A few days ago I tried to purchase a painting at an outdoor art market across the street from my apartment. Despite the variety beautiful pieces of the city, I found myself at a loss. None of them seemed to capture the light in this city that is so infatuating. How even on the cold, gray, and icy days there is still an inherent beauty in how the street lamps illuminate the snow falling. Or how the light from the sunset hits the multicolor buildings and makes them glow. The light of St. Petersburg seems to create a sense of magic and mystery.
It is this sense of magic that makes St. Petersburg, and in turn, the Russian language and culture, so fascinating for me to learn about. It is a language, contrary to popular belief, of love, life, hope, and faith. It is a language of music, art, and culture. Just consult Pushkin, Tchaikovsky, or Repin. The more I learn about Russia, the more I realize that I am only beginning to understand the beauty and complexity of this country and culture.
Over the past couple of weeks I have had a chance to delve into another side of this culture as I attended ballets at both the Mariinsky and the Alexandrinsky theaters. The first ballet was “The Nutcracker” at the Mariinsky. I cannot even begin to describe the sense of magic that was created within the theatre throughout the course of the evening. I cried from pure amazement. The second ballet was “Cinderella” as a part of the international ballet festival Dance Open at the Alexandrinsky. That was also a remarkable experience, and I definitely regret not purchasing tickets for more parts of the festival.
I also finally made the leap of faith in trying anti-cafes and they are AMAZING. For those who do not know what an anti-cafe is, the idea is that you pay for the time that you spend in the cafe rather than the food consumed. In turn you generally receive unlimited tea and cookies for the duration of your stay. I have basically moved into one of the said cafes for the past three Sundays and every time it has been simply lovely.
The more I explore St. Petersburg, the more that I realize that it draws people to it not only for the wide avenues and beautiful theaters, but for the small courtyards with pieces of brilliant sky and the little happen-upon coffee stands that seem to be at every turn. I am not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the way, all of these little happinesses have grown into a love for this city, no matter what the weather.