Downtown Sites, Saint Petersburg
Along the Canal Griboedova behind the Church on the Spilled Blood is the main outdoor souvenir market in St. Petersburg. All the tour buses dump out scores of tourists every hour. You have a better bargaining posiiton early or in the off-season when there are not so many tourists and many vendors.
You can find a smaller outdoor souvenir market by St. Isaac's Cathedral or Peter and Paul Fortress.
Nesting Matrushka dolls, t-shirts and other trinkets can be found.
Unique Suggestions: If you see something you like, bargain for the best price. You can always get a discount. Usually several booths will have the same item, so you can move down the row asking for the best price.
Fun Alternatives: There are also souvenir shops in regular stores, such as Gostiniy Dvor along Nevsky Prospekt. For the best price get away from Nevsky Prospect.
Bookstores have nice postcard and calendar sections.
Also, think of alternatives. Nice flax or linen goods are classy souvenirs.
At the St Peter and Paul Fortress, you'll be given several ticket options. The "best deal" according to the admission people is to get a ticket to most of the major sights at the fortress. You're better off just buying a ticket for the cathedral, however. Besides that, you can wander around outside for a bit for free. In my opinion, none of the other sites on the fortress grounds, besides the cathedral, were worth the time.
Unique Suggestions: As mentioned above, the cathedral is well worth a visit. Lots of Russian monarchs are buried here, including Peter the Great. His grave is the first one you see upon entering the cathedral.
Okay, okay, so it's a beautiful church. The problem is that every souvenier vendor within a 100km radius knows this and has a stand set up right along the Griboedova canal. Tickets are sold on the east side, and it's worth a look inside, but some stunning photos can be had from the outside without paying the entrance fee.
Dont walk during the night from Marstall to Newsky. You can bet, that the police is controlling you. After they have checked all your papers and pockets, you can be sure, you will miss some money.
Take a taxi, even if they charge very high prices, but still cheaper as the police fee.
Invitations - It's not necessary to go to a travel agent for your visa and you can save the 'middleman'fees by organising it yourself - it's not difficult.
For all visits requiring an invitaton before obtaining a visa (see the website www.ryh.ru), you can get help from the St. Petersberg Youth Hostel. I found them to be very helpful in obtaining an invitation for the whole of my intended time in Russia even though I only booked a few nights with them. Their website is also very informative and answers many other questions you may have.
Peter The Great-the Founder of St.Petersburg especially during his various trips to Europe fell in love in everything that may be filed under category 'human pecularities'. There is a good collection of such in the museaum of Kunstkamera located opposite of Hermitage on the other side of river Neva.
The building itself was created on years 1718—1734
by three different architects continuing each others work.
Street beggars. Since the collapse of USSR there were not only good signs. Actually, socialist policies of Soviet times were much more graceful to children, because there were not homeless children before nineties, and now they are, and many of them, since state has no possibility to take care of all of them. This is of course very sad, and it's hard to see how many children are looking awfully, begging for money in public places. It is always difficult to deicde when to give money for them, because there are also 'fake' homeless children, who are forced to earn money for their families in such an awful way. I hope that state will recover itself at the end and social programs for children will be restored.
There are lots of beggars in center of city near cathedrals. For me it was quite a chalenge to get around them. Thi thing i learned is just ignore them and not look at them.