We spent our last day strolling in the centre of St. Petersburg which is one of the most beautiful metropolises in the world. We had never been to St. Petersburg before but, back in the 1970's and 80's, we had visited Leningrad a few times and although they are one and the same city, there is a huge difference between the two of them, and at least on the surface, a very positive one.
The easiest way to travel between the marina and the city centre was the metro. One ticket, or actually a token, cost a mere 56 Euro cents and allowed you to go anywhere you wanted or spend the whole day travelling underground if you so wished. The stations were beautifully decorated and immaculate, no trash or a single graffiti was to be seen. It was as if you were in a museum rather than in a tube station. Believe it or not, the photo below was not taken in the Hermitage Art Museum but inside the Admiralty Metro Station.
We left the Krestovsky marina around midnight on the 17th. We had two young men onboard with us, Sergey who had volunteered to help us while we were in St. Petersburg, and Kostja who was a photographer from Siberia studying photojournalism in St. Petersburg. They would both come with us to Schliesselburg which was our first stop along the route to Archangel.
The start of the regatta was rather entertaining, at least for the many photographers and journalists who had come to see us off. The leading boat of the fleet, namely the Russian Peter the First, fell victim to the marina's vicious current and after leaving her berth turned sideways and was soon leaning heavily against the pontoon.
For a while, it seemed as if the current had made up its mind to keep the boat there for the rest ofthe evening but finally, assisted by about a dozen people, Peter the First managed to free herself from the grip of the current. Henceforth everything went according to plan, one boat after another left her berth and headed for the Neva River, each accompanied by a pilot.
The fleet motored through St. Petersburg until early morning. Although motoring throughout the night was tiring it was certainly a night to remember. The view from the river was absolutely breathtaking with gilded cupolas of magnificent orthodox churches silhouetting against the skyline, and beautiful old buildings lit up on the river banks.
A total of eleven bridges had to be opened for us before we got to Lake Ladoga. Every once and a while we had to stop and wait for a bridge to be opened or a big ship to pass us on the narrow river but on the whole, the passage went smoothly.