Russia, the country is synonymous with great Vodka, beers, gorgeous looking girls and ladies, rocking nightlife, opulent architecture and history, Matryoshkas dolls etc. and the list is endless. It is rightly called the gateway to Europe because of its impressive touch of European culture and architecture specially in St. Petersburg and Moscow, the capital city.
Being one of the most beautiful countries to visit, the fact remains that it is still one of the most challenging countries to visit. You may wonder why? Here are some tips that can really help Indian travelers to enjoy this beautiful country to bits!
- Language is the biggest and by far the most challenging thing in Russia. You may struggle to book a cab, order food in a restaurant (specially if you’re a vegetarian), board a metro etc etc. Russians barely know English and it becomes a daunting task to explain them what you want. So, always keep a translator on and ask them what you wish to know.
- The weather specially in St. Petersburg and Moscow (considering the months August and September) is quite unpredictable. It can be sunny and windy in the morning, rainy and wet in the evening and chilly at night! So pack well and always carry an umbrella with you whenever you go.
- Moscow is well connected with Metro but you need to first understand the Metro route quite thoroughly or you will have a tough time asking people where to go with people giving replies such as “No English” or blank faces in return. Once you go a few places on your own, you will be a champ then!
- Uber and various other Taxi operators run throughout Moscow so you can commute by taxi as well. But booking a cab is also a task as the cab drivers rarely reach the destination. In Moscow specially, you have pickup points for every place so you need to stand at that pickup point for the taxi to come which means you got to walk a lot! Its difficult to explain your location over the phone as you need to know Russian for them to understand. I would suggest not to take taxis as it is one of the spoilers in the trip to this beautiful country. Taxis are advisable only for to and fro transfers to the airport.
- Before heading to Russia, you need to read various blogs (like mine!) to understand the dynamics of the country. It is mentioned on various public forums that the crime rates have augmented in recent years and pick pocketing and robberies are a common phenomenon in Russia specially in tourist places and bars/clubs/cafes. Though, we did not witness any such thing and it was pretty safe even late nights but its better to consider these things in mind before visiting any place. Carry less cash to tourist places and drink sensibly when you are in a foreign country is the best policy.
- We did not come across great shopping. (Luxury shopping is the same throughout the globe) This is our personal experience. You will just find souvenir shopping everywhere. So, don’t be a hurry to shop them as you will find it just about anywhere and everywhere.
- Russia is said to be a Vodka Hub. But you will equally find a lot of options for Beer and Wine too. There are a lot of cafes and bars serving Kaliyan/Hookah/Shishas as well. Night life is great in both Moscow and St. Petersburg. St. Petersburg is very lively in the evening and you will love to stroll around and see the locals performing music and dance. It is just amazing!
- The GUM Mall in Moscow boasts of freshly made ice cream and is quite popular among tourists. You can find this little shop at the ground floor of the Mall. Lemonade of different varieties are also available and said to be worth a try.
- The hotels generally do not have the plug point for our Iphones and Samsung phones. You could carry a adapter plug with you or just ask your hotel to provide one.
- And lastly, get hold of the maps of the city and if you catch hold of an English speaking guy/gal, just mark down everything you want to ask. This will indeed be of great help to you!
I hope the Russian guide for Indian travelers will be pretty helpful for the ones who are looking to travel to Russia!