The first thing to report is that the weather has completely changed in Petersburg. It felt extremely sudden, but looking back I suppose there had been signs of the changing climate for a few weeks beforehand... The snow has almost entirely gone, the rivers have all melted and the icicles have all disappeared from the gutters. I'd become so used to there being snow and ice everywhere that it feels like a completely different city! We've had several days of sunshine, and temperatures have reached highs of up to 9 degrees! I really can't wait until summer arrives... Sitting in the sun in a beautiful Petersburg park will almost make the harsh winter weather seem worth it.
The above picture was taken yesterday, when my friend Marion and I decided to walk to the Leningrad Blockade Museum after school. The Fontanka river has finally fully thawed, and I think you'll agree looks absolutely lovely in the springtime sun. Since not a lot else has happened in the last few weeks, I'll skip everything up until yesterday and talk about our walk and the Blockade Museum.
I have somehow managed to lose my super-detailed map of the city (but I think it's somewhere hiding in my room), and Marion couldn't find any free WiFi to scab Google Maps on her iPod, so we had to make the trip from memory. This turned out to be absolutely fine, surprisingly, and we managed to find the museum without a hitch... Here are some photos of the sights we passed en route:
(Top Middle: Awesome Scrabble-style shop sign; Top Left: 'Perfectly-proportioned' street; Top Right: Rather cool statue outside the circus; Middle: The circus itself; Bottom Left: A lovely Orthodox church we came across; Bottom Right: I don't know what this building is but it's beautiful; Bottom Middle: Newspapers stuck up in the street... I just liked the photo)
So, I should discuss our ultimate destination on this journey: The Leningrad Blockade Museum. This is the museum we'd tried to visit before, but upon arrival discovered that it was closed for 'technical reasons'. Luckily this time it was fully open and operational, and we even got in free with our student cards. Looking back, I should have paid for the photo pass, especially since I got free entry, as then I'd be able to show what the museum was like in greater detail... Oh well. It was a lovely museum, which was really well laid out and very interesting. The exhibits had been well-chosen and though the presentation was fairly modern, it was still very true to the old items on display, complementing them in many cases. Though there weren't that many signs in English, I recommend visiting even if you don't speak Russian, as personally I think the blockade of Leningrad is shockingly overlooked by most people in the West. In case you don't know anything about it, the blockade/siege on Leningrad by the Nazis during WWII lasted 900 days and took the lives of hundreds of thousands of Soviet citizens. If you're interested in Russian history, I recommend reading more about it, as we studied it at university last year and it's a very sad but insteresting part of Russia's history.
Tomorrow I'm planning to visit another reminder of the blockade - a memorial cemetery. If I do visit, I'll be sure to post about it within the next few days. I'm also going to make a big list of places I still need to visit and things I still need to do, during my 7 remaining weeks here, so hopefully I'll have plenty to blog about in the near future!