St. Petersburg Sphinxes
January, 26/2017

St. Petersburg Sphinxes

We’ve already published an article about St. Petersburg cats in our blog. Now bigger monuments come into play. This is an overview of the most unusual St. Petersburg monuments – sphinxes. Feel surprised to know about them in St. Petersburg? There’s a number of them in the places you would expect them to be!

Egyptian Sphinxes on the University embankment

For almost 200 years two real Egyptian sphinxes decorate the University embankment on the Vasilievsky island. They are the most valuable, beautiful and oldest ones in St. Petersburg. 3500 years ago the huge granite monuments were guarding the entrance to Amenhotep III’s sanctuary in the Thebes. In 1832 they were bought by a Russian officer, diplomat and traveler, Andrew Muraviev, and brought to St. Petersburg. Harmoniously fit into the surroundings, they attract a lot of spectators to this day. Many legends any mysteries are connected to the monuments. Some people believe that the expressions of their faces change during a day: they are calm and happy in the morning, and become gloomy and sinister by night.

Egyptian Sphinxes on the University embankment

Sphinxes on the Egyptian bridge

Two more Sphinxes are located on the Egyptian bridge across the Fontanka river. Despite the name of the bridge the sphinxes are not traditional Egyptian ones, but made in classical Greek style. Their animal bodies contrast with the right features of female faces, and this contrast adds special greatness to the monuments. They are pretty exotic for the area: located on the verge of the city center, close to the industrial area of the Obvodny canal, they definitely look outstanding. The sphinxes have copies: you can find them on the Malaya Nevka bank next to the Kamennoostrovsky bridge.

Sphinxes on the Egyptian bridge

Sphinxes of the Stroganov palace

A very curious tourist can find two wonderful sphinxes in the gala courtyard of the Stroganov palace. The two creatures are tranquilly lying on a granite pedestal and watching people passing by. The story of these monuments is full of gaps. We don’t know exactly who made them and when it happened, but presumably they were the first ones to be used as decoration in St. Petersburg. Today it’s a popular touristic attraction, and many visitors come to take a picture of the sphinxes. It’s very easy to find them: The Stroganov palace is located on Nevsky prospect, on the place where the Moyka river crosses it. Just go though the arch to the inner courtyard.

Russian street food
January, 20/2017

Russian street food

This overview contains the most popular Russian street food that you can find in St. Petersburg. Russian cuisine is very reach and delicious. It’s surprising how may dishes you can try in Russia: starting with many different traditional salads and snacks finishing with a number of Russian soups and main courses. Street food is not an exception for Russian cuisine and Hello Russia Tours will show it to you. 

Bliny (blinis)Russian street food - Pyshka

Who doesn’t know about Russian blinis (sometimes spelled as bliny)? This dish has been cooked in Russia for centuries. It’s Russian traditional pancakes, very thin, looking like crepes and served sour or sweet. Almost all of the Russian restaurants offer Russian bliny but if you don’t have much time, you can go to a Russian chain of fast food restaurants called Teremok. It is the most popular and famous chain of Russian street food – here one can get some simple Russian dishes ordering it right at the encounter – just like in McDonald’s. It’s interesting that you can even find some of the Teremoks in New York – so popular it is!

Pyshka

Pyshka is a type of Russian street food that gained its popularity in the Soviet time. They are surprisingly similar to American doughnuts except for its shape. The pyshka is a round fried pice of dough dredged with sugar powder. There’s a number of pyshka cafes in St Petersburg. One of them is Pyshechnaya on 25 B. Konyushennaya str. This historical cafe was opened in 1958 and since then they have never changed their recipes! What else can be more authentic?

Cheburek

Cheburek is a fried sour pastry that is very popular in Russia. A classical cheburek is the tastiest – it’s a thin dough leaf that has meat in it. However, today there are a lot of variations: you can find the cheburek with potatoes, vegetables, cheese, mushrooms, etc. If you are looking forward to trying some Russian chebureks check out of the Brynza restaurants. Fast service, reasonable prices and great chebureks.

ShawarmaShawarma

This Russian street food called shawarma (or shawurma) came to our cuisine from the Middle East. It’s grilled meat (beef, veal, lamb, chicken or turkey) wrapped in lavash or pita. Fresh vegetables and a sauce are added too. One of St. Petersburg restaurants called Pita’s offer a nice selection of different shawermas. Some of them are quite unusual (but still so delicious!): cheese shawarma with caraway and sea buckthorn, shawarma with cranberry sauce and mint, and shawarma with pineapple and oregano.

Russian Mors

When having some Russian street food you will probably want to try a traditional Russian drink called mors. Roughly speaking, it’s a berry juice. It can be made of cranberries, raspberries, strawberries, black or red currant, and others. Doesn’t it sound healthy and refreshing?

 As you see, there are many options to try some traditional Russian street food on the go. If you’re looking for more recommendations check out our article about St. Petersburg restaurants.

Russian street food that you can find in St. Petersburg is plentiful from Russian blini and pyshka to shawarma, cheburek and mors.

Cheap flights to St Petersburg
January, 12/2017

Looking for cheap flights to St Petersburg?

It’s not a secret that when traveling flight tickets become a considerable part of your travel budget. However, there’s a number of tricks of how to get cheap flights to St Petersburg. It this article we’re revealing our secrets how to save money when booking your tickets to St. Petersburg.

It’s time to book your flights!

First of all, figure out the time when you want to come to Russia. When choosing the time of your journey take into account that summer months are the most popular in St. Petersburg, which inevitably leads to the price rise. There are lots of summer activities that people are striving to enjoy! However, we want to highlight that there are lots of fun activities in winter too (check our articles Winter Activities Part 1 and Part 2). February or March is the perfect time to book your cheap flights to St. Petersburg if you want to save some money. In winter due to the low tourist season the ticket prices are reasonably lower (2-3 times lower than summer prices). The prices also differ during the week: on Monday or Tuesday, you may find better prices than on the weekend.

Search engines

Today it is common not to check one or two flight companies but look though a few travel search engines, such as Google flights, kayak.com or faircompare.com. They show a whole database of thousands of flights around the globe, which makes the search very simple. Even though these aggregators mainly make the same flight suggestions, the prices can vary a lot. They can even be cheaper than the ones that the flight companies offer! Check out a few websites for booking tickets that are popular in Russia:

Low cost companies

There is also a number of low-costs to Russia that offer great deals for traveling. Many people disregard them cheap flights to St. Petersburgthinking that the low prices cause low safety level. In reality, the situation is different: the prices are reduced due to other factors, for instance, they do not provide in-flight meals, baggage limitations can be stricter and the tickets can be non-refundable. The quality of the flights is still on a good level. The most popular low-cost to Russia is AirBaltic: it provides cheap flights to St. Petersburg and Moscow from all the major European cities (Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussel and many others). Some other low-cost flight companies are AirBerlin, Wizz Air, EasyJet, Vueling.

Points and miles

Many flight companies (both regular and low-cost) offer to join their bonus programs for frequent travelers. Such programs can really save a part of your budget. The membership allows the participants to earn points or miles, get rewards and receive special offers for different destinations. Aeroflot, being Russia’s largest flight company, invites you to sign up and start getting points for every flight you book with them. Later you can use these points for paying your tickets to St. Petersburg or Moscow. You can pay the whole price or have a reasonable price reduction. One more great thing is that they have lots of non-stop flights straight to Russia (for example, from London, Paris, New York or even Beijing!)

Pulkovo Airport (LED)
January, 5/2017

Pulkovo Airport (LED)

If you come to St. Petersburg by plane you inevitably start getting to know the city with Pulkovo Airport (LED). The citizens of St. Petersburg have been traveling via this airport for more than 80 years. From this airport one can get practically to any end of the globe – it serves about 200 domestic and international flights. It’s also one of the biggest airports in Russia – the annual capacity of the airport is 18 million passengers!

Airport navigation

In 2013 a new terminal was open and since 2015 both the new and the old buildings have been used. The Pulkovo airport appears to be one of the biggest airports in Russia but still it’s very convenient and easy to navigate. Basically you can’t get lost there – it has clear ways to the passport control, baggage claim and main exit. Signs are everywhere, and the arrivals/departures monitor is easy to find. When leaving St. Petersburg be ready to pass a security check at the terminal entrance.

How to get to St Petersburg airportPulkovo airport

The airport is located in 20 kilometers from the St. Petersburg city center (about 12,5 miles).

To get to/from the Pulkovo airport one can use a city bus #39 and #39EX or a marshrutka #39 (marshrutka means a shuttle bus in Russian). All of them run to the nearest subway station called Moskovskaya. It will take you about 20 minutes to get to the subway by the marshrutka, the buses are slightly slower. They will charge you extra for oversized baggage.

Hello Russia Tours provides services in organizing an airport transfer to/from your hotel or any other destination. Contact us to book the airport transfer for you. Please, inform in advance if you have oversized baggage or equipment and a bigger or a handicapped accessible vehicle is needed.

St Petersburg airport facilities

The St Petersburg airport has all the basic facilities on its premises: free and paid parking, postal services, car rental, ticket offices, ATMs, free wi-fi, phone chargers, mobile shop, pharmacy, baby care rooms and a business lounge. The airport is handicapped friendly. For your convenience there’s a number of cafes and restaurants, cafes and bars. After the passport control one can enjoy duty free shopping. To find more detail, check the schedule and flight status, you can go inline and check Pulkovo airport official web page.