I just found out, on a shelf, the original St Petersburg Tales book. And I suddenly remembered that summer, a few years ago, when the Russian city was my host for few days. What to see, what to discover in St Petersburg? Well, I only can tell how to feel the city vibe while you arrive there.
St Petersburg was, at least for me, as a gigantic box of candies. I was thrilled by the beautiful architecture of the city, I was amazed by its Summer Gardens, I was eager to discover all the streets alongside channels and I was happily resting on a coffee shop, looking at the priceless white nights in the (probably) the most beautiful Russian city.
Playing as a tourist, I had to see, first, The Hermitage. Well, it’s quite impressive (over three million items, only a fraction of which are on display in 360 rooms) and, standing in the square in front of it, I had the feeling I am looking at a postcard. Beautiful outside, even better on the inside, make a stop here if you have just one day to spend in the city (www.hermitagemuseum.org).
The next stops: Grand Palace, with it superb architecture, Kazan Cathedral, then Mariinsky Theatre (www.mariinsky.ru/en/ for tickets), Peter & Paul Fortress (housing a cathedral where the Romanovs are buried, a former prison and various exhibitions, this large defensive fortress is on Zayachy Island) and the incredible five-domed St Petersburg’s most elaborate church with a classic Russian Orthodox exterior, and an interior decorated with some 7000 sq m of mosaics, the Church of the Resurrection of Christ.
Playing as a wanderer. There is no better city to be lost in the summer than St Petersburg. Despite what everybody woudl think about a Russian city, this one can be pretty hot in the summer time. Luckily, the many channels on which I could travel by a pretty boat. Actually, to have an idea, there are 342 bridges in total, 13 of which are movable. White Nights Festival, a local arts festival held during the season of the midnight sun, in conjunction with the romance of drawbridges, is an unforgettable sight you can see only in St. Petersburg.
And the city has its parks: Summer Garden (Letniy Sad) is my favourite, from far. It was established in 1704 and is one of the most fascinating places in St Petersburg. This 12 hectare area, with a strict geometric layout of alleys, is situated along the embankment of the Neva river.
And, believe it or not, St Petersburg has a beach. Yep, you read it right, a pretty beach, over Neva, on Vasilievsky Island. After that, leave for a minute the classical paths and try the Art Center Pushkinskaya 10 (http://www.p-10.ru) the alternative art centre – un underground spot for art, painting, graphic, books, music.
Playing as a gourmet lover. I used to love Russian food (well, in my childhood I didn’t know that my mother cooking is from Russian cusine). So, blini, beetroot soup, piroski, I tried them all. In the quest of my culinary memories, I tries, in St Petersburg, a lot. From Dostoevsky restaurant (located in the historical centre of the city where this great Russian writer lived for a while), with its glamour and style (http://www.dostoevskyfm.com) to Cafe Singer (the local situated in beautiful art nouveau building – http://singercafe.ru/en/about-us/) and Biblioteka, a hipster place, not a simply coffee house, but a restaurant, a bakery, flower shop, bar and a book store (www.ilovenevsky.ru/). No, I didn’t try a vodka bar, but rumor has it Russian Vodka Room No 1, with 213 different kinds of vodka is the place to taste it (vodkaroom.ru/en).