White Nights

St. Petersburg is at 59 degrees north latitude, roughly the same latitude as Oslo, Norway; Stockholm, Sweden; and Anchorage, Alaska. Due to this northerly position, the summer months receive many more hours of sunlight, especially in June and July. The sun's short trip around this part of the earth creates an ethereal glow of twilight into the wee hours. During these White Nights, wrote the poet Joseph Brodsky, "it's hard to fall asleep because it's too light and because any dream will be inferior to this reality. Where a man doesn't cast a shadow, like water." If you're visiting St. Petersburg during this time, you should partake in the many festivals, such as the Mariinsky Theatre's Stars of the White Nights, and spend at least one late night outdoors. Take a walk around the historic center, by Peter and Paul Fortress, St. Isaac's Cathedral, and the State Hermitage Museum, which all face the Neva. Stroll along the banks of the river until you come across a bridge such as Dvortsovy most (Palace Bridge) next to the Hermitage and stop to watch the ships pass through the open bridge. Each bridge has its own time schedule, but they begin to open at approximately 1 am and close at about 5 am. If you don't want to stay out all night, be sure to stay on the side of the river where your hotel is located. However, getting trapped on the other side of the city is rather romantic and you'll see couples kissing on the embankment while "waiting" for the bridges to close.

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