Culture – so much culture in Saint Petersburg. We could not get enough of it – and from time to time we had to relax. And Petersburg is also great for that.
Enjoying the Newsky Prospekt – the heart beat of Petersburg
We return to the Newsky Prospekt again and again, enjoying breaks in one of the many coffee houses while admiring the Russian ladies walk elegantly on their high “pencil” heals.
This was the Volkonsky restaurant where I had an excellent okroschka (cucumber soup on kefir, also served on kwas) and blackberries on fresh cheese on a bisquit – easy to prepare and delicious. Ideas to take home!
We also had an excellent ice cream in the posh hotel Europe (at normal prices). Wherever we stopped we enjoyed the atmosphere, the meals, the desserts, the coffee and the service.
The Gostiny Dvor is the traditional department store originating from the late 18th century. It consists of a gallery of shops arranged around a triangular court yard. This “guest court” is an interesting neoclassical building. However, we find empty shops, high prices and unmotivated shop assistants. Also the Dom Knigi has changed. What a pity for this nice art nouveau building.
However, there are many excellent smaller and bigger shops at and near Newsky Prospect.
A great address for gourmet gifts is the beautifully decorated Jelissejew shop where we buy delicious date confectionaries for our friends. Russians love pralines.
We very much liked the department store “Au Pont Rouge”. It has recently been renovated celebrating now its 110 years amniversary. It is luxury store overlooking the red bridge of the channel Moika.
This is what it looks like inside.
Here we try some wonderfully designed dresses supported by a very, very friendly shop assistant. Without buying anything we savour the atmosphere and dream wearing the design dresses. Some designs are of Russian origin.
Not far from the Au Pont Rouge, we find a great outlet shop where we buy an elegant jacket for Ursula. In the Pik overlooking Sennaja Ploschtschad we buy a nice jacket for me – ice rosa – and we have lunch in the restaurant on the top floor with a great view of the city.
Shopping is also great in the Kuznechny Market. Fruit, vegetables, meat and also antiques as well as Russian souvenirs at reasonable prices.
Here we buy gifts to take home, for instance potholders with tasteful Matrjoschki patched on to them. And from the food stalls we acquire dates, tea and chocolate.
Relaxing in the many parks forming green lungs of Saint Petersburg
There are many relaxing parks in Petersburg. On a sunny Sunday we visited the wonderfully restored Summer Garden with its fountains. The cosy pavillons offer coffee, sweets and small dishes.
The small castle is under renovation. Peter the Great had again asked the Swiss baroque architect Trezzini to design this castle.
Particularly famous is the fence from the late 18th century – this is a detail of it.
Another garden we liked was the Jelagin Park in the far north of Saint Petersburg. The neoclassical castle has been designed by Carlo Rossi.
It was a warm and sunny day, when we strolled around the park meeting friends with their daughters. We were amidst many citizens from Petersburg that enjoyed the garden with the ponds and the Newa river.
Jelagin and later the zars must have enjoyed it here on their island that is just ONE large garden surrounding one palace and a pavillon with another excellent restaurant.
The Jussupow park is not far from our apartment – a great evening walk.
On our way to the Smolny Cathedral we take a rest in the Tauride Gardens. Syringa bushes are now in bloom in Saint Petersburg – it is a late spring.
In New Holland we find beautiful herb gardens. We escape the pouring rain for a coffee in the friendly restaurant Deli. Soon the rain stops and we stroll around the island.
Peter the Great had built New Holland to store the wood needed for his navy. The buildings are now being renovated, nicely hidden behind curtains.
The hanging structure reflects in the pond.
And with the twinkling of an eye, visitors are asked to wait a bit, before stepping on to the freshly sown meadow. The grass has to grow first and strengthen – but very soon visitors will be allowed again to lie on the grass, read, eat or simply look into the sky.
The parks are also kids friendly. Eating a standard ice cream in the waffle coup we join the kids playing in the Alexander Gardens behind the Isaac’s cathedral.
Yes, there are many parks, small restaurants and shops to relax in Saint Petersburg – and to be ready again to absorb the culture offered in this town.