All the world’s great postal codes have one: an iconic grand boulevard that, when mentioned, one knows immediately which destination city it represents. Like Broadway, the Great White Way, in Midtown Manhattan; Wangfujing Street in Beijing; Regent Street in jolly old London; and, the Champs-Elysées in Paris, just to name a few.

Here in St. Petersburg, the city built from scratch in the 18th century by Emperor Peter I, the iconic high street is Nevsky Prospekt, the wide thoroughfare that begins and ends along the banks of the Neva River and cuts straight through the heart and soul of the historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Armed with a map and guide book from the Crowne Plaza Ligovsky, our four-star digs while in the city, Orna O’Reilly and I, photojournalists invited by Insight Vacations (Insight) to experience its Easy Pace Russia journey, take advantage of our free time — ahead of this evening’s welcome dinner, when we’ll meet our tour director and travel mates for the next week — and embark down the Nevsky and a few of its side streets for our first look at this once proud imperial city.

As I look around, dramatic, colorful architecture in varied styles abound; each building and monument represents an important chapter in the growth of the City of the Tsars. The scenes are inspiring and rival those found in Paris, Amsterdam, Rome and even Venice. Lens caps off, let’s see what we can frame.

EPR_D2_5B_WMMidway through our photo-shoot stroll, we stop for lunch and enjoy some regional fare at the Soviet Cafe, a retro-looking basement locale along the Nevsky, complete with old Singer sewing machines and a not-so frost-free icebox. Decor aside, which, frankly, adds to the atmosphere, the Soviet Cafe grub, charcoal grilled chicken skewers and a cucumber-cabbage salad, is awfully tasty.

Nikolai Gogol, a 19th century dramatist and novelist, considered to have been the first realist writer in the Russian language, penned a short story titled after the namesake street. In the narrative, he observed about the iconic cobble, “Step into it, and you step into a fairground.”

After logging just over 18,000 steps, about 12 km, I’d have to agree with Gogol; it’s a carnival atmosphere all along the Nevsky.

For detailed information on Insight’s three itineraries to Russia, as well as more than 100 other premium and luxury-escorted routes around Europe, just click HERE, or call toll-free (888) 680-1241, or contact your travel agent.

We’ll delve further into the lure of this grand city tomorrow when we meet up with Gennady, Insight’s Moscow-born travel director/concierge, and Gulya, Insight’s local expert, at the very spot where St. Petersburg began: the Peter and Paul Fortress on Hare Island.

Dobroy nochi (Good night).

©The Palladian Traveler

Borsalino w/ props SMALL | ©Tom Palladio Images

Note: The Palladian Traveler’s participation in this journey was supported by Insight Vacations, which did not review or approve this article before publication.

_________________________________________________________

 

 

Advertisements

Written by The Palladian Traveler

Tom traded his hometown St. Louis Cardinals' baseball cap in the United States for a Borsalino and he now hangs his "capello" in the Puglia region of southeastern Italy. A veteran print and broadcast journalist, with well-worn passports that have got him into and out of 50 countries and counting, Tom fell in love with the "Bel Paese" years ago. As he notes, "I'm inspired by the beauty I find in all things that are very, very old, and reliving history, or at least meandering along cobblestone streets that were laid down over a thousand years ago and just looking up and marveling at what occupies the space still today, really gets my 'Vespa' running." Tom has a good eye behind the lens and is a graphic storyteller, but he'll let you decide as he keeps his camera batteries fully charged and the posts flowing from his creative hideaway in the hills overlooking Ostuni. You can also follow his dispatches along the cobblestone via TravelingBoy.com.

One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s