You remember we promised you to tell the secret of a true local lunch yesterday? Here it is) Together with a couple more tips and tricks on your way to a “non-touristy” experience in Moscow and St Petersburg.
- Order business lunch, eat shaverma and don’t be afraid of self-service canteens
Travelling during weekdays is absolutely worth doing, as you will get an opportunity to see and experience local lifestyle and observe the habits of locals. From Monday to Friday the majority of restaurants offer business lunch from 12 pm to 4 pm.
The pleasure of eating your business lunch like a local will cost you from $3 to $10 on average, while the pleasure of joining the city flow is priceless.
A purely local concept, dear to the hearts of St Petersburg citizens, is shaverma: a type of kebab, served from fast food trucks and kiosks. You will find it by its aroma). If you’re still doubting about street food and the safety of it, go for a local chain if street food restaurants PITA’s: they have good choice and combo offers for a reasonable price, that’s why locals love their cafeterias.
Go for the canteens that are 200-300 meters away from tourist attractions and that don’t have banners in English. Just look for the letters «Столовая».
Another thing that will open up an everyday life of a common Russian citizen is self-service restaurants and canteens. The only ones you should be avoiding are located right next to the touristic sights: it is not dangerous, just the food is not the best there. Go for the canteens that are 200-300 meters away from tourist attractions and that don’t have banners in English. Just look for the letters «Столовая», and you will get a real local lunch experience for $3-5. Among self-service restaurants, we love Market Place: funky chain of international cuisine dining rooms, conveniently located close to main city’s attractions.
- Visit the theatre
You might think that only tourists are going to the dozens of theatres in Moscow and in St Petersburg, but that would be the biggest mistake ever. First of all, we don’t have that many tourists to fill all the theatres that we have (more than 200 in Moscow and about 120 in St Petersburg). Second of all, the majority of them are drama theatres, so that you have to know the language in order to understand performances. Tickets are almost always hard to get since the majority of performances are filled with locals. You may easily join them and find out why Russian theatre is famous all over the world (and not only for opera and ballet).
Fortunately, some theatres have English subtitles, like Moscow Sovremennik Theatre or Maly Drama Theatre in St Petersburg.
Tip: don’t miss a very special ritual that is happening in theatre’s cafeteria. During intermission go there and order a sandwich with salami or salmon, followed by a shot of cognac with chocolate candy. But hurry up: you only have 15 minutes and pretty much everybody will be doing the same thing).
- Go to the cinema
This tip may sound a bit contradictory with the previous one, but we know what we’re talking about: cinemas are mostly frequented by locals. Unlike theatres, they are usually conveniently located in the residential areas. But we will not recommend going too far from downtown (unless this is what you want, as a trip to a recently built cluster of post-modernism residential houses will certainly bring you even closer to an understanding of our lifestyle and habits).
In both capitals, some cinemas are showing new movies in the original language. In Moscow the best ones are 5 Zvyozd (“5 Stars”) on Novokuznetskaya (Bolshoy Ovchinnikovsky Lane 16, shopping centre Arkadia, 3d floor), Zvezda (Zemlyanoy Val 18/22), Pioneer (Kutuzovsky av. 21), Formula Kino Gorizont (Komsomolsky av. 21/10) and Salut (Kedrova st. 14, bld. 3).
In St Petersburg there are fewer options, but they are all located in the very centre: Angleterre Cinema Lounge (Malaya Morskaya 24, hotel «Angleterre»), Rodina (Karavannaya, 12), Formula Kino Galereya (Ligovsky av. 30а, shopping centre «Galereya») and Avrora (Nevsky 60, a hundred year old cinema located in the yard).
- Hang out in the park or garden
If you’re lucky enough with the weather, go ahead and spend some time outdoors. This is truly the place to observe and inhale local habits and lifestyle.
The fact that, in most of the cases, downtown parks have historical and cultural value makes a stroll among the greens even more pleasant. Summer Garden in St Petersburg alone is worth a whole tour, and there are more waiting to be discovered: Yelagin Island, Tavrichesky Park, Senatskaya Square, Alexandrovsky Garden etc. As for Moscow, we devoted two posts of our blog to her parks: Gorky & MUZEON historic parks and Green spots downtown. Grab a sandwich with you and lay down on the grass (it is officially prohibited, but everybody is doing it and nobody gets arrested), explore local street food or watch passers-by from your bench while eating an ice-cream. Locally made, of course.
Summer Garden in St Petersburg alone is worth a whole tour, and there are more waiting to be discovered: Yelagin Island, Tavrichesky Park, Senatskaya Square, Alexandrovsky Garden etc.
Got inspired? Start planning your Russian adventure right now!