St. Petersburg when the sun’s come out to play is to me the best city to be in in Europe. And I’m not alone in declaring such a bold sentiment – I’ve heard it from many others from many different countries too. But why ‘in Europe’? That’s just so as to be able to compare meaningfully. It’s difficult comparing Russia’s second city with, say, Hong Kong or Singapore, as they’re just so different on so many levels. But I digress. So, about StP!…
Tag Archives: saint petersburg
The other week we had our annual conference on industrial security – our fifth: our first jubilee. Hurray!
This year it was a truly international event, with many of the speakers giving their presentations in English (since they knew no Russian:). In all there were ~300 participants from 170 companies! Thanks to all sponsors and partners, especially:
- SAP – general partner
- Rostelecom – IoT partner
- MARSH – cyber-insurance partner
And thanks to everyone else too whose names you can find at the above link.
Railrood good mood. It’s a different, special good mood. It’s a bit like motorbike good mood. There’s not much to it, but it brings a nice, calm, reflective feeling. You just stand there, in the engine control room at the front of a train and stare up ahead along the track and to the sides at the passing landscapes. Meditative almost. I’ve heard there are long videos on YouTube showing such railroad good-mooding. It’s so much better doing the real thing though…
A bit like with Manchester or Scotland, folks will often tell you the weather in St. Petersburg is normally terrible. In Manchester and Scotland it normally is. But not in St. Pete!
I’ve visited Russia’s ‘second capital’ plenty of times – and the sun’s been out on every single trip! This visit was no exception.
In fact, the sun’s not just shining, it’s beaming it’s intense heat down on this corner of the globe without mercy. Sat in a traffic jam upon roasting asphalt wasn’t the nicest of experiences, I have to say.
This here post is the last in my mini-series from St. Petersburg. It continues the ‘places to visit‘ theme, but with a difference; for the place it describes resembles a museum, but it isn’t a museum really, I think. Or maybe it is. It claims to be one… Hmmm, whatever it is, it’s unusual, unique, and a must-see!
It is a bit like a museum or art gallery in that you’re not allowed under any circumstances to touch the… exhibits, even though they’re not really exhibits… Confused? You won’t be…
This is Grand Maket Rossiya! Maket is a Russian word with numerous, similar meanings, but choosing the right one to translate into English can be tricky. This is perhaps proved by the people behind the maket having left it as just that – maket, even though it isn’t an English word. When they describe the place on the site it’s put as a ‘layout’. They mean a scale model of the Russian landscape – a miniature version of the layout of the country, making it the smallest maket of the largest country in the world for sure. It’s also the second largest scale model of its kind in the world – behind Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg.
This is a truly unique, mind-blowing, thoroughly enjoyable place. From the outside it’s nothing much – a not-so-large, unassuming building; inside – OMG. It’s like Dr. Who’s TARDIS! A massive miniature (!) scale model – an impossibly large kid’s toy; an impossibly large adult’s toy. Again though – not really a toy; what sort of toy is one you can’t touch? :)
There are different kinds of museums.
There are real museums (in the classic understanding of the word), there are expositions, exhibitions, installations… What other words are there for describing such events? Graffiti! Btw, good quality graffiti done in good taste – is it an exposition or installation or hooliganism? The latter I cross out since good graffiti (IMHO) is real art. Oops. Off piste before even getting on piste. I do keep doing that…
St. Petersburg is ram packed full of them. It’s like the museum capital of the world.
Now, I understand that if St. P’s museums were to be compared with, say, the Louvre or the British Museum, St. P’s may lag behind somewhat. However, considering the very difficult past St. Petersburg has had, its museums are a bit of a miracle. Museums weren’t all that well supported in post-imperial times; the same goes for during the 70+ years under Communism; obviously WWII was a major setback; and of late, post-CCCP, the city’s museums have continued to be somewhat neglected with no generous state or philanthropic sponsors coming forward as they do in the West. Maybe I’m wrong. But that’s how it seems to me. Do correct me if I’m mistaken.
There I go again… OK. Back to the main topic…
In Saint Pete there are the usual suspects: the museums children visit on school trips – the typical, the bland, the traditional, the obvious. So we, naturally, decided to shake things up a bit and go alternative, rebel, renegade! We went to… the Railroad Museum!
To get high up and look down and around, say, from up a mountain… it’s always cool and beautiful. But to fly up above for panoramic views of below – it’s even better. And best of all when it comes to flying for sightseeing purposes is the helicopter. Best of all when it comes to what to check out below…: a beautiful city. Best of all when it comes to beautiful cites…: one uniquely beautiful like St. Petersburg.
So of we choppered…
I’ve nothing much to say really. But a lot to show…:
St. Petersburg in summer, especially June and July – it’s… tricky. You’ve probably already heard that there’s hardly any nighttime at all in summer, as, well, the sun – well up the northern hemisphere this time of year, just pops over the horizon for a few measly hours, before it ‘rises’ again in the wee hours of the next morning. As a result, days can seem endless; well, they almost are. And you need good thick curtains or an eye mask to get some proper shut-eye of a ‘night’.
There’s another thing: you gotta make sure you’re where you got to be before the bridges go up. If they do, and you’re not where you need to be: oops. On the other hand, these bascule bridges have their advantages: what better excuse can there be to not be where you should be (and really don’t want to be)? “Can’t make it. No really: can’t – physically. The bridges are up!”.
Like I say, Peter – it’s tricky this time of year.
It’s tricky, but it’s also awesome. Just check out some of these White Nights & bridges-up views you can get to see. Awesome indeed…
There are all sorts of unusual phenomena in the world – both natural and manmade.
Other times they’re depressingly dreadful and destructive, like volcano eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis.
There’s the static symmetry of mountains and volcanoes; there’s the slow and steady movement of things like tectonic plates, glaciers and snowcaps; and there’s the unpredictable though grimly inevitable things like avalanches and other such cataclysms. There are also freak, flash, or full-on floods, which come and go with intermittent regularity. Floods are what we get when the gods forget to turn the tap off when pouring a bath. So man has to intervene. He can’t get them to stop forgetting, so he has to design and construct large protective installations to drain water that’s just about to cause a flood – to make up for this godly absent-mindedness.
One place where heavenly amnesia occurs rather frequently is in the European part of Russia – just off the Gulf of Finland, especially around the delta of the river Neva. And by unlucky coincidence the city of St. Petersburg happens to be situated right there. This is a city known for its heroism, victories and imperial cultural heritage, but also, alas, water-caused catastrophes. Of the latter it’s had more than its fair share. For those interested – here.
The short version:
St. Petersburgers naturally needed to do something about the flooding. Which is just what they did. Now, I’d heard about it before, but only recently did I finally get to see it in the flesh sun: around St. Petersburg there’s now a huge dam to protect the city from flooding. Pushkin’s poetic depictions of floods are now thankfully firmly a thing of the long-gone past – and good riddance.
Turns out, professional hydraulic designers and technicians scoff at the description ‘dam’ for this fantastic feat of engineering. They prefer: ‘complex of protective installations against flooding’. Doesn’t quite slip off the tongue, but if they insist, who am I to question it?
Now for a bit of technical data…
What was needed was a construction that would normally let reasonable amounts of water through from the Gulf of Finland into Neva Bay, but when catastrophically high waves come a-crashing in from the Baltic Sea would create a tall barrier to stop them causing a ruinous flood throughout the city. The installation also had to be able to let ocean-faring ships through on a daily basis, plus also not interfere with the delicate local marine ecology.
Plans to build the ‘dam’ were first made as far back as in the 19th century, but construction only started in 1979 (details – here). Then of course Communism finally arrived… and at the end of the 1980s construction was halted. Fast-forward to the early-2000s and the abandoned project was resuscitated, and in 2011 it was finally completed; and what they got was something truly damtastic!
I tried to find similar flood-control dams on the net but didn’t get very far. They’re all somehow a lot smaller in size. There’s one in London, one in Holland, one on the Elbe… But they’re all tiny compared to the whopping Russian 25-kilometer dam installation. Impressed I was.
There is one anti-flood installation that’s on a par – the one being built in New Orleans. When it’s completed it will be bigger; but for the moment the one in St.P is No.1!
To the layman who may encounter the construction, it’s simply a 25-km-long highway that crosses the Gulf of Finland from bank to bank, much like that one featured in Miami Vice that connects Miami to the Keys (which is much longer – but it ain’t no anti-flood installation:). Smooth tarmac, neat markings and signposts, entry and exit roads…: nice.