Saint Petersburg and Moscow – Day 2

Day two started with us finding a breakfast place. We were recommended utilitsa Rubinshteyna (улица Рубинштейна) as a lively street with cafes and bars, so we picked Cafe Fartuk (Кафе Фартук) to have breakfast. I think the street is better for an evening drink, but there were a few places open for breakfast as well.

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The place didn’t have a huge selection of breakfast items, but we found something to eat. They also had really good freshly squeezed orange juice, coffee and a small pot of tea. The menu in English was available. The breakfast cost 1250 rubles (20,80€).

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After breakfast we headed to take a boat ride on the canals and rivers of Saint Petersburg. The only issue is that despite there being literally dozens of travel companies, who arrange these types of tours, they are all arranged in Russian. Despite searching for the tours online I had to trust the Lonely Planet guidebook and look up Anglotourismo, which seems to be the only company arranging boat tours in English. They had English-language tours at 11.00, 13.00, 15.00, 17.00, and 19.00 and the price is 1000 rubles (16,70€) per person. The tickets can be bought in a small ticket booth and the boarding for the English-speaking tour was in fact not on the pier specified on Anglotourismo’s web site, but on the pier that is visible in the background, so make sure of the pier when buying tickets. Also a large group of English-speaking people is a dead giveaway as there really is no competition. 🙂

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Tickets and boarding pier for Anglotourismo. Picture borrowed from here.

The ride itself was quite nice, but the English commentary was rather unremarkable. The sound wasn’t that great and the information was mainly about when the buildings were built and what used to be in them. There were of course some interesting factoids, but overall I tried to enjoy the view rather than listen to the guide. Also it gets quite chilly as the tour takes about an hour and a half and it is really windy.

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Saint Petersburg canal and river cruise
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Saint Petersburg canal and river cruise. A break from work.
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Saint Petersburg canal and river cruise
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Saint Petersburg canal and river cruise
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Saint Petersburg canal and river cruise
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Saint Petersburg canal and river cruise
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Saint Petersburg canal and river cruise. Guy doing push-ups.
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Saint Petersburg canal and river cruise
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Saint Petersburg canal and river cruise
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Saint Petersburg canal and river cruise
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Saint Petersburg canal and river cruise

After the boat tour we had booked a tour of the rooftops of Saint Petersburg. This is something I haven’t seen elsewhere, but there is a lot of ads sprayed on the streets advertising the rooftop tours, so I’m assuming that they’re quite popular. I can’t imagine anything like that taking place e.g. in Finland as it’s a huge liability issue for the home owner’s association of the particular building and generally roof access is not allowed.

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Rooftop walk ad on the street

We decided to not to call the numbers sprayed on the pavements, but instead chose a tour arranged by the agency called Sputnik 8. I booked the tour online and paid a reservation fee by credit card. The rest was paid in cash to the guide. The price per person was 990 rubles (16,50€) and the tour took approximately 30min. The arrangements went okay. I got the name and the phone number of our guide emailed to me after I paid the reservation fee. The meeting spot was specified in the email and luckily the website had a photo of the guide as he was just hanging around the meeting spot wearing regular clothing, so he was a bit tricky to identify.

The rooftop tour itself was quite interesting if you like this sort of thing. 🙂 We took an elevator to the attic of a building nearby the meeting spot and then walked a bit on a couple of rooftops and took some pictures. The buildings in Saint Petersburg are quite low-rising, but you get a view of the city nevertheless.

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The walk itself wasn’t that difficult, but I recommend comfortable and grippy shoes as well as a backpack instead of a handbag. I was wearing sneakers and a maxi dress with split sides and had a handbag. Handbag was a bit in the way when climbing a ladder and squeezing through a small opening which led from the attic to the roof. The maxi dress was ok, but I had to make sure I don’t step on it. It was also quite dark in the attic, but the guide had a flashlight with him, so we managed. It helps if you have a flashlight app on your phone.

The Sputnik 8 website is also in English, so for I assumed that the guide would also speak English. It turned out that he didn’t really speak it, so I had to translate to my boyfriend. Not that there was a lot to translate, mind you. He pointed out at some buildings nearby and then told a bit about the streets we could see. I would think that it would’ve been ok in English as well, but if you book the tour, you should specify that. Tours are cancelled or postponed if it rains, which is smart because the roofs will probably be crazy slippery during rain. As I said I was wearing regular sneakers and they were grippy enough.

I’m not sure if the tour was just 30min or if the guide cut it a bit short as he kept saying that it’ll going to rain soon and true enough it started raining as soon as we got down from the roof. We headed back to the hotel to change and then headed for the restaurant Tarhun (Тархун). I have booked the table earlier the same day and it was good that I did because the restaurant was full. The food was excellent and we liked the service as well. Totally recommended!

We ordered homemade “Tarhun” drink and Borjomi sparkling water, a khachapuri Adjarian style, and khinkali with meat for starters.

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For main course we had lamb shashlik, summer salad, and grilled vegetables.

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I assumed that the restaurant would offer only traditional Georgian dishes, but they had a nice mix of tradition with contemporary twist. I was impressed with the Tarhun tarragon drink. I only remembered it as basically the only soft drink available in the Soviet Union, which was a really artificial shade of deep green. But the restaurant has a very refreshing version of the drink with fresh tarragon, which reminded me more of a mojito than the bottled drink. It was very good! The dinner cost 5950 rubles (100€) + tip and was once again totally worth the price.

One thought on “Saint Petersburg and Moscow – Day 2

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