In the dark, dismal throes of winter it's easy to fantasize about the antithesis: St. Pete's lively White Nights of Summer, when sunlight dances over the pastels of the city's buildings, lingering late into the night and inspiring people to flood the streets in understated celebration. A journey to St. Pete's is a once-in-a-lifetime must. The time to go? During the last 10 days in June, when darkness never falls, and the White Nights festival showcases ballet and dance. The city is aesthetically marvelous and steeped in culture, history and romance. Footbridges grace winding canals, framed on either end by majestic statues, and haunted by musicians drinking beer and playing guitar under the stars (or—in the case of the summertime—the endless waning sunlight).
Sites to see: With its huge dome standing proud over the Petersburg skyline, St. Isaac's Cathedral is even more extravagant on the inside: its interior a mix of marble and mosaic. The Hermitage Museum rivals the Louvre, with its overwhelming collection of art housed in the grand imperial palace on the banks of the Neva river. The Russian Museum, located in the former Mikhailovsky Palace, offers a breathtaking collection of works by Russian artists. Or follow the steps of famed Russian novelist Dostoyevsky, or his character Raskolnikov from Crime and Punishment. The city is rich in the literary haunts of Pushkin, Dostoyevsky, and Tolstoy.
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