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Short-Term Apartments in Moscow and St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg

by Rose Baring

Buy the book: Rose Baring. St. Petersburg

Release Date: 01 December, 1999

Edition: Paperback


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Buy the book: Rose Baring. St. Petersburg

Refreshing, sharply written, impeccably edited - a gem

St Petersburg is, generally, better covered than any other Northern European city in terms of travel writing: spectacular canals and buildings, relatively compact size, obvious highlights (including out-of-town estates) all make it a dream for any guidebook writer.

Cadogan made a better job than most. The first thing you notice that the sheer quality of writing. You feel you a reading A BOOK, not an anonymous travel guide. In this sense, I felt that Cadogan beat the spectacularly good DK Eyewitness Guide (my other obvious recommendation for the city): where Eyewitness can be predictable and kind of flat, this book feels more in tune with subtle northern charms of St Petersburg.

In fact, peculiarly romantic cities, where so much of the charm is difficult to capture and perceive logically, such as Venice or St Petersburg or Krakow, always present a challenge for any well-oiled travel publishing house. You cannot "crack" such a city using your standard procedures, you have to have a skilled writer and then - only then - build practicalities around the core understanding and feeling of the place. That is why there are so many guides to Venice and so few good ones.

I think Cadogan managed to deal with this task in St Petersburg - hats off to Rose Baring who researched the subject well and gained a good insight into this least Russian of all Russian cities. The guide avoids generalizations and cheap jokes at the expense of the locals, at the same time it is honest and detailed and relevant.

If you need more info on practicalities (although frankly I thought Cadogan was sufficient for that too), try Rough Guide (no inspired writing there I am afraid), who put all their effort into practical research.


Packed full of information and insight

Besides plenty of practical information (hotels, restaurants, etc), this book contains seven suggested walks in St. Petersburg. They range throughout the center of the city, Vasilievsky Island, the Smolny area and the outlying palaces (and full attention is given to five of them rather than just Peterhof and Tsarskoe Selo as in most guidebooks). It also includes a walk in the Hermitage. These walks include good maps. Additionally, this book has excellent sections on the history of the city, customs and various subjects (the "mafia", icons, vodka, etc.) that provide context for your visit. The author is an excellent writer who, although she obviously loves the subject, presents a thorough picture.

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