St. Petersburg, Russia is connected by canals. ©Julia Pelish Photography
A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to visit Russia. First we went to Moscow and then to St. Petersburg. Adrian Brijbassi’s article about St. Petersburg is in today’s Toronto Star newspaper. You can go to the online travel section and read it here (plus you can view my video and photos too). He is certainly the gifted one with words in our family so I highly recommend checking it out.
Russian bride poses with her parent's in St. Petersburg. ©Julia Pelish Photography
For me it was all about the images and I couldn’t wait to start photographing this exotic land. As our plane made its descent into Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport my mental image of Russia still consisted of the stereotypical Soviet era propaganda version: gray, stark, official, and intimidating. Well that was about to change!
The Hay Market in St. Petersburg, Russia. ©Julia Pelish Photography
The Soviet Union collapsed in the 1990s and it is a different country today. For one thing – it is now open to tourists. We hired guides (see links below) who were amazing; they knew their history and culture and their English was superb. The past sprung to life through their stories as we visited a treasure trove of historical sites. The art and architecture everywhere reflected the Russian people’s proud heritage and love of all things beautiful.
Stylish women are everywhere in St. Petersburg, Russia. ©Julia Pelish Photography
St. Petersburg was humming with activity and was a visual delight. If you enjoy history, art, music, food, vodka, caviar and people watching this is the place to be. I could have walked the streets and canals for weeks just soaking it all in. The city is like a living museum and 3 days was merely an appetizer. I did manage to visit The Hermitage, Church of Spilled Blood, the Catherine Palace and Peterhof Palace and Park.
A cafe in St. Petersburg, Russia. ©Julia Pelish Photography
The most interesting part of my visit, though, was hearing the personal stories of people who lived during the not too distant Soviet past and the struggles they face today due to the fallout. The opportunity to be able to connect with others is the true gift of travel.
Note on the photos: I reworked a couple of my shots to reflect the feeling of history and nostalgia that permeates this city. I hope you enjoy them.
Look for our Moscow story and photos in the Toronto Star and here on my blog – coming next month!
Alexander S brought us to Peterhof in St. Petersburg; he is such a gentleman and showed us a wonderful day. He works through Tours by Locals
Peter from Peter’s Walking Tours took us on a Dostoyevsky Walk and Olga brought us to Catherine’s Palace in Pushkin. They were both terrific tour guides. Peter’s love of literature and knowledge of the city made for a great afternoon!
Natalie D. was our oh-so-smart and personable guide in Moscow, you will just love hearing her many stories that bring history to life. She is affiliated with Tours by Locals. You will get to meet Natalie in our Moscow video coming soon!