Today it is eleven degrees. Eleven degrees! I honestly don’t know what to do with myself because it is just so hot. I have experienced temperatures in the double digits only about four times in 2019. Not only has the temperature soared in the last few days, but the sun has also decided to make an appearance. This has had an overwhelmingly positive effect on my mood which has been lifted exponentially. It has also had a positive effect on the city itself. The final plates of ice are making their way down the river and floating into the sea and the streets are finally entirely clear of snow and ice. Despite being under a layer of ice for five or so months of the year St Petersburg lends itself to the warmer weather. Behind every door seems to be a courtyard or “dvor” which is filled with cafes and shops all climbing over each other to secure a set of tables and chairs in the sunshine.
Alongside these wonderful cafes, restaurants and shops spilling into the streets, the melting of the rivers and canals have also heralded the return of boats. Canal boats chug down Fontanka holding shivering tourists who have underestimated the wind chill that the Gulf of Finland lends St Petersburg. The ground, covered for so long by heavy snow, breathes under the light of the sun and the first hints of green make themselves known among the darkened and bare trees. The parks, hardened by harsh winters of the past, prepare themselves for their yearly renewal and the whole city seems to stretch itself in the spring sunshine, waking up from its yearly slumber.
This revival of sorts has also come with the rather startling realisation that I have less than two months left in this beautiful city, very concerning. This has led to the manic creation of a series of lists detailing every, single place that I have to see in my remaining time here. The trouble with St Petersburg as I am sure I have mentioned innumerable times is that there is just too much to see. One of my favourite statistics about the absolutely colossal amount there is to do is that if you spent one minute at each exhibit in the Hermitage alone, it would take about seven years. And the Hermitage is just the tip of the iceberg, between galleries, museums, memorial halls, submarines, ships and fortified Islands, St Petersburg is a city of endless possibilities when it comes to sight-seeing. I constantly receive questions about where in the city I would recommend for a tourist coming for the weekend, and I feel completely at sea. In a weekend I can’t imagine doing even a tenth of what I would recommend doing in St Petersburg. Having said that I do realise that I am rather biased and that not everyone has the luxury of living here for a year to visit all the sights the city has to offer.
Having written three paragraphs of gushing praise about St Petersburg, I have now come to realise that I have not really written about anything specific in this post. However, I do not think that is necessarily a bad thing. This is not meant to be a story with a beginning, middle and end, but rather a long and for the average reader rather tedious reminder for me in the future of how lucky I was to call this city home for a year.