Peterhof, the "Russian Versailles." Source: Lori/Legion Media
A long time ago when St Petersburg was the imperial capital, it was known for its noble entertainment. Excerpts from Pushkin’s poem Eugene Onegin illustrate how young urban men entertained themselves with balls, receptions, plays, holidays, and lunches made up of many exquisite dishes.
The city's founder, Peter the Great, was known for his attention to new social trends. He was the first of the Russian tsars to hold an assembly, to build palaces for receptions and to collect art. The park with fountains in Peterhof amazed visitors with its array of activities. Guests travelled by boat from St Petersburg for festive receptions at the palace, lunch in the Hermitage pavilion at exotic mechanical tables, and, of course, fireworks in the evening.
Mansions of the Northern Capital
Almost all of the entertainment from the 18th and 19th centuries in St Petersburg is available once again. Now you can hold a large meeting or your own festive ball in one of the beautiful palaces or mansions of St Petersburg.
Source: Lori/Legion Media
Scheduling a meeting in Mikhailovsky Castle, having a romantic date with dinner in the tower of Peter and Paul Fortress, or taking a ride in a carriage pulled by three horses to the Tsarskoe Selo Park will not be a problem. In addition to this, one of the favourite entertainment options available to tourists is taking a trip to Peterhof, the "Russian Versailles," in a motor boat and then watching a fireworks show after the palace closes.
Restaurants, Terraces, Cafes
Breakfast, lunch and dinner in modern restaurants are no less elegant than in the time of Eugene Onegin. The Tsar restaurant in St. Petersburg offers genuine Russian cuisine. It is located in the heart of the city, near Nevsky prospect.
Here, you dine on crab soup and Siberian pelmeni or grilled Atlantic catfish and wash it all down with lingonberry kvas. There is also a special called "Breakfast for a Lord": it is always a pleasure to begin the day with millet porridge with pumpkin, potato pancakes or blini (pancakes) with red caviar.
Source: Lori/Legion Media
Another upscale restaurant, Dvoryanskoe gnezdo (Nobles' Nest), is located in the Tea House of the Yusupov palace, near Mariinsky Theater. The restaurant has two cozy rooms and a music lounge, where there is live music in the evenings.
On the menu are unique dishes based on French and Russian cuisine. Original recipes from the restaurant's chef co-exist here with dishes resurrected from records from the Yusupov family cookbook: bear meat pelmeni in wine sauce with sliced foie gras, fillet of northern deer marinated in burgundy and herbs de Provence. There are also traditional dishes -- borsch, beef stroganoff, fish soup -- that are made here according to original old Russian recipes. Those who have dined here include Vladimir Putin and George H W Bush, Gerhard Schroeder and Helmut Kohl, Catherine Deneuve, Bruce Willis, Paul McCartney and many other celebrities and heads of state.
On Sunday you can have a traditional brunch in the luxury restaurant Taleon in the heart of Nevsky prospect, not far from the Hermitage. The leisurely meal (served from 12:00 to 4:00) is always accompanied by live music. This brunch impresses with the abundance of snacks and main dishes: hot smoked Sterlet with pink horseradish, Asian-style cold-smoked rainbow trout, marinated slices of veal, lobster with pink sauce, the freshest oysters and homemade desserts.
The restaurant is located in the recreated Yeliseyev mansion decorated in the style of Louis XVI.
Two more restaurants with wonderful panoramic views of the city are located on the upper floors of some of the tallest buildings in the city centre. Sitting on the roof of Terrasa, you can watch what's happening on Nevsky prospect and admire the architecture of Kazan cathedral. Mansarda restaurant is located near the magnificent St. Isaac's Cathedral in the Quattro corti business centre. The menu (which is given on an iPad) offers the best classic dishes of European and Asian cuisine.
For those who enjoy vintage cars, the St. Petersburg entertainment bureau offers a Cadillac, Rolls Royce, Mercedes Benz and 1950's Jaguar as well as Russian vintage beauties, Chaika and Pobeda, which were the cars of Soviet leaders, astronauts and movie starts. With a vehicle it is always nice to go shopping: many famous boutiques are located on Nevsky Prospect and in the DLT department store (Leningrad Trade Building), everything from Armani to Versace.
Source: Lori/Legion Media
Those interested in contemporary art can visit a branch of the Hermitage XX-XI museum, which is located in the main headquarters on Palace Square. Current Russian art can be found at Marina Gisich gallery where one can view, as well as purchase, works of artists from 1980 to the 2010's such as paintings, installations, sculptures, graphics, and photography. The artists include Yevgeny Yufit, Grigory Maiofis and Vladimir Kustov.
Airplane aficionados can take an excursion in the air. One can fly over the city, or take a trip in a light sport airplane outside the city to the lovely Karelian lakes and forests, as a passenger or a pilot.
In St Petersburg you can rent a motor boat, jet ski, diesel-powered ship, a sail boat or motorized yacht for any number of people to explore the rivers and channels of the city or for fishing in the local lakes or in the Baltic sea through the Gulf of Finland. Also available are comfortable trips to the monastery islands of Valaam and to Kizhi, the museum of Russian wood craftsmanship.
Entertainment 'a la Russe'
After all these adventures, a branch of the world-famous lounge restaurant Buddha Bar invites you to spend a relaxed evening in St. Petersburg. But, if you want to make noise and have some fun, you would enjoy the Gelsоminо cafe, an elite night club with a restaurant and karaoke. You can order and sing your favourite song with professional accompaniment, watch a show, and enjoy black caviar and other high-class dishes, and watch how they have fun in Russia.
In upcoming years several golf courses with hotels and restaurants are slated to open in the buildings of former estates in the Petersburg suburbs.
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