What’s With All the Flowers in Russia?

tulips

You don’t need to spend a long time in Russia to start noticing all the flowers (цветы). Walk down any road and, within minutes, you’ll most likely walk past a street vendor or flower shop. In the evenings, the pavements are filled with Russians carrying bouquets for their dates or hosts for the evening. Indeed, there’s a florist inside or just outside pretty much every metro station just to make sure that no one is ever caught short. As a Brit, I think I’ve seen more flowers in two months in Russia than I did in my entire life back in the UK! So it wasn’t long before I started to ask: “What’s with all the flowers in Russia?” The reason for all the flowers lies in the Russian tradition of flower-giving. Whereas in countries like the UK flowers are typically reserved for special occasions o ...

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A Jazz Lover’s Guide to St. Petersburg

close up of someone playing a saxophone with caption over it saying "jazz in St Petersburg"

There was a saying in the former Soviet Union: “Today he plays jazz, tomorrow he’ll sell out his motherland”. Back then, jazz was seen as Western, subversive and something not to be trusted. Fortunately, times have changed, and today St. Petersburg attracts top jazz performers from across Russia and indeed the world. Every year, the city hosts Russia’s largest jazz festival, the internationally acclaimed Triumph of Jazz. And, while we may have just missed this year’s event, that doesn’t mean the music has stopped. Here are some places where you can see jazz in St. Petersburg all year round. Jazz Philharmonic Hall Probably the first destination any serious jazz lover in St. Petersburg should head to, this large club has been going strong since 1989 when it was set up by Russian jazz legend ...

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Tea for Two: 5 Top Tea Rooms in St. Petersburg

A cup of tea with illustration of the Kremlin on the side

Tea has occupied a special place in Russian culture since the 17th century, when it was gifted to Tsar Michael I by the Mongolians. It quickly became the warming beverage of choice among Russian seeking to colonise the icy Siberian region and has been a staple in Russian kitchens ever since. Today, over 80% of Russians drink tea every day. Fancy getting a taste of Russian tea culture? Here, we round up some of St. Petersburg’s top spots for enjoying a cup of tea. From five-star afternoon teas to hipster cafés, there’s sure to be something here that you’ll love. 1. Singer Café Just around the corner from our St. Petersburg Language Centre, you’ll find the Singer Café perched on the second floor of the Dom Knigi bookstore. It has an impressive tea menu, a great selection of sweet treats and ...

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There’s an International Ballet Festival in St. Petersburg!

ballet dancer next to caption reading 'Russian ballet in Saint Petersburg'

Ballet has its origins in 15th century Italy. Although the art form quickly spread to the rest of Western Europe, it wasn’t introduced to Russia until much later, as part of Peter the Great’s efforts to modernise the country in the 18th century. With the patronage of Empress Anna and, later, Catherine the Great, Russian ballet soon developed as a tour de force with an international influence and is now one of the most popular dance styles in the world. It’s hardly surprising, then, that so many modern-day visitors to Russia consider a night at the ballet an essential part of their trip. Luckily, today marks the first day of the XXVII Season of the Dance Open International Ballet Festival in St. Petersburg – meaning that the next two weeks are an ideal opportunity for our students and other ...

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A Literature Lover’s Guide to St. Petersburg

Griboyedov Canal

If you love Russian literature, St. Petersburg is a dream destination. Pushkin, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Gogol, Nabokov… Almost all the great Russian writers spent time in this beautiful city. Wandering along the canals beneath the grand buildings, it’s hard not to feel inspired as well. So what can you do to find out more about St. Petersburg’s artistic heritage (besides picking up a book, of course)? Luckily, in this city you’re spoiled for choice. Without further ado, here’s our literature lover’s guide to St. Petersburg. Nose Around the Apartment Museums It sometimes seems like you can’t turn a corner in St. Petersburg without finding yourself on the street where some seminary figure used to live. Many of these former residences have now been transformed into apartment museums ...

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