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Honeymoons
Posted by Cayla Capri
St Petersburg Russian Doll
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Despite the fact St Petersburg got bumped from Russian capital status post-Revolution upheaval, this sensational city remains beloved by her citizens for its vast cultural deposits and artistic Cossack flair. No one’s going to debate this city’s immense historical significance when its founder is Peter the Great. So dust off your books of Pushkin verse, crack open a bottle of Soviet champagne, and get busy making love, not cold war.
the romance
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St Petersburg is up to the challenge of delivering the romantic goods. The word “gorko” (or ‘bitter’) is called out by Russian wedding parties in an effort to get the newlyweds smooching and (in theory) sweetening the wine in the process. St Petersburg alludes to the poetry of Venice with the Neva River coursing through its city center while the canals make quaint muses for snapshots. Stirrings of quince confit, sweet and sour beetroot sauce, fine vodkas, and brewed honey saturate palates with dreamy palpability.
Consider booking your trans-Siberia trek between the months of late May and early July in order to take in the luminous magic of the White Nights season – it will feel like twilight even as the clock is striking 12. Take a cuddly cruise along the Nevsky Prospekt and watch the drawbridges rise up in salute of passing ships. Visit the Tauride Garden and the neighboring edifice built by Catherine the Great’s decree for her lover, the prince Potemkin. A visit to The Hermitage is a huge must since it proudly houses an art collection like no other. Not far from The Hermitage lies The Winter Palace – its fairy-tale majesty is a sight not to be missed by just-married tsars and tsarinas alike.
the scenery
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Aristocratic and elegant, brazen and imminent, St Petersburg is lined with stunning examples of prominent architecture, whether in the form of palaces, cathedrals, museums or government buildings. Glittering spires, gleaming domes, and sun-catching copulas graze the sky and inspire surges of Chekhovian intensity in the heart of every visitor. Expect all things eclectic - brass bands, sand sculpture festivals, and medieval banquet restaurants. One could say this urban landscape is a’flame with the hues of berry kissel, bramble wine, and golden koulibiaca pastry pie, set to a score of Tchaikovsky. Not too shabby at all.
the adventure
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Perform an alt-version of the Russian bread-and-salt ceremony over a pint of Baltika beer and a serving of pirozhki (pastries packed with potato or cabbage) before getting knee-deep in the quirks and crannies of this funky metropolis. Push the envelope with some under-the-radar adult puppet theatre, a night of experimental jazz, a no-rules wrestling match, or an international circus school festival. Help chase off the winter pagans with the age-old Russian tradition of ‘maslenitsa.’ Help yourself to an abundance of pancakes, caviar and vodka before storming a snow fortress alongside a rambunctious crowd of grinning strangers.
the secrets
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Don your best muff and enjoy the traditional jauntiness of a Russian troika ride. Too Dr. Zhivago for a recovering beach bunny? Check out the city’s first beach bar - sand, hammocks, and quintessential beach chairs included. For your loftier pursuits, explore the Peter and Paul Fortress where you’ll find the Romanov dynasty’s place of burial. After being looted during the Second World War, the exquisitely opulent Amber Room has been recently reconstructed and inaugurated at Catherine Palace. The stolen horde of original gold panels remain at large to this day.
As the day simmers down to a mid-tempo beat, kick back at a comfy-cozy hole-in-the-wall, where the walls are likely to be scrawled with the autographs of larger-than-life opera singers and swan-lithe ballet dancers. Finish off with a stroll past St. Isaac's Cathedral for the noteworthy carvings of cherubs and gaslight torches.
the attractions
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Intimidating name aside, The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood this is a magnificent memorial to Emperor Alexander II. This site is a magnet for photo-happy newlyweds - the jeweled mosaics and onion domes will leave you breathless. The Mariinsky Theatre, known as the infamous Kirov during the days of old, is home to an elite caliber of opera and ballet performance, so feel free to get dressed up for this world-class cultural gem.
For ultimate monument madness, view the Alexander Column in Palace Square, as well as the statue of the Bronze Horseman. Explore the vicinity with a daytrip to the Baroque Palace, just off of the nearby Finnish Gulf. Try quiet Vasilievskii Island for its distinguished Naval Museum. If you’ve still got the sightseeing bug, stop by the Russian Museum, the Mussorgsky Concert Hall, or shopping hotspot, department store Gostinyi Dvor.
before you go
What to Expect
Spring: March to May are cool and rainy (-5–10°C/23–50°F), but are great months for pre-tourist-season sightseeing.
Summer: June to August tend are warm and humid months (14–20°C/57–68°F). St. Petersburg’s White Nights run from the end of May to mid-July, when the city gets little more than an hour of darkness every day. The city is full of festivals and parties during these months, and needless to say, it’s peak tourist season.
Fall: September to November are colorful and cool months (2–14°C/35–57°F), often with a week of warmth in September before the temperature drops in mid-October.
Winter: December to February are cold and damp months, with plenty of snow (-5–-10°C/14–23°F).
Clothing
St. Petersburg is usually cold and rainy, so make sure to pack warm and waterproof clothing.
Currency
Russian rouble
The Lingo
Russian
Documents
A valid passport and a Russian tourist visa (called an “invitation”). These visas can be obtained for about 30$ through a travel agent or online. Do your research; make sure not to get locked into a fixed trip itinerary that may come with a visa issued by hotels.
Local Delicacies
Blini: crepes filled with jam, cheese, berries, caviar or chocolate (or anything else you can think of)
Pirozhki: little pastries filled with potatoes, meat, cabbage, or cheese
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