[Cruise Day 6, Monday, July 9, 2018]
This is my second visit to St. Petersburg, Russia. I’m thinking tonight that I may need to come a third time in order to see all that I would like to see in this fabulous city. The first visit (nearly ten years ago) was a riverboat cruise from Moscow to St. Petersburg. It was an unforgettable experience. I’d love to do it again. But I have other places yet to wander in this world while it is day. I must make the best of this present moment—to see all that I can see—now—for I suspect in Stephen Grellet’s words, “I shall not pass this way again.”
Today we took a boat ride on the Neva River. It enabled us see many parts of the city we have not yet seen and to see them from a different perspective. Most cities are built beside rivers and many are built by the sea, but St. Petersburg is built “on the water” like the cities of Amsterdam and Venice. Indeed, Goethe called St. Petersburg the “Venice of the North.” Built across the marshlands of the Neva River delta, the city interlaces with a hundred or more tributaries and canals. Some 800-plus bridges cross these rivers and canals giving the city the nickname “City of 101 Islands.”
Our little cruise on the Neva today took us by the Peter and Paul Fortress (where we visited afoot yesterday), by the Admiralty building, the Summer Gardens, the Winter Palace and so much more. We visited the Winter Palace (Hermitage) ten years ago. There we beheld Rembrandt’s famous painting, “The Prodigal Son,” which Henri J.M. Nouwen memorialized in his book, “The Prodigal.” During that visit to St.Petersburg, we also enjoyed the St. Petersburg “Russian Ballet” presentation of P. Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake in The Palace Theater. The memories of our first visit to St. Petersburg and the experiences of this second visit fill us with a sense of wonder. How grateful we are for the opportunity to see St. Petersburg, to delve into her history, and to be among her people!