It had been a whirlwind of activity since the moment we had arrived at the airport Thursday evening. We had reached an end to the scheduled activities planned by Riza and Alena. And we had enjoyed every moment. Now we just wanted to relax. And eat!
Where to go for dinner on our final night in St. Petersburg? The very last thing either of us wanted to do was dress up for dinner in some fancy restaurant. And we most certainly did not want to walk to any of the nearby restaurants in the nighttime rain. Would it ever stop raining and snowing in this city? The weather was beautifully sunny on the day of the wedding. And it had been snowing or raining or sleeting ever since! We really did not have the proper clothing for such wet cold weather. We did not want to eat at the hotel restaurant, although the food there was excellent for breakfasts so it probably was good for dinner too.
That morning at breakfast in the hotel Peter Forbes, another wedding guest from England, had given us a business card for a restaurant he highly recommended. He said it was casual dress. So, why not go there! We discussed this with Frank and Barbara and were whisked off in a shared taxi within minutes. We had learned by this point and knew to confirm the price before getting into the taxi. No more 1500 Ruble taxi rides, please! Not when it should be 300 Ruble.
The taxi driver did not seem to be familiar with the location of this restaurant, but he had GPS and followed the route displayed. Which wound all over creation and took way longer than it should have. But he kept to the agreed-upon price of 300 Ruble and did eventually deliver us to the entrance for The Idiot.
The Idiot is named after a novel written by 19th-century Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky. It was first published serially in The Russian Messenger between 1868 and 1869. The tourist advertising for this restaurant stated that Dostoyevsky would have felt right at home here. Books lined the nooks and crannies. Comfy seating scattered throughout the 4 separated small dining rooms. Oddities placed decoratively around the rooms. An interesting and comfortable place. A great place to enjoy a hot meal and stay warm on this cold night.
The Idiot -- in English
Here is a YouTube video of a private guide talking about this restaurant. He is wrong about one thing, however; the restaurant does serve dishes containing meat. Not a huge assortment of meat dishes, but more than enough to suit any tastes. Bill ordered a pork stew, which was served in a small individual covered casserole dish. He said it was delicious.
YouTube Video about The Idiot by a guide
Note where this guy is standing outside in the beginning and ending of his short video. That is the Peter and Paul Fortress in the background to the right. Notice that there is snow and solid ice. That river was still flowing when were were there a few days ago. Illustrates just how dang cold it gets up here in the winter! Exceptionally glad that this wedding was in October and not February!!!
|Barbara Gladney, me, Bill, Frank Gladney at The Idiot in St. Petersburg|
Waitress took this photo with Barbara's phone.
The tourist info for this restaurant stated that guests are treated to a free welcoming drink. A nice shot of vodka. Well, okay. I'm game. Now, let's eat.
Since this was Russia, after all, the other 3 of us ordered Beef Stroganoff. To everyone's surprise, Beef Stroganoff in Russia is served with sliced dill pickles and a small amount of mashed potatoes -- no noodles. Frank and Barbara said they had eaten Beef Stroganoff in another restaurant in St. Petersburg and it also was served with sliced dill pickles and some potatoes -- no noodles. So now we all wonder where and how the noodle thing got adopted traditionally for this dish in America.
We all loved the various breads served. So much that we asked for another basket to share. Skipped dessert because nothing appealed to any of us. Then we asked the staff to arrange a taxi to transport us back to the hotel.
The ride back was 1/10th of the distance and time of the ride from the hotel to the restaurant. This guy knew where he was going.
This restaurant, this meal with good friends, was the perfect way to spend our final evening in St. Petersburg.
Most of the guests were leaving the following day. At different times so we did not share taxis. Barbara and Frank would stay on for another few days. The taxi picked us up at the hotel at 12:45 for our 18:15 flight. Way early in our opinions but we had no other plans. Walking in the rain did not appeal. We had wanted to visit the shops on Nevsky Prospect but that never happened. Any wide, major, commercial street is called a Prospect here. No idea where that term originated.
At the airport Bill went to the police office and exchanged shoulder patches with an officer there. Our friend is the Sheriff of Harris County and he had provided us with some shoulder patches to hand out to officials as we clear into new ports. I had one in a pouch in my carry-on luggage so Bill took it and exchanged patches. We will give the Russian police patch to Sheriff Adrian Garcia when we are in Houston this winter. Cool!
We ate a meal in the airport and still had a couple of hours to wait until flight time. Also had about 2800 Rubles leftover. And there is no currency exchange after one clears passport control. In fact, I do not remember seeing any currency exchange kiosk at all in this airport in the departure area. Nothing to do but spend whatever leftover Russian currency still on hand unless you plan a return trip. The prices in the Duty Free shop bordered on the high side to the ridiculously high side. We walked through the 'no-name' shops looking for gifts for the grandchildren. Maybe t-shirts with St. Petersburg or Russia written on them. Or something that they might like to have. When I saw the plain pink sweater for a 6-month old girl priced at 123 Euro, I gave up shopping. That is beyond absurd! So Bill went back to the Duty Free Shop and bought a bottle of Beluga Vodka. No Rubles left over now.
A flight to Rome. Wait an hour or 2. A flight to Cantania, Sicily, where we were met by the same driver as on the outbound leg of this trip. And a 2 hour ride back to Marina di Ragusa.
And at 02:00 we were happy to be home again.
What a wonderful trip and wedding!