“September and October are said to be the worst months of the year in Leningrad. A raw, damp wind blows in from the Gulf of Finland, fog and rain follow one another in a depressing succession of days, and everywhere mud and slush lie underfoot. It is often dark in the early afternoon and the cold night continues until nine or ten in the morning.

“But then in November something perfectly wonderful happens: the heavy snow begins. It falls so thickly and so persistently that it blocks the view a few yards ahead, and sometimes in the course of a single night the whole city is transformed. The mud vanishes and the gold spires and colored cupolas now stand out against a background of dazzling whiteness. There is a kind of joy in the air. The temperature may stand well below zero, but in this dry sparkling atmosphere people get rid of their coughs and colds at last and can afford to smile. Traditionally, this used to be the moment when the droshky drivers exchanged their carriages for sleds and the coachmen, their beards frozen stiff, drove their horses along the quays at a tremendous pace. Out on the Neva workmen began to lay tramway tracks across the water to the islands and the Vyborg side.”

— Alan Moorehead, The Russian Revolution

8 thoughts on “Leningrad

  1. Tom Riggio

    I was there some years ago and it is a wonderful city–no longer Leningrad, of course. But anyone visiting Russia should go to St. Petersburg. I suggest the overnight train from Moscow, a delight in itself.

  2. Roger W. Smith

    Thanks, Elisabeth. Sometimes (as you well know and have demonstrated), it seems that a writer can distill the essence of a place (or a writer’s ouevre) in a few words. Makes me wanna go there. — Roger

  3. Li Fontrodona

    If I ever go there, I would possibly spend most of my time within the walls of the Hermitage Museum and the rest within the Mariinsky Theatre. Anyway, after reading this description above I’m sure I would fall in love with everything in this city. My mom visited it one summer and always told us that a portion of her heart remained there. A boyfriend of mine commented he had seen there some (many!) of the prettiest girls in all his life. (I believed him up to a point, but also I asked him if he had ever been in Ethiopia and Eritrea, and he had not.)

  4. Roger W. Smith

    Interesting, Li. Thanks. Not to be a know it all, but I seem to recall someone telling me a couple of times that Russian wonen would not rank near the top in a “global beauty contest.” This may be slighting them as a group who, collectively, represent the many ethnic groups and nations of which Russia is comprised.

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