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To sixty degrees north

To sixty degrees north
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Date:
Location:
Country:
Latitude:
Longitude:
Altitude:
30 September 2016
St Petersburg
Russia
60°00'00"N
30°15'32"E
-40 - 12m ASL
Google Maps Link
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

HAVING just completed an epic journey across Eurasia from Pyongyang arriving in St Petersburg, I settled into my hotel. With a couple of days to explore this spectacular city. After talking with a few people I had met heading across Russia, I had by now worked out a number of places to see.

My hotel room

My hotel room

Looking at the map, there was one thing I hadn’t been told about. Here I was just a few kilometres short of being at 60 degrees north, two thirds of the way between the equator and the North Pole. I decided to add that into my itinerary in the early evening, with a fair bit of time before watching a sunset from the sea.

Unfortunately, St Petersburg doesn’t have any of its distinctive landmarks at the 60 degree parallel. The northernmost of these was about a minute of latitude below. Fortunately though, one of the metro stations was right on the line, and it wasn’t going to be too hard to get there, being just one station past one of the landmarks I had already decided to visit, making for only a small change to my itinerary.

Zvenigorodskaya Station

Zvenigorodskaya Station

I headed into the underground metro, taking the escalator quite some distance underground away from the biting cold wind. The stations in Saint Petersburg had a distinctive Soviet style, but also retained a huge amount of character. Following a long escalator underground down a tubular tunnel with dull lighting mainly from small advertising signs between the lines, I arrived at Zvenigorodskaya Station, on the purple line. I needed to get onto the blue line to get up to Kommandanskiy Prospekt Station on the 60-degree latitude line.

Long underground tunnel

Long underground tunnel

I caught one rattly train heading to the next station at Tekhnologichesky Institut Station, where I got off and crossed over to the purple line. Now it was just a matter of catching the next train northwards to get to where I was heading.

The station was quite crowded with commuters and students heading home. This was one of the main inner-city stations. It was quite dark inside with the horrible florescent lights illuminating the arched hallways and fancy carvings sculptured into the stonework. Echoes of everyone’s footsteps filled the cavern unable to escape but bounce off the hard surfaces. At the end of one of these caverns stood a large marble statue.

Tekhnologichesky Institut Station

Tekhnologichesky Institut Station

I followed a featureless underground corridor to another platform with a fancy mosaic at the end of the platforms depicting some sort of pre-Soviet history of the city. A train heading northwards with the outsides of the carriages painted a sad deep blue colour pulled up. I crossed the marble platform into one of the carriages.

St Petersburg Metro train

St Petersburg Metro train

From Tekhnologicishesky Intitut the train crawled northwards towards Sennaya Ploshchad Station, along the section of tunnel was where a terrorist attack would happen several months later as President Vladimir Putin was visiting his home city. The explosion would end up killing quite a few people shutting down the metro for several days. Fortunately it was very peaceful here today with everything running normal.

Sennaya Ploshchad Station

Sennaya Ploshchad Station

The carriage was quite full with a lot of people on board, including one lady carrying a large bag selling goodies to the passengers. To my surprise the normally stony passengers warmed to the lady selling stuff and quite a few of them actually bought things. They were even smiling, something reserved only for those you are close to. There’s no way that would happen back in Australia. In our culture we absolutely hate being sold to, and anyone jumping on a train trying to sell stuff would not last five minutes without being taken away by the police. Here in Russia such practice seemed a lot more acceptable. I had seen this back in Moscow, and I was to see it a couple more times in Saint Petersburg as well.

Lady in green selling stuff

Lady in green selling stuff

Looking the other way down the carriage a bearded man was selling stuff too. The Russian ladies he was selling to were breaking smiles too.

The train stopped at Sennaya Ploshchad, then crawled onto Sadovaya, Almiralteyskava, Sortivnaya, Chkalovskaya, Chkalovskaya, Krestovyskiy Ostrov, and Staraya Derevenya. Every station was very different, each having its own character although all were stony and soviet in style. Finally, we reached the last station Kommandanskiy Prospekt. By now few people were on the train.

Kommandanskiy Prospekt Station

Kommandanskiy Prospekt Station

I got out and headed towards the escalator at the far end. This station had a distinctively aeronautical theme to it, with the walls covered in a nice blue paneling, and plaques of small planes in battle scenes. Under each plaque was a small bench where people wearing dark clothes were sitting waiting for the next train to head back into the city.

Long escalator to the surface

Long escalator to the surface

I headed up the long escalator through the angled tunnel to the station building on the surface. There was a lot of glass windows almost making it like a glasshouse.

A strong wind with a nasty chill scattered the fallen autumn leaves across the cobbled footpath. Thick cloud covered the sun straddling above the horizon in its final hours before setting. The glass station building was rather inconspicuous sitting in amongst a cluster of old run-down apartment blocks no doubt built during the Soviet era. Commuters were hurrying out of the station scurrying home to escape the biting cold wind.

Quick selfie at 60 degrees north

Quick selfie at 60 degrees north

I imagined it would be pretty miserable here during the long dark winters with snow on the ground and the sun grazing the horizon between the buildings between 10:00 and 3:00 before plunging the city into darkness again. Anyone commuting would be heading either way in the darkness of the bitterly cold winter.

After a few short minutes at 60 degrees north, I headed back into the station to continue back to the previous station to watch the sunset from the beach.

 
 
 

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