Ziferburg – Цифербург

Ziferburg: noun a very German sounding name, a difficult place to find, very pleasant to work in, well worth the twenty minute hunt for exactly the right place.

In my last post I mentioned that in one of our guide books, a cafe named Ziferburg was supposed to be opposite Gvostiny Dvor, but on my explorations I discovered that the location had run into disuse. I also mentioned that online, they apparently had relocated, and on Tuesday, Kelly and I made it our mission to hunt down this place and try it out.

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First of all, I feel you should know that it was honestly one of the most challenging places to find yet. The address given on their website is indeed correct, but the actual cafe is in a building that isn’t well signed, and it is on the first floor (in English terms)/second floor (in Russian terms), and then when you get to that floor you have to distinguish between two different cafes and various other rooms!

We made it in the end. The person behind the till explained to use exactly how the place worked, and we got to choose our own clock as a way of identifying us, then all we had to do was ask for a latte, pick somewhere to sit and start working.

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The atmosphere in the room which we were in was kind of strange. There were a group of people conducting a sort of photo shoot, but very quietly. There were another group of four people playing a card game in one corner. And then there were people sat out on the mini balconies just chatting. Then there were others, who like us had brought work to do and were sat very studiously scribbling away at whatever assignment had fallen their way.

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In the two hours that we were there I had a latte, a couple of biscuits – which were pretty nice – and then in the last hour, the cafe staff broke out a watermelon, which we accompanied with some herbal tea – I went for green tea, whilst Kelly went for a hibiscus tea (каркаде).

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Ten out of ten would definitely go back there again of an afternoon. It’s a great way to break up the day after having classes all day, and to rewind, get the homework done, but also chat and relax a little, without the constant pressure that someone might want your seat having bought some beverage slightly more recently that you.

Ah yes, I forgot to mention, that this cafe works on the basis of you pay for the amount of time you stay there. So you can help yourself to tea, ask for coffee or cocoa, and then also help yourself to the items of food that were on the table.

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I have added a link to their instagram page if you click on the word, because their website is rather confusing. There are a couple of linked cafes of the same style across Europe, and on the main website they list out the various towns which they are based in, so it will be interesting to visit the equivalent cafes but in the different countries at some point!

Time Flies

Another week and a day has gone by so quickly, and I haven’t had a chance to sit down and write up about anything, which just goes to show both how busy things have been and how any time I’m just chilling, it’s a much needed rest to recuperate ready for the next day.

Anyhow, here I am with a little update.

This week’s post will be a little more food and cafe orientated than before, simply because I have been to quite a few cafes this week and I have pictures from them.

 

Number One – Marketplace, Nevsky Prospect

There are at least two of these restaurant/cafe/bar places along Nevsky, and the food, cakes and coffees are brilliant!

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It’s the perfect place to just nip in for Kaffee und Kuchen after classes, or for a quick and reasonable meal in the evening. The food ordering system is a little different to what I’m used to, but once you learn what to do, it is actually a system that I prefer, because the service in many restaurants here isn’t great. How it works is, there are different sections of cuisine, and you go to the section that you want to purchase from. You ask them what you want, they might tell you exactly what your dish is called and then you go to the cashier, tell him/her what you’ve ordered, you pay for it there and then, and then bring back your receipt to the place where you’ve ordered your food, collect it and take it to wherever you’re sat. Having typed that all out, it looks and sounds a lot more complicated than it actually is, I promise.

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For desserts my particular favourite is the Honey Cake or the Chocolate Caramel Cake. Of course, I am yet to try the others, and they all look delicious, so I am looking forward to testing out the other desserts in the time that I am here, and my favourite might change in the weeks to come.

http://www.market-place.me/ru/spb/

 

Number Two – Bonch / КОФЕЙНЯ «БОНЧ», Bolshaya Morskaya Ulitsa

I love this place so much! It’s so relaxed, it’s really near to a metro station, and their savoury, sweet and drinks are just perfect.

This week I went there twice:

the first with the intention of getting work done, and the lighting and atmosphere is perfect for doing just that. I ordered an Ice Latte (латте айс) and Kryssa ordered a hot chocolate – word of warning a hot chocolate here can either mean a very thick almost mousse like liquid or what I would normally have as a hot chocolate. Of course, both varieties are delicious, the thicker one can just be a little unexpected sometimes.

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And the second as a refuel after visiting the State Hermitage. So I ordered a Tiramisu and a Halva Cream Coffee, both of which were absolutely delicious!

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Everyone who I’ve taken here so far, has really liked both the food and the atmosphere. It’s safe to say that it’s pretty high up on my list of favourite cafes.

http://www.bonchcoffee.ru/

 

Number Three – Кофе на кухне, Nab. Reki Fontanki

Not the easiest place to find, but definitely one to visit again! It was well worth the many road crossings and bridges to eventually find this place. Although pretty small, the cafe manages to fit in lots of customers without it feeling too crowded. There is a pleasant mix of table heights and quirkiness.

Of course, we couldn’t go there and not try out the food. So I ordered a Tomato Wrap (Ролл с томатом), a chocolate milkshake (Молочный коктейль шоколадный) and a cheesecake (Чизкейк). All of which were very delicious and all of which I would highly recommend. And Kelly ordered a Tuna Wrap, a cappuccino and a cheesecake as well.

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I would also like to give them ten out of ten points for the fact that when I attempted ordering in Russian, they didn’t instantly switch to speaking to me in English, but rather spoke in Russian slightly slower and slightly clearer, which was really nice of them and made my day, because it felt like I was actually achieving a part of the purpose of my year abroad – to be able to hold a spontaneous conversation in Russian.

Also according to Kelly’s guide book, they make vegan friendly muffins. We didn’t however enquire after those, so I cannot tell you for sure if this is the case.

General Notes

  1. We found that a lot of the places that are listed in guide books, online or on Google Maps, are either not where it says it is, or have been closed for a while. Whilst exploring I accidentally stumbled across one of the cafes that we wanted to visit only to find that it was very much closed, under construction or perhaps relocated.

    formerly Ziferburg – according to their website, they’ve relocated, so I will check this out and update as and when I find out
  2. If you go to a cafe that turns out to not be so “cafe-like”, don’t be afraid to go find somewhere else. Most of the time they don’t mind, as long as you’re polite and greet them as you leave.
  3. Might come as a shock… BUT ..don’t expect them to speak English. The majority of people who you come across will be very pleased that you are attempting to order in Russian. Of course there are some who get impatient, but don’t let that put you off. It’s so much more rewarding to at least attempt to speak in Russian, rather than to start off in English and to then later realise that you could’ve said it in Russian. It’s also really good for your confidence for speaking in an unprepared situation.
  4. This one applies to anywhere that you might buy things – so the supermarket, shopping mall, grocery store, restaurants and cafes. Always be prepared for them to ask if you have the 27 roubles to make the change that they give you back simpler. It may seen counter-intuitive to you but that’s just how things work here. You get used to it.

My First Blog Post Ever

If you found your way here, then it’s probably due to Instagram and right now I’m not sure if that is a good thing or not. Pretty soon I’ll be travelling off to Russia for just shy of four months, and whilst I am over there I wanted to have some sort of record of some of the antics and experiences that I get up to, whilst of course studying really hard. Hopefully by beginning this blog a little earlier than when I’ll actually be going, it’ll encourage me to stick at it, and it won’t get added to the waste bin of things-I-started-but-never-completed.

So today I tried out a number of new things, rather in keeping with the “first” theme.

The First One: I really wanted to bake something in my last week in the UK so I tried out this recipe for a vegan bakewell tart, but made it into a slice, and tweaked a few things.

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Nonetheless, it’s safe to say that this recipe is now on my “highly-recommended-good-to-make-quickly” list. It is super easy, super vegan and probably not super healthy, but it’s homemade and tastes good, so that isn’t such a big deal.

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The only thing that I would change is perhaps find a way to make it less gooey, as my dad was under the impression that it was under cooked.

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And here’s the link to the page with the recipe… (emilycooksvegan.com/2013/01/27/bakewell-tart/ )

 

The Second One: For a while I have considered testing out Bullet Journaling, and many different friends have asked me if I’ve tried it out, simply because it’s apparently something that I would do. So in order to conform to this perception of me, and also because I’m pretty intrigued and fancied trying another new thing, I had a go. The first set back was that I don’t own a squared or dotted notebook, so I picked a cute one from my shelf instead. The next problem to solve was to figure out what works for me…

So I made a key…

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And started off by having a day to a page and tested out different ideas for this whole day to a page thing…

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We’ll see how it works out, whether I’ll be able to stick to the organising and planning, whether it will actually help, but for now I quite like it. It’s at least encouraged me to drink more water today!

 

The Third One: writing a blog. I’ve never done this before, as you can probably tell. So I’m still figuring out the whole webpage and wordpress thing. And still working on how to write in a nice way, without it becoming too rambling and boring. Really need to work on that one. And I’m still trying to find a way to end this blog post before it gets too long.

 

So I guess that’s it for today, take care!