The Loft Project is a one part exhibit center, one part street food, and all together an amazing place that I was lucky enough to stumble upon. Housed in an alleyway and a nondescript building off the main drag, one could easily spend half a day here. The alleyway contains numerous glass boxcar-style pods that house small boutiques, cafes, restaurants, and bookstores. The contents look more akin to what you would find in Greenwich village than Russia. Upon entering the building you’ll find a room filled with several different food vendors. The vendors are constantly changing but the food remains tasty and unlike anything you can usually find in Russia. Being a vegetarian, I was ecstatic to find a variety of vegetarian and vegan vendors. The rest of the building is connected by a narrow staircase that leads to 5 different floors and a rooftop. Each floor houses different exhibitions, stores, and artists. The rooftop often holds larger exhibits and festivals. The first time I visited I went for the mulled wine festival and husky exhibition. While the events and food are constantly changing I have yet to be disappointed.
St. Petersburg is home to numerous anti-cafes all holding to the same principle of paying for the time you spend there instead of the coffee or food. These cafes are often homey rooms filled with comfy chairs, couches, stacks of board games, and an endless supply of coffee. The best thing is that since you are paying for your time there only, the endless coffee is free. While the concept seemed odd at first, it has definitely become a top study spot and an interesting place to meet other students in Russia.
While Europe is certainly famous for its flea markets, the ones in Russia are on a whole other level. Located at the end of a metro line, the main flea market is an endless stream of stalls selling anything you could imagine. The further you go back, the weirder (and possibly more illegal) the products. The coolest products by far were old soviet relics and military uniforms from all over the world. It’s cheap, fun, and fascinating.