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Oct 7, 2006 10:42 PM

Water in St. Petersburg

Hi there,

I'm thinking about working in St. Petersburg for a while and am curious about the water situation. While I'm aware that the stories of people picking up giardia in the shower are quite inflated, I'm wondering how suspect water affects the daily life of a Chowhound.

Also, how is the fruit/vegetable supply these days? When I lived in Irkutsk I suffered severe produce withdrawal and have since gorged myself at San Francisco farmers' markets. Might I find a somewhat happy medium in St. Petersburg?


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  1. I lived for nearly a year in St Petersburg and I can tell you that the water is indeed VERY tainted. Basically, you have to boil everything. We'd boil water and then freeze it, and it would end up with rust-colored scraps in the bottom of the container (never sure whether it was 'bugs' or heavy metals of some kind). You just have to always have boiled or bottled water on hand no matter what. We used sterilized water for cooking and washing produce too.

    Produce is still best from the rynoks - Vladimirskoye was the best in the city when I was there. Of course in the summers, outside the city the produce grown in dacha gardens was wonderful.

    PS IF you can tip me off to a way to work in St Petersburg, coming from SF, PLEASE let me know! :) I dream of returning for a legitimate long-term reason...

    1. Everything you've heard about the water is true. Sometimes I went a little crazy and would use bottled water to make soup. Luckily you can buy 5 litres for 25 rubles or so.

      Of course, there's also the no-hot-water-for-a-whole-summer-month situation, but that's quite another story.

      Fruit/veg situation is amazing. You can get anything...provided you're willing to trek out a little bit for it. At stations on the outer limits of the metro lines (such as Ozerki station, about 20 minutes from Nevsky Prospect) you can find giant Walmart-sized supermarkets that are part of the "O'Kei" chain. You can find virtually anything you could ever want and it's not expensive at all, plus they have wonderful vats of pickled things and lots of pre-marinated fish and meat for shashlyk.

      Avoid the "European" supermarket at Cennaya Ploshad' which also has a good selection but costs at least 4 or 5 times more, being in the city centre.

      1 Reply
      1. re: frenetica

        Hey frenetica,
        I don't know when you were in Saint-Petersburg the last time, but I go pretty often. The food is not cheap there at all, whether it is OK's chanins or the markets. My DH and I went shopping last time we were there (9/05 and we're going back this December). We spenr a little over $100 (about 3 thousand rubles at that time) and realy didn't buy anything valuable. We got snack food, sweets, some produce, NO MEATS, etc. For this money we can get a full card and the staff worth a week in the States. So SPB isn't cheap at all and food is pretty expensive anywhere you go....

      2. Wonderful information! Thanks!

        I was last in Irkutsk where finding vegetables was quite difficult (we imported goodies from Moscow for Thanksgiving!), so the promise of produce in St. Petersburg is quite tempting.

        The water issue is something that, can, um, be dealt with...I guess. I'd imagine that the real pain of it would be lugging those 5 liters for 25 rubles up the steps of your apartment. (After getting past the steel apartment door and dealing with annoying Russian keys, of course.)

        I'm not certain what I'd end up doing in St. Petersburg. My preference would be to not only teach English, but gigs beyond copy editing and translating are apparently difficult to find. We'll see what happens.

        To be honest, though, I'm also strongly considering Kyiv. Either way, Moscow is not where I want to end up.

        Lovely to hear from other Russophiles!