One of the defining features of the Peterhof Palace is the Grand Cascade, whose water flows from the palace to the grotto down to the Samson fountain below, flanked on each side by glittering statues of biblical and classical characters. This golden gilded female likeness is just one of its 200 statues and decorative elements. The breathtaking waterfall and shooting jets behind her are an 18th century engineering marvel, running without the use of pumps.
St. Petersburg – Fact Check

In St. Petersburg, what do you do when you're thirsty?

Photo by Frans Lemmens

St. Petersburg – Fact Check In St. Petersburg, what do you do when you're thirsty?

In St. Petersburg, they drink beer from the bottle. On the street. All of them. Young and old.

Jochem Wijnands
Jochem Wijnands Founder / photographer

The entire city is blissfully sipping away, even elegantly clad ladies walk by, shamelessly swigging from the neck of the bottle as they go. I do know, however, that the Russians see beer not as an alcohol, but as a soft drink.

To them, vodka is the real McCoy – that’s the stuff that will get you drunk. So what do you do when you’re thirsty? Buy a beer, of course – and usually half a liter as that’s more economical. And because people have relatively little disposable income, the terraces are almost always empty. But, free from the idea that drinking beer on the street is socially unacceptable, it may appear to the unsuspecting tourist that Saint Petersburg has a drinking problem.

You might also think it is an upmarket drinking problem when you see the railings around the grand statue of Peter I decorated with “Champansky” bottles. It’s a tradition for wedding parties to come here for a toast to the city’s founder. A steady flow of newlyweds step out of big limousines to immortalize themselves in a photograph. With a bit of luck, you’ll bear witness to the groom drinking this Russian bubbly from the slipper of his new bride. Hopefully it improves the taste.

Next to the statue is a musical trio playing a wedding march in the hope of earning a few rubles, along with a woman trying to rent you a ride on her horse. Crazy kids, those Russians.

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