St. Petersburg: Russia’s Pride!
In St. Petersburg your senses never rest and this majestic place retakes center stage with the growing prosperity bringing renewed vigor. This imperial capital of the tsars is now one of the world’s most beautiful cities with all the ingredients that make it a traveler’s delight. It is a magnificent city that residents claim has a life and soul of its own, making it very different from all other places in Russia, including Moscow. Far more English is spoken here than in Moscow.
This grand city was built by Peter the Great less than three centuries ago, but the huge squares and palaces of St. Petersburg are a mirror to Russia’s past than any other place. The city offers a contrasting experience in the quietness of Peter’s cottage, the placid canals, the royalty of the Winter Palace and the hot Russian girls dating possibilities.
On your visit, make sure you stay close to the historic area of the city, with access to Nevsky Prospekt, the main retail street. Another suggestion you may want to take is to be prepared to walk, as that’s the best way of getting around the city. The public transportation system does not offer many stops and the subway system with the deepest tunnels and even steeper escalators can be quite confusing. Of course, if you’re going to check out the trains just for the experience, it is certainly fun.
While everyone has their own interests when visiting a new country, there are a handful of sites that cannot be missed.
Explore St. Petersburg
Like Venice and Amsterdam, this city is a series of islands separated by canals. You will find boats filled with tourists plying the city’s canals, under bridges. Hundreds of icons, onion domes, Russian art and architecture, the Stalin baroque, and an amazing array of exotic and unusual sensibilities awaits you. The best part about Russian art and architecture is that they are not difficult to understand. Knowing a little bit about what they mean can bring life to the culture and personality of the entire country.
Peter and Paul Fortress that occupies the complete Hare island, is the final resting place of many tsars. This fortress marks the beginning of modern Russia with its new capital city in 1703. It includes several museums, a cathedral, prison and mint.
You can gain the most beautiful vision of “Ancient Russia” from visiting the Church of the Savior on the Blood. It is a memorial church that was built on the spot where the assassination of Tsar Alexander II took place in 1881. You will find an incredible range of mosaics and stonework. Any trip to Saint Petersburg should include a visit to this amazing Church.
Alexander Nevsky Monastery, the prime monastery of Peter the Great’s Russia, is a historic complex of churches, such as the Church of Annunciation and the Trinity Cathedral. It is home to some of the oldest buildings of Russia. One of the major attractions within the monastery is the graveyards, the Tikhvin cemetery and the Lazarus cemetery are both the final resting place of many famous Russians.
The Russian icon tradition is known to the entire world and the best collections are found in the Tretyakov Gallery and the Russian Museum. There are also many Russian churches that preserve traditional works. The icons are intended to inspire self reflection. Take a look at the way the lines that create the figure are arranged, the way they make your eyes dance around.
When you visit the Russian Museum, you will find 400,000 exhibits of Russian art, and the complex includes the House of Peter the Great, St. Michael’s Castle, Stroganov, Summer Palaces, the Marble and three gardens. So, keep aside plenty of time for this visit.
The Neva Embankments have been built to control flooding along River Neva. The sphinx and lion sculptures showcase excellent architectural detail. The paths on the top are filled with walkers during the white nights of summer (late May to mid July), when the sky is white at nights providing beautiful view of the water and ships. You will see people walking around even at 2 am, as if it were a bright sunny morning.
An architectural marvel and a wonderland of semiprecious stones and metals, St. Isaac’s Cathedral is a national monument. When you walk through one of the porticos, the columns are made with single pieces of red granite. It dominates the skyline of St. Petersburg and if you climb up the 300 or so steps, there is an observation walkway at the base of the cathedral’s dome, which offers breathtaking views of the city. This church is now mostly a museum and prayers are held only on important ecclesiastical holidays.
Palace Square is where you will find a lot of important buildings, such as the Alexander Column, the Winter Palace, The Hermitage Museum, open-air area for concerts, political meetings, sports events and parades. Consider your tour incomplete without a visit to the Hermitage Museum, which is one of the planet’s best museums.
For some upscale shopping and restaurants, the best place to head to is the Nevsky Prospekt. It is a little noisy, but filled with action.
The Strelka, the spit of Vasilevsky Island is the historic economic heart of the city, with the city’s Stock Exchange building in it. It offers panoramic views of the Peter and Paul Fortress and the Hermitage Museum.
After a tour of the place, if you are looking for a place to relax, it is the Summer Gardensyou should be heading to. The baroque sculptures, the waterways and the shaded paths can soothe your being. Take a leisurely stroll or take in the scenery while relaxing in this cozy summer palace that once housed Peter the Great.
Before leaving the city, a memento of handpainted eggs with religious icons is a great buy. You can get them at any craft market near the Church of Our Savior.
Food & Drink
Any country you visit, the one thing everyone wants to do is try the authentic cuisine of the place. What do the locals eat? What is their traditional food? You just cannot go to Russia without knowing the right ones.
Russian cuisine is extremely diverse and the tastiest Russian meals are home-made. While that may not be a possibility as a visitor to Russia, unless you befriend a nice St. Petersburg girl, you will find authentic food in several restaurants in St. Petersburg.
Some of the must-taste authentic Russian food includes: Pelmeni, which is minced meat balls wrapped in thin dough. Blini made of wheat flour baked with a variety of fillings. Taste the best and freshest blini in the city at Teremok.
Stroganoff is a dish from the old cookbooks, a dish that is made from sautéed beef served in Smetana sauce. It is very popular around the world.
The most popular Russian soup is Borch. It is made of meat or chicken with other vegetables like carrots, potatoes, beetroots and others. Most foreign tourists seem to enjoy Solyanka more than Borch. It is made from different kinds of meat, pickled olives, cucumbers, pepper and spices.
Minced meat and rice with spices wrapped in cabbage leaves and stewed in a tomato sauce with greens, prunes, pepper and other spices, Golubtsi is a Russian speciality that is mostly cooked on special occasions. Ask for that if you are there on some Russian festival.
Other great Russian food that you may want to try is the Ploy; Vareniki; Meat “a la Peter”, which is supposed to be Peter the Great’s favorite food and is cooked for great holidays; Syrniki, which are scones made with cottage cheese mixed with eggs, flour and sugar - foreign guests are said to be crazy about them; ukha is a very special Russian fish soup and you go fishing with some locals and taste it outdoors to get the real flavor; Kholodets is a special dish prepared with mashed meat and set like jelly.
Russians love mushrooms and they eat them in large quantities. The variety of mushrooms you will see is baffling to a foreigner visiting St. Petersburg. Mushroom picking is something you might want to do to feel the real Russia.
Another must-try is Herring “under the fur coat” which is a layered salad and contains all sorts of vegetables, eggs and mayonnaise.
The restaurant “At Gorchakov’s” is one of the best in St. Petersburg and there are many others. It is worth queuing up outside Stolle café for their exquisite sweet and savory pies. This chain of pie cafes exemplifies the city’s relaxed new vibe. Try the piroghi while there.
Another favorite of the tourists is Podvorye, a country restaurant, which has the kitschy log-cabin look, but the food is so authentic that it borders on anthropological. Sit on long wooden benches and drink house-made kvass (a famous Russian brew made from fermented black bread). Their version of venison stroganoff is a must-try.
For a real taste of Russian culture, the place to visit is the Na Zdorovye, decorated like an old Russian farmhouse. Their selection of Vodkato is awesome.
Nightlife & Women
Club culture came to St. Petersburg in the late 80s, and it was the first city in Russia to adapt it. What initially started as underground rock clubs and art centers later expanded to rave clubs in the beginning of the 90s.
But this culture took off in a big way during the mid 90s, with the popularity of clubs like Moloko, Mama and FishFabrique. Today, St. Petersburg is known as a haven for jazz and rock music concerts. Jazz and arty clubs are a great place to drink some beer, meet people, especially the long-legged St. Petersburg women. You will find that women of all ages frequent these places and the relaxed atmosphere makes it easier to meet Russian girls.
The Jazz Philharmonic Hall nightclub is a good place to enjoy some jazz while mingling. Plenty of places for some ballet and classical music, if that is your kind of thing.
Russian girls are polite and don’t like rude men. That is one of the reasons they turn their attention to foreign men, as they are polite towards them.
Prostitution is officially illegal in Russia. There are Strip clubs with naked girls, hot massages, and you can even ask a hot Russian woman to join you for dinner. Most clubs and discos have pole dancing where the dancers are willing to do you lots of favors. Of course, the quality of these places depends on the admission fee, and you are assured of better quality if you can pay a higher fee. For some special attention, you can pay for a lap dance, a dance in a private room, shower shows etc.
Reputable escort and model agencies offer the companionship you may be seeking from nice St. Petersburg women. This is the lady you may not mind taking out for a drink and dinner or to the theater, or even someone you might want to spend some time with.
A St. Petersburg woman dating may be something you are looking for if you are spending some time in the city. Clubs and bars are places that can lead you to the love of your life or a quality Russian woman the can keep you company. Some popular places in the city center are “Budapest,” “Fidel,” and “Hemingway Bar.”
We have to caution you against engaging in prostitution anywhere in Russia, as the country has an increasing rate of HIV. So stay away from picking up women along the streets. Also taking an unknown Russian woman back to the hotel can be dangerous, as they have been known to rob men of all their belongings.
Apart from that, St. Petersburg can be a fascinating experience even for the most experienced traveler. It leaves you wanting more.