5 Surprising Things about Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is the cultural capital of Russia. Before coming I tried doing some research online about the city, but living here for a week has opened my eyes to a great many things. Continue reading to learn 5 Surprising Things about Saint Petersburg!
1. American Companies
As I stepped outside the security checkpoint at the Pulkovo airport I was met with an unexpectedly familiar sight. The mermaid from Starbucks was shining with her green fluorescent light, welcoming all travelers to Russia. Down the way from the Starbucks, the golden arches of McDonalds served to sate the appetites of anyone who was hungry.
On my first day of school, I was shocked to see a KFC, Pizza Hut, and Burger King all along my route. When I decided to travel halfway around the world, I was not expecting to see any American companies.
As it turns out, there are many American companies and they have been here for a few decades. McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, and KFC all opened their first restaurants in Russia in the 1990s while Starbucks and Burger King opened their first restaurants in the 2000s. And just a few months ago KFC celebrated is 1000th restaurant in Russia!
There are numerous ways to get around here in Russia. You do not need a car to be able to go to new and exciting locations. Here there are many options for going from one place to another.
The metro is a fast, clean, and effective way of going to and from the city center. Metro stations in Saint Petersburg are incredibly clean and beautiful and if you miss a metro there will be another one arriving within a few minutes. The only downside is you will not get to see the city as you whip through the underground tunnels.
If you want a more scenic route the trams are an excellent choice. Although they are not as fast as the metro you will be able to see the beauty of Saint Petersburg on a Tram.
If there is not a convenient metro or Tram station near where you are wanting to go the busses in Saint Petersburg will most definitely be able to get you where ever you need to get to.
For the more adventurous tourist, the train system in Russia will be able to take to a vast number of cities all over the country. The trains are also incredibly clean and allow you an excellent opportunity to take a nap before arriving to your destination.
As the day turns to night some of the public transportation options become less viable as many of them do not run at night. So if you want to get back home without walking there will most certainly be a number of car sharing options you can use; Uber, Citimobile, Yandex.Go to name a few.
There are few buildings I have seen so far that are taller than 6 stories. Although they have been modernized and outfitted with modern comforts the buildings here drip with the history of past inhabitants. For example, Vladimir Lenin used to live in the very same apartment that I now live in!
The architecture of the buildings is absolutely stunning as well. Buildings are painted in bright colors on the exterior and this highlights the ornamental design work on the columns and buttresses. From neoclassical, Baroque, and Gothic to Soviet and Moderne this city has a something for everyone to appreciate.
4. A Multi-cultural city
Saint Petersburg is a giant mix of people from all over the world. Kazaks, Russians (obviously), other Europeans, North Americans, Georgians, and many more all live in the same place. Walking along the street you are likely to hear a vast array of languages.
5. Weather in February
Coming to Saint Petersburg in the middle of February I did not expect the weather to be anywhere near warm and sunny. But it has actually been rather nice so far. The sun has shown her face a few times and it has been abnormally warm so far (-1 to 1). However, it is still a good idea to watch where you are walking less you slip on the ice or the melting snow falls on you from above!
These are 5 Surprising Things about Saint Petersburg. Are there other things you like to know about Russia or Saint Petersburg? Comment below!
This post was written by Benjamin Bladow, currently studying Russian at Liden & Denz St. Petersburg.