With piles of thick white cream cheese, buckets of fresh honey, and spicy pickled cucumbers, Kuznechny Market in St. Petersburg, Russia, is a site not to miss. Before I visited Russia, I was told that St. Petersburg was the "Venice of the north," hailed for its haunting magnificence. Yet I only accurately came to know this truth through the faces and interactions I experienced within the markets I visited.
Some of my favorite encounters at Kuznechny Market lie on the surrounding narrow sidewalks, before you even step inside the main building. Elder men and women who seem to have history stored in every wrinkle, line the street with small blankets selling raw potatoes, fresh flowers, or mounds of cranberries. As you venture inside the covered arched building, your nose fills with the scent of parsley and your ears overflow with the chatter of Russian small talk.
This market is best known for its ambiance and well-stocked produce, rather than for its bargains. But even if you are tight on cash there are plenty of free samples to be had. For a "lesson" on how to handle raw meat Russian style, head to the back wall for a glimpse of the master butcher and his crew. If you still have an appetite on your way out, stop by the honey buckets and cream cheese barrels to see the women behind the magic.