My Petersburg Attraction
posted by Nina Jankowicz
posted on 06.28.2012
It’s difficult to explain why I love Saint Petersburg despite its adversarial, antagonistic nature. This trip marks my second time in Russia, and I have plenty of incidents I can point to that would undoubtedly color many’s perception of the city.Return to List
During my first time here, two years ago, I slipped and fell on icy sidewalks three times within 24 hours; no one stopped to help me up. It snowed nearly every day until well into April, and only during our last few days in the country did it truly start to feel like spring. This time around, the weather is not much kinder. While family and friends on the east coast are experiencing record high temperatures, I am still wearing a jacket outside most days, and the perpetually unpredictable rain has already attempted to spoil many weekend activities such as relaxing in the Pavlovsk park and attending the annual Scarlet Sails festival.
And yet, when Mother Nature is not actively ruining my well-laid plans (and, yes, even sometimes when she has her way), there is something truly magical about this city that makes me so glad to wake up here every day.
It’s not only the wonder of coming home after a night out while the sun is still up, nor is it living down the street from the park where Pushkin was fatally wounded, walking in the Summer Garden, or admiring the many architectural gems on the prospekts and pereuloks the city over.
What keeps me fascinated is the complexity and culture of the Russian people. Though they may not smile at strangers on the street as readily as Americans and customer service is still a relative rarity, on any given weeknight you can find troves of Russians at the theater, ballet, or Philharmonic, throwing their whole being into whatever is happening onstage for two hours. As a guest in a Russian home, if you are able to get past the many famous locks on the door, usually requiring no less than three sets of keys, you will be fed until you demand to be left alone, and you will truly feel a part of the family as you sit and drink tea for several hours on end. You will be engaged in conversation about literature, art, the definition of happiness, and the meaning of life, of course, so you won’t notice as the hours tick by.
All of these qualities seem to be amplified in the Petersburg natives I have met and one might even say that the city itself exudes the same nature. While the northern capital and its citizens may seem cold or uninviting from the outside, once you make an effort to get acquainted, and get past the (literal and figurative) locks that guard the true nature of the city, Saint Petersburg is a city that will keep me curious for years to come.