IMG_2895.jpg St. Petersburg truly does look like a “Northern Venice”, as it is nicknamed, with canals running through the heart of the city and beautifully colorful 18th-century buildings lining the banks of the water.

We went on a boat tour of the Neva River and its canals today and saw the city from the water. In the evening, we went to the beautiful Nikolaevsky Palace to see a folk show, “Feel Yourself Russian.”

We had a late dinner at the Literary Cafe on the corner of Nevsky Prospect and the Moika and enjoyed live classic music as well as old, sad Russian romances. This cafe is known as the last cafe called in by the great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin just before his fatal duel. Another famous Russian writer, Fyodor Dostoevsky, composed some of his works here while sipping coffee and eating cakes. I really felt myself Russian today.

Tomorrow we get to go see Peterhof, the summer residence of Peter the Great. It is called Russia’s Versailles. I am so excited! I also cannot get over how sweet the people are. Everything about St. Petersburg is different, from the aesthetic, to the fashions, to the pace of life. It is much more European and westernized.

It’s interesting to observe first-hand how people of the same ethnicity can have such different outlooks on life. Before this trip I thought all Russians would be the same, with the same attitudes, same demeanors and similar desires. It would be as if someone from a different country came to Texas expecting us all to ride around on horses, obnoxiously praising the social benefits of gun rights and free market capitalism.

If anything, this trip has opened my eyes to how naive I am; I’m too quick to accept and believe widely circulated cultural stereotypes. On a lighter note, I can’t wait for our excursion to Peterhof tomorrow. It’s supposed to be spectacular.