Last updated 2 months ago by Michael Darmanin
“Travelling – It leaves you speechless, then turns You into a Storyteller.”Ibn Battuta
My travel experiences have indeed made me a storyteller. Stories that fascinates! This article is all about the discovery of one such phenomenon that your school books will never teach you. Travel to Russia was a sudden plan. It was like a Let’s Visit It (Nothing wrong, right!) type of holiday. The prime focus was “the Golden Ring” but “Venice of the North” is so stunning that I would love to travel back. It was early June, we boarded for St.Petersburg. I must say, it is one of the most beautiful cities to visit in one’s lifetime. Obviously, the Hermitage Museum, the Fortresses, Saint Issac’s Cathedral, Palace Square, Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood, Mariinsky Theatre and the gorgeous River Neva will take your breath away. But White Nights add to the charisma of the city.
Around 2 a.m. we landed at the “Cultural Capital of Russia”. As we were heading towards our accommodation ( Booking.com provides the best apartments and B&B in the heart of the city centre), we noticed that the sky is still bright and full of sunlight hues. I couldn’t seep in the fact, was it a day or night, sunrise or sunset? Curious enough, I googled and found the city is witnessing the “White Nights” phenomenon. As soon as we reached our apartment (3:30 am), I & My Partner dropped the baggage and went out for a city stroll (Midnight Flâneur, you see). To our amazement, we found that the city was bustling with people everywhere and enjoying the 24-hour daylight. At the wee hours (4:45 am), we certainly saw the unbelievably beautiful transition of dusk to dawn. The sun was back and glimmered with golden tints.
“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”Henry Miller
What are White Nights?
Also known as “Civil Twilight.” Saint Petersburg is located at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea. Due to its geographical location, the city experiences “Beliye Nochi” (The White Nights) from late May to early July. It sits on such high latitude that the sun does not sink below the horizon enough for the sky to become fully dark. The sun sets and goes down by no more than 90 thus the evening twilight coincides with the sunrise. Hence, the night is fairly identical to the day – Indistinguishable!
Why does it happen?
The phenomenal event of white nights occurs around Summer Solstice. Solstice is comprises of two Latin words sol (Sun) and sistere (to stand still). During this period of time, Earth’s poles have its maximum tilt towards the sun. Many regions of northern hemisphere are benefitted with continuous daylight.
White Nights Festival
At the end of June month, Saint Petersburg celebrates the White Night Festivals. The Scarlet Sails is the most famous celebration and a public event that takes place every summer. It commemorates the end of school year. Tremendous fireworks, many music concerts and water shows take place to its full glory. White Nights Marathon, Top Ballet Performance at Mariinsky Theatre (Stars of the White Night Festivals), Traditional opening of the drawbridges and Annual Jazz Festival are briefly accountable. The City of White Nights becomes best explorable. Stay up all night and enjoy the extravaganza!
Some Notable Facts about St.Petersburg
Apart from White Night Festivities, St. Petersburg is itself a gem to visit.
Formerly known to be Leningrad, it is the northernmost city with a population over 1 million.
The Hermitage Museum is the World’s Second Largest Museum after Louvre. It consists of 6 historic building including the Winter Palace. It is said that to see each piece of artwork, you might take 8 years. The museum has a special connection with cats. Over 50 cats resides in the basement of museum to protect the art pieces from mice.
The majestic city has its networks of street and canals inspired by the city of Amsterdam. Peter, the Great wanted to turn it into Russian Amsterdam.
The whole historic center of Petersburg is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Travel teaches you!
It fairly taught me to enjoy experiences over things. You’re never too old to learn anything. Also, there’s a lot to see and explore in this world that you’ve never heard of. Be Curious. Never Stop Questioning. If a random question pops up in your mind, Google it or ask.
And lot more about Souvenirs too!
When we visit a place, we make sure we carry a part of that back home with us. Souvenirs are no exception! Some things which reminds us about the beautiful times spent with loved ones. For me, buying them is adding an element to my travel treasure.
Valenki (Warm felt boots), Birch bark crafts, Soviet Memorabilia, Rostov enamels, Ushanka (winter hat), Zhostovo trays, Orenburg shawls, Faberge Eggs, Gzhel, Lacquer boxes, Khokhloma artwork, Pavlovo Posad shawls are some of the Russsian antiques but what caught my attention are the Amber and the Russian nestling dolls.
Amber: 90% of the World’s Amber is found in the Kalinigrad region of Russia. The gem is a fossilized tree resin and is found in white, yellow, orange or reddish brown color. It contains succinic acid. When worn around the skin, small amount of healing oils get released from amber which ultimately gets absorbed by the skin and helps you in pain relief. The magic healing touch is a good reason to buy a piece of amber jwellery be it a pendant, necklace or bracelet.
This doll is the most popular Russian souvenir. The stacking dolls of decreasing size hidden inside another. The count of nestled dolls can go from 3 to 50. The dolls symbolizes fertility. Matryoshka literally means “little matron.” It is the representation of chain of mothers carrying the family legacy through child in the womb. Also known as Babushka dolls. These endearing haindpainted dolls will surely add to the charm of your interior decor.
White Nights Throughout Our Journey.
While we continue our voyage to the cities of “Golden Ring”, we were able to encounter this phenomenon throughout the destinations we visited. The Golden Ring incorporates the north-eastern cities of Moscow. The iconic churches, kremlins, cathedrals, monastries, onion-shaped domes and certainly, one of the oldest regions of Russia forms the intrinsic part of Golden Ring. Catch a glance of various churches!
Keep Reading till I come up with another unusual tale.