Arrived in St. Petersburg from London along with several participants in the Virtuoso Winter Symposium. On a bus to the Grand Hotel Europe – a member of Leading Hotels of the World – I was able to get a glimpse of the new St. Petersburg. It was really moving. I haven’t been to St. Petersburg in more than 18 years, and the changes are surprising and wonderful. The only thing that hasn’t changed is the weather. I learned that the city has, on average, 30 days of sunshine a year. Today wasn’t one of them, and it isn’t likely that any of the next few days will be.
The number of shops, the refurbishment of many of the buildings, and the amount of cars – causing amazing traffic problems – was in a way heartwarming. Later I learned that all of the changes – early 90’s, post Gorbachev – have been seen as a mixed blessing. The older generation has lost their security but gained their freedom. It will probably take another generation to adjust to this new, more democratic lifestyle.