In the comments of the latter post, I was asked by Victor of Victor Travel Blog, a Russian travel blogger, to post something on Russian food.
Okay Victor, here’s the story around the only Russian meal I ever had.
I wanted that single shot to be totally Russian. It is my habit to eat local as much as I can, especially on short trips, in the belief that food, as much as language, tells a lot about a country’s culture. However, to be completely honest, I’m a total glutton.
Our hero approaches the driving school manager and hands him money. It’s a whole by-weekly salary for him.
It’s not a payment, it’s bribery. The manager will hand-over that money to the examiner (of course after retaining a percentage of it). It’s nothing unusual around there. Everybody does that.
But this time the manager seems to be unexpectedly reluctant. After hesitating for a second he says: “I’m sorry, but I know your father is a policeman. It’s too dangerous. I will take nothing from you.”
That day our hero was the only one to fail road test.
I basically did two things. One is a must: visiting the Hermitage Museum.
The Hermitage is a huge, super-rich collection of pieces of art hosted in buildings which are pieces of art themselves. One of them, the main one, was the royal palace, the Tsar’s residence.
I haven’t seen anything similar to the Hermitage in my life, except for when I visited the Louvre in Paris and the Vatican Museums in Rome.
How long you’ll stay in there depends on your resistance. I think it can be up to one whole day
But what else to do in St. Petersburg on a two-day stay?
Since its first stone was laid in 1703 by Peter the Great, the Tsars called the best European architects from all over Europe to build what is now known as the most Western-like city of Russia.
Mainly Italian and French architects, but also Russians, year after year, century after century, called by Tsar after Tsar, erected a wonderful historical center, made of several different styles: the Petrine Baroque, the Baroque, the Neoclassical, down to nineteenth century’s styles.
All that has produced a large downtown that is an open-air piece of art, and which was promoted UNESCO World Heritage site.
Therefore, I decided to take a bus tour. Below you can find a selection of the photos taken during that two-hour memorable bus ride.
If you’ve never been to St. Petersburg, by looking at the following pictures you can decide yourself whether I’m exaggerating in being so enthusiast about this Russia’s pearl.
Here is a possible solution for a budget accommodation in St. Petersburg’s charming — and expensive — city center
St. Petersburg, Russia, is an extremely charming city.
It was built starting from early XVIII century in the north-western corner of the then Russian Empire on a then freshly annexed land, following a war.
Some historians believe that the act of building St. Petersburg, which was so close to Scandinavia and Prussian territories, and making it the new capital, was the turning point that transformed Russia from a remote Asian empire into a European country.
St. Petersburg is home to a wonderful and large historic center that makes it the most charming city in Russia. Its center partly resembles Italian and French towns, thanks to architects from those countries who were hired by the tsars and helped designing it.
Such beauty and charm, however, don’t come without a price. Although Russia is still a convenient country for westerners, an accommodation in St. Petersburg’s center can cost well over $100.
After knowing Croatia only for the terrible events of the 1990s, it was time to get to know it for what it is today, in person.
Croatia is a beautiful country located in the Balkans, one of the several ones emerged from the disintegration of former Yugoslavia. Actually Croatia existed long before Yugoslavia itself, but only a small part of its history was marked by independence.
An important and long part of its past was under Austrian rule, and that reflects in Zagreb’s downtown appearance, which is characterized by beautiful Middle European atmosphere and architecture. Zagreb old uptown could easily be a neighborhood of Vienna or Prague, and its old streetcars crossing downtown are not so different from the ones you can find in Budapest or Bratislava.
Statue of Josip Jelačić in the middle of Trg bana Jelačića, Zagreb’s central square
As for me, I had never been to Croatia until a few days ago, therefore the image about that country engraved in my mind was the one we all received from TV news during the 1990s: a country suffering war misery, its tanks facing enemy forces, and people hit with cluster bombs on the streets of Zagreb.
That’s the reason why I was twice as happy about visiting Croatia for the first time. Not only the city covered in snow introduced itself in the best possible way, but I also finally had a chance to get to know the country for its present, not only for its tough past.
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