As blind as a bat
Well, the feeling of being "blind" & not understanding most things wouldn't be a fond memory. At times, ignorance is bliss though ;-)
Given a chance, given more time, given lots more resources, given a choice & given an opportunity, the best thing to do is to learn a little of the language b4 heading to a foreign country. That is if it's the trip of your lifetime.
It's not possible for me... I'm traveling too often to have time to learn a new language b4 heading to that very country. That's just something I've to live with unfortunately. No matter that I can speak 3 languages which 3/4 of the entire world population understand :-)
You need crisp new bills to exchange in Russia.
Damaged bills will be refused. The rates change daily and signs posted outside banks let you know when the exchange rate is.
Generally, you can get a better rate off Nevsky Prospect. And the Government bank, Sberbank, usually is not a good rate. I have good luck on Sennaya Ploschad to find a good rate for US dollars. Bankomats or ATM machines are also excellent for travelers. As usual, the ATM will charge a small fee for the transaction and exchange your currency to rubles. many Bankomats give dollars or Rubles, but rubles are the only official currency of Russia.
In 2007 the exchange was below 26 rubles to the dollar, but euros are 34 rubles. The dollar has devalued over the past few years while the euro has been strong in Russia. The least fondest is receiving a damaged 500 ruble note from the Russian government bank, Sberbank. No one including Sberbank would take it back.
Sberbank also gave me a counterfeit $100 bill that was confiscated by another bank.
Look at your bills when you get them!
In contrary to Moscow all...
In contrary to Moscow all major streets in St. Pete have English trascription on their name plates. V. convenient for tourists.
UPDATE: Now in Moscow ALL the streets have signes with latin transliteration. However, I have to admit that St. Pete authorities were the 1st to make it conviniet for tourists :))))
Cheburashka Olympic mascot
In 2014 the winter olympics will be in Russia. The children's cartoon character Cheburashka was the symbol for Russia's Olympic team in Turin, Italy in 2004.
Normally he is brown, but for the winter Olympics he became white.
The games will be in the sourthern resort area near Sochi on the Black Sea.
Equipment: Cheburashka is an imaginary animal that arrived to Russia in a box of oranges. No one knows where he came from, but he is only found in Russia. He was invented by Uspensky who wrote a book and popularized by 4 animated cartoons. In the coming years there will be new cartoons released by Japanese animation studios. Watch for them!
The sad story of heroism in "Leningrad"
In Worldwar II 'Leningrad' was under seige for 900 days. Surrounded by the Germans the Peterburgers did not surrender, though heavy shelling and almost no food costed millions of the citizens and defenders thier lives. Outside the centre in large massgraves hundred and hundredthousands are burried. A large statue of mother Russia guards over them and a forever flame burns sadly. A less impressive, yet more happy place is the little Cesme-church in the suburbs. The bright pink-white church is like a sugarpie and is the perfect place for a farewell smile when you are driving towards Pulkovo-Airport.