Insider's guide to: St Petersburg
Sunday 25 June 2000
What's the weather like now?
What's the weather like now?
Summer's been a meteorological rollercoaster ride. Cold and rain alternate with warm sun several times each day. Last week, however, had the best weather yet, with temperatures around 20-25C. Still, bring a sweater. Nights can be chilly, especially on boat rides on the canals.
What are the locals complaining about?
Up until this week, the cold and wet weather. And always the mutant mosquitos which can be found in even the best hotels and bite all night. To sleep soundly, buy a "fumigator", as locals call it.
Who's the talk of the town?
Vladimir Putin, the city's now favourite native son. Never mind that he's bombing Chechnya or clamping down on the press. After 80 years of Moscow domination, the St Pete team has finally stormed and taken the Russian political Olympus. Locals rejoice, with no shortage of people now boasting to have been his best friend, or studied or worked with him. Rumours circulate that the capital is moving back to St Petersburg, and comedians joke it will eventually be renamed Putinburg.
What's the cool drink to order?
Check out the new bar and club, Brazilia (Kazanskaya Street 24), and ask for a Mokhito. In line with the times, the recipe is secret, but the bartender does admit to spicing it up with mint leaves. Also try the club's other drinks - Capperissimo and Brazilia.
What are people eating?
For fine Russian cuisine and the city's chicest interior design, check out Restoran (Tamozheny Pereulok, across from the Kunstkamera Museum), which is merely the Russian word for restaurant. The fare is basically Russian peasant but well executed, and served with crisp, clear vodka, delicious with home-made cranberry juice. If you're short on time, step into a small eatery and grab a shashlyk - kebabs made of lamb, pork, beef or chicken.
What's the latest outrageous stuff on TV?
The late-night show, Pro Eto ("About That"), is an eye-opener in which participants strive to shock, telling all about their sex lives - from group sex to prostitution.
Where won't the locals dream of going?
Grand Hotel Europe. A beautiful and comfy place, but it's for tourists who are afraid to venture far.
Where are the locals going that tourists don't know about?
The Armenian restaurant and jazz club in one, Mukha Tsukhatuka (Solyanoi Pereulok). If that's a mouthful, it's also called the Neo Jazz Club.
Where is the chic shopping?
Most goods are imported, and the only best buys are in jewellery made locally. Try the many jewellery stores on the city's main drag, Nevsky Prospect. Bargains can be found of jewellery made of amber or featuring semi-precious stones.
What's the trendy place to escape for the weekend?
The beaches on the Gulf of Finland and the dachas of the wooded Kareleskaya Peresheika (Karelian Isthmus), both to the north of St Petersburg. Just follow the line of Mercedes and BMWs.
* John Varoli is a contributing writer to 'Insight Guide to Russia'.
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Driving while dehydrated can be just as dangerous as drink driving, study suggests
- 5 Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
It's Italian, but it's definitely not Italy: Stephen Wood visits Lampedusa, an island beyond the map's edge, where North Africa meets Rome and even the sharks are poets
How double-decker trains would improve Britain's railways
The 10 Best lightweight luggage
The 10 Best hiking boots
French air-traffic strike: Planned industrial action called off
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
£24000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...
Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a number of Marketi...
£20000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well established business ...
£25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester...