Where to sleep?
Practical A to Z
Practical A to Z
- Eating out
- Getting around
- Public holidays
Lunch (obed) is served between 12noon and 3pm and dinner (oujin) from 7-11pm.
Service is rarely included in the price of the meal and a 5-10% tip will be appreciated.
Self-service canteens and snack bars
You will often be pleasantly surprised by these establishments, which range from a stolovaïa, sort of self-service canteen, blinnaïa, a blini house and pelmennaïa specialised in Siberian ravioli to a kafé or boufet, for a light snack eaten standing up.
Most establishments don’t provide a menu. Dishes are displayed with the price per weight. Vodka is also ordered by weight.
More and more restaurants serve reasonably priced “business lunches”.
Standard two-pronged European sockets and 220V and 50Hz. Travellers from the UK and Ireland should take an adaptor.
British Embassy – Smolenskaya Naberezhnaya 10 - Moscow 121099 - t 495 956 7200 - http://ukinrussia.fco.gov.uk/en/
Embassy of Ireland – Grokholski Pereulok 5 - Moscow 129010 - t 495 937 5911 - http://www.embassyofireland.ru
Apart from airplanes to get from one major town to another, the trains are comfortable, if somewhat slow. Coaches are not always very modern, but are the most practical means of getting to smaller towns where there is not a railway station.
The tap water is drinkable, but it is advisable to drink bottled water.
The currency of Russia is the Rouble, subdivided into 100 kopecks.
Roubles can only be bought in Russia. Currency can be changed at airports, hotels, many exchange offices and in banks in tourist areas.
Banks are generally open Monday-Friday from 9am-5pm or 6pm.
Credit cards are accepted by most hotels, restaurants, shops and car rental agencies. ATMs are widespread. Those that offer an “English” language menu accept foreign cards.
Post offices are generally open from 9am-6pm with a break at lunchtime. Mail is quite slow to arrive but in theory dependable; allow several days to two weeks for letters and postcards to reach home.
The following is for information purposes only, because the government draws up a new calendar of public holidays every year.
1 January – New Year
7 January – Orthodox Christmas
23 February – Defender of the Fatherland Day
8 March – International Women’s Day
1 May – Spring and Labour Day
9 May – Victory Day
12 June – Russia Day (national holiday) commemorating the Adoption of the Declaration of Sovereignty of the Russian Federation
4 November – Unity Day, in memory of the liberation of Moscow by Minine and Pojarski in 1612 from Polish occupation
Shops are generally open Monday-Saturday,from 8am-8pm or 9am-9pm (6pm on Sunday) and closed for lunch from 1-3pm.
Bartering is de rigueur in many circumstances.
Only objects made after 1945 can be exported, unless you have authorisation from the Ministry of Culture.
Shoe and clothing sizes
Women’s clothing sizes differ from standard European sizes. A Russian 44 corresponds to a French 38 (or a British 10).
A Russian 39 shoe size (for men and women) is the equivalent of a French 37 (or a British 5).
Russia has a wealth of arts and crafts that make wonderful holiday souvenirs: stones and enamel (Baltic amber, Ural stones and Rostov enamel), clothing (Pavlov-Possad shawls, Orenburg shawls, chapkas) and other objects (lacquered or chkatoulki boxes, Matryoshka dolls, wooden and stone chess sets, wooden toys, earthenware, watches, Fabergé-style eggs, Gjel porcelain and Kokhloma wooden tableware).
Without forgetting gourmet delicacies: smoked fish and caviar, bought from fishmongers and “gastronom” and Elisseïev vodka.
Closing days and times vary from one museum to another. The term sanitarny den refers to a monthly closing day and tills close 45-60min before the museum itself.
Entrance charges are higher for foreigners than for Russians and are comparable to those in Europe.
In some churches, men must remove their hat and women must cover their head.
To call Russia from abroad
Dial 7 + area code + 7-digit number of the person.
To call home from Russia
Dial 8 (and wait for the dial tone) then dial 10 + country code (UK 44, Ireland 353) + number of the person without the first 0.
Within the same town – Dial the number of the person
To another town – Dial 8 + town code + number of the person.