on USSR / Russia · St Petersburg

Gulf of Finland and Neva River

In this post I will combine two water symbols of St Petersburg, two of its important water ways – the Neva River and Gulf of Finland, both of which are surely the musts if you want to get a broader picture of the city’s life, today and yesterday.

Back in June and July we went to Ust-Izhora, the place where Izhora River flows into the greater Neva River and where knyaz Alexander won the battle against the Swedes, for which he got titled Alexander Nevsky (and later even canonized – but that’s another story). The battle took place back in oh-oh 1240 but is considered to be one of the greatest victories in the hшstory of Russia. They even reconstruct it every year, should go there and see it one day, moreover it’s close to and actually is officially a part of Kolpino, my home town.


While my Father was taking photos with a model at the riverside, I was entertaining myself : ) Here are some very old bricks found on the Neva shore, as there used to be a pier where we were, apparently. This looks like 69, yin and yang and fish (especially under water):


The name of the factory producing bricks, half of it eaten by the time:


Another factory, the name features the now obsolete letter of the Russian alphabet called yat:


Meanwhile my Father was creating something out of nothing as a true Russian man! I did not notice that among all the wreck of this ex-pier (there was a neat row of bricks in the water as if they fell all at once) there was a bike too!


You can spot the other side of Neva with private houses (both sides outside of the city are very expensive to built your house on) all along the bank. But I was more impressed by the timber and the smell of the freshly chopped wood. It’s a pity we still cut so many of these beautiful birch trees, they are so graceful and so naturally Russian…


The timber also served as a background for my Father’s photo-session, like this one, for example. The results of the ex-pier session can be found here and here.


Birch bark is used for many things in the traditional Russian crafts – from creating boxes to shoes! It was also used to write documents on at the time Alexander Nevsky fought on these shores against Swedes.


Some shots of the life on the Neva banks – this is a children’s playground, very marine-themed:


There was also this building with an almost blind wall which – in theory – was being renovated. It looked quite ominous…


And this is a local post office with a surviving Soviet times mail box and traditional woven rugs drying on the railing. The letters CCCP (USSR) were painted over and the word Russia was written across for a quick transformation from the Post of USSR into the Post of Russia. I guess the real transformation took much more effort : )


I didn’t take any photos of the monument to Alexander or the church in Ust-Izhora (which you can see on my Father’s photo), but I managed to take a photo of this Fire department near Rybatskoye metro station (the closes one to Ust-Izhora) – these guys do know how to attract attention! 01 is the number you call when there’s fire in Russia.

Fire Department


If you follow Neva’s flow from the East where we just were to the West, you will eventually get to Finland, as Neva flows into the Gulf of Finland. Gulf of Finland (Finnish Bay as I tend to call it, failing to recall the official name) is one of those places where St Pete people go to make picnics, walk along the shore and surf. People also come here to celebrate weddings, just as my sister did last year. You can hardly swim in there as it’s very shallow – you will have to walk and walk and walk till it gets anywhere close to your waist. Most of the shore used to be occupied by health resorts, now some of them are still operating, some of them got turned into more luxurious places. Soviet elite used to have dachas along the shore, now another elite is enjoying the sea. They say a meter of this land costs ridiculously expensive.

Finnish Bay

Forgive me for this fallen horizon, I was trying to picture this perspective with the stones which are common to this area (especially up there to the North, in Karelia and Finland). Here’s a more straight one with… a shower 🙂

Wanna take a shower?

A bit surreal with all that wind and clouds and people walking in coats:

Wanna take a shower?

We actually went to a health resort situated very close to the shore to visit our relatives and decided to join in and walk along the water too, meeting everything from this golden statue (obviously a Soviet sculpture left here from the good ol’ times)…

Golden couple

to ehm Ibiza resort bar!

Ibiza bar?!

…and windsurfers enjoying rare sun in their swimming costumes:

Finnish Bay

The sky was amazing (especially through polarizing lenses) – the sun appeared but closer to the end of our visit, so when we were walking along the shore, the sky was more of a ‘drama-drama’drama’ style:

Finnish Bay

So, yes, we do have the sea in St Petersburg, but… Baltic Sea is a rather cold one =)

Finnish Bay

Anyway, sitting there and listening to the waves made us really appreciate (and partially realize) the fact that we DO HAVE SEA IN ST PETERSBURG! 🙂

Finnish Bay

Moreover, just about 30 minutes later – and you are already enjoying the sun!

Finnish Bay

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes

Finnish Bay

We also walked in the ‘forest’ nearby, breathing in the pine trees and making our way through the sand hills which gave the name to this place (Dyuny in Russian). Back at the health resort, we spotted these friends who were mock-fighting in a moment:


And this three-legged fox who was peacefully lying in the sun:

Three-legged fox

The entire family and their izba-style house:

Large family

Almost every animal had their story in that mini-zoo next to the resort (there were also rather threatening-looking crows who were just dreaming to snatch those tourists’ fingers, it seemed : ). The resort itself bears the signs of the recent renovation which as it is normal in Russia is half-finished. We even tried some food at the ‘restaurant’ (ex-canteen) where the patients dine and I for the …th time came to the conclusion that there is no meat-free diet – even a medical one – in Russia = )

Mountain Ash

We also spotted the trees of Mountain ash – the symbol of autumn. When the berries get that red it means it’s high time for the children to go to school : )

Mountain Ash

Just as Bird Cherry we use mountain ash for lots of things, like medicine, alcohol, flour. I’m not saying that we eat it every day but at least it’s known that you can make things out of the fruits. The timber is also used for decorative furniture. And how about decorating the lamp post with the ivy?

Lamp post

I didn’t take the photo of the completely ‘lost’ lamp post so densely covered with the ivy that we didn’t realize at first that was not a tree but lights : ) I wonder if it’s still operating in the night and if yes – how it looks like?

This post is a part of my St Petersburg series.



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