So, where were we?
The train journey was uneventful. We were, or rather I was, mighty impressed by the efficiency and the cleanliness. Unfortunately I did not get a window seat.. so decided to catch up on my sleep. But as it sometimes happens, I got talking to this wonderful couple from our group and before I knew it, four hours had elapsed and it was time to alight at Saint Petersburg. I had not slept a wink.
Once again, there we were, all fifty three of us, dragging our bags along the tarred road, creating a racket same as the first day. No one minded. Saint Petersburg was used to tourists descending in droves, I am guessing. After throwing our bags into the yawning underbelly of the coach, we boarded and went straight for dinner.
The sun had already set when we arrived. We had to wait till the next morning to see Saint Petersburg in all its glory. After all, according to our tour manager, other cities had museums, as for Saint Petersburg…. the city was itself a museum. Not that it should come as a surprise when you consider that it has the most number of listed UNESCO World Heritage sites: Thirty six historical architectural complexes and around four thousand outstanding individual monuments of architecture, history and culture. Wow.
However impressive that seemed, visions of plopping into bed and curling up beneath the blanket was the one thing that filled my mind post dinner. Alas, that had to be shelved for we had been asked to assemble in the lobby at midnight, at least those of us who had expressed interest in seeing the famed Palace Bridge over river Neva. And a couple of other drawbridges in the vicinity. Oh by the way, there are more than three hundred and forty bridges in the city limits of Saint Petersburg.
In the meantime, sleep was hammering at the front door insisting to be let in even as I climbed back into the coach along with others. But I told it off in no uncertain terms. Grrr...Back off! I am off to see the opening of the Palace Bridge and other night sights of the city, and have absolutely no time for trivialities like sleep at the moment. Sleep, suitably baffled at this unexpected onslaught, retired to rethink strategy. This was not how I behaved when it came a-knocking. Hello buddy! So glad you are here. How about a hug as I lay my head on yonder pillow, was the kind of welcome I usually accorded it. Anyways…
We had been warned to leave all valuables behind. It was midnight and most of us would be so involved watching and taking pictures that we’d be sitting duck to pickpockets. Be aware of your surroundings, the tour manager cautioned. I decided to do the wise thing and leave everything behind, except the mobile phone to take pictures.
Our first stop was the Palace Square, the central city square of Saint Petersburg and also of the former Russian Empire. It looked beautiful with the Winter Palace and other building all lit up. You must forgive me if I rather gloss over things here. You see, in spite of my hostility, sleep had doggedly pursued me into the bus and stuck to me like leach all through the night tour and because of that some of the information being shared by our new tour guide A (Pardon me, I have forgotten her name) went right over my head.
No worries. There’s always Google to fill in the gaps and I intend doing just that. For now let the pictures, and the videos too, do the talking.
Here is one of the Palace Bridge opening at exactly 1 a.m. There was supposed to be music to go along with it, unfortunately there was none on that particular day, instead you can hear some tourist chatter.
This one below is a quick look at the surroundings as we walked to take a look at another bridge some distance off. Don’t miss the almost perpendicular Palace Bridge at the beginning of the video.
© Shail Mohan 2020