How to enjoy St. Petersburg’s famous drawbridges

26 Jan

Drawbridges in St. Petersburg

Imagine this–you’re walking back to your hotel or apartment on one of those famous white nights of St. Petersburg where it never quite gets dark. Your visa-free St. Petersburg trip has been great so far. The city is beautiful, the weather is perfect, but you’re looking to get some well-deserved sleep after a long day of sightseeing. The only problem is, the way to your accommodation seems to be blocked! By what? Well, it’s a section of road, raised almost vertically right in front of your face.

Visa-free St. Peterburg

Congratulations–you’ve come face-to-face with one of St. Petersburg’s famous drawbridges. Almost every night from May to November, 9 to 12 bridges are raised to allow passage of cargo ships from the river Neva to the Gulf of Finland. Some people think this is only for show–to make tourists happy. Not so! There is a real and practical reason to raise St. Petersburg’s drawbridges.

These bridges are unique in the world. Nowhere else is there such a number of bridges that are raised daily. They are truly one of St. Petersburg’s great calling cards.

How to enjoy St. Petersburg’s famous drawbridges

There are a couple of ways to best experience the drawing of the bridges on your visa-free St. Petersburg trip.

The first is to watch from a point on the Palace embankment between the Palace and Troitsky (in English – Trinity) Bridges. These two are probably the most famous and popular of the drawbridges in St. Petersburg. Many people try to see the Palace Bridge drawn up and close, then try to rush to the Troitsky Bridge. But it’s too far away to get there in the time between when the Palace Bridge finishes rising and when the Troitsky starts. Instead, you can park yourself halfway on the Palace embankment in a place where you have a good view of both bridges and enjoy the show without rushing.

Another good viewing spot for the raising of the Palace Bridge is on the “opposite shore,” on the University embankment or on the Spit of Vasilievsky Island.

Who says you have to watch from dry land? Boat trips are available and seeing one of St. Petersburg’s bridges rise from underneath it is an experience unlike any other.

Regardless of what you choose to do on your visa-free St. Petersburg experience, don’t miss out on the raising of these majestic drawbridges! The good thing is that you can witness it from April to November– just over half of the year!

visa-free St. Petersburg

The Palace Bridge, St. Petersburg

Drawbridge Openings Schedule, St. Petersburg

During navigation period from April till the middle November thirteen bridges that cross the Neva river are opened for a few hours to let large ships pass. Please follow the schedule below to get successfully to your hotel.
Palace Bridge1:10 am-2:50 am
3:10 am-4:55 am
Trinity Bridge1:20 am-4:50 am
Blagoveshchensky Bridge1:25 am-2:45 am
3:10 am-5:00 am
Grenadersky Bridge1:30 am-4:30 am
Kantemirovsky Bridge1:30 am-4:30 am
Smpsonievsky Bridge1:30 am-4:30 am
Liteiny Bridge1:40 am-4:45 am
Tuchkov Bridge 2:00 am-2:55 am
3:35 am-4:55 am
Volodarsky Bridge 2:00 am-3:45 am
4:15 am-5:45 am
Exchange Bridge2:00 am-4:45 am
Bolsheokhotinsky Bridge 2:00 am-5:00 am
Alexander Nevsky Bridge2:20 am-5:10 am
Finlyandsky Bridge2:20 am-5:30 am

Stockholm Cruise – Something to Do at Every Time

17 Jan

Stockholm Cruise – Something to Do at Every Time of Year

If you’re on a relaxing or romantic Stockholm cruise, you will probably be interested in finding out more about this great city, the capital of Sweden. With a long and rich history, Stockholm is a city bursting with life, traditions, things to do and sights to see. Here are just a few of them and a few tips to help you better enjoy your stay.

Stockholm is a city of seasons

Just like the rest of Sweden, Stockholm’s rhythm of life is defined by the seasons.

January is deep winter. You’ll find that, unlike in the rest of Europe, the Christmas Market in Stockholm keeps going until the middle of the month.

April is when the snows will have mostly melted and when life begins to emerge out on the streets. The 30th of April is the King’s Birthday. That evening, Swedes celebrate Walpurgis Night by jumping over bonfires and having a few drinks.

May is when the “street season” really starts, with various street markets, neighborhood festivities, and other events bringing Stockholm to life.

If you choose to visit Stockholm in summer, you have two great choices – visiting for Midsummer or for the Culture Festival in August. Midsummer is an age-old celebration of nature, the longest day of the year, fertility, and in the Christian tradition, it is the feast day of Saint John. If your Stockholm cruise timetable allows it, you should definitely try to join a public or private celebration and experience the rich Midsummer traditions.

The Culture Festival takes place every year in the middle of August and fills the streets with all kinds of great events for five days in a row. August is also the traditional time of “crayfish parties”, where Swedes get together, sing songs, cook and eat large amounts of crayfish (and often consume significant amounts of alcohol), and have a good time.

October is a beautiful time in Stockholm as you can appreciate the beautiful display of tree leaves changing color to vibrant shades of gold, red, orange, yellow, and brown throughout the city. Why not use your free time on your Stockholm cruise to continue the aquatic theme and take a little boat ride around Stockholm’s archipelago of beautiful islands?

In November, you can experience the first real winter month in Stockholm and warm up by watching one of the many films on offer at the yearly International Film Festival.

Finally, in December, you can visit for the Christmas Market, Yule, and St. Lucy’s day, celebrated on the 13th of December.

Don’t hesitate to take advantage of everything that Stockholm has to offer – both its local and national traditions and events. It’s a beautiful and welcoming city and has been for hundreds of years!

 

Why We Love Finland

07 Jan
Flag of Finland

There are many reasons to visit Finland but some of these reasons are more special than others. Take a look at what keeps this unique country on the Baltic Sea so close to our hearts.

More than 70% of the Finnish landscape is forest, which makes the country a stunning spot for ramblers and nature lovers. You’ll also find 188,000 lakes nestled in between the woodland, which only add to the astounding natural beauty of Finland.

Nowhere can match Finland’s natural bounty

Want to lace up your boots and explore? That’s no problem. The Finns take their beautiful landscape very seriously and want to share it with everyone. You can be assured of your right to roam as you take in this beautiful scenery.

A visit to Finland is great for your health

Finland is renowned for having some of the cleanest air anywhere in the world, even downtown in the capital, Helsinki. Getting a good level of exercise is also easy here thanks to the myriad ski-slopes dotted around the country, as well as the hiking trails which criss-cross the landscape.

Want to relax in a healthy way after a day on the slopes? A diverse array of different cuisine awaits you on the award-winning Finnish restaurant scene, while one of the over three million saunas will help you to open your pores and detox the Nordic way.

Finland in the winter is a truly magical place

Have you ever been to the home of Santa Claus in Rovaniemi? Have you ever seen the Northern Lights or stay in Glass Igloos? Have you ever taken a sled trip through the snow and seen reindeer trotting among the pines? Visit Finland and ensure the answer to all of these questions is ‘yes.’

The Finnish people are waiting to welcome you

Finns are very proud of their culture, and rightly so! As such, they are happy to share it with you. A major reason to visit Finland is the Finns themselves. You will feel the warmth and welcoming nature of the local people from the moment you arrive.

This also manifests itself in the society of Finland, which is one of the safest on the planet. While many charming locations across the world are unfortunately blighted by crime, Finland is not one of them.

Arts and culture are thriving

Finland has long been famous for its art and design scene. The Kiasma, the Finnish National Gallery, and the Espoo Museum of Modern Art all house world-class collections that will delight visiting experts and casual art lovers in equal measure, while the Midnight Sun Film Festival in Sodankylä is an experience which can’t be missed.

Are you ready to start your adventure and visit Finland? Get in touch with our team today.

Drawbridge Opening Schedule, St. Petersburg 2019

29 Dec
The Palace Bridge, St. Petersburg
The Palace Bridge, St. Petersburg

Drawbridge Openings Schedule, St. Petersburg

During navigation period from April till the middle November thirteen bridges that cross the Neva river are opened for a few hours to let large ships pass. Please follow the schedule below to get successfully to your hotel.
Palace Bridge1:10 am-2:50 am
3:10 am-4:55 am
Trinity Bridge1:20 am-4:50 am
Blagoveshchensky Bridge1:25 am-2:45 am
3:10 am-5:00 am
Grenadersky Bridge1:30 am-4:30 am
Kantemirovsky Bridge1:30 am-4:30 am
Smpsonievsky Bridge1:30 am-4:30 am
Liteiny Bridge1:40 am-4:45 am
Tuchkov Bridge 2:00 am-2:55 am
3:35 am-4:55 am
Volodarsky Bridge 2:00 am-3:45 am
4:15 am-5:45 am
Exchange Bridge2:00 am-4:45 am
Bolsheokhotinsky Bridge 2:00 am-5:00 am
Alexander Nevsky Bridge2:20 am-5:10 am
Finlyandsky Bridge2:20 am-5:30 am

The Magical Side of Finnish Lapland

24 Nov

The Magical Side of Finnish Lapland – Reindeer Sleigh Rides

The magic side of the Christmas season comes alive when you visit Rovaniemi, located in Lapland. That is because Rovaniemi is the official hub and hometown of Santa Claus. This city in Finland hails, as well, as the administrative capital of the northernmost province of Finland, known as Finnish Lapland.

Therefore, no trip is complete during the holidays without visiting the hometown of Santa Claus. Naturally, reindeer in this region “rein” supreme as well. In fact, you need to be cautious when driving through Finnish Lapland from November to January – a time when you run the risk for a run-in with a reindeer. Indeed Lapland would not be Lapland without the reindeer, who the people call the livestock of the sun.

Sami Culture in Lapland

Reindeers

The Creation Story

According to old Lappish tales and the indigenous people, the Sámi, Jubmel created the Lapland landscape from a baby reindeer. Rocks were formed from the calf’s bones and the earth from the animal’s muscles. However, the Creator embedded the calf’s heart deep inside the soil. If you listen closely on a silent winter’s day, you can sometimes hear the calf’s soft heartbeat. Either that, or your ears are frost-nipped.

Visit Finnish Lapland

The Sami’s traditional clothes (in center)

Reindeer Names

Regardless, you cannot go too far in this part of the world without seeing a reindeer.

Finnish Lapland

Pretty deer, walking down the street 🙂

After all, it is hard to miss those antlers, even if they do serve as camouflage in the Lapland forest. Reindeer also go by other names, other than Rudolph, Dancer, or Prancer. For example, dark-colored deer are called musikki while the light-colored reindeer go by the name of suivakko. Some of the deer, which are pure white, blend nicely with the winter white terrain. They are referred to as valkko. If you see a reindeer whose muzzle is white, he is referred to as kalppinokka.

Indeed, reindeer adapt well to the cold, as the oleic acid in their legs prevents their legs from freezing and their blood flow is robust so they can cope well to the arctic climate. The dense winter fur on their bodies safeguards them from arctic extremes in temperature.

Lapland Tours from Helsinki

Reindeer Farm in Finnish Lapland

Reindeer provide nutrition to Lappish people, as the meat is fine fibered and therefore easy to digest. Cooks use reindeer fat, known as spoke, in Lapland cuisine as well. Santa enjoys the reindeer milk the deer provide, as it provides three times more energy than what cow’s milk offers. Laplanders drink the milk, as is, or consume it diluted with water. The milk is used in cheese and butter, and in cosmetic products commercially. However, it tastes best in cheese and butter.

Reindeer Vocabulary

Reindeer husbandry and herding all contribute to the vocabulary in this part of the world. For example, elo are reindeer livestock while jutaa means to travel. Kallokas are fur boots made from the skin of a reindeer’s skull while a nulppo is a reindeer without antlers. A parttio is a small herd of reindeer while a raavas is a reindeer, fully grown.

Reindeer Sleigh Ride in Finnish Lapland

Reindeer Sleigh Ride in Finnish Lapland

Dashing through the Snow

With that being said, the best way to enjoy reindeer in Finnish Lapland is to reserve a sleigh ride, also considered a safari by some. Having reindeer guide a sleigh gets you in the Christmas frame of mind fairly fast. While some people have husky dogs guide a sleigh or others choose to travel by snowmobile, the true adventurers select reindeer as their guides.

When you take a sleigh ride, you can explore Finnish Lapland up-close and personal. Many of the rides originate from Santa Claus Village in the winter – no reservation required. Participants can earn a reindeer driving license as well as a special certificate for crossing over the North Pole.

Maybe you would like to see Lapland at night. If so, you can book a sleigh ride and see the beautiful Northern Lights. This is one unique way to entertain the whole family in the winter, especially at Christmas time.