Every time I sit down to write a blog post, I struggle to come up with ideas. That is not to say that my life here is particularly unexciting, but to the outside observer things that make my life exciting, like finding a new spot to sit in the sun, don’t exactly provide a riveting read. Ironically, I suppose, the times when I am at my most content, traipsing around the city in the sunshine or sitting in the park for hours doing very little at all, are the times that I least enjoy writing about. I suppose that’s why tragedies and horror stories are the things that remain etched in our minds as humans. Morbid curiosity is impossible to fight. Consider the story that most people consider to be “The Greatest Love Story” – Romeo and Juliet. Two teenagers fall in love leading to familial deaths and a tragic double suicide. The fact that this is widely considered to be one of the greatest love stories of all times is a testament to the fact that humans love drama and loathe a happy ending, despite what romantic comedies will have you believe. Thus, being happy and content with my life means immediate boredom when I try to pen its events.
This issue follows me even in more official respects as I was recently asked by my year abroad officer how everything was going. As thoughtful as this was, it left me in an awkward situation where other than assuring her that everything was fine, I was at a loss as to what else to say. This week a friend of mine will be returning to England so, in recent days, we have been rushing around the various sights of St Peterburg before she has to leave. We took a visit to a Soviet Submarine which was incredibly interesting though it was undeniably disconcerting to stand in a room surrounded by torpedos, especially one that anyone over the height of about 5ft6″ would be unable to stand in. Our next stop was Yelagin Island, a beautiful islet on which there are no cars or motorised vehicles of any description. The island’s only features are a few pavilions, canals and palaces, but beyond that is entirely dedicated to nature and covered in grass, wildflowers and trees. It was incredibly peaceful to spend a sunny Saturday wondering around the island, avoiding all signs of modern life, as well as it being fairly novel to see so much green in the city, especially at this time of year.
To completely contrast the peace and tranquillity of Yelagin, we next visited The Erarta Modern Art Museum. I am by no means an art aficionado, on the contrary, I know very little about art and do not have any particular interest in modern art. Having said that, the Erarta Museum really won me over, its Soviet artwork was incredibly heartfelt and moving, and its temporary exhibitions spoke interestingly on feminism and technology in today’s culture. One of my favourite pieces was a long table laid with a red tablecloth where, in each place, instead of a knife and fork lay a sickle and hammer. After that, we decided that more museums were in order so decided to visit the rather peculiar museum dedicated to the secret police. An offshoot of the Political History museum, I won’t say it condoned the secret police but it certainly didn’t vilify them. In fact, almost every person mentioned in the museum were members of the secret police and also appeared to be heroes of the Russian Federation. Despite the potential glorification of the secret police, the museum was quite interesting if a little difficult to both find and navigate, as is customary with Russian museums. And finally, we took to the water to watch the bridges of St Petersburg be raised at 01.00. Sitting on the deck of a two-storey boat, shivering and wrapped in blankets in the early hours of the morning, surrounded by a flotilla of other boats we watched the bridges open. As unimpressive as a bridge opening might sound, the sheer size of the bridges and the high angle that they are raised to does indeed seem to defy all laws of physics. For those of you planning a visit to St Petersburg, I would recommend walking down to the embankment at least once to watch the massive bridges go from horizontal to almost vertical.
Beyond frantically trying to see and eat everything that St Petersburg has to offer, as well as trying to soak up every minute of sunshine that we have had in the last few days, little has happened. I have been lucky enough to receive a visit from my Godmother who has made my attempts to see the sights of St Petersburg seem laughable as she has seen almost as much as I have seen in my months here, in the space of about four days. I will attempt to create more drama in my life in the future in order to avoid continuous monologues about the beauty of St Petersburg.