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The delta of the river Neva fills St Petersburg's canals and divides the city into several islands. Our homestay is on Petrograd island, fairly close to the city center and Winter Palace. This place, not Moscow's Kremlin, served as the birthplace of the Communist revolution. Revolutionaries captured the Palace and setup a Provisional government, not wholly Communist yet, with the Bolsheviks in the left wing and the democrats in the right (from this originates the political term 'leftist' for Communists). St Petersburg's most backward characteristic: the city opens all bridges at night, isolating the islands from each other for several hours. Residents and visitors must get back to their home islands since no transportation exists to cross the river that late. Note to aspiring Russian capitalists: open a late night ferry service. Another void in Russia - taxi services. Besides a few in Moscow, we never saw any taxis in Russia. Everyone hitches. Stand on the road side and point to the ground with an outstretched arm - a passing motorist will stop and give you a lift.
Flashpoint of Russia's political history: the Winter Palace
At it's founding, St. Petersburg was a remote outpost of Russia - therefore, the first building here was this fort - the sharp spire marks the fort's cathedral and burial ground for Peter the Great and many other Russian tsars like Catherine the Great and the last Romanovs, Nicholas II and his family.
The domey St. Isaac church overlooking a drawbridge. Here in St. Petersburg, all bridges are drawbridges and that's progress - Peter the Great, a boat fanatic, built no bridges to make everyone use boats for transport