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An Introduction to Skating in Russia
Skating the Dikes of Kotlin Island
by Kathie Fry
Photos of Skating the Dikes of Russia
One of my favorite day trips from St. Petersburg is to skate from
Kronstadt on the Island of Kotlin, back toward St. Petersburg
on a series of dikes and bridges. Kotlin Island is the home of
a naval fortress that was originally built to guard St. Petersburg
against attacks from the sea.
You can access the island by car because it is connected to the mainland
by bridges and narrow strips of land. The most pleasant way to travel there
is by boat, but if that is not possible you can hire a taxi or use one of
the public mini-van services. NOTE: If you ever visit Peterhof by boat,
and you look across the water from the spot where you land, you can see
the dikes and the town of Kronstadt off in the distance.
Usually our first stop after arriving in Kronstadt is to visit the
naval museum housed in the former Kronstadt Maritime Cathedral. After
the museum we visit a local shipyard to get a close-up look at
some Russian warships and submarines. The road into the shipyard
is almost not skateable and getting close to the ships usually requires
a combination of skating, walking, and stepping over bad places in the
road. You could always remove your skates, but that would not be
nearly as much fun! After leaving the shipyard, we skate through
the streets of Kronstadt, stopping in different places to view the shoreline
and several military monuments.
Finally, with great excitement and anticipation, we arrive at the
entrance to the dike road. The highway on top of the dikes is mostly
fine for skating, although sometimes, as you approach or leave one of
the dikes, you might encounter some gravel or a rough spot in the road.
I am only an intermediate skater, and I have never found this to be
a problem, but I would advise you to pay close attention to the skating surface when
you are on this road. The route across the dikes is mostly a series of gentle
uphills and downhills as you skate from dike to dike, with the area just
before and after each dike being the steepest. We usually stop at the top of
each dike to drink water, take photos, and regroup.
After we reach the mainland at the end of the dike road, we move off the main
highway onto a quieter country road that runs through a beautiful pine forest.
Usually we skate this road at a more relaxed pace, stopping frequently
to take photos, talk to the locals, and view the dachas (country homes)
which range from very simple to ultra-luxurious. We continue through
the forest until we reach the resort area of Sestroresk, where we linger
for a swim and a stroll on the beach. If you walk far enough up
this beach there is a naturist area where you can swim and sunbathe in the nude!
After leaving the beach, we usually stop at a cafe for lunch, and skate to
the nearest town to catch a train back to St. Petersburg. It is also possible
to skate all the way back to the city if you are feeling
especially energetic at this point.
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