Friday, September 23, 2011

A Morning Stroll Through Peter

Hi, everybody! I decided that it was time for my slightly traditional "walk to school" post. We had a nice sunny morning today, and since all the leaves are starting to turn, it's quite pretty. 

Here's the staircase of my apartment bulding. We only live on the third floor, so I have a nice quick climb. Another bonus is the complete lack of cat pee.

(Click the photos to embiggen.)

This is our courtyard. It's fairly nice, kind of clean, and contains some fairly safe play equipment, though you're more likely to see people having a nightcap than any children.

I like this street. The red building is cheerful, and there's a kindergarten off to the right. There are always kids in humorous amounts of warm clothing being towed to or from school.

This Zombie Camel statue, on the other hand, scares the bejeezus out of me every morning.

I love how the paths here lead across nonsensical grassy patches in nonsensical directions.

Zanevsky Prospect, below, is the main street around here. Very busy, even early in the morning, with lots of cars, trucks, busses, trams, marshrutki, and pedestrians.

And here's the entrance to the Metro. And its accompanying VW ad. I'm never sure what demographic people are trying to sell to on the metro; the ads on one wall could be for $2 discount sausage, and on the other wall for $500 Swiss watches. I guess this just shows that Peter is a true melting pot?

They say that you're allowed to take photos in the Metro now, but until recently it was a pretty punishable crime. I don't quite trust that you won't get kicked out/deported for hefting a camera, so for the moment the metro itself is going to have to stay a black box for y'all.

Here's Vasileostrovsky Station, where I and the rest of humanity get off in the morning. It can get a little... friendly on the train in the morning.

And what better to greet you on your exit but a McDonalds? A large, beautiful McDonalds, yes... but still.

This is 6/7 Street, which is now a pedestrian street. (HOORAY! Less almost-dying on my morning commute!) It's a pretty swanky business/tourist area now, with lots of spendy cafes and clothing stores.

The name may seem a little odd to you. Couldn't they afford a whole street? Were they inspired by Harry Potter? No. In the original plan for St. Pete, the streets were going to be canals. The idea was that there would be one flowing in each direction, so they built streets in pairs to lay the groundwork for the later network of canals. When it became very apparent that the canals wouldn't flow, and instead were turning into hideous stagnant cholera-filled mosquito farms, they just let the streets be and planted a park in the middle. These paired streets are everywhere; it's one of the things I love about this city.

Starbucks has dug its claws in here, too, if only in principle. There are a lot of wannabe-starbucks chains here, from Coffeeshop Company (pictured) to Кофе Хаус (Coffee House written in cyrillic.) They specialize in really terrible coffee and incredibly sweet things.

I love that there're a couple of beautiful churches right there among all of the Ecco shoe stores and garish coffee shops. Young rockers carrying boomboxes skulk past old women bowing and crossing in front of the churches. The stinky old acoholics arguing over chessboards just ignore everyone else.

The leaves are turning already. I can't decide whether I want it to stay fall forever... or hurry up and be winter already so the city will turn on the heat!


I couldn't figure out how to convey to you the madness that is a street crossing in Russia. Or rather, I couldn't figure out how to convey it without dying. I settled for putting my camera in continuous mode and holding down the shutter while I ran across the street.

In case you're unsure, that car is about to turn into the full crosswalk. Doubt it and die horribly. Even the army has to make soldiers run ahead with flags to stop traffic when they march conscripts through the city.

These plantings always look sort of ugly up close, though they are a feat in constant replanting. The key to viewing them is to be a few stories up in one of the nearby buildings; then they turn into patterns and words and shapes.

Then comes the last leg of my walk to school,which goes down an extremely interesting street. It contains: a swanky hotel, a tire company, a public school, a wine store, a car wash, a 24 hour grocery store, a 'traditional' Russian restaurant, some apartments, a dock for military, trade, and cruise vessels, and the Institute of the Study of Russian as a Foreigner, where I go to school. Those are some of my fellow foreigners up ahead, in fact.

(I'd show you the river, but they deport you instantly if you take a picture of a Navy ship. Didn't wanna risk it.)

I'm not sure which cathedral this is, but it's amazing in the morning. The sun is always rising behind me when I turn the corner, so everything is dark and dirty except for this blazing vision. The photo doesn't do it justice.

 And inside, just beyond those incredibly heavy and inconvenient wooden doors, is my school. Until next time, my darlings!


Greg said...

Thanks for the walk to school. It is nice to see what your mornings look like. Well done

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