St. Petersburg can be really depressing: if you get there in November, there is no real daylight, lots of fog, it's cold - not really the wheather for a trip. So if you're flexible on your travelling dates, get to Russia druing White Nights in June/July. There is no real darkness. So as a tourist it gives you long hours to really get to know St. Petersburg. You can even do some sightseeing at 11 p.m. Plus: the light for taking pictures is just stunning in the evening. See my intro to St. Petersburg about the bridges rising at night. That's just awsome. And don't miss climbing St. Isaac's Cathedral at night. We went up there at about 1 a.m. You have a wonderful view of the City, the lights and it still looks as if the sun was just setting.
Everybody (well, almost!) likes receiving letters - I certainly do, though there are other, more modern and efficient means of communication - e-mail, phone, and such like. However, if you simply like getting letters or if you need, say, the originals or paper copies of some documents sent to you while you are on the move, you can use the poste restante service. Your best bet is to use the American Express service, which is available for free to clients - you should hold either their card or travellers cheques. They are reliable and present in all major cities.
Moscow vs. St. Petersburg
Our guide that took us to Catherine's Palace mentioned the rivalry that exists between these two cities. For many years the capital was in St. Petersburg instead of Moscow and it seems that at least this one resident felt it was the true capital of Russia.
Money: bank cards or cash?
It is best to put your money in a neck bag or money belt. Remember, your back pockets belong to the public. Put your wallet in your tight front jeans pocket or zipped inside your jacket. Unzipped pockets also belong to the public.
Cash, clsan $100 bills can be exchanged at any bank for rubles. They charge a commissionand the rate vaires bank to bank. The state Sberbank usually has the worst money exchange rate, but often the lowest fees for using bank cards.
ATM or bankomat machines are everywhere and major banks all work with them.
Personally, I prefere Raiffesein, the Austrian bank for exchange or ATM cards. And the staff there speak englsih and are courteous as one should expect. Avoid loose pockets, zip things inside your jacket Do not hand a camera loose over your shoulder, put it in a secure place like a zipped poicket and just bring it out for pictures. Federal Express travelors checks are slowing be accepted by banks, but they are definitely a hassle, especially outside the big cities of Moscow and St. Petesburg. Cash always works and bank cards usually work.
St. Vladamir's Church
This church is located right in the city, but I would imagine many tourists do not visit it because it isn't one of the big, grand attractions talked about when you visit St. Petersburg and it still is a functioning church that holds services. My friend brought me here to show me the place where she was baptised.