Monday, May 26, 2014

Canal Tour of St. Petersburg

We’d taken the train from Moscow to St. Petersburg, an overnight 11 hour ride. Having the upper bunks in an overheated cabin for 4 didn’t bode well for sleep. I expressed my unconscious disagreement with the condition by apparently ’snoring louder than anyone I know.”  Barrett informed me in the mooring. There was an older man and woman there so I didn’t eel wholly accountable. It’s a bit like having a dog about when one is accused of a particularly bad fart.
Elders have a multitude of value.  However, given we appear to snore louder as we get older I wonder if this wasn’t natures means in tribal days when night time noise might attract sabre tooth tigers or enemies, of not ensuring the old were silenced. A kind of natural euthanasia.
I’ve often taken a bus or boat tour when possible to get an overview of a city before exploring specific areas.  This boat tour, with an English Tour Guide, was just the idea.
Canals extend throughout St. Petersburg with upwards of 350 bridges. A million people died in St. Petersburg, then called Leningrad, in the 900 day blockade. Lonely planet says the allied losses throughout the whole of the European war were in the range of 700,000 compared with that one city’s battle.  It speaks to the loss and devastation and horror these people encountered.  But like Europe, I’ve so far seen little evidence of the war in the physical world. The psychological, emotional and intellectual scars run deeper. Buildings are easily rebuilt. A church I saw yesterday had been restored having been burnt out and suffered bomb damage.
In the tour we heard of Tsar Peter’s vision.  He moved the capital from Moscow to St. Petersburg and it stood as such for 200 years.  There’s the Winter Palace.  The Gardens.  The Neva River has the most famous buildings along its banks. So many are now part of the world famous Hermitage Museum. So many others have become Universities. There’s hundreds of universities in St. Petersburg. I loved it when I first stepped down onto the soil but now learned that the celebration of learning, the praise of the arts, the great churches all contribute to the lightness of being that is palpable here.  It’s also the canals.   The day was sunny and hot but light breezes coming off the rivers and canals were refreshing.

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