Public Transport, Saint Petersburg
Busses often dont have what number bus stops at what stop. Its best to ask people standing in bus ques. Thats IF you speak Russian because almost surly they wont.
I found a #150 bus even my host had never heard of and it stopped very close to the apartment and went to Nevsky by a cicuitous but visually wonderfull route.No one had ever heard of it.
BY FAR the biggest irksome facit of St Petersburg transport is the signage for the trams. Look for peeple standing around waiting for transport and look up. IF you are LUCKY there will be a cardboard squares wired to the masses of crisscrossed cables overhead. Also if youre lucky you can make out a number IF thats where a tram stops.
Many times the tram will stop at some illogical spot in the middle of a major street.
Dont even bother trying to make any logic out of it, there is none. Often its best to just ride a tram to the end and back just to SEE where the stops are.
I once spent all day searching/missing a #3 tram that kinda circles from the Vyborg side accross Liteny Bridge over to the university accross the bridge near Peter and Paul Fortress. I would have been better of bicycling. Take a mashrutka if you can.
I dont suggest you do it, but if you choose to drive from Finland to Russia(and on to St Petersburg and Moscow) be aware that the roads, even the MAIN roads defy description.
Russia has to be one of the only countries in the world that has no national road network of good 4 lane highways to get from one end to the other.
You will notice IMMEDIATELY when you cross the border from the nice orderly roads in Finland that the road conditions digress rapidly as you get past the border guard checkpoint. You will undoubtedly pass about 1-2 miles of solid parked trucks waiting to enter the Russian Federation checkpoints from each direction.
The main road to St Petersburg from the Finland border is in VERY very poor shape and is a 2 lane highway used as THREE lanes. Vehicles hug the shoulder of the road and allow passing down the center with cars/trucks/busses passing at 80mph BOTH ways at time. Keep in mind this is the BEST and MOST travelled road in Rf and would seemingly be a "showcase".(not) Its absolute insanity.
The road from St Petersburg to Moscow is actually MUCH much worse. Unbelievable!
The tram in SP can take a very very long time to arrive.
For peak hours in the morning and evening, a tram takes approximately 15 mins to arrive.
For non-peak hours though, I have experience waiting for up to 1 1/2 hour.
Hence, be sure to plan ahead if you want to take the tram often.
Il est théoriquement interdit de prendre des photos dans le métro, même si tout le monde le fait. Je peux d'expérience, pour avoir vu le résultat, déconseiller de le faire en présence de miliciens...
La personne aperçue par un militaire ou un milicien, se retrouve rapidement emmenée au poste, le matériel confisqué (peut être racheté le lendemain au marché noir), et la liberté ne sera retrouvée qu'après de longues négociations et un bakchich conséquent.
Cela est valable dans toute l'ancienne URSS.
La prudence impose donc, pour photographier ce très beau monument qu'est le métro, de s'équiper avec des pellicules très sensibles (800 ASA) et de ne pas utiliser le flash. Ce qui donne beaucoup de photos floues...
It is prohibited theoretically from taking some photos in the subway, even though everybody makes it. I can experience, to have seen the result, to advise against making it in presence of militiamen...
The person seen by a soldier or a militiaman, meet taken quickly at the station, the confiscated material (can be purchased the following day to the black market), and the liberty will only be recovered after long negotiations and a consequent tip.
It is valid in all the former USSR.
The prudence imposes therefore, to photograph this very beautiful monument that is the subway, to equip itself with very sensitive dandruffs (800 ASA) and not to use the flash. What gives a lot of fuzzy photos...
Going out on the lash in Peter is hard to organise spontaneously because of the bridges going up at weird times during the night and the very real and fear-inducing problem of being left on the opposite bank to where your warm and cozy accommodation is.
Peter is cold at night, even in April, and trust me, you really don't want to be stuck on the wrong side with the bridge still up, and taxi drivers quoting ridiculous prices, and you're slightly pissed, and you've got an emotional girl on one shoulder, and its only 0200hrs, and you're only wearing a shirt etc.
When riding the trains in Russia, be aware that there are numerous theives who ride the train solely to steal from unsuspecting passengers. They are experts at taking things from you when you are gone for just a few minutes, or even while you are sleeping with the doors locked!
My advice is to keep your stuff close by at all times. If you are in a sleeping car, put all your belongings in the space *under* your bed, and lay on top of it. Also, if you have a group, try to fill up the sleeping unit with only people from your group, as you will be with strangers otherwise. At night, we tied towels on the door handle to make it harder for someone to open it.
Please remember that some state institutions (including museums, theatres and trains) charge foreigners a double/tripple/and so on, fees. For example, the ticket to the Pushkin palace cost my american friend 5 (!) times more than mine. Russians do not approve it. I find it utterly unfair. But that's how it is.
The tip: try to look Russian. Don't speak a forign language. Learn to pronounce DA, ZDRAVSTVUITE or SPASIBO without a foreign accent. If you get caught in a museum the only risk is that they send you to re-buy the ticket at the proper rate. And they may put you to shame.
In the Mariinsky theatre they even say hello to every visitor - to make sure you reply in Russian!
It's a different story with trains here. Once my Spanish friens and I went to Moscow by train. I didn't want them to pay several times the cost of the ordinary ticket. The problem is you have to show your passport when you buy a train ticket. So I took my boss's passport to buy the ticket. The way TO Moscow went just fine - they did't check passengers before getting in. But the way back...The conducter checked each passport...and as soon as she noticed that she was given two SPANISH passports... We gave here a bribe as a result, and it was sizable!