Destination: Russia: St. Petersburg
Despite its refined beauty, St. Petersburg can be a rough place for travelers, which is why we recommend always traveling with a local guide or operator. The first frustration can come from the language barrier. Few people speak English and with a different alphabet, even deciphering street addresses can be very difficult. Furthermore, pickpockets look for tourists and are skilled at their trade. Mobile phones can disappear from bags that are checked in cloakrooms, so we strongly advise leaving valuables in your hotel safe. Police, too, frequently fine people for small infractions and navigating bureaucracy can be very difficult. For instance, if you lose the exit slip you are given upon entry at the airport, some hotels will refuse to register you. Finally, there are still foreign and local prices charged in many locations, which often can be avoided if you are with a local guide.
City Know How: The city’s bridges are raised between 2 and 5 am each day for ships to pass, leaving night owls at the hip bars and clubs on the north side of the river stranded. You can ask your concierge for a schedule, or follow the locals’ lead and push on until sunrise.
Mosquitos in the summer months are rife, so take good insect repellent, especially on boat and evening tours.
Almost all signs are written in Cryillic, so it is worth learning at least the alphabet to help with navigation.
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