Sunday, 28 October 2012

Summer Gardens, Kissing Bridge and The First Curry

Saturday was our годношина (anniversary), so we decided to explore some of the romantic spots in St Petersburg. Traditionally, newly-weds sail under the open bridges and kiss for good luck but that would have been difficult to organise and just weird. However, it was not hard to find some romance in a St Petersburg dusted with last night's snowfall.

After some preparatory каша and wrapped up like Eskimos, we made our way on foot to the other side of the city. (I just want to point out here that I couldn't stop myself from specifying our mode of transport. Russian has infiltrated my brain). We eventually reached the infamous Летный Сад (Summer Garden), which is now free to enter. We seemed to have missed the fiery bit of autumn as the trees were more bare, but it was beautiful nonetheless:
As is standard when visiting any Russian landmarks, we saw many brides walking around with a photographer:
The first day of Russian weddings - officially registering, then tramping around to drink champagne and take pictures at every memorial (to remember the dead) and every landmark (to remember the living) doesn't strike me as particularly romantic. Though I have seen a bride queuing in her white dress for a public toilet. Luckily, they get a second day with their relatives to actually have some fun, but this is not the day that yields the photoshopped gems. So, the Internet pretty much requires Russians to continue this tradition.

We then set off for the other side of the city, for Поцелуев мост, the Kissing Bridge on the Moika. On the way, we passed the Eternal Flame:
There wasn't much of a solemn atmosphere around it - partly because of the Russian, completely normal habit of taking photos of themselves next to stuff and partly because I couldn't get the eponymous song out of my head. Nevertheless, the Mars Fields it's situated in are very pretty:
The Kissing Bridge looks misleading bare when you come to it. There are two adjacent - a curly-ironed pedestrian one and one with traffic lanes and stone pillars. No prizes for guessing which the Russians would attach a romantic tradition to...
Historically, there have been several rumoured traditions: to kiss on the bridge for good luck; to walk across the bridge kissing all the way for good luck; to kiss anyone you meet crossing the bridge...just because. We went with the first one. A man on a boat passing underneath took a picture of us - I would have done exactly the same thing.
Some brave soul had climbed onto the iron structure of the arch to hang a heart-shaped padlock. The things people do for love/stupidity...
Most people just put them on the structure at the side, with ribbons. I'd say this less life-risking method is no less romantic and you can probably do it sober.
In the evening, we got our first curry for 2 months, in one of the two Indian restaurants in the city (Tandoor and Tandoori Nights) which are next door to each other. Not even kidding. We chose Tandoori Nights. 
The host was lovely and after a bit of Russian chat, he spoke to us in English. Apparently it's not just a haven for ex-pats, but Russians who go to Goa and get hooked on Indian food. This is hard to believe when you've spent the last two months eating season-your-own, stodgy, mild Russian food. The raita was a little thin but despite knowing I could get much better curry at home, my Goan fish curry tasted like liquid, spicy gold.
Best. Day. Ever.

1 comment:

  1. Enjoyed the image of you and Ollie walking across a bridge kissing the whole way/ kissing russians on your anniversary!