Besides the risk from a pickpocket you could just lose -- or have stolen -- your credit cards.
As with pickpockets, fast discovery and reporting of the crime can prevent more loss and headaches.
The link to the US Consulate of Petersburg has the phone numbers to report cards lost.
800-992-3404. Outside the U.S. call collect 336-393-1111
800-847-2911. Outside the U.S. call collect 410-581-9994 Russia, St. Petersburg only325-5042, wait for automated AT&T response then dial 866-654-0164..
Russia, Moscow only 755-5042, wait for automated AT&T response then dial 866-654-0164 Russia, outside Moscow/St. Petersburg800-110-1011-866-654-0164
800 622 7747 Outside the U.S. call collect 636-722-7111TDD/TYY 636-722-3725
800-234-6377. Outside the U.S. call collect 303- 799-1504 Russia +7 495 912 009 Russia +7 495 745 8407
800-347-2683. International toll 801- 902-3100
Do not be complacent about your health when visiting Russia. Be prepared for an emergency. Have numbers of English-speaking medical clinics (no matter how good your Russian) with ambulances and carry them with you at all times.
After two and a half years of living in St. Petersburg, never having called an ambulance in my life, I came home one day to find that my girlfriend had taken an overdose of sleeping pills.
I called the emergency services (03) and the first time they hung up on me because I couldn't remember the name of the tablets and couldn't find what I'd done with the bottle.
No matter how good your Russian is, don't even think about relying on this service. They don't care if someone lives or dies - if they have any trouble understanding even just one word, they might put the phone down and you'll have to start again. Or you might be told to call another number, but they won't wait to check that you heard it correctly.
The 'ambulance' arrived. The 'paramedics' (two draft dodgers) came in. They asked where the patient was, then what her name was. They asked for a piece of paper to make notes on. They scribbled my girlfriend's name (surname and half of her first name) but not the name of the sleeping tablets.
The next question they asked was who I was, what our relationship was, and whether she was 'dear' to me. At this point I was already fed up with questions and wanted to get on the road, but the next question floored me. It was a variant on the last, but this time more like 'how much is she worth to you' or 'how much are you willing to pay to make sure she gets to the hospital in time?'
We were on a tour led by people from St. Petersburg. At one point, our driver decided to go the wrong way on a one way road. As soon as he started down the road, there were police right there, who pulled him over. While he was out talking to the police, our tour guide told us he would be fined a whole month's salary (about $30). She got us feeling so sorry for him, that we collected money to pay his fine.
Later, I realized that this may very well have been a setup to scam us. The police just happened to be in just the right place. The tour guide preyed on our pity. Hmmm... I wonder how many other buses went through this same exact scenerio, and how good of friends these cops were of the bus driver and tour guide.
Though I cannot prove that this was the case, it is true that there is a lot of dishonesty in the Russian business world. The Mafia is pretty powerful over there. So just be alert.
On the last day in Russia, I experienced the bad side of the country. We took a taxi from the metro station to the airport, agreeing to 300 Rubel for the drive, arriving there we had to pay 500, because otherwise the guy would have drove off with our backpacks.
When we were checking in, they charged us for 200 Rubel of overweight luggage (which was not true) and when we ask to see the scale they told us to pay or to miss our flight.
So have a little spare money prepared for your safe return, because arguing with the officials isn't really funny if you have to catch a flight and beside it's senseless.
It is, of course, already too late. The very fact that you have picked up this book means that you are already in St Petersburg, already exposed, already in the field of danger. The next plane out does not leave for at least another few days. It's too late to turn back. They should have warned you.
How are you feeling right now? Shaky on the feet? Disorientated? Appetite failing? And you didn't even drink anything last night? I thought so. Well, not to worry: your symptoms are at an early stage; things can only get worse.
They really should have warned you. No doubt you read the newspaper stories painting this city as something worse than Chicago in the 30s: mafiosi, gang warfare, street shootings, an array of violence spiced up by that picturesquely Russian touch - the casual or unmotivated killing in a dimly-lit doorway, done for the chance of a few dollars or for no gain at all. Impressive news-material, and some of it is even true. But what the papers neglect to say is that this sort of fun is mostly for the locals; visitors are rarely affected. Go to New York or White Hart Lane on a Saturday afternoon and your chances of becoming the passive element in a piece of violent action will improve dramatically.
The real dangers for the visitor to St Petersburg come from other directions. Did anyone tell you that this city is infectious? That it does things to the brain? That it acts degeneratively upon the muscles and loosens the mouth? That it breeds literature and other nonsense faster than London does rats? Was any mention made of the danger of drinking in St Petersburg? Was any microsyllable breathed about the greater danger involved in not drinking here? Did anyone dare inform you that St Petersburg is not really a city after all, but a state of mind? A diseased, unbalanced, potentially highly dangerous state of mind.
Well....interesting section! I don't want to sound paranoid, or sound like a wimp, but just let me stress.....in St. Petersburg be careful! It's much better there than in the years of 1992-1998, but it is still a dangerous place to visit. I could write a list that would fill up this site with things not to do, but I will list a few of the more obvious. First off, do not drink the water, unless you want to spend your entire trip in the bathroom. Do not keep your wallet and money in your back pocket, your just inviting trouble. Corrupt officials are everywhere, especially the traffic police, called the GAI. I had a bad exeperience going and leaving through customs, so make sure you read up on all of the regulations before going. The Mafia is everywhere, in every business, but it's just a way of life in Russia. Actually, the people the Russians are more concerned about are Banditos, or your everyday criminals. Don't go around flashing large amounts of money, or wearing expensive jewelry, or your just asking for trouble. Try and just blend in as much as possible.
You must be aware of the Russian Mafia. During my trip to St. Petersburg with our class the half of our class went to one little nightclub and they almost get killed in there. They didn't know that it was a mafia place and so they told DJ that he should play better music. The owners of the bar didn't like that and so they ordered some men there to kill my classmates. Luckily there was also one russian speeking guy with my classmates and he realized the situation in there. So he got them all out from there, they just had to pay 100.000 rublies to get out.