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100

In Bulgaria, Russia, former USSR countries and others, it's considered offensive not to drink when you've been invited to, and you might need a good solid excuse if you decide not to drink at all. Expect to be on the receiving end of some good-natured banter if you decide to abstain completely. Medical reasons are a possibility, although it will be ...


46

Yes, it's true. In general, Russians never smile without a reason. No, you will not insult anybody in Russia if you smile. But, in some cases it can be assessed as rude or strange. For example, if you smile at a stranger he or she might think "Why is this guy looking at me and smiling? Do I look stupid?" Smiling when you say "Hello" is OK. In addition: ...


44

In defense of @MikkaRin's answer, I offer a contrast of cultural norms regarding emotional expression in Russia versus USA. This may not clearly represent differences between Russian and global norms (to whatever extent these exist), but hopefully it'll help. In psychological literature concerning culture and affect, opposite norms have been described: to ...


37

I was in the unfortunate position of being insistingly encouraged to drink 3 years ago on the Trans-Siberian. I was much worse for wear after that experience, and sought out suggestions (in fact I really shouldn't have had that much considering my meds). Anyway, this year I returned. And indeed, the best way if you can't just refuse outright, is simply to ...


35

This one is looks like on your image. http://alex-brab.livejournal.com/149623.html The name of this building is Kamenez (Wikipedia: Kamianets-Podilskyi). Photo of our days


24

As a Russian and non-drinker, I want to add some info about the culture of drinking in Russia. First of all: You don't have to drink vodka, even if your partners are. It is ok if you just say: I can't drink alcohol as strong as vodka, I need wine (or cocktails, or whatever you need). Ask women about this - they're more reliable in such situations. But if ...


23

Nizhni Novgorod used to be a military stronghold with a very large production capacity for weapons. This is why it was closed under Soviet rule from 1959 to 1991 so foreigners could not travel there. Also Russian nationals were strongly limited, some of them went there into exile. Many cities were closed at one point in time and some still are. Nizhni ...


21

I'm a Russian who doesn't drink vodka. If your goal is not to drink at all - just say so and be done with that. If you like to drink a little but just don't want to kill your liver - tell them that you prefer cognac or whiskey (whichever you like the best). Wine will also work but probably raise a couple of "be a man" things. The goal is to have a drink ...


19

Yes, the situation has greatly changed since 2001 :) Today you can get into Saint Petersburg in many ways by ferry: By St. Peterline company ferries: by "Princess Maria" Monday, Thursday, Saturday at 19:00 from Helsinki (you'll be at St-Petersburg at 09:30 AM next day) by "Princess Anastasia" (sorry, only link in Russian are available) Wednesday, ...


18

First of all, you must be prepared to such trip - it is 4 days long from Moscow to Mongolia (with changes), and you should get some stuff like electronic books or films. Also you should think about possibilities of recharging your electronical devices - charges are available not in all trains and not at each stations. After those choices, I recommend you ...


18

TL;DR: I wouldn't worry about it, and would place this slightly below availability of complimentary hand moisturizer in economy class bathrooms on my list of priorities when choosing an airline. Airlines hate to divert planes anywhere, since it royally messes up their schedules and causes all sorts of knock-on effects. When they do have to do this due to ...


16

Any recommendations as to where? Firstly, you should choose the trains. For now, you have such options: Direct train 020Щ(sch) "Vostok" ("East") Moscow (departure at 23:55 PM every Saturday) - Beijing (arrival at l5:32 AM every Saturday), do not goes through Mongolia. Direct train 004З Moscow (departure at 21:35 PM every Tuesday) - Beijing ( arrival ...


15

You're very unlikely to get them rejected if you go through an agency, as they'll make sure you have all the right information before they submit it to the various government departments. I use http://www.visatorussia.com/ in 2008 to get a tourist visa, and this year for a 3 month double entry business visa, and both times they were fantastic. Both ...


15

It's called SAPSAN, there are 7 trains in both directions Saint-Petersburg > Moscow and Moscow > Saint-Petersburg. Here is link to schedules (Google Translate) Prices are here (translation). There are business and economy class tickets available. The average journey is no longer than 4 hours in one direction. All trains serve every day except train 154 ...


14

You need a bit more information. Are you going with a tour or solo? I went solo and I don't really know any Russian aside form what I picked up while there. I stayed on the Europe side of the Urals, and bounced between hostels. It is definitely more difficult to go solo, but with some pedimiming and patience, it is easy enough. Contrary to a lot of ...


14

Well, everything is for sale. There are companies out there that will provide you with an official invitation for set prices. (try Google) I've bought a (single entry) business invitation some years ago, and everything worked out fine. I've met several travellers (in Russia) who bought tourist visa invitations. Some gotchas: The invitation will not be ...


14

This is actually conditional. In your particular case it will not be strange or insulting though as MikkaRin pointed out they may think "What is this guy so happy about?". Reason that it won't be for you is that you are an obvious foreigner in that country and you will be looked on as such and there is certain leeway that is allowed. In Russia there is a ...


13

As I know, in Russia visas can be achived for two ways: By the invitation from some people or company in Russia, and I think this is not for you, because it not very stable way to get visa. By the touristic trip or voucher. This can be made by travel agencies. Try to choose famous one, like http://nevatravel.ru/ Also in some cities you can stay for three ...


13

Actually, this is one exception where an organized "shore excursion" works better than venturing out on your own. In other words, you will be better served taking the tour with the cruise line. The cruise line takes care of the paperwork involving the entry visa. We disembarked at St. Petersburg with the cruise company and had the visa taken care of, ...


13

Going with a cruise line is an exception to the rule that you need a visa. Basically, Russia uses the visa requirement to control the inflow of visitors. But if you are with a cruise line that has ALREADY submitted to Russian controls, you are effectively "controlled." The cruise line will only organize tours/excursions approved by the Russian government, ...


13

GMaps for the geographical center of Russian Federation. As you can see, this is a mountain located lake with no cities among many miles from it. Also this lake is on Arctic Circle, and not very well explored by people. We even doesn't know the maximum depth of it. Also you have to know that this region is a seismically active - you can see the trees at ...


12

There's good news and bad news. The good news - you CAN camp anywhere, except the church land, private gardens and near water reservoirs. We researched this in 2008 and found many, many resources online saying it's perfectly fine to camp even on the side of the road. We even checked this with locals in Novosibirsk when we got there. However, they ...


12

First of all, I'm not recommending visiting Chechnya either. It can be really dangerous. But the real danger is in the other republics in the region, especially Ingushetia. If you're serious in your decision to visit Chechnya - I have "good news" for you - Ramzan Kadyrov (chief of the Republic) is doing his best to attract new tourists to the reconstructed ...


12

First of all, Taiga is very big thing, so address in the Taiga isn't much helpful for you :) Secondary, my apologies about some information is only in Russian, especially maps. The Curch of the Last Testament has their village in the Krasnoyarsk Krai. Their site is very old, and the only thing working there is the main page. Also they have international ...


12

Given how many camps there were you could be sure to find a few: Соло-Тур offers tour in the North Urals (info in Russian) Blog on Tour of "Dneprovskiy" near Magadan with contact information on how to get one set up. (Russian) DVS Tour - Information about the tour is in Russian but the company provide information in English as well though not about the ...


12

You should not have any problems at immigration. Nobody will force you to go through immigration straight away and immigration won't care which flight you arrived with. They will not mind giving you a stamp at 1 minute past midnight. The only question is whether the airline will allow you to board the plane. It would seem logical to me that they will let ...


11

I haven't been in this position in Russia but I have been in Romania and Serbia just recently. Nobody seemed to mind when I ordered lots of glasses of water while I was drinking. I had an excuse for being dehydrated (once from being on the beach all day and once for having hitchhiked a long way). I didn't refuse drinks but I had as many waters as ţuicăs, ...


10

I'm in Russia now - just got off the train in Volgograd. I know only a few words and am travelling on my own. Fair warning - Russia (my second visit) is the hardest country I've travelled in. I struggle with the Cyrillic - but it's definitely worth learning. It gets faster to read quite quickly. One of the best suggestions is to write requests down. ...


10

The situation is very complicated. Georgia says that Abkhazia and South Ossetia are Georgian territories, and you can go there from Georgia by this border crossing: to South Ossetia from Gori - my friends from Germany made a trip this year. If you get into these territories not by these points, you would get problems (fee from $1200 or jail up to 5 ...


10

There is single point to cross border between Georgia and Russia: Verchniy Lars. It is open for the cars since March 1, 2010. Note that you have to get the Georgian and Russian visas to cross the border. You can't cross the Georgian border from South Ossetia or Abkhazia territories! It is criminal in the Georgia, and you can get problems there. Update: ...



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