Traditions and Habits, Saint Petersburg
I don't want to hurt someone's feelings or sth I just wanted to say what I saw.
As regards cashiers, this is a disaster. Not all of them, but so many cashiers in Petersburg are rude! I mean, I live in Tallinn and our cashiers don't have this strain when serving the customer. So you need to be ready that in museums or eating places you can be met no so friendly ! Our PEtersburg people said that this is a normal for them, but not for me.
But I hope that you will be fine! :-) It's still so beautiful and lovely city!
Blini Festival week is the week before Lent, seven weeks before Easter.
In ancient times it was the festival to say goodbye to Winter and hello to the sun.
The round blini pancake represents the sun.
The last Sunday of the festival is forgiveness day where all is forgiven and redeemed.
And the Lady Maslenitsa effigy is burned to say goodbye to Winter.
In southern europe it is the time of carnival, in Catholic traditions it is Shrovetide.
Just be sure and eat lots of warm tasty blini!
I found in some places that you go to cash desk first , say what you want to buy, pay and then given a receipt to another counter assistant. This takes place at a shop cum cafe in Nevskiy Prospekt. I felt pleased with myself the second time i went there and got it right.
Many of the Tsars are buried in the Cathedral of St Peter and Paul in the Fortress. They have elaborate tombs in the Cathedral, but their actual remains are buried down under the Cathedral in lead coffins.
But there are others. On July 17th 1918 the Emperor Nicholas II, and his family were murdered. The Czar, his wife, Alexandra, their five children and four family attendants were herded into a cellar room by their Bolshevik captors and killed. According to a report by the Czar's chief executioner, two of the bodies taken from the Yekaterinburg cellar were burned, and the rest buried. The missing bodies belonged to the Romanov heir, Alexei, who was 13 when he was killed, and one of his sisters, either Maria, then 19, or her 17-year-old sister Anastasia.
It was not until 17 July 1998, eighty years to the day after their murder in the cellar of the Ipatiev House at Ekaterinburg, the earthly remains of Emperor Nicholas II, his wife, fou daughters, his heir and also Dr Botkin and the three faithful servants were laid to rest in an obscure side chapel at the Peter and Paul Fortress cathedral, in a room just barely big enough to accommodate the 45 surviving Romanov relatives due to assemble for the event.
Those interred in the chapel included
Nicholas Alexandrovich Romanov b. May 6, 1868 d. Jul. 17, 1918
Alexandra Feodorovna Romanov b. 6 June 1872 d. 17 July 1918
Olga Nikolaevna Romanova b. Nov. 15, 1895 d. Jul. 17, 1918
Tatiana Nikolaievna Romanova b. Jun. 10, 1897 d. Jul. 17, 1918
Maria Nikolaievna Romanov b. Jun. 27, 1899 d. Jul. 17, 1918
Alexei Yegorovich Trupp was the faithful valet of Czar Nicholas II b. 1857 d. Jul. 17, 1918
Anna Stepanova Demidova was a personal maid to Czarina Alexandra Romanov who was murdered with the family b. 1878 d. Jul. 17, 1918
Ivan Alexandrovich Khartinotov the cook of Czarina Alexandra Romanov who was murdered with the family b. 1870 d. Jul. 17, 1918
Dr Eugene Sergeievich Botkin, was the faithful physician of Czarina Alexandra Romanov who followed the royal family into exile and house arrest. He was murdered along with the royal family b. 1864 d. Jul. 17, 1918
The disposition of the bodies of Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanov, b. Jun. 18, 1901 d. Jul. 17, 1918 and the heir Alexis Nicholaevich Romanov b. Jul. 30, 1904 d. Jul. 17, 1918 is unknown.
If you happen to be in Russia on 7th - 8th March and you meet with a Russian girlfriend or female business partner, don't forget to buy flowers, otherwise, you will be taken as a lump. You will notice every second man brining flowers to his beloved, as well as children buy flowers for mother. ( I know that my daughter hides flowers behind the curtains in her room). Flowers vendors make a fortune twice a year - March, 8 and September, 1, when a new school year starts.
Any foreign visitor to Russia should be registered for the visit to each city. Normally, all hotels completes the registration for you and give you a piece of paper showing the registration. You always should carry this paper with you along wth your passport. The registration should be completed within 3 days after your arrival to any city.
SPB or in general in Russia luggages are an issue. If you have a luggage with you, you pay an extra ticket in the bus or metro. Even some hotels charge you hourly fees for the time you left your luggage in store room of the hotel.
The locals eat korushka (smelt) in April - May. It really smells like cucumber. Korushka reminds me the small fishes that I have tasted in Barcelona (I can not remember the name).
You can find it in large supermarkets like LENTA or OK. They sell it in food markets, but ratherexpensive. We fry korushka powdered with salted flour. I have bought it today for 160 rubls/kg (3.5 EUR) :)
Russia is a country of cash, so it is best to pay cash. In the last years the Russian Ruble has been relatively stable, so it is best to pay in Russian Rubles instead of other currencies.
I saw several Americans who wanted to pay in US Dollars but the shops refused to take them. Credit Cards are accepted in a few places like hotels, restaurants or airports.
There are enough cash points all over the town; you find at least one at every metro station.
Apart from that, there are plenty of exchange offices in the city centre. Their rates vary slightly. I would recommend you to ask how many Roubles you really get for your currency, just to make sure that no commission is added.
One happy day to witness is teh start of school. Each September 1 all students get dressed nicely and get ready for the start of teh shcool year. Often parents come with the children for an assembly outside the school with lots of speeches and festivities. Many children bring flowers for their teacher.
It is a happy day and if you are in Russia on Sept. 1 you can go to a school and watch as the children find their schoolmates and teachers. It is a happy day :)
If you're giving flowers to a Russian for whatever reason, be it a romantic gesture, a birthday or a thank-you gift, be sure to count them first.
Don't give an even number of flowers - even numbers are reserved for funerals and gravesides. It's another 'bad omen', and believe me, you will be held accountable if someone so much as sneezes after you give the wrong number of flowers...
If you want to send flowers to St. Petersburg, Edward Thompson runs an excellent mail-order flower delivery service! (And he lives just down the road from me :)
New Year is more popular holiday than Christmas here in Russia. Every year, 31 December people is gathered by small companies at the holiday table with very many food. At 12 we watch TV and under the battle of chimes of bells we drink champagne. Until chimes of bells will not stop you should conjecture desire and to drink the glass to the end. The most popular dish is salad Olivie (potatoes, egg, meat, peas, cucumber and mayonnaise). When you are too drunk usually people say that you fall by face into the salad :)
A New-year tree also is the required attribute of the holiday which appointed by all family.
From 2004 year in Russia all people have about 10 free days in the beginning of January (usually it is from 30/12 till 10/01 or something like this)
While in St Petersburg we went to see a Folklorick show. This was truely stunning and I really enjoyed this. This show was done exclusively for the passengers on our ship but you can arrange to go as individual on other evenings. This show was traditional russian music and Dance and the costumes were truely stunning
When the sun shines in winters.... Old men of St. Petersburg go out to the wall of the St. Peterfortress, along the river Neva, pull out their jacks and sweaters and try to receive all sunbeams there are!
Whistling indoors is said to bring bad luck. The phrase 'ne svisti a deneg ne budet' means 'don't whistle or there'll be no money'.
Russians are pretty superstitious people. Their 'narodnie primety' , or 'folk omens' still have a very powerful influence on the collective psyche. While foreigners would scoff at someone getting nervous about breaking these traditions, Russians can sometimes take it very seriously and may be offended.
In Russia you are unlikely to hear anyone whistling anywhere, even outdoors. Since Soviet times, whistling has been frowned upon. Whistling to someone to attract their attention may cause offence.
Whistling a tune while walking down the street is a sure way to attract attention from pickpockets and thieves - they'll know instantly that you're a foreigner.