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