A postcard from St. Petersburg

A “post” card, get it?

Eli and I are doing some traveling this week before we head home to Cambridge. We landed in St. Petersburg on Wednesday, and I thought I’d stop by to tell you what we’ve been up to. In no particular order, here are some of the highlights of our trip so far:

1. Onion domes

That’s what those swirling cupolas up there are called, but I don’t know. My first thought was butter cream. And that I’d like to eat them.

2. Crosswalks

With built-in pedestrian traffic flow maps! Brilliant.

3. Pickled vegetables

Especially that tomato hiding behind the cabbage. It was the single best thing I ate in all of St. Petersburg. I dream of that tomato. I am not even kidding.

4. Pelmeni

Stuffed with mushrooms and creamy potatoes, slicked with butter, and showered in dill.

5. Late-night light

It’s light until forever in St. Petersburg. In the last few hours before dark, everything – the sky, the buildings, the water – turns rosy blue. I took this shot at 10:30pm. 10:30!!

6. Creepy men and mediocre pastries

Okay, so this wasn’t exactly a highlight. Though it wasn’t bad enough to be a lowlight, either. It was more like a weird-light. Eli and I had just sat down at a sweet-smelling bakery, when a well-dressed, unsmiling man approached us from behind, shoved his head between the two of us, leaned into my ear, and whispered something in Russian that sounded either passionate, or angry, or both. He waited a beat to see if we might respond, and when we didn’t – we were pretty shocked – he pinched me on the arm, turned on his heels, and shot out the door. This pastry, a brioche-like specimen lined with ribbons of jam, was nothing to write home about (and yet here I am, writing home about it; go figure), but after a few bites, my heart had returned to its normal rhythm, so I guess it did the trick.

7. Fresh honey

Straight from the comb at the Kuznechny market.

8. Fancy butter at breakfast

Lurpak. In diner butter packets. And why the heck not?

I love making a new place feel like home, but being a tourist is fun, too.

[Note: I’m no longer in St. Petersburg. Due to spotty, slow, and sometimes nonexistent internet access during our travels, I’m publishing this post quite a few days after I wrote it. Though if this were an actual postcard sent by mail across the ocean, you’d all probably be receiving it right about now. So hopefully, it works!]


Update 8.24.2010: For more stories from St. Petersburg, including details about where we stayed and what we ate , click here.


Char said...

yum on the fresh honey and the little tins of butter. but weird about the guy pinching you - crazy!

and the dome...*sigh* gorgeous

Rosiecat said...

OK, that does it. Whenever you and I meet in person, I will insist that you be my tour guide. I'll bring treats to assist you in your task.

My goodness, the architecture really is something to write home about. That first photo is stunning! And the honey is making my stomach growl...grrrRRRRrrr! It looks delicious.

linda said...

the onion domes are awesome! look like iced cupcakes…confectionery gems...
did you guys taste the honey? it looks awesome!

PhotoTherapist said...

Would love to know where to stay and eat! Your latest trip is my dream.
The ART!

A Plum By Any Other Name said...

Your post smartly sums up all the loveliness and oddities of travel. Well done. Enjoy the rest of your trip!

Maddie said...

Jess, this is so lovely (aside from the somewhat-creepy item #6). My boyfriend is fluent in Russian, and having traveled/studied/worked there, tells me the most interesting stories about the culture, food, and scenery.

I haven't been yet, but your post really tapped into that Russia-directed wanderlust I've developed in hearing his stories. What a fantastic-sounding trip!

jacqui | happyjackeats said...

i especially like the part about tomato dreams, jess.

darbyoshea said...

Look at you writing short, sweet posts! Love to start hearing about your adventures and can't wait for more!

Molly said...

i just stopped by to check in and found all of your recent posts - happy surprise! your travels look like they were wonderful. i've always wanted to go to russia (and berlin!). i'm looking forward to hearing more..

Kasey said...

I am so jealous! My dad is from St.Petersburg and I got to go there 2 years ago during the summer--it's a magical place. The white nights are phenomenal--I ended up walking so much deep into the night because I hardly realized what time it was. Do try these pastries that kind of look like brown logs--they're incredible. And the honey, oh the honey...

El said...

St. Petersburg looks like fun but the food looks very heavy. Glad to hear you are having a great time. Have a safe trip home!!

Jess said...

Hi all, and thanks for your comments. I'm sorry that it has taken me until now to respond. We've been on the move, and the dust is just now beginning to settle.

Char - Yes, I could stare at those domes for hours.

Rosiecat - Deal.

Linda - Cupcakes! Exactly. And yes, we not only tasted it, we brought some home. The woman in that shot is packaging it up for us.

PhotoTherapist - I've gotten a few email requests for this information, too, so I'll update this post later today with hotel and restaurant names. Stay tuned!

A Plum By Any Other Name - Thank you!

Maddie - How great it would be to travel there with someone who speaks the language! I hope that you and your boyfriend get to wander that way sometime soon.

Jacqui - I kid you not. It was that good.

Darbyoshea - Ha! It was a struggle hitting that publish button, let me tell you. xo.

Molly - Hi! Looking forward to sharing more.

Kasey - I know what you mean. I couldn't believe it when I would look at my watch and see that it was almost 11 at night! I'm sorry to say that I missed the brown log pastries. Next time!

El - Yes, I adored the pickled vegetables and pelmeni, but by the time we left, all I wanted was a big old salad.

molly said...

I'm thinking Lurpak buttercream domes. Yes, indeedy! (And welcome back, weirdos notwithstanding!)

Jess said...

Molly - I like the way you think.

Michelle said...

That honey looks incredible! Hopefully it made up for the strange, strange man...

Jess said...

Hi, Michelle! Yes, the honey - and everything else - more than made up for that uncomfortable encounter.