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Trip experience

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Massachussetts
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347 posts
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Trip experience

Russia...we were scared to go...don't be...Most of people very friendly and helpful....No scary moments, not a one. People on the streets look like Americans...unbelievably...much more than the rest of Europe...the only difference was the language ....and boy is that different! the Cyrillic alphabet is a challenge...and there is very little in English alphabet. This was more challenge than hardship.It makes you stretch and use other cues...altho I must admit my I-phone's google map in English and Cyrillic saved the day on more than on occasion.....thankyou Steve Jobs.

The other experience was the terrific food, which we didn't expect....Russian food is varied, complex, tasty and excellent. Public transit is also good and we got a transit card and went everywhere on it.

The Architecture of St Petersburg is amazing. Much of the pre Soviet architecture is preserved and restored beautifully or will be. Some of the Soviet architecture is interesting too.

Capitalism will be a while coming to this land......which may be a good thing. Clearly some people like the old ways and compared to home, it is not a consumer driven economy. Finding stuff to buy , as a tourist and not wanting T shirts, curios or mugs, was a challenge. Those linens and amber jewelry that we might have been interested in were out of our sight. Even their huge book store (Singers) had only one English language cookbook and that one was poor quality.

Touring the sights was great but one really needs a guide of some sort because of the language issues. There is more to see here than you could do in a month....

A friend took me to an authentic Russian men's Banya.This is the Russian version of a sauna but with higher moisture content and an exceeding hot temperature. But not a steam bath. This was an experience of a lifetime. There is nothing like it anywhere I have ever been. The men beat or rather flog each other with small birch branches tied together, almost like a bouquet. This makes the skin fiery red. then you go out and plunge into cold water. Repeat process until done. It felt like I was in a 300 year old time warp...no high tech equipment just a wood fired furnace with a soot covered concrete chamber...and crude wooden benches...no bathing suits allowed...you sit on your towel or as some hardy Russians do, you sit on your skin on the fiery hot bench...ouch! Some men beat themselves with these branches (veniki)...the place "Mytninskie Banya".There are others. No English spoken.

BTW the only time we needed passports was at the Hermitage entrance. Next time passports will stay at safe in Hotel...not strapped to my chest!!!As my friend told me, they don't care about you....no body will stop you....maybe in old days not now!

Victoria, BC
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1. Re: Trip experience

Thanks for your trip report for St. Petersburg. Please tell me about the transport card? I also find info on water taxi and would love to take these instead of the more expensive boat tours.

We will buy a 2-day Hermitage Museum pass online. How soon do we need to do this for our trip in August?

St. Petersburg...
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2. Re: Trip experience

>>tell me about the transport card?

official metro web-site with info about fares http://www.metro.spb.ru/pricetickets.html - use google to translate. For a short visit you may consider cards: "10 metro trips for 7 days", "20 metro trips for 15 days" (for these two there's a 10 minute "time out"), "podorozhnik" (for all public transport - metro, bus, trolley - you load as much money as you want and each time you use it the amount is subtracted). There's a thing called "guest card" http://www.spbguest.ru/indexeng.php but "study" it really well it's may not be worth it for you ...

One metro ride is 28 ruble, one bus/trolley ride is 25 ruble

>>We will buy a 2-day Hermitage Museum pass online. How soon do we need to do this for our trip in August?

"The voucher is valid for 6 month. You can return your voucher and get the refund within 5 days after placing your order." www.hermitageshop.org/page.php… and on-line tickets never sold-out (there's no limit)

Massachussetts
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3. Re: Trip experience

We paid 50 Roubles each for the card, then loaded 500 Roubles for each (for us it was enough for a week); you can use it on all public transportation (government) Tram, bus, subway. You can't use it on Private Minibuses. Subways are all in English as well as Cyrillic. The buses were a little more of a challenge. When you get on the bus there is a nice lady "conductor" who reads your card with a hand held reader...if necessary she will find you! On the subway you just press the card to the reader and it will give you entrance and tell you how much is left on your card. You don't need card to exit. The subways in St Petersburg are WAY underground....much deeper than elsewhere. You can't see the bottom of the escalator from the top! My google map on I- phone helped me with bus routes.

4. Re: Trip experience

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Removed on: 8:15 am, August 04, 2013
Victoria, BC
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5. Re: Trip experience

Thanks Svetakoshka, what about the "Water Taxi" ? Would this go near the new cruise port "Marine Façade"? Would the travel card be used for the Water Taxi?

Moscow, Russia
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6. Re: Trip experience

honestopinion2000, I am sorry, you did not enjoy your visit to Russia. Your six posts here on TA are all very negative, that I start question whether you indeed express your honest opinion in order to help others or just enjoy critisizing. My personal and of course subjective opinion is that many statements you have already made can hardly be confirmed and they do not faithfully represent Russia.

Edited: 11:41 am, June 19, 2013
St. Petersburg...
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7. Re: Trip experience

>>what about the "Water Taxi" ?

rockcrazy, I wouldn't even consider using this "water taxi" at all unless you get very luck. This whole project is more of a joke than a real help for the people of SPb, sorry :( From last year 4 lines they managed to operate only 1 line this year (the route is here peterburg.ru/city-info/akvabusy-2013-marshru… and it's away from city center). The taxis are small in size - about 10 persons and there're about 5-10 boats. It was supposed to be a real public transport meaning people ride couple stops and get off but many people started using it as means of "touring" so sometimes nobody gets off at all so nobody else can get on board.

So, for transportation better count on metro/bus/tram/trolly and for sightseeing just take one of the canal boat trips - there are dozens of them on all rivers and canals in the city.

Victoria, BC
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8. Re: Trip experience

Got it! Peter The Great did want St. Petersburg to be like Venice, I read that is why the resurrection of the "water taxi", but people of St. Petersburg has better options for transportation.

9. Re: Trip experience

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Removed on: 11:35 pm, June 23, 2013
10. Re: Trip experience

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