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Saint Petersburg Local Customs: 159 reviews and 151 photos

Palace Square - Saint Petersburg

Palace Square

The Old and The New Traditions and Habits Review

So much of our pre-visit images of Russia were connected to communism and state-controlled lives. . .but a stay in St. Petersburg today dispells much of that.

Reminders remain ~ the kassa system of paying, then picking up your purchase, remains in a few stores; the aged beggars, victims of inadequate pensions and government assistance; this photographed scene, a flashback to another era (the hammer & sickle are actually on a vodka ad).

Today, to the traveler at least, St. Petersburg is a modern-day peer to other European capitals (current or former) ~ fashion and materialism reign among the young; all consumer goods can be bought (as long as you can pay the price); and the city's attitude is supremely self-confident.

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jun 28, 2003
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Horse & Carriage, Nab. Kanala Griboedova - Saint Petersburg

Horse & Carriage, Nab. Kanala Griboedova

300th Anniversary Celebrations (Part II) Traditions and Habits Review

We weren't able to figure out who the invitees for this event were ~ they had nametags, but we weren't close enough to read them.

Throughout the city, there were finishing touches being put on everything (renovations, paint jobs, etc.). Excitement and anticipation were palpable. . .as was a sense of panic to make sure everything was finished in time. ;-)

The whole week was to be filled with parades, perfomances, special exhibits and festivals ~ we were pleased to be leaving before the city filled up with people though.

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jun 28, 2003
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En Route to Church on Spilled Blood - Saint Petersburg

En Route to Church on Spilled Blood

300th Anniversary Celebrations Traditions and Habits Review

Although official celebrations were held from May 24 through June 1, a week or two after our visit, there were still a number of events going on as a lead-in to the festivities.

On our second-to-last day in the city, we witnessed the beginning of this procession from the Grand Hotel Europe to the square to the east of the Church on Spilled Blood. There were horses and carriages, men and women in period costumes. . .and music to greet them next to the church. It was a private entry event (the section near the church was cordoned off), but the parade was open for viewing.

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jun 28, 2003
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Bird Statue, Panteleimon Bridge - Saint Petersburg

Bird Statue, Panteleimon Bridge

Good Luck Bridge Traditions and Habits Review

Russian superstitions run the gamut from rules about the number of flowers to give (always odd) to not whistling indoors. . .

There were plenty of little spots around the city that demonstrated an interest in luck and superstition ~ this bird statue located in the corner of Panteleimon Most attracted crowds to try their luck at landing a coin on its platform.

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jun 28, 2003
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Bunny on Ioannovskiy Most - Saint Petersburg

Bunny on Ioannovskiy Most

Lucky Charm Traditions and Habits Review

Having read before leaving on this trip that Russians held a lot of superstitions close to heart, we weren't surprised to come across several spots in St. Petersburg similar to this one. . .

This bunny is located next to Ioannovskiy Most, one of two bridges that crosses over to Peter & Paul Fortress. Both during our entrance and exit from the fort, people were gathered near the edge of the bridge, trying their luck at landing a coin on the bunny's platform. You can see in enlargement that a few were successful. . .I'm not among them. . . :-)

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jun 28, 2003
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Painting the Church on Spilled Blood - Saint Petersburg

Painting the Church on Spilled Blood

Streetside Artists Traditions and Habits Review

The areas around tourist sights always seem to attract artists ~ a mix of works in progress and finished creations for display/sale.

The gentleman in this photo was positioned on one of the bridges on the Kanal Griboedova, working on a painting of the Church on Spilled Blood. There was a group of children (it seemed to grow by the minute) gathered around him, and he involved them in each step of his work ~ asking for colour choices, having them take measurements with him. . .it was a fantastic scene.

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jun 28, 2003
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Russian Lada - Saint Petersburg

Russian Lada

The People's Car Traditions and Habits Review

According to our driver (for a city tour on our first day), Lada means “lovely darling" and at least 10 million Russians own one. It is Russia's most beloved (and maligned) car, and has been for over thirty years. It’s as identifiable a part of the culture as the fur hats or vodka.

Not the prettiest of vehicles, the car is the subject of jokes and insults ~ but it holds its own on the brutal Russian roads. There’s even an SUV Lada that has a bit of a cult following overseas (in my own country, among others). . .

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jun 28, 2003
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Hermitage - Saint Petersburg

Hermitage

Groupthink Museums Review

Our experience as solo travelers in St. Petersburg (and Moscow) was that we were among the minority ~ we saw many tour groups (Russian, Italian, Spanish, were prominent), but ran into few individuals.

Favouritism was definitely shown to groups ~ if a group came into a room, we were sometimes ushered out (this happened about three or four times at different locations). Despite this, being on our own had distinct advantages ~ your time and schedule is your own and you have better chance to interact with people outside your group. Besides. . .who really needs 15 other people to admire a painting. . . :-)

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jun 28, 2003
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Ice Cream Carts, Nevsky Prospekt - Saint Petersburg

Ice Cream Carts, Nevsky Prospekt

Ice Cream Traditions and Habits Review

Ice cream is a favourite in both St. Petersburg and Moscow ~ stands can be found on almost every street, as well as in department stores and other less-expected locations.

From early in the morning (a meal replacement for some, perhaps) through evening, you'll see kids, business people, soldiers and any other "type" of person with an ice cream cone or treat in hand. Picking up this local custom is the perfect key to blending in to the Russian population. . . ;-)

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jun 28, 2003
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Sunbathing at P&P Fortress - Saint Petersburg

Sunbathing at P&P Fortress

Catching Some Rays Traditions and Habits Review

The exterior wall of Peter & Paul Fortress (there is a veritable beach, but it isn't the only popular location) draws sun-worshippers from early days of spring. We visited in early to mid May and the section was already populated with people enjoying the warm temperatures and strong sunlight (daylight hours are extended).

Sitting, standing, leaning against the wall. . .anyting goes with the object getting some colour and some vitamin D in mind.

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jun 28, 2003
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