Well, this is really more something I like about St. Petersburg in particular, since it’s certainly only an urban phenomenon: 24-hour stores that actually have things that you want to buy. Specifically, real food and alcoholic beverages. In most places in the US, even in major cities (excluding New York, though I suppose alcohol can’t be purchased 24 hours a day even there), the only places open 24 hours are 7-Elevens and gas station shops, which sell only junk food, though you may on occasion be able to find milk and a spotty banana or two.

Here, next to every metro station there is at least one 24-hour food store that sells real groceries. So if it’s the middle of the night and you’re on your way home from the club or whatever and you need eggs, you can get them right then. You don’t have to plan your alcohol purchases around blue laws (though there are obvious negative social consequences of this). Russians say that it doesn’t matter how much alcohol you buy for a party, you always have to run out for more anyway, so it’s nice to have the 24 Chasa nearby.

On a related note, restaurants, bars, and shops are open much later here than their U.S. counterparts, which makes for long, leisurely evenings, particularly during the white nights. There’s even a bookstore which is open 24 hours a day in the summer, for those 4 a.m. book cravings.

Edit: My Dad reminded me that there are plenty of 24-hour supermarkets all across America, and I can’t deny it, but I’m not talking about driving to the suburban hell Wal-Mart in the middle of the night here. I like it that I can get what I want within a five-minute walk from home.

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