewhere in the future because of it.
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