The White Night of St Petersburg

Amol Gokhale
Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Amol Gokhale shares his travel and tour experiences, and also catches the fun and revelry during the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

It’s 2.55 am. The street lights adding to the beauty of Hermitage Museum just went off five minutes ago. Looking at the traffic it feels like  rush hour is about to begin. 

I am on my way back to the hostel, barely managing to type this postcard on my phone as my fingers are numb because of cold. It’s around 10 degree Celsius.

I had one of the best nights of my life after a boring match earlier in the evening. There’s a phenomenon called ‘White Nights of St Petersburg’ during which one can experience near sunshine or light throughout the day because of St Petersburg’s northerly geographical location. This phenomenon takes place from late May to early July, and I experienced this natural wonder. 

It’s 3.22 am and still 22 minutes to go for sunrise. Dawn was at 2.11 am itself and I was at this beautiful Palace Bridge near Hermitage Museum to witness the mesmerising view of the first sight of light over Peter and Paul Fortress.

It was less crowded than my expectations and I found myself a nice spot on the sidewalk of Neva River to capture the experience in my camera. The Palace Bridge is open for water traffic from around 1 am for 90 minutes as people gather to see the Bridge opening and closing. It’s a fun fair on the banks of Neva River as stalls sell food and beverages, vendors sell balloons etc. When I visited it, a small band was performing on the sidewalk and to my surprise, they sang a French song Aisha as well, while the crowd enjoyed some good music. 

On the other side of the bridge (parallel, not across) there are barely 4-5 steps that will land you in the Neva River. In a bid to capture the fully open Palace Bridge, I decided to go until the third step from the bottom where I could rest my camera.

As I clicked from really close to the water, I was fighting an impulse to feel how cold the water was. I had my answer within a few seconds as a little splash of water on the first step sprayed a couple of drops on me and it was almost freezing. I returned soon after the Bridge closed and was made open to the public. 

As I finish this piece sitting next to a warm light in a cafe down in my hostel building, sipping on my Hot Chocolate, my Facebook messenger pops a message from a Swedish friend.
An interesting meet is on the cards.

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