If you’re coming to St.
Petersburg for the first time (like me), it’s great to get an introduction to some
of the basics. Amy Ballard, Senior Historic Preservation Specialist at the
Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC shares her longtime passion for
the city in today’s blog post. We hope it inspires you as plan for the trip. LN.
I’ve been traveling to Russia since 1973 and there’s one place I keep returning to
and that’s St. Petersburg. Every time I go I discover something new and I hope you
will love it as much as I do. Here are just a few tips that may help!
About money: you can’t get rubles before arriving in Russia, but ATMs are prevalent
and easy to use with instructions in English. Visa, MasterCard and American Express
are accepted most places. If you plan to bring US$, make sure the bills are new.
Although we have a full schedule, one needs to eat! And St. Petersburg is full of
wonderful coffee shops (yes, there’s even a Starbucks), restaurants featuring every
type of cuisine (with Russian and English menus), and fast food from McDonalds to
Carl Jrs to name a few). If you’re in the mood for Russian food, look no further
than Russian Vodka Museum. Actually it’s a restaurant with a museum dedicated
to the history of vodka. It’s next door to the Stroganoff Steak House, and a
long-time St. Petersburg resident owns them both. They’re a short walk from the
Hermitage, and St. Isaacs Square.
Any restaurant with the name “Ginza Group” is a sure bet for good food. The Ginza
Group owns the “Mari Vanna” chain of Russian restaurants that are in London,
New York, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles. There’s one in St. Petersburg too.
Speaking of fast food, there’s the delicious Russian chain Teremok, where you
can have a tasty meal of borscht (beet and beef soup) and blini (Russian pancake
with filling). Teremok features every kind of blini and is a good place for
vegetarians. Another chain in town is Stolle. The decor is reminiscent of an
early 20th century café with historic photos of the city on the wall.
Stolle features pies of all kinds: cabbage, meat, fish, vegetables, and delicious
berry pies for dessert. There’s one close to the Hermitage on Nevsky Prospect (the
5th Avenue of Petersburg).