ask Nikolay about
café • gourmet coffee • gardens • record stores • breakfast and brunch • value for money
What are the Saint Petersburg spots a first-time visitor can’t miss?
To me, the essential top 5 spots are Hermitage (along with Palace Square), Nevsky Prospekt, Isaac Cathedral (don't miss the collonade tour), Petropavlovskaya Fortress and Rostral Columns.
Do’s and don’ts in Saint Petersburg: (Ex: Tipping: yes/ no, public transport tips, safety tips etc.):
Do: buy an e-card for public transport, download offline maps, be mindful of bridge openings, plan your museum trips in advance, have fun. Don't: respond to solicitors on Nevsky Prospekt, ride on hop on/hop off buses.
What do you do and why do you do it?
I work as a sales rep in an international IT company, because I love communicating with people all around the world. The tech industry is also pretty exciting — I love being part of it and working with young, smart and fun people. Besides my day job, I have been playing guitar in several garage rock bands for more than 10 years now. The best part of it is the moment when you are on stage or in the practice space and the whole band feels like something amazing is happening. Occasional touring is also super fun.
Your all-time favorite musicians:
Charles Bradley, Wayne Kramer of MC5, Jimi Hendrix, Josh Homme, Jack White, Ty Segall, Lemmy.
Which neighborhood is it best to experience during the day / night?
I am in love with Petrogradsky District where I live now. During the day, you can start exploring from Gorkovskaya metro station, walk around Kamennoostrovsiy and Bolshoy Prospekt and enjoy some weird and wonderful early 20th century architecture. Though, by night, nothing beats the lively vibe of the city center.
What’s the area in town you’ll never be caught dead in?
I avoid the area of Apraskin Dvor, because there are lots of sketchy people around and shops that sell knockoff goods. I also avoid the area of Dumskaya Street, which is notorious for cheap clubs and bar fights.
What’s the one place in Saint Petersburg you think is underrated?
I think Bolsheokhtinsky Bridge is very much underrated, perhaps because it is not particularly central. Still, it is gorgeous, especially at night time with its magnificent lights!
Drunk and hungry - where do you go in Saint Petersburg?
The best drunk food in Saint Petersburg is sold in doner (or shawarma as we call it here) joints around town. If you are getting drunk with some locals, ask about their contenders for "The Best Shawarma" title. Mine recently went downhill in terms of quality, so I am looking for a new fav.
It's freeeeezing out - what should a visitor do?
If it's super freezing outside (which, as you can imagine, does happen in Saint-Petersburg), I recommend hitting museums during the daytime and bars during the nighttime. Or the other way around if you want to get weird!
Your go-to brunch spots:
My go-to brunch spot is Pan & Cake because it has awesome poached eggs with toast, good coffee and amazing desserts. It's also a nice walk from where I live. Perfect for a slow day off.
Your perfect night out in Saint Petersburg includes:
A nice dinner with friends, bar crawling, walking around canals, getting stranded because the bridges are up (real struggle in Saint Petersburg) and then partying some more!
Special views that mainstream tourists don't know about:
Best place for a cheap bite on-the-go:
Either some pastry from the many bakery chains around town (you can see Булочная sign everywhere) or blini (Russian for "crêpes") from a Teremok kiosk. Ham and cheese is my personal favourite. Or you can splurge and try the one with some red caviar!
Tomorrow’s your last day in Saint Petersburg. How do you spend it?
I'll probably spend my last day walking around a lot, dropping by my favourite places, meeting friends and then watching the sunset on the bank of Neva River.