The trip to Russia was meaningful to me in many ways.
It wasn’t really a fun trip, but it was an important and interesting experience. I had many realizations about the culture of the people and the life they lead. It really seems to be a different world than what I knew when my family left this country 17 years ago.
Our time of visit in mid-April coincided with a rather boring season in terms of weather. The snow had all melted and left the city in a grey and dusty shape just a few weeks short of the springtime bloom. As our plane was landing the city looked like a grey factory zone more than the popular European city it has become.
Through the traffic-full drive home we drove across most of the city and it was incredibly interesting just to look outside the window. The streets had real stores, car dealerships, huge billboard ads, and both foreign as well as old Russian cars. People were walking around in big crowds downtown probably trying to get home from work.
The architecture, Nevsky Prospect, and historical center of the city were both beautiful and inviting. Streets are covered with restaurants, stores, and bars and with the help of the metro it was an easy city through which to travel. My favorite adventure through the city was on a little charter boat when Natasha’s family and I went through all the canals out to the Neva River. It was an inspiring experience.
It seems St. Petersburg has gone much growth and change over the past 15 years. The city streets show a place in many ways similar to the cities of Europe. During my short visit, however, I perceived narrow-mindedness in people that can probably be attributed to the years this country was under Soviet rule. The people seem to believe in a narrow acceptable way of life with little tolerance for diversity. In this way I believe the people here restrict their own freedom.
In many ways I was very glad to come back from this trip. I missed the green nature we’re blessed to have in California, the freedom to go places on my own, the condo where I live and I missed my car. I think I’ve never been happier to see the bay area during the plane’s landing. It looked like a fairy tale land: all sunny and vibrant with nature and a familiar layout. I felt blessed to live in such a place.
We’ll be posting more about our trip along with photos in the coming days!