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Jan
28

Cheap Flight to Saint Petersburg Is So Worth It

I’ve got a riddle for you:
There are only 80 of them a year.
You’ll find them in the city of kings.
On the water.
Can you guess?
The White Nights of St. Petersburg.

st-petersburg russia

st-petersburg russia

And they can only be caught from May to the end of July, when the city emerges from long months of cold and darkness and celebrates the brief return of nearly round-the-clock daylight. So book a cheap flight to Saint Petersburg Russia now.

And here it’s a party. They used to celebrate when Peter the Great founded the city in the early 18th century, but things got a little less festive during Stalin’s reign and then later when his cohorts ruled Stalingrad.

cash galore

cash galore

But thankfully, there’s a lot of cash in Russia now. And you can see it everywhere in new bars, restaurants and hotels. Tourists are booking those flights to Saint Petersburg Russia like there’s no tomorrow.

white nights

white nights

It is during these long summer days,  however when this city really shines. Yes, you can see them elsewhere in Russia of course, from Moscow to Yekaterinburg to Yakutsk, but the White Nights are a part of St. Petersburg’s identity like no other.

the bridges

the bridges

St. Petersburg is a marvel, a wonder of construction. This city was built on more than 100 islands formed by a latticework of rivers, creeks, streams and natural canals that flow into the Baltic Sea at the mouth of the Neva River. The Neva, the main artery through the city, snakes an east-west path across St. Petersburg, basically dividing it in half.

hermitage

hermitage

The southern half which looks like Venice or Amsterdam, is cut by canals and is loaded with landmarks. Among them: the Hermitage, Russia’s greatest museum and the former Winter Palace of the czars, along with Palace Square and the Alexander Column; the Kazan Cathedral, modeled after St. Peter’s at the Vatican; and the Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood, a monument marking the spot of Czar Alexander II’s assassination in 1881. Here, too, runs the Nevsky Prospekt, the city’s main commercial street.

spilled blood

spilled blood

Across the river, on Zayachy Island — one of a multitude of small islands in the Neva that fall within St. Petersburg’s metropolitan limits — stood SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral, burial place of Peter the Great, the three Alexanders and the executed Czar Nicholas, Czarina Alexandra and their children.

final burial place of the tsar

final burial place of the tsar

You’ll find celebrations of St. Petersburg’s White Nights in virtually every corner of this sprawling, watery metropolis. Dance clubs and “beach clubs” — including the most exclusive, the Royal Beach Club on Krestovsky Island, a forested park that draws many of the city’s affluent young people — stay open until at least 6 a.m. on White Nights weekends.

the Royal Beach Club on Krestovsky Island

the Royal Beach Club on Krestovsky Island

It is the morning that is quiet here. Everyone is asleep. By noon, you’ll see a slow crawl to the local cafes that line the Nevsky Prospekt and some of its side streets. But come on, if you’ve gotten that cheap flight to saint petersburg, don’t sleep all day.

See Peterhof, an 18th-century complex of palaces and gardens just west of the city center. The estate is famous for its fountains, which operate May through October. Take a hydrofoil  on the Neva River, and don’t forget to bring bathing suits for your children if you brought them- or if adopt one.

Peterhof

Peterhof

The kids go absolutely crazy splashing in the so-called trick fountains and stomping on the “magic” stones to find the ones that supposedly make the water spurt. Tell the kids and they’ll be great on your saint petersburg flights.

Nevsky Prospekt.

Nevsky prospekt

Nevsky prospekt

This is the place where  artists like to hang out, it’s legendary. Go for drinks- start slow, people, the nights are long- at the Idiot, one of St. Petersburg’s more popular bar-restaurants. This five-room basement located off St. Isaac Square and alongside the Moika Canal, is designed to resemble a Dostoevsky-era apartment: old oak furniture, Singer iron-pedaled sewing machines, clunky typewriters, shelves of antique books.

moika

moika

After having a few vodkas, most people on these White Nights, have a  ritual: the downtown walkabout through the area around the Moika. This original part of the city began to take shape in the early 18th century, when Peter, who fell in love with Dutch culture, laid out a grid of intersecting canals that flow into the Neva and hired Western Europe’s most celebrated architects to line them with palaces and cathedrals.

Bridges rising

Bridges rising

Don’t miss the Drunk Bridge, where assassins threw the still-living Rasputin into the river in 1916.

Sit back at the Flying Dutchman and watch the ascent of bridges, like fans in the night sky.  The Troitsky Bridge beside the museum first. It rises to a 90-degree angle above the Neva, and then, one by one, at 15-minute intervals, each of the three other spans followed. The graceful upward movement of the bridges, each following another is a perfect way to spend a white night.

white nights

white nights

PS …

Be sure to check out:

The Stars of the White Nights 2012. International Ballet and Opera Festival runs through July 24 and consists of a huge variety of musical events open to the public.

Hotels:

The Grand Hotel Europe is the best place to stay in St. Petersburg.

The Hotel Astoria is another good choice.

Have a conversation anyone could try there with your employer to see if this would be a viable option

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