Lessons from St. Petersburg

When you’re used to visiting cities the scale of Florence or Prague, you look at a map of St. Petersburg and think it’s an easy walk from your B&B to the Church of our Savior on Spilled Blood.

It is not. Take the metro.

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I’d forgotten, but that was the advice I gave in a travel story I wrote 11 years ago.

When I tried to reread it a few months ago during trip planning, I was embarassed by my lead that let on how challenged I felt.

Reading the rest of the story this morning, I think it’s a pretty awesome travel piece, if I do say so myself, especially how I conveyed what I learned from my tour guide about St. Petersburg culture.

Because I forgot my own advice, we took a long walk around the “neighborhood” last night, and happened upon a supercharming place called Soviet Cafe Kvartirka. Usually, when you’ve walked a long way in a new city and are cold, and coming down with a cold, you pick the first place you find and feel let down.

Not the case. I drank cherry beer and ate Ukrainian dumplings stuffed with potato, and soaked in the kitschy decor, music and old Russian movie on the TV. We expect to return to Kvartirka over the next few days.

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Today we walked to the Troitsky (Trinity) Cathedral, metroed to St. Isaac’s and the Bronze Horseman, then metroed to the Church of Spilled Blood.

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My favorite souvenir I have ever purchased came from St. Petersburg. I bought it at a stand near the Church of Spilled Blood. It also happens to be my favorite Christmas decoration. Shaped like a nesting doll, but sealed, it’s painted like Santa Claus, and jingles when it rolls. Today I learned that they’re meant for children and the nicest ones NOW cost upwards of $100. None could be had for less than $30. I almost convinced myself it was worth it, then remembered I already had one. Sort of. It’s in my mom’s custody, so I see it every Christmas.

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Today is my birthday! I selected a restaurant for dinner that sounded as fun as the place we went last night. Turns out, it seems to be part of a small chain of Soviet Cafes. While Kvartirka has an urban Soviet vibe, Dachnika is decorated like a Russian cottage. The sound of a rooster crowing greets you as you open the door and make your way downstairs. Frogs croak in the bathroom.

I ordered potato pancakes and Rob ordered pork with potatoes. Sadly, they had no chocolate cake, so I had birthday cheesecake.

Continuing on the theme of me posing with statues that remind me of my dogs, here I am with a lion, posed with her foot atop her ball, just as Mia likes to do.

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3 thoughts on “Lessons from St. Petersburg

  1. Bravo! Nice piece, Kari. I laughed out loud at the picture of Mia after the pic of you and the lion. Perfect. Will miss you today at HH, but am enjoying following your travels. Hope you had a fabulous birthday. I love the onion domes!

  2. Blogging on your birthday! You’re amazing. Keep enjoying your adventures; we’ll have chocolate cake when you get back!

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