Having caught up on sleep from the long flight over to Kaliningrad, Russia I was ready to get out and explore the city. I had a basic understanding of the city layout and headed out simply to see where the day would go.
What I loved was how untouristy Kaliningrad was and yet had quite a bit to do. This has a lot to do with it’s history which dates back to the 13th century. Known by its German name of Königsberg, the city was the capital of Prussia and was a hub for science and culture whizzes from Germany, Poland and Lithuania. The German town was decimated during in World War II and was annexed to the USSR at the end of the war. At this time the German population was expelled, the region was stripped of its German identity, and was renamed after Mikhail Kalinin, a Russian communist leader. Kaliningrad was a highly militarized zone during the Soviet era and the area only opened to visitors about 20 years ago. This would also account for the large number of Soviet era block housing buildings.
It did not take me long to start seeing the steeples of the Chapel of the Blessed Prince Peter & Fevronia which is a beautiful church with a gorgeously decorated interior (much more than the old cathedral which I will talk about in a separate blog). From there I headed towards the river and historical center. The walk along the river was delightful, but I chose not to partake in a river tour since they did not speak English. In the historic center and in the outskirts I saw some beautiful buildings that were either very old or rather new. It was only in the middle part of the city that you saw all the Soviet block housing building.
Along my walk (and on the next two days) I stopped to see many of the sights, museums, and highlights, but I want to write about them separately. I did want to solyanka and the best place in town is Solyanka cafe next to the zoo. Solyanka is a very local soup that mixes meat with cucumber pickles, tomatoes, onions, olives, capers, allspice, parsley, and dill. It was wonderful and surprisingly not found outside of Russia.