Big and Small: Changes that Shape Life in St. Petersburg
Cities are living organisms. How's ours evolving? We asked around and got some diverse opinions.
St. Petersburg is a city full of changes. Restaurants and cafes appear in buildings and windows you didn't even know were possible. There's a food hall in one of the malls near Pionerskaya metro that didn't have very tasty food, and recently I discovered it's been completely redone and there are cuisines from around the world.
It's a city that never sleeps and people are constantly investing in new things, forming new ideas, so you have to keep up and follow the trend. Statements like "we don't have good Thai food in St. Petersburg" might be true at one moment but already not the next day. So don’t make any generalizations about this city!
What I notice more and more often is that plastic bags are no longer a given. The staff at my favourite bakery, for example, stopped automatically putting every to-go purchase in plastic, they wait for you to ask for it instead - which, of course, I never do. It is a small shift in mentality, but quite a significant one. It means that more and more people are opting for less plastic and are ultimately producing less waste, each taking a small step towards being environmentally friendly.
I grew up at a time when subcultures were very popular: punks, skins, goths, you name it. You could always identify them in the street, and there were places where specific groups gathered - not cause all those people knew each other but just because it was "their" place. Live communication, fun and sometimes violence - an everyday spectacle of a peculiar romance and trouble, those places were.
Now, things have changed, and even though you see more people wearing eccentric clothing, with piercings and tattoos, you can no longer tell what it all stands for. Needless to say, the streets have become somewhat safer, and maybe that's just my nostalgia speaking, but I do miss seeing all those colorful characters, and even the uneasy sensation of being in a "wrong" neighbourhood that made you feel more alive.
The fundamental change that I see is that thanks to the development boom, people are able to afford their own place. Brightly colored highrises and houses with thousands of apartments that snake around playgrounds and schools make up entire communities, especially on the outside of the beltway. Granted, it’s often tight living quarters and the infrastructure is questionable, but it’s a real opportunity to move out of your parents’ place. And that’s a game changer.
On a different scale, I love a new coffee shop the size of a walk-in closet on my way to the metro. Two bearded guys make killer espressos and cappuccinos, and oftentimes they make my day. It’s awesome that they can fulfill their dream of opening their own business, and I can fulfill mine of a good cup of coffee.