st. petersburg pt.III


right opposite the church of our saviour on spilled blood (my, such a long name) there’s a souvenir and local crafts market; aimed to trick us tourists to spend as much money as possible. its here i learnt that the babushka dolls are actually called matryoshka; not babushka (only foreigners call them this).. and its here i also met my first trans-siberian person, who looked so oriental i thought he was from mongolia.


the market opens from 9am; till.. not sure when. but naturally i got suckered in and bought myself a small faberge egg pendant. they’re so beautiful i could not resist. one day; i’ll have so much money i promise to buy myself one of those musical ones that twirl around and tell the time. soon soon.


i had a bit of extra time to spare so i decided to go looking for some meat pies! well recommended by lonely planet; lol. Stolle (Штолле) can be found all over the city, but its nice to go to the one off the beaten track into this semi underground cafe that has early 20th century written all over it.


it’s so kitsch-y, i can just image all the russians smoking their cigars in here! anyways the highlight of stolle are their pies, and they serve a wide selection of savoury and sweet pies. a large slice (250g) costs about 200-250Rubles/8USD while a small one (175g) costs about 100-150Rbl/5USD.


Dont’ they just look so pretty in display? i got myself a fish pie and a wortleberry pie. i’d say a small slice is enough for a meal as they can be quite filling. Then again i’m not a big eater.

I walked in as they opened, so the pies were all freshly made. So you can imagine how beautiful they all the smelt. It had a crispy burnt crust; with a dense breadlike texture that was salty sweet. The fish was just meh; it did taste fresh and really moist though. The wortleberry was pretty yummy; however it is an acquired taste. The jam wasn't too sweet as it was balanced by the pie crust and doesn't soak into it making it soggy which is a good thing. Reviews recommended the rabbit pie, unfortunately they didn't have any when i was there; but i did see many people order the minced meat ones, so I'm assuming they must be good as well.


and that is how i spent my 24hours in my very first Russia trip and also my very first layover. i manage to do quite a bit i must say. onwards to the next trip! yay!

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ps: stolle can be found here:
Конюшенный пер., 1/6, г. Санкт-Петербург, Russia, 191186
just follow the road from the church towards the river and you will see it on the left

st. petersburg pt.II

After a session of cam-whoring at the winter palace, we ran into the nearest restaurant for food. the meal was pathetic really. but what do you expect from a joint along the main street meant to attract tourists. however, we did try the russian beer; Baltika, and that was good.

as i waited for the restaurant’s bathroom, i did met the proprietor of the restaurant and his friend a street photographer. from first impression i was intimidated, because the owner looked like part of the russian mafia. instead they were friendly, and started speaking to me in russian. A lot of them don’t know english, so we were having a little trouble communicating to one another. when all fails we use sign language and gestures. i’m pretty sure we looked like dancing monkeys.


monkey talk

the photographer showed me his camera and collection of photos which were pretty rad. as i said bye he offered me one of his signed prints in exchange for a photo for him. of course i gladly obliged. how random. hahah.

Baltikarussian photo 
baltika russian beer; the photo now sits on the corner of my dressing table right ;D

so now imagine 5 happy drunk crew making a ruckus in the middle of a foreign country. on a wednesday night. so we skipped hopped and sang in the middle of saint petersburg. then we came across an underground go-go bar! and of course we paid a visit to watch sexy (but not the most good looking) ladies dance on table tops!

so that was my first night and i got back to the hotel drunk and passed out on the bed without taking off my makeup. the next morning however i did manage to wake up really early (think 7am). i reckon i was probably just too excited being in Russia and wanted to explore. spoke to the concierge and found out nothing opens till 10am. what am i to do till 10am…

tepemokcooking blini

i found myself in Tepemok (Теремок), a fast food chain to try their blini. Blini is in plural. there's no such thing as blinis; and they are little Russian pancakes made of buckwheat flour.


bliny set

the menu looks exactly like McDonalds and everything was horrendously in Russian. however when the waitress noticed me staring at the menu for a good 5 minutes, she whipped up an English menu beneath the counter for me. i went for the basic set meal; costing 280Rubles/USD9 which came with a cup of tea, borscht soup and a simple mushroom cream bliny. my it was yummy! Borscht is a traditional Russian soup filled with cabbage, minced meat and beetroot; hence the reddish color. The bliny isn't much different to a French crepe except it has a spongier texture having used a leavening agent. also the fact that the presentation is more of a dumbed-down meal compared to the French crepes. really, anything that has to do with french just has to be more sophisticated than the world.

st petersburg church

i then took a stroll to the church of the saviour on spilled blood (Церковь Спаса на Крови). isnt that such a sadistic name. just saying the name gives me the chills. it’s built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and the church it meant to be dedicated to his memory. while walking along the main street, it’s hard to miss the church as you’re crossing a certain bridge as its towering domes peek out between the promenade of buildings along the river. unless you’re staring into the ground while walking of course.

church spilled bloodexterior

I’ve seen the beautifully marbled renaissance churches in rome, the tall intimidating gothic spires of the french and the rough masculine ones in england (not forgetting barcelona’s gaudiness); so this was a nice introduction to the elaborate mosaic tiled russian church. walking towards it, it was so picturesque it felt almost magical; like a page out of a fairy tale book.


of course i couldnt help but pay 300Rubles/USD10 for a ticket inside, and guess what. more mosaics. they really beautiful though. its not a very big church; it is however really overwhelming due to its tall spaces and detailed mosaics. church is open everyday except wednesdays; 1000-1900 during summer and 1100-1900 during winters.

okay hoo-haa; the visit to the church is done. time for more food and some souvenir shopping.

st. petersburg – the first layover pt.I

my new job opened up on a high note. its like my employer is poking fun at me; saying “aren’t you glad you quit your boring old job as an architect and came with us?” i do miss it, but HELL YEAH.

they sent me to st petersburg in russia for my first layover. imagine this; its a 5 hour flight from dubai to russia and they let me stay and explore for 24hours. with meal allowances. can i just melt from sheer gratitude now?


“Zdravstvujtye” (pronounced; zdrah-stvooy-tee) is the russian way of saying hello formally; and HELLO RUSSIA! personally i find their alphabetical characters really interesting; similar to japanese ones. then again, anything foreign to me is always interesting.

we landed at 6pm; and got an hour bus ride to the hotel which was so conveniently located along Nevsky Prospect, considered the main avenue of the town cutting through the historical centre of the cit . as st petersburg was a first for many of the crew members, we decided to do some sight seeing right after albeit some of us being really tired. we’re in a new destination, of course we’d take the chance to explore no matter what!


the beautiful autumn season during august also meant that the sun sets only at about 9pm and the temperature was at a nice 20degrees. after being in dubai’s sweltering heat for a good 2 months; it was good to enjoy some cool weather. my prior research mentioned how saint petersburg was the most ‘western’ part of russia. and i could see why. walking through town; it felt a little like belgium, luxemburg and paris art nouveau all rolled up into one. There were large pedestrian walkways, squares dotted between tall stone buildings with intricate ornamentation.

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Kazan Cathedral (Каза́нский кафедра́льный собо́р); a russian orthodox church dedicated to Our Lady of Kazan. We didn’t manage to get the time to go in but my first impression was what a beautiful university it was. turns out to be a cathedral instead. HAH.

Opposite the cathedral was the Art Nouveau Singer House (Дом компании) also known as the House of Books (Дом книги); part of a historical-cultural heritage of the street. Used to be the headquarters for the Singer Sewing Machine Company; it now houses the city’s largest book store (hence the name) after Russia’s October Revolution in 1919.

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fooling around with the chocolate santa claus; because chocolate is the way into my heart. one thing to note, all the buildings were of similar height; about 7 storeys, to comply to the city’s building code of structures not being allowed to be higher than the Winter Palace (Tzar’s residence) at 23.5m.


this is similar to Florence in Italy towards the cathedral and Athens in Greece towards the Parthenon. Interesting how many cities have this to maintain a kind of hierarchy in their streetscape structure. *how geeky am i. you can just slap me now*


anyways, so we took a nice stroll towards the Winter Palace (Зи́мний дворе́ц); which was from 1732 to 1917 the official residence of the Russian monarchs. It now houses the Hermitage Museum; but was closed by the time we got there. It costs an adult foreigner 400Rubles; citizens of Russian and Belarus 150Rubles. Hmm. However its free on every first Thursday of the month and to all children and students. So if you’re trip doesn’t coincide with the first Thursday, remember to bring your student card. or fake one. who really knows? oh, you didnt read it here by the way.

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