Winter in St Petersburg can be such a beautiful experience, but it can also be devastating to the sunniest of souls. Here are 5 things you can do to survive the Russian winter
St Petersburg can transform into a dense, fluffy blanket of whiteness after a night of snowfall. Featureless; cars cannot be found and roads cannot be seen. This whiteness glistens on the rare occasion when the sun is out, as rare as diamonds are in your tomato garden.
Fret not! Here are some things to help you beat the cold. We’ve tried them, so you don’t have to.
1. Go to the Botanical Garden for summer in the middle of winter
What’s more uplifting than seeing lush trees and shrubbery thriving well into the dead of winter? While the park at the St Petersburg Botanical Garden is closed for the winter, the garden boasts a number of greenhouses that feature plants from tropical to subtropical climates. There are flora and fauna from the Caucasus, the Mediterranean and Asia. In order to go into the greenhouses, visitors will have to book a one-hour guided tour (in Russian) for 180 roubles. Students and children go in for 90 roubles.
You may find yourself unwilling to leave the toasty greenhouses when the tour is over. It’s only a momentary escape from winter but it works!
2. Catch some sun at the Hermitage Museum
This was a surprise discovery. Apart from basking in the artistic talents of new and old masters alike, you can also bask under artificial skylight at the Hermitage Museum. Built in mid-19th century by German architect Leo von Klenze, the Large and Small Italian Skylight Room were constructed to provide soft but adequate lighting to illuminate the paintings.
Even though it doesn’t feel like sunshine, it’s some semblance of sunlight and it works!
3. When you feel lack, give
When it’s dark and grey everywhere around you, it’s easy to settle into a dreary and grumpy mood. Shake off the winter bah humbugs by doing something nice for others this winter. Here are seven things you can do to clean your karma.
Just in time to start afresh in the new year!
4. Go to a hypermarket
It doesn’t matter if you’re organising a party to survive the winter or need some food from a country far from Russia, the hypermarkets Lenta, O’Key and Auchan has more products than your brain can recall, from fruits and vegetables and even drinks from tropical countries. Walking through Lenta’s huge aisles is like leafing through the Yellow pages — all you need to organise a summer party will be available there.
5. Did you say “Vitamin D”?
Everybody knows that in the north of the world winter is not just about cold but entire dark days without lights. See the sun can become a rarity and that is why inventors came up with something Russians should have in their apartments. You can nurse the so-called “seasonal affective disorder” buying a “Sad lamp” or a “wake-up light.” There are several affordable choices in the markets, from the original sunrise alarm clock to a really lovely summer-sky-blue light. Are you still not satisfying with those? If so, leave your bed and go to a solarium or to the gym, most of them in St Petersburg have a “Vitamin D” angle just outside the sauna.