architecture · no recipe · St Petersburg

Tram to Polytechnic University

Tram to Polytechnic University

My recent tram trip to the Polytechnic University campus and park started from the deserted Summer Garden in the heart of St Petersburg. It was a Sunday morning and there was me and an unusual combination of snow and leaves. There was not even any ice on the canals and rivers of the city back then. What a sudden winter attack in early November!

Tram to Polytechnic University

Winter and snow works magic and makes the city – and probably any place in general – more silent. Have you ever though that winter is a silent season? Even a busy city succumbs to this silence.

Tram to Polytechnic University

The city on a Sunday morning is slow and particularly in such frosty weather is also less populated which helps soak in the atmosphere and pay more attention to the details. Which apparently I did as almost all the photos I took on my way from the Summer Garden across Neva to the Peter and Paul Fortress on Petrogradskaya Side were all about…

Tram to Polytechnic University

street lights. Which usually grasp my attention anyway. So here we go:

Tram to Polytechnic University

never actually noticed this peculiar one guarding the gates to the Peter and Paul Fortress:

Tram to Polytechnic University

love those 18th century windows

Tram to Polytechnic University

while the square in front of the Peter and Paul Cathedral looked particularly theatrical:

Tram to Polytechnic University

a deserted path looking more like some movie set:

Tram to Polytechnic University

what a curve!

Tram to Polytechnic University

Then I walked to the terminus of the tram 6A and was lucky enough to get on one which was standing there as if waiting for me. It was only some minutes later that I realize I’m pretty much not used to tramway style of life! The lady was obviously not in a hurry, she checked all the indicators and chatted with the conductor about what they were eating this weekend. At first I was sitting a little bit nervous with the fact we were not moving anywhere but then I started getting into the tramway style of life… Tramways are not all new and warm but they have this stubborn old-fashioned something about them that makes trams and the people using them something of a sect. If you get on a tram no one INSIDE the tram will look at you kind of strange (like, why do you use this slow tram and do not use metro instead?!). They all take it easy, the time and the distance.

Tram to Polytechnic University

Tram 6A starts from the zoo and runs through the Petrogradskaya side onto the other side of the river Neva, to the Vyborgskaya side where it has its terminus at the Finlandsky Railway Station. There I got off and had to wait for quite a time to get on the next tram which would take me back first and then up north.

Tram to Polytechnic University

Tramway 40 has quite a long route though it used to be even longer. It crosses two islands and gets back to the Vyborgskaya side. It was for the first time that I saw the city from this point (I don’t drive so usually experience the city either walking or… taking the metro which is the fastest means of transport), I mean, from the middle of the streets and bridges. Here is the refurbished Aurora cruiser, by the way, and somewhere on the other side of Neva my workplace:

Tram to Polytechnic University

Back to the Petrogradskaya side the tram runs along river Karpovka and stops there where I walked some time ago visiting those Art Nouveau and constructivist spots of the island. Here are two Art Nouveau buildings, a small mansion which belonged to a family of artists and a city tramway power substation.

Tram to Polytechnic University

The best place on a tramway is at the back. It might be quite a bumpy ride if you choose to stay there but then you can see the whole panorama. As we crossed the Kamenny Island, we got back to the Vyborgskaya side where we proceeded to such places in the city where I have never been. Well, starting from this square (Svetlanovskaya square):

Tram to Polytechnic University

This reminded me of the important role that the tramway played in the Siege. It stopped operating only during the hardest winter of 1941-42 but then continued to serve the besieged city in spring 1942. By the way, before the USSR broke up the city tramway network was number one in the world with its 600 km of tracks. It’s a pity most of those crazy routes crisscrossing the entire city are now disused.

Tram to Polytechnic University

I had to get off tram 40 in the middle of the road as there was some accident along the line but we were very close to my destination that day: Polytechnic University campus. And there was sun which brightened the day and made me more resistant to the cold. I wondered off the main building along the sleepy academic buildings most of which were completed in the beginning of the 20th century.

Tram to Polytechnic University

The campus is massive, it starts from the previous metro station Ploshchad Muzhestva and stretches up to the Politehnicheskaya metro station. It’s open to public and I spotted quite a lot of families with children. They wouldn’t pay extra attention to this early 1930s constructivist block though:

Tram to Polytechnic University

My Grandad graduated from this university and he lived in one of the dormitories built in the 1930s which have been partially taken down now (even the street he still recalls the name of doesn’t exist anymore). From what I understand, his dorms should have also been built at around the same time. I still have to discover that district near Ploshchad Muzhestva which I only saw from the tram window. My next point of interest was this hydraulic station, one of the most attractive constructions in the area. Built in 1905 to resemble a watchtower and a garden pavilion at the same time, this tower supplied water until 1953 and also served as a laboratory.

Tram to Polytechnic University

The tower stands in the ‘forest’ or park which occupies quite a chunk of the campus. There was so much snow there that I already thought of skiing which I haven’t done for many years. I didn’t wander further (or farther) as I was getting cold, so I headed to the nearby Politehnicheskaya metro station, saluted the ever present pigeons and…

Tram to Polytechnic University

… oh yes, took metro back home, the fastest but much less nostalgic nor anywhere close to being a sightseeing means of transport (if we don’t take into consideration the stations themselves, like Avtovo one). Will try to dig out other peculiar tramway lines to discover more unusual spots of the city.

This post goes to the ever-growing St Petersburg series.
G.

architecture · no recipe · on USSR / Russia · St Petersburg · travel

Autumn in Oreshek Fortress and Dacha

Oreshek in Autumn

While it’s snowing outside (first snow in St Petersburg today) I’m continuing the “Autumn in…” series with Oreshek Fortress and our dacha which are relatively close to each other. This time we went to Oreshek with a train which stops almost at the pier from where there’s a boat on which you can get to the island.

Oreshek in Autumn

It was a super windy day but there was sun which brightened the things up and made us stubbornly wind-resistant. The Neva looked very agitated – even more so than in May earlier this year:

Oreshek in Autumn

This is where the river Neva takes its start, flowing right from the Ladoga Lake. And it just crashes into the island with all its force. The island actually looks (and feels) like a ship forever moored right in the middle of the river.

Oreshek in Autumn

The rusty colours of autumn.

Oreshek in Autumn

…and the mossy colours of autumn:

Oreshek in Autumn

And at our dacha – the never-ending apple story that we’ve got ourselves up until ears this year. That day we’ve raked (a new word for me but definitely not at all a new activity!) a lot all the dead leaves and it felt good. Really good.

Dacha in Late Autumn

the dying colours of autumn:

Dacha in Late Autumn

the withered colours of autumn:

Dacha in Late Autumn

and a sudden pink delight:

Dacha in Late Autumn

delightful from all sides:

Dacha in Late Autumn

More “autumn in…” posts are coming soon.

Adding this post to the St Petersburg collection.

G.

architecture · on USSR / Russia · St Petersburg · travel

Autumn in Tsarskoye Selo

Tsarskoye Selo in Autumn

I’ve been travelling in and about St Petersburg and its region these months and there’s quite a lot of photos in the autumnal mood. I will start the series “Autumn in…” from Tsarskoye Selo.

Tsarskoye Selo in Autumn

We came to Tsarksoye Selo (aka Pushkin) when the leaves were all over the place but also still on the trees. We didn’t go to the palace or to the place where Pushkin studies but wondered quite a bit through the park(s), also visiting that Art-Nouveau spot of the city which looks even more decadent with the fallen leaves.

Tsarskoye Selo in Autumn

There was very little sun that day. Actually, this autumn is not very generous on good weather at all. We had Indian summer for 1 day only which is not common even for such a notoriously grey and cold place as St Petersburg.

Tsarskoye Selo in Autumn

(Habitually) putting my winter hat on in the mornings doesn’t strike me anymore – we’ve been doing this since the beginning of October this year. Will be doing the same during the next 6-7 months.

Tsarskoye Selo in Autumn

Good God, spring is so far away, one could actually stop believing in its existence after more than half a year of winter in these parts! I start doubting there’s anything warm and comfortable on this planet somewhere in October.

Tsarskoye Selo in Autumn

However, I do enjoy the decadence of autumn, the clear air and the long shadows. And the subtle reflections on the smooth dark mirror-like  water.

Tsarskoye Selo in Autumn

Especially when there’s sun which creates the contrast and accentuates the lines. Without it the colours are a bit bleak like on this photo.

Tsarskoye Selo in Autumn

I love those colourful maple leaves, their rustling sound when you walk on the grass. Girls were making wreaths with the leaves, a somewhat forgotten skill from childhood.

 

Tsarskoye Selo in Autumn

If you’re in St Petersburg in autumn, don’t miss a walk in one of the parks in and around the city. Take a flask full of flavourful tea, some sandwiches and a warm scarf. And a good company!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This post goes to St Petersburg series.

G.

architecture · no recipe · St Petersburg

Official St Petersburg or Along Bolshaya Morskaya

Bolshaya Morskaya, St Petersburg

Back in June I walked to and along one of the most ‘official’ streets of St Petersburg – Bolshaya Morskaya which literally means Big Naval or Big Maritime. It runs all the way from the Palace Square for more than a kilometer and it used to be so posh and oh so rich back in the old days.

Bolshaya Morskaya, St Petersburg

We’ll start from the Neva embankment, at the strangest place in the city with the authentic stone pavement from leftover from the 18th century. The Neva embankment here is considered to be the face of St Petersburg, at least its official facade – or else front-door, paradny Petersburg.

Bolshaya Morskaya, St Petersburg

The best viewpoint to admire the front-door St Petersburg is from the water. Or you can enjoy the view across the Neva river: stone embankments, famous skyline and boats. In summer the river gets pretty busy which adds to the overall brouhaha of the city.

Bolshaya Morskaya, St Petersburg

And yet, you can take your time, stop for a while and observe.

Bolshaya Morskaya, St Petersburg

The stone embankments of St Petersburg deserve a separate post, they are a real masterpiece. Although my fellow citizens (me included) prefer to avoid them on especially hot days. Reason? Well, other fellow citizens persistently use them as public WCs…

Bolshaya Morskaya, St Petersburg

Same as the courtyards, unfortunately. But if you quickly make your photo and dash outside, there’s no harm. We’ve moved away from the river now, joining the Bolshaya Morskaya Street. My eyes immediately set upon these two Art Nouveau buildings standing side-by-side:

Bolshaya Morskaya, St Petersburg

The story of this very spot (Bolshaya Morskaya 22) seems to go back to the very early days of the city when – allegedly – a Greek captain would settle here and thus establish a seaman community. They say he was even one of the first inhabitants of St Petersburg in general! This place later changed hands, styles and purpose. After serving as a house of St Petersburg head policemen, the central telephone station got its new facade in 1905:

Bolshaya Morskaya, St Petersburg

It is still occupied by the main telecommunications company. Next to it is yet another well-known building (Bolshaya Morskaya 24) which also retains its original purpose throughout the years:

Bolshaya Morskaya, St Petersburg

This is the Faberge house built in 1899-1900. Previously this place belonged to a bell master, then to a goldsmith and later to a jeweler but also to a bookseller who would have Alexander Pushkin among his clients.

Bolshaya Morskaya, St Petersburg

However, its most celebrated owner was Karl Faberge who purchased this building and got it revamped in Art Nouveau for his shop, workshops and apartments. The different surface styles of the same red granite from Gangut make it stand out of the crowd: it’s massive, it’s polished, it’s expensive! And then you sneak into the courtyard…

Bolshaya Morskaya, St Petersburg

As is usually the case with the Art Nouveau buildings, their backyards are sometimes even more architecturally curious than the front face. The staircase windows follow the movement of the steps while the entrance to the courtyard is adorned with tiles:

Bolshaya Morskaya, St Petersburg

And once more – here’s the facade of Bolshaya Morskaya 35, which used to belong to the ‘Russia’ Insurance Company. Look at the elaborate majolica created after Nikolai Roerich’s drawings. The original frieze didn’t survive but was restored in 2009. You can hardly see it, it’s so high up but it’s wonderfully fairy-tale-ish!

Bolshaya Morskaya, St Petersburg

And here’s what you’ll find behind its face:

Bolshaya Morskaya, St Petersburg

Super-rusty style

Bolshaya Morskaya, St Petersburg

Moving further along Bolshaya Morskaya, past St Isaac Cathedral, you get to the Nabokov fanily’s house (Bolshaya Morskaya 47):

Bolshaya Morskaya, St Petersburg

His family lived here and Vladimir spent his childhood behind all these lavish decorations. Still have to visit his museum there – not that I’m any fan of his, but rather to see the interior.

Bolshaya Morskaya, St Petersburg

Moving off Bolshaya Morskaya to the Moyka River Embankment (leaving one of my ex-work places looking like Hermitage behind), you’ll come across the New Holland island, one of the city’s artificial islands, which is under reconstruction now. Not sure what will eventually become of it but they say it will be some artsy space plus hotels and shops. This is what you do with an unused 18th century naval port 🙂

Bolshaya Morskaya, St Petersburg

A ship-like building along the Moyka Embankment grabs your attention by these, well, dangerous balconies and the rhythmic waves of bay windows.

Bolshaya Morskaya, St Petersburg

And it’s actually known in the city as the House with Bay Windows. It was built by one of the masters of the ‘brick-style‘ quite popular at the end of the 19th century, with the Gothic elements which make it into some sort of a brick castle.

Bolshaya Morskaya, St Petersburg

Right next to it is the architect’s own mansion, again in the brick style which preceded the Art Nouveau in St Petersburg. It was actually constructed earlier than the previous building and still carries the emblem devised by the same architect who set up the St Petersburg architectural society (look under the balcony).

Bolshaya Morskaya, St Petersburg

And here I had to stop and walk back: we were to listen to some choral music in the St Isaac Cathedral later that day. More Art Nouveau stories coming for sure sometime soon.

This post goes to the St Petersburg series.

G.
architecture · no recipe · St Petersburg

Vasilyevsky Island, Island of Men

Vasilyevsky Island

Vasilyevsky Island in St Petersburg is an island of men – with its long list of man-architects, with its connection to so many historic man-figures and with just men living and working there. Although you won’t see any on my photos, you will have to believe me, I met mostly men on Vasilyevsky Island!

Vasilyevsky Island

Last year I did just a bit of walking on the island (aka V.O., Vasilyevsky Ostrov), visiting one of its museums. But this year the island turned out to be indeed a new discovery for me. After studying on the southern edge of V.O. for four (!) years I somehow got so fed up with the terrible traffic situation (aggravated by the fact I was not particularly enjoying what I was standing in traffic jams for) that I almost deleted this district from my (architectural) walks.

Vasilyevsky Island

I tried to defy this by walking for three hours one evening – and covering just about 1/3 of the city’s biggest island. The sun was not present much that evening and there was the imminent rain menace in the air but who would it ever stop in St Petersburg? This also added to the overall atmosphere:

Vasilyevsky Island

It was nice finally walking on the island without being in a hurry although I did try to hurry myself up from time to time when it was obvious I was wandering off a bit too much. I used my Art Nouveau ‘map’ with the most interesting items on it only as a general plan for my trip as it was almost impossible sometimes not to get lured by those curious things hidden somewhere behind the island’s official ‘face’:

Vasilyevsky Island

I investigated into the V.O. ‘s Southern part starting from some of the most authentic (and somewhat deserted) 18th century corners to the East:

Vasilyevsky Island

With the original pavement though a bit carried away by the time:

Vasilyevsky Island

Did you know that all those straight streets on V.O. used to be canals? You see, Peter the Great wanted to have his own Venice of the North here and so – obviously – a prolific Italian architect Domenico Trezzini designed the plan of the island with canals. But they say that the city major Menshikov was too greedy and under his command the canals got way too narrow.

Vasilyevsky Island

They got later filled with earth thus becoming streets. They are called ‘lines’ and are numbered: actually, each side of the line is numbered separately. Moreover, lines with even numbers in their names have houses with odd numbers and vice versa! But the island has more weird stories to tell. Especially its backyards like this one with the remnants of the USSR used as shields to block windows:

Vasilyevsky Island

This tiny house resembles a face:

Vasilyevsky Island

Oh those rough views one find behind the facades in St Petersburg!

Vasilyevsky Island
But let us not forget about men! One of the most notable Art-Nouveau facades of the island is this red one on the Makarova Embankment – and it belonged to duke Stenbock-Fermor and was built by a man-architect of course:

Vasilyevsky Island

To add to the long list of men of the Vasilyevsky Island, here is the pharmacy, lab, factory and the residential building of Pel on the 7th line of V.O. (picture taken back in June 2015). Pel used to be the official provider of medications for the Royal court. They say that some of his inventions are used even nowadays (the pharmacy is open too)!

Vasilyevsky Island

Although the most attractive urban legend connected to his name is about the Griffon Tower located in the courtyard (unfortunately, the access is blocked – too many curious people!). Pel was believed to be an alchemist and to keep his griffons in the tower… Meanwhile, let’s continue our list of men (by the way, the island’s name comes from some Vasily, though there’s no 100% sure version as to who this Vasily was).

Vasilyevsky Island

This laconic building belonged to a general-major and was built during the late period of Art-Nouveau also known as ‘rational modern’. Artists (men?) would have their studios in the attic… Somewhat in the same line (but on different lines of the V.O.) are these ‘hygienic’ modernist buildings facing each other:

Vasilyevsky Island

I can’t say that I like this late Art-Nouveau period, it doesn’t give off any warmth of ‘home’:

Vasilyevsky Island

Even this Nordic-style Art-Nouveau building has a much colder appearance than its counterparts somewhere on Petrogradsky island:

Vasilyevsky Island

I really like these shapes growing one on top of the other – or rather sprouting one from another!

Vasilyevsky Island

this one too:

Vasilyevsky Island

And this one is just the ultimate monument to the utter rationalism:

Vasilyevsky Island

some gloomy castle-like house:

Vasilyevsky Island
and how about this weird helm-looking tower:

Vasilyevsky Island

or the attempt at bringing some life to the tiles:

Vasilyevsky Island

sometimes the backyards are indeed much more interesting, with all the weird architectonics and variations on the facade decoration:

Vasilyevsky Island
and then there’s just a WALL:

Vasilyevsky Island

or this very confusing and I would say alarming wall:

Vasilyevsky Island

and a very elaborately structured and decorated wall:

Vasilyevsky Island

was it just weather or even this bright facade is also a little bit cold?

Vasilyevsky Island
and here’s some curiously and seriously Sovieticized facade:
Vasilyevsky Island

More yellow – but in a much more attractive style:

Vasilyevsky Island

I liked this mansion a lot – one of the earliest examples of Art Nouveau in the city and already with all those characteristic details:

Vasilyevsky Island

Of course belonging to a man who would deliver freight from Finland to Russia. His mansion / bureau should be very beautiful inside.

Vasilyevsky Island

Yet another mansion is now occupied by the Medical Department of the State University. Doesn’t it look so strange with this wooden top?

Vasilyevsky Island

Again, it should be quite a sight inside too. When I got to this mansion on the 21st line it started to rain and the light was going away bit by bit but I stubbornly continued my voyage. Walking to and fro from one line’s end to the other, I finally came up to the embankment of the river Neva, there where the ships and the factories are:

Vasilyevsky Island
I told myself this would be the last destination as it was also getting cold. And there it was, the majestically horrendous constructivist tower, all alone and forgotten there at the Southern end of the Island:

Vasilyevsky Island

so very industrial from all sides:

Vasilyevsky Island

This is the water tower of the Krasny Gvozdilschik factory which would make wire and nails.

Vasilyevsky Island

‘Protected by the state’ as most of the constructivist heritage of the city.

Vasilyevsky Island

And then by miracle I caught a marshrutka (shared taxi; its driver was a man) which took me home across the illuminated city. And I still have 2/3rds of the Vasilyevsky Island to explore!

This post goes to the St Petersburg series.

G.

St Petersburg

Frozen Piter

Frozen Piter

I have gathered quite a collection of pictures with the frozen St Petersburg & Kolpino over these past days. The city looks much brighter with the snow & much better compared with the previous years thanks to the decision to stop using those nasty chemicals which created mud and ruined your shoes.

Frozen Kolpino

The shoes might still be ruined with the salt used to sprinkle the streets so that they become less slippery but the snow does really bring in the magic of winter.

Frozen Kolpino

Frozen berries, frozen cars, frozen front doors and handles, frozen canals and much more city space suddenly accessible thanks to the paths in snow across and over just about everything 🙂

Frozen Piter

After the irregular +12 ‘C in December the city has covered itself with a thick and warm white blanket. Most probably for good – the weather forecast promises mild minus temperatures throughout February.

Frozen Piter

If you’re not frozen all over yet (sometimes the temperature drops below -20 here) you can enjoy the winter sun and the winter fun too. I’ve always thought that winter is one of the two seasons most enjoyed by children and dogs 🙂

Frozen Piter

On some days you wake up to find the entire city turned into a subtle winter fairy tale, as if it’s all made from ice and you somehow start walking with great care not to ruin this fragile wonderland.

Frozen Kolpino

The sunsets are as always dramatic. With each day they come a little bit later and the day is gaining precious seconds and eventually minutes. Still it feels like everything around is in a deep sleep…

Frozen Kolpino

Winter sunrise is also picturesque – if we’re lucky to witness it:

Frozen Piter

The picture was taken last year when the ice was not still thick enough on the rivers and canals of the city. Now these have become extra streets and paths, and in theory you can cross all through St Petersburg via its waterways without a motorboat 🙂

Frozen Piter

Not only the Russian Museum benefits from this white frame. One of those Stalin-era residential buildings in Kolpino also looks better with all this snow around: its white decoration matches the snow on the trees.

Frozen Kolpino

Welcome to the frozen Piter!

Frozen Piter
This post goes to St Petersburg series.
G.

on USSR / Russia · St Petersburg

Where to Eat Out in St Pete – A Selection

Khachapuri i Vino, St Petersburg

Some time ago I wanted to make a series of posts on various St Petersburg cafes which seem to be experiencing a particular boom right now. Some of them disappear, new ones spring up and I’m in no way able to keep up with this process. So in the end I combined my posts into one, offering you a selection of two national cuisine places and one spot for just hanging out.

Let’s first talk about a small cafe situated on the corner of the streets with super-Soviet names (one of them is Socialist and the other is called after the Pravda newspaper) – Khachapuri i vino (Khachapuri and Wine), immediately announcing two probably most beloved items from the Georgian cuisine (at least for vegetarians) – the cheese pie and the wine. Georgian cuisine has always been popular in Russia. It’s the ideal get-together comfort food which is supposed to be quite hearty, fatty and well, abundant! There’s also this sharing side to it which you will also find in the Greek tradition (sharing meze, the appetizers, etc). I think I know more Georgian cafes in St Petersburg than places with Russian food. And since the Georgian and Caucasian dishes have long been considered a must on the Russian table, I usually prefer to go there instead of trying to find something ultra-Russian.

Khachapuri i Vino, St Petersburg

It is probably one of the cheapest places to eat khachapuri as normally they cost twice as much (the least expensive was cheaper than soup). Although the size is also considerably smaller which however helps if you are not that super hungry to devour an entire pie (remember that the Georgian – and Caucasian in general –  portions are big ones!). So I would say that the prices are medium, probably because this is a cafe and not a restaurant. I’ve just discovered that they have opened another cafe, also in the center.

Khachapuri i Vino, St Petersburg

We saw the lady who is in charge of the kitchen and I think she really knows her stuff 🙂 Also my father who grew up in the Caucasus appreciated the meat and the kharcho soup he ate there. As for me – and this is unfortunately almost a rule – as a vegetarian I have to choose between something with dough or a salad / soup. I didn’t really like it there as the salad (pictured above) was not that very fresh and the khachapuri was a bit too thin on the cheese-side than I would expect. I can’t recall if we tried the wine there but judging from the name it should be at least quite varied there. Ah, now I remember that I drank berry juice, mors.

***

The other cafe with a national cuisine is Bekitzer which is situated in this very building (the top of the tower is occupied by an artist), the spot is known as Pyat’ uglov or Five Corners. Four streets meet and create this well-known central place in St Petersburg. Rubinstein Street where this cafe is located is actually one of those restaurant streets of the city: almost every building houses some sort of a food place!

Pyat Uglov, St Petersburg

The cafe positions itself as a Jewish street-food bar – the idea exactly is to re-create such a place where all kinds of people can meet and eat. When we were there back in summer 2015 we did feel as if we suddenly moved to a busy  street somewhere in Israel, with people talking very loudly, the open kitchen and open doors. I don’t know how it looks like in winter but if you are searching for a quiet place, this is not one for sure 🙂

Bekitzer, St Petersburg

We had some falafel with humus and a lentil salad which we decided to finish with this great Napoleon-style cake (and here I mean the traditional layered Napoleon cake with lots of cream inside which is so adored by Russians) which is much lighter than the original and is made with matzo flatbread instead of pastry. I would definitely recommend trying it – especially on such a plate! 🙂

Bekitzer, St Petersburg

The food, the plates and the design are pretty zesty and bright. As for the prices, I would call this a rather affordable place where you can sample such dishes which you will hardly ever come across in most of the places in the city. They also have take-away service as a street-food place would and you can even try and celebrate your special day there with a company – and though you will obviously strain your vocal cords, it will be a very loud celebration 🙂

Bekitzer, St Petersburg

They say the designers tried to recreate some of the graffiti you can find in Tel Aviv. We were sitting just next to the open kitchen and observing the process of food making. I also like the fact that they chose this rough and ostensibly minimalist style which adds to the authenticity of the place. There’s also a long bar opposite the entrance – with the limited sitting space inside I guess it’s the only chance you can find a sit there in the evenings.

Bekitzer, St Petersburg

***

And finally one of the places operating according to the time-spent-in-the-cafe principle, called Anticafe in Russia. You pay by the hour and get some tea and cookies as a bonus. There are usually some games, books and even musical instruments. I cannot say anything about the cuisine though, as I have only tried tea there. The menu usually includes things like cookies, sandwiches etc but it can be more varied and substantial than that too – normally without any particular ‘specialization’. By the way, I have the same electric (!) samovar from the late 1980s:

Miracle Anticafe, St Petersburg

We have a number of such places all over the central St Petersburg where people apparently need some space to meet, read or eat without being constrained to cede place for new customers. You can come and celebrate your birthday in such a cafe or use it for a presentation, a meeting of a club etc. These cafes also tend to turn into some kind of artsy places with concerts, lectures and stuff. This one is rather close to the Hermitage and it is called Miracle Anticafe. Inside it’s such a mixture of odd and just old objects that it’s somehow feels like you’re in a very cozy kommunalka with a view to a typical St Pete courtyard 🙂

Miracle Anticafe, St Petersburg

     and a typical St Pete wall (photo taken in late March 2015)

Miracle Anticafe, St Petersburg

I hope I have given you an idea of what St Petersburg cafes look – and taste – like!

Adding this post to my vast St Petersburg series.

G.