Алые Парусa

…means “Scarlet Sails”. Yesterday was the Алые Парусa festival for graduates. The centre of the city is closed to cars and all transport is shut down so people can wander around freely. The graduates can go to a concert in Palace Square (by the Hermitage) and after the concert there are fireworks, light shows and such on the river. It was amazing.

12:00 in St Petersburg!

We got the metro to Nevskii (whisch was rammed!) and started to make our way through the crowds to the embankment. On our travels we noticed that pretty much every single person was very drunk. There were bottles and cans everywhere and HUGE queues to the shops. We went into one shop to get a drink and the shelves were empty apart from a few potatoes and some washing powder. Every shop in the entire city had been cleared of alcohol and said alcohol was evident in the staggering people, glass on the floor and the odd pile of sick. All in all a beautiful picture. The atmosphere was amazing though, I don’t think we will ever again be part of such a big crowd of people who are all so happy!

We joined in the sea of people and went to the embankment an hour early to try to get a good spot. The festivities started at 1:40 because by then it is pretty much as dark as it gets in “white” nights. First the bridges went up and there were some fireworks and the orchestra was playing. Then these ships came along the river and some fireworks were set off from those as well.

Then there was a light show and fireworks from the bridges.Then the Scarlet Ship came past!

The best graduation party ever I say! Technically we are graduates from St Petersburg State University as our last lesson was Thursday, so we felt the celebrations were for us too.

Us outside Smolny on our last day of university

After the fireworks we walked along Nevskii and took in the atmosphere. We bought a Russian flag to hang up in our house next year! We saw some graduates from the Army academy so we asked to have a photo with them!

We talked to them for a little bit and got the usual “Why on earth are you in Russia when everyone wants to go to England?”. They wished us well anyway but asked us not to remember Russia as a country of alcoholics. Which is exactly what it felt like last night…

 

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