Two and a half days in St. Petersburg – vegetarian food and some alternative things to do there

Two and a half days in St. Petersburg passed fast but we got to see surprisingly much. As we have been here already once before, and saw some of the city’s “must see” attractions and sights back then, we concentrated on little bit more alternative things this time.

Our first evening in St. Petersburg

On the evening we arrived in St. Petersburg we first bought a Russian sim card at local provider Megafon’s Shop. The whole process was really easy, took us around five minutes and was costing less than 10 Euros for unlimited internet for two weeks. It’s always practical to have mobile internet while travelling, for doing some research on the way.

After completing our phone card business we decided to explore the city by skateboards and pass by at the Fontanka River, one of the arms of Neva. Before leaving home we were pondering quite long whether to take our skateboards on this journey or not. Finally Seri created us some pretty awesome mini boards from old skateboard decks and already the first day has shown us that taking them along was the right choice (yes, we know there might be weeks without any skateable roads ahead of us…).

Our new travel skateboards <3
Our new travel skateboards <3

By the Neva River
By the Fontanka River

At the Fontanka river, we went to some park to celebrate the first day of our journey by drinking local beer. In search for something to eat we then ended up in a complex called Golitsyn Loft. As we entered through the gateway we first saw a hip-looking courtyard filled with restaurants and bars.

Golitsyn Loft
Golitsyn Loft

There were many doors around it that led into stairways in the huge brick building. Each floor had a long and narrow, maze-like corridor and each corridor was lined with dozens of doors. Behind these doors one could find tiny bars, restaurants, cafes, galleries, tattoo parlers, barbers and shops. We could have spent hours exploring that super interesting place.

One of the narrow corridors at Golitsyn Loft
One of the narrow corridors at Golitsyn Loft

For dinner we had some delicious (and cheap!) soba noodles in a tiny vegan restaurant called Ulet (recommended!).

The yummy udon noodle bowls at Uled
The yummy udon noodle bowls at Ulet

We ended our evening by having some drinks and listening to local live music in one of the cozy little bars there. “Did we just happen to end up in the coolest place in St. Petersburg or is the whole city this cool”, was tipsy Johanna wondering. This was the perfect way to end our first day in Russia. And yes, as the next days showed us, the whole city seems to be pretty damn cool.

Day 2 in St. Petersburg

The next morning it was raining so we didn’t hurry to get up from the bed… After all we were finally on a holiday (and had slept bad because of the loud telephoning grannies behind our paper thin wall). Around noon time Seri went for a little bouldering session in one of St. Petersburg’s climbing halls and after that we had a late lunch. Another vegan/vegetarian restaurant recommendation for St. Petersburg: Cafe Auroville. Everything on the menu sounded so good that we had hard time making any decisions.

We thought that visiting a museum would be a perfect activity for a rainy day. Therefore we tried to get to this museum called Kunstkamera. We never got there though, since we happened to make the rookie mistake of taking a bus to the wrong direction. After we finally got back to the starting point it was already so late that there was no point to go anymore.

Time for plan B. There is a place called Pushkinskaya-10 that we also wanted to visit. It’s supposed to be some kind of self regulated art commune with galleries in an old squatted house. The entrance looked promising but then we found a note on the door stating that it was closed that day.

Luckily plan C worked out. Loft Project Etagi is again some kind of a multi-storey complex filled with small restaurants, bars and shops. It felt more commercial than Golitsyn Loft though – like some Russian hipster mall.

The courtyard of Loft Project Etagi
The courtyard of Loft Project Etagi

Hip Russian styled shop window :D
Hip Russian styled shop window 😀

The main reason we wanted to visit there was the rooftop. It costed 150 rubles to enter, but it was worth it. The sunset over St. Petersburg was quite fantastic.

Enjoying beer and the views over St. Petersburg
Enjoying beer and the views over St. Petersburg

We stayed quite long on the roof enjoying the sunset...
We stayed quite long on the roof enjoying the sunset…

...and came back after dinner to watch the Nevsky Prospekt at night
…and came back after dinner to watch the Nevsky Prospekt at night

For dinner we had some vegan burgers in a tiny burger joint on the courtyard and thought that we really have to appreciate this culinaristic wonderland called St. Petersburg – later on on this journey it might get a bit more difficult to find so vast (or any) selection of vegetarian food.

Day 3 in St. Petersburg

We still had the whole next day to explore St. Petersburg as our train to Moscow was going to leave just before midnight. We started our last day in St. Pete by cruising around. On the way we had some delicious pelmeni and vareniki for lunch. They are the Russian version of dumplings. 

Our dumplings were filled with potato and mushroom, cabbage and cheese.
Our dumplings were filled with potato and mushroom, cabbage and cheese.

Then we gave the Kunstkamera museum another go. It was a bit hard for us to find the entrance but we did manage to get in this time. Big part of the museum is reserved for an impressive ethnographic collection from around the world. We thought seeing it would be a good way to start this journey. There was also a room dedicated to some peculiar and weird things like filled two-headed animals and malformed embryos in jars. 

Maybe a few too many embryos to our taste, though.
Maybe a few too many embryos to our taste, though.

On our first evening a friendly bar tender at Golitsyn Loft gave us a tip to visit Port Sevkabel on Vasilyevsky Island. Since the weather was nice we decided to go there. It was again some pretty hip, urban area with brick buildings and street art. Unfortunately there was some old cars festival and entry would have been almost 15 euros so we didn’t want to enter (good budget travelers as we are) and therefore we were not allowed to most parts of this area. It was still nice to hang out there by the Baltic Sea. 

Port Sevkabel
Port Sevkabel

We even happened to spot the long bridge we crossed on our way to St. Petersburg
We even happened to spot the long bridge we crossed on our way to St. Petersburg

We skated a few kilometres back through the industrial harbour area but hopped then on a bus. We were already tired of all the skating and days’ activities. The last thing we did in St. Petersburg was to go to a mall near our guesthouse and grab a few snacks on the foodcourt. Foodcourts in foreign countries are the best – you often find some local treats you’ve never seen before (for example a multilayered pancake-cake) and for a reasonable price.

Then it was time to have a little rest and computer time on our guest house, grab our backs and head to the Moskovskaya train station…

We liked St. Petersburg the first time we visited and now we liked it even more. It seems that the classically beautiful, decorative facade of the city blends perfectly together with the more alternative street culture. You can find a concert or even a fire show literally behind every corner, or a surprising, hip courtyard behind any gate, and the people seem to have style. But we saw some pretty shocking things too, though, like a dead man lying on the street. No place is perfect.

Some local artists over the roofs of St. Petersburg
Some local artists over the roofs of St. Petersburg

A fire show in front of the Vosstaniya metro station
A fire show in front of the Vosstaniya metro station

One of the many cute churches on our ways around the city
One of the many cute churches on our ways around the city

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Hi! We are Johanna and Seri
and this is our blog about sustainable overland travel to offbeat destinations.
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