The border zone
At the border I again witnessed an interesting contrast. At the Estonian side is everything tidied up, town and fortress looking forward to tourists, children swimming in the border river, the sun was shining. On the Russian side lots of barbed wire, trucks parking place and you can only get to the fortress by a large circle around all of this, cloudy weather. By the river is a fence and you cannot even make a photo there.
To make the atmosphere perfect, already the first day I managed to breach a poorly marked border zone area and make an unplanned visit to the Leningrad nuclear power station (again on this nuclear trip; by the way there are still four Chernobyl-type reactors burning here), so thereafter lots of people wanted to meet me – the local guards, the police, the border guards.
The next day I was fixing my impression from Russia in the beautiful gardens of the Petergof palace. But even here is a clear border line: inside are the paid-entry gardens for tourists, where every few minutes a fast boat spits out a new batch of Chinese tourists coming from and returing straight to the very centre of Saint Petersburg – here is everything shiny. The parks and buildings from tsars’ era continue beyond the fence much further into the town – but here most of the buildings are already much less shiny. And outside the town are just dirty, barbed-wired industrial and military areas.