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About napoxoguk

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    Cool Cruiser

About Me

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  • Interests
    Gardening, dogs, judo.
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Vodohod, Mosturflot

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  1. I assume, that is to say "We did a tiny section of one town in Russia last year, and all the four or five tourist spots frequented by cruise crowds took Euros and US dollars" 🙂
  2. Just to give you an idea, that's the vodka choices you have at a local convenience store (which is a bit of a cross between Safeway and a dollar store). Selection at Aromatny Mir or other specialized liquor stores would be much, much larger. Also, this one doesn't include premium brands (beluga, standard, etc.), which are displayed and stored separately.
  3. Enjoy 🙂 russian standard gold/Platinum is readily available in the States, but you could get some kind of special commemorative edition (fancier bottle, same beverage). If you would like to try something that your "average Russian" would drink, I'd try Belaya Berezka, Zelenaya Marka, or even Putinka. A 0.5l bottle should run at well under $10. Just remember that vodka is not exactly a gourmet connoisseur drink - it is not the taste that we are after, but the lack thereof. Accordingly, pretty much anything goes as long as it is properly chilled. Again, enjoy!
  4. Another couple of things to consider - guiding is highly seasonal (the season in SPB is about 5 months long); it requires some investment of both time and money (license, accreditations with ALL museums you'd be guiding at); and, finally, the actual salaries advertised on Russian job search sites are in the range of rr50k to rr120k per month (that's $900 to $2000).
  5. Well, no, but it will show me the way to the next whisky bar - and that's where most interesting conversations ensue anyway. Seriously, though, I don't think sarcasm is really called for - it kind of goes without saying that cruise touring experience is that of a tourist bubble and checking items off the bucket list. Nothing wrong with that. For some cruisers it's getting a taste of the country to see if it warrants an extended land trip at a later date, but that's more of an exception rather than the norm. People that really want to ask questions, learn about locals' POV, and come to their own conclusions would probably go DIY (in which case apps like Google and Yandex will likely make their lives a whole lot easier). Alternatively, they could go with an established cultural exchange program, like the one run by CCISF (who, incidentally, are looking for prospective citizen diplomats for their September trip: https://ccisf.org/be-part-of-the-solution ). Again , no rights or wrongs here. Peace!
  6. Actually, funny as it sounds, it will 🙂 Yandex taxi (just like Uber) eliminates the need to communicate with the driver. You have your pick-up point and you have your destination, the app shows how much you pay, the make, color, plate, and geolocation of your ride, and the name of your driver. The metro signs are in English. Yandex Metro will calculate you route and show which metro car to board to minimize transfer time. As to the street signs, both Yandex and Google (Google Lens OR Google translate OCR) will actually translate them for you. And yes, both Yandex and Google have a "dialogue translation" option in case you do run into an older native. All you need is data connection. What I'm saying is that the infrastructure is there, the systems in place are really quite efficient. One just has to take the initiative to actually use them. 🙂
  7. Totally agree with this. This part, however, couldn't be further from the truth (except maybe the English bit). Even Google maps do a decent job offering public transit/taxi route options in SPB. Yandex's travel suite, however (Yandex Taxi, Yandex Maps, Yandex Transport, Yandex Translate) fares a lot better and makes public transit/taxi hailing a breeze.
  8. Please take Dogs4fun's advice seriously. Certain rx meds available in the States (such as, for instance, Adderall) are totally illegal in Russia and can potentially land one in jail (Adderall is listed under Schedule 1, along with cocaine, street amphetamines, heroin, and coca leaves, - you get the picture). The reverse is also true - some meds available OTC in Russia (such as, for instance, some innocuous heart medicines containing barbiturates) are illegal in the States. Historically the authorities on either side of the fence had not been too keen on enforcing these regulations when it came to personal meds - too much hassle, - BUT, with new equipment such as handheld RAMAN analysers being widely available at every border crossing, an express test of any substance only takes a minute or two. Edited to clarify: that said, the vast majority of prescription medications are not subject to restrictions and will cause no trouble at all. But again, please check the list linked to above for your peace of mind.
  9. Neither are any of the Viking's other ships running a rather busy route between Moscow and Saint Petersburg. That's what Mike must've referred to. As to Here are some pictures of post-redesign interiors (including the staircases): http://www.meb.com.ua/pas/PV17.html It also states that the ship had been retrofitted with a 4-person elevator.
  10. Grand Maket is excellent for kids! I'm trying to think of things I still remember after visiting SPB as a child. Arguably, Peterhof is an "experience", especially its trick fountains. Watching bridges drawn at night was an "experience". Visiting the Piskarevskoe memorial cemetery is an experience, even if not a lighthearted one. Hearing a 12pm cannon volley at Peter-and-Paul is an experience, as is climbing the colonnade of St.Isaacs... Grand Maket was not around back then, otherwise it might have been the only thing I would remember 🙂 Here's a short blog post highlighting some of the things to do with kids (not cruise-specific, but you might find it helpful anyway). There should be links to individual attractions as well, including those in SPB: https://www.globalmousetravels.com/russia-children-trip-report/
  11. That's wonderful news indeed, especially considering they were the only agency to not have found the time to respond to OP's inquiry. Nattie, btw, I stand corrected - I have just checked the pricing for Peterhof museums for April, and there is some difference in fees between Russian tax residents vs. foreigners. The difference is not huge, though, typically something like RUR350 vs. RUR500, or RUR750 vs. RUR1300, varying among attractions. Come to think of it, resident/non-resident tickets to Peter's bathhouse at Monplaisire cost about as much as resident/non-resident pass to Rockville swim center, so I don't find it totally unfair 🙂
  12. Thanks for the link! This article is extremely dated - just as an example, the "mandatory sale of 75 percent of foreign currency receipts" requirement was lifted back in 2007, if I'm not mistaken. Back then, there were indeed additional restrictions on currency transactions even between residents and non-residents. Like I said, if you follow the letter of the law, the only major restriction remaining is currency exchange - so selling dollars for roubles to a friendly peddler outside of the Hermitage is a no-no. That said, I'm still quite uncomfortable with foreign cash transactions when it comes to paying for cruise tours (not the actual guides, though). I'll have a hard time articulating my position, and even a harder time defending it, but I feel that most of the museums, churches, and other attractions you visit are, in the most general sense, the property of the people of Russia and the very least all these tour agencies can do to "give back" is pay their taxes. If you pay cash you can be almost 100 percent sure that it's not happening.
  13. To quote Article 6 of Russian Federal Law 173-FZ ("On foreign currency regulation and control"), "hard currency transactions between residents and non-residents shall not be restricted", except currency exchange operations (which are restricted as per Article 11 of the same Law). Under Article 1 of that same Law, "foreign currency transactions" are understood to include, inter alia, "use of foreign monies as a means of payment". Since a transaction between a cruiser and a Russian company would be a transaction between resident and non-resident, it seems to me it will not be illegal. Whether or not it is advisable is another story altogether (in my opinion, it is not).
  14. Just for some peace of mind of those people who do prefer to deal with cash - I don't think it is. If I remember correctly, any restrictions on foreign cash currency transactions only apply to residents and/or currency exchange operations. This, however, is a real issue - every time you pay with USD/Euro cash, you can rest assured none of it will ever find its way into any tax return form.
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