October 7 is not just the anniversary of the formation of the communist German Democratic Republic (1949), or the day when USSR probe Luna 3 transmitted the first-ever photographs of the far side of the moon (1959), or when the American-Russian journalist Anna Politovskaya died (2006). It is also the birthday of Russian president Vladimir Putin.
64 years ago, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin was born in Russia’s second-largest city St Petersburg or formerly known as Leningrad.
For his last birthday, the President took to the ice at the Shayba Arena in Sochi playing a game with N.H.L. veterans Stars of the N.H.L. The game was broadcasted live on national television as the highlight of the day accompanied by a cheering crowd chanted “Happy Birthday!”.
In 2013, Putin celebrated in sunny Bali, Indonesia, which hosted the APEC summit and in 2014 he took a day off and went to the forest.
What about this year? According to his press secretary Dmitry Peskov, Putin is not scheduled for any public celebrations and will keep his birthday party guest list to just friends and family.
But what would Vladimir Putin do in his hometown to celebrate his 64th birthday? Here’s what we suggest for a birthday programme.
Put your best shoes on, dress up and come with us to discover five best places to toast with Mr Putin in Venice of the North.
- Our birthday trip starts at Baskov Lane, a street on the Admiralty Island, in the centre of St Petersburg where Vladimir Putin spent his childhood in one of the typical Russian communal apartment (kommunalka). Take a walk to the north-west and stop at the State Hermitage Museum. Give yourself the chance to spend a couple of hours surrounded by art in one of the most beautiful museums in the world.
- After the culture binge, leave the museum and turn right to cross one of the innumerable bridges of the city, the Palace Bridge (Dvortsovyy Most). Next to the Kunstkammer, you will find “Old Custom House” on the left, a restaurant that will you bring back to the 18th century. Situated in the historical district on Vasilievsky island, the restaurant has a fancy birthday brunch including home-smoked salmon filled with black caviar and prawns or a mille feuille of chanterelles and season vegetables. Among the famous visitors of this restaurant are George Bush, Prince Andrew Windsor and of course Vladimir Putin. They enjoyed their meals in this old custom warehouse dating back to the times of Peter the Great.
- Winter has yet to arrive but it is already time to think about lunch. Head to the south of the city, right to Pushkin, also known as Tsarskoye Selo. Before taking the special birthday menu, take a look at Catherine Palace. The Rococo palace and summer residence of the Russian Tsar was built in the 1700s.
- Longing for a meal fit for a Russian president? Podvorye Restaurant is the place to go. Located close to Pavlovskiy Park, Podvorye is where Vladimir Putin celebrated one of his birthdays. Leaf through the menu and look out for the “Presidential Menu”. More than a dozen items, including pickled porcini mushrooms are chosen just for Putin’s birthday. Remember to head back to the city before the bridges leave you stranded on the island.
- The sun is setting and the lights along the Neva are switched on for the night. You’ll be spoilt for choice for party places but here’s one for the occasion. Set sail on “New Island”, St Petersburg’s only floating luxury restaurant The Russian president celebrated his 51st birthday here. Onboard of the New Island restaurant it’s worth taking a fascinating tour along the Neva river, while wining and dining all night in sea. European, French and Russian cuisines make up its menu and diners will be delighted by the beautiful view of St Petersburg.