Tsar Peter the Great envisioned St Petersburg with a lacework of canals, elegant baroque buildings, resplendent palaces and dazzling onion-domed churches. He had a vision 300 years ago– the city today fulfilled his dream.
Yesterday Robin and I took a tour in a boat on the beautiful canals of St Petersburg. The trip meandered through the central district passing St Issac’s Cathedral, the Winter Palace the Faberge Museum and many other places. Similar to other European cities there were many unique bridges. This is where the story begins.
After boarding the Russian boat ,which was designed to lay flat on the water due to the minimum amount of bridge clearance, we saw two young Russian boys standing on the bank of the canal smiling and waving . They were about twelve years– their wave was vigorous making sure they had the attention of all on the boat– they were having fun!
As we departed there would be a new bridge to go under about every quarter mile. Well it was at the next bridge that we saw the same two boys– one of the boys had a distinctive blue shirt. At the time I thought it odd that we would see the same boys in two different locations .
Well the same thing happened for the next twenty bridges. For 8 kilometers these two fit young Russian boys ran ahead of the boat and moved to the center of the bridge and waved like crazy—as our boat passed under, bridge after bridge the same exuberance occurred. As the boat started going underneath the two of them took off running for the next bridge.
Well there were about 40 people on the boat and the boy’s enthusiasm was infectious making the boats passengers laugh, cheer and applaude as we neared a bridge. At one point, the blue shirted kid— started doing cartwheels for the cheerleaders on board.
I think everyone on boarding thought the next bridge would be their last— it wasn’t that we were going fast, but to beat the boat it took a good jog. After the tenth bridge the whole boat was into these kids exploits. I could hear from the back “there they are” running along the road next to the canal.
Our boat ride concluded where it started 8 kilometers or approximately 4 miles gof canals later. As the captain pivoted the boat 180 degrees and docked I looked over and saw our two runners breathing heavy with a nice glow of sweat. They stood next to the gangway and as passengers disembarked there were plenty of high fives, pats on the back and of course tips in all types of currency.
The innocent smile of accomplishment on their faces was great–it was like your favorite nephew hitting a game winning home run at little league. It had to be rewarded.