Updated: Jul 18
St. Petersburg (also called Sankt Peterburg) is the 2nd largest city in Russia. It's a vast northern city, lay on the banks of the Baltic Sea, with ample parks, boulevards, and a vast number of Palaces and museums. Most of the city's attractions are grouped in one central area, making it very easy for tourists. The metro is cheap and effective. Uber rides are very competitive, allowing driving to distance sites without any hesitation. However, it seems like all the drivers are crazy: pushing, speeding quickly, very aggressive. So it's better to take the metro whenever possible. Because of the sanctions of western countries on Russia, the ruble rate is low, which makes almost everything in Russia very cheap: Hotels, flights, restaurants, transportation – it's all cheap.
Many people don't speak English here. Google Translate saved me more than once - it's a must.
Liat was invited to be a keynote speaker at a fascinating conference at St. Petersburg University. We came to the city in the evening time. We took an Uber ride from the airport to our hotel, located in Vasileostrovsky District, one of the Islands in the city's heart. We immediately searched for a place to eat. The hotel receptionist recommended an excellent Soviet-like restaurant designed like an apartment from the Soviet era: Sovestkoye Kafe Kvartirka. It was a great choice. We ordered some traditional Russian dishes, accompanied by vodka, and went to sleep happy and kind.
The next day, I walked Liat to the university and continued to Peter and Paul Fortress. Unfortunately, it took me a long time to understand that most museums on this island are close. All the museums in St. Petersburg have different days off. On Wednesdays, Peter and Paul Fortress got no open museums and churches. Anyway, I strolled on the tiny island for my pleasure. I was impressed by the massive and decorative buildings and gates. The island is like an open museum, with explanatory panels everywhere.
I took a panoramic view from the top of the fortress's walls. Then, I used the same ticket to enter a very short but unique hidden tunnel that was just discovered and open for travelers a few years ago.
I remember that a few minutes before noon, I got an urgent phone call. While I was talking, I suddenly heard the noise of a loud explosion. It was horrifying. But I saw lots of people standing and looking at the wall. Then, I realized that this was the traditional cannon shot – every day at noon. Too bad I didn't have the time to get ready for it.
At noon, I walked into the Military Historical Museum of Artillery, Engineers and Signal Corps. I had already visited several military museums. When it comes to the middle ages, they are the same: armors, shields, swords, lances, and clothes of knights and horses. This museum also features gums and cannons from the 17th-century onwards, an impressive Tanks display, missiles, and communication technology exhibitions. There is also an exhibition on Kalashnikov – a Russian national hero that developed the famous gun. Unfortunately, the whole display is written in Russian, with no translation into English or other languages.
After this visit, I went back to the university to hear the lecture of Liat – which was terrific as usual. Finally, we closed the day with dinner at Neva Cafe on the bank of Neva River and went to sleep.
Liat joined me on the 3rd day for a few hours. Then, we took the metro to Gostiny Dvor station, named after the first shopping center of St. Petersburg and one of the oldest in the world, founded in the 18th century.
After a short walk in the mall, we went to see Eliseevy Merchants' Shop - a one-of-a-kind deli - with all kinds of chocolates, pastry, wines, and so on. Liat was very curious about a sugared pepper. Not my taste…
We started walking on Nevsky avenue towards Palace Square. On our way, we saw the monument of Catherine the Great, the Kazan Cathedral, The Singer House – once the home of the sewing machines company and now the largest bookstore of St. Petersburg. Besides its unique appearance, it's also a great place to visit the restrooms.