Nikolai Gogol, the famous Russian writer, wrote this of Nevsky Prospekt, the most famous thoroughfare of St Petersburg:
“Step into it, and you step into a fairground….There is nothing finer than Nevsky Prospekt, not in Petersburg anyway…what splendor does it lack, that the fairest of our city thoroughfares?”
He was right. It’s not really a street (and St. Petersburg not a place) that can really be done justice in pictures. I’m not entirely sure it can be done justice in words, for that matter. Gogol waxed poetic on Nevsky, as I am more than inclined to do – this street, this city – they just breathe life.
Yesterday, I witnessed a parade of thousands of motorbikes as I walked down Nevsky – I loved the contrast of these bikes against the Kazan Cathedral:
I don’t think pictures can really begin to touch the scale or grandness of the street, the constant movement of the people, the way the high-heels clack on the stone, the color or the noise – but needless to say, it’s a gorgeous place to spend a day, to walk, to watch, and to simply revel in one’s surroundings.
A walk down Ligovsky Prospekt, with a brilliant and acerbic young Russian guide, gave a feel for the grittier neighborhoods of St. Petersburg — but I found it, and them, no less beautiful.