Friday, April 22, 2011

The surprising loveliness of St. Petersburg


On day 4 of our Arctic expedition, the five of us hopped a night train from Moscow to St. Petersburg, expecting it to be miraculously warmer at the other end. I even formulated some scientifically shaky theory involving the Baltic Sea, rouge breezes and an imaginary warm front coming to envelope us all. It is notions like this, and a myriad of other reasons really, that would make me a crap meteorologist. We had travelled straight north. Of course, it was colder...much, much colder.

But it was also sublimely stunning. The streets were exactly what a winter dream should like. Thanks to frequent snowfall, and believe me, it gave new meaning to the word 'frequent', the snow stayed white and pristine, not having time to turn into the usual snirt (snow dirt) I am accustomed to finding in big cities. The architecture, mainly neoclassical giving way to Art Moderne, rivals anything found in the grandest cities of Europe. The light has this crispness that is hard to put into words and even harder to capture in pictures. From the moment we stepped off the train, I was shivering in awe.