St. Petersburg is the meeting point of many transport routes. Remember that traffic drives on the right in St. Petersburg. When crossing the street look left, right and left again. Cross only at marked crossing places and never if the pedestrian traffic light is red ( in red means STOP, and in green means GO!) You should cross at the rear of busses and trolleys standing at stops, but you must walk round the front of a stationary tram. 'Zebra'-type crossings in Russia don't give right of way to pedestrians. Take great care when crossing St. Petersburg streets - the drivers arrivers aren't polite.
The public transport of Saint Petersburg includes buses, trolley buses, trams, route taxis and metro. If you do not speak the language you will find it difficult to use public transport (at least until you are familiar with the alphabet) because all route and metro information is of course in Russian It is not easy to work out how to reach your destination, even though the driver announces each station. Public transport is not expensive. To ride public transport you must buy a ticket from the conductor. The cost of one ride is 4 roubles. Public ground transport works from 6.00 till 24.00. Route taxies (mini-buses) operate from 7.00 till 22.00. The tickets are sold by the driver. The cost of one ride is from 5 to 10 roubles.
Though less majestic than Moscow's, the St Petersburg metro leaves most of the world's other undergrounds for dead. You'll rarely wait more than three minutes for a train, and the clock at the end of the platform shows time elapsed since the last train departed. Taking the metro is the quickest and cheapest way around the wider city. Its layout is quite simple. The metro of Saint Petersburg consists of 4 lines with 58 stations. Lines, which cut across the city have their own name and color on the metro map, and you can get from practically any station to the other with a maximum of two transfers. Metro functions every day from 5.45 a.m. to 12 p.m. To ride the metro you have to buy a token that costs 5 roubles (is valid for the whole ride) or a plastic card for 10, 20, 30 or 60 rides. It's also possible to buy a monthly plastic card valid from the 1st till 31st of each month, valid for all kinds of public ground transport (except route taxis) + 70 metro rides. Tokens and plastic cards are sold at all metro stations. Be warned that the metro system is very deep, so your escalator journey will be longer than in most other cities. Rush hour is between 8 am and 10 am in the morning and 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. in the evening. Metro 'transfer' stations, i.e. stations where you can switch from one line to another, close at 11.45 p.m.
It is not particularly easy to identify a taxi on the street, since many taxi-drivers are now simply Russian citizens using their own cars to make some extra cash (often known as 'chastniks') Hiring a 'chastnik' has become a more acceptable alternative means of getting around, particularly in the big cities, although you should always exercise caution when using their services. Official taxi- drive 'Volga' cars, with a small green light shining in the passenger side of the windshield, if the taxi is available. It pays to be vigilant about security when taking a taxi -don't get into a car which has other people riding in it already, and make sure that you sit in the front seat, keeping a keen eye on the route and your possessions It is best not to use a taxi too late at night - although some non-Russians do so without a problem - you may feel more comfortable with this once you have settled in. Taxi drivers use meters to calculate the fare but no longer use fixed tariffs. It is worth negotiating the fare before you make the journey, as this is accepted prac-tice. On average, the fare per kilometre is about 5-6 roubles. You can order taxi by phone. The dispatcher service for calling a taxi works 24 hours. After taking the order, the operator will call back in about 5-10 minutes and let you know the license number of the car that will meet you where you requested. (Phone: 265 1333)
The main international rail gateways to Saint Petersburg are Helsinki, Tallinn, Warsaw and Berlin. The city has five stations, all south of the Neva River, except the Finland Station, which serves trains on the Helsinki railway line. Moscow Station handles trains to and from Moscow, the far north, Crimea, the Caucasus, Georgia and Central Asia; Vitebsk Station deals with Smolensk, Belarus, Kiev, Odessa and Moldova; and Warsaw Station covers the Baltic republics and Eastern Europe. Baltic Station, just along the road from the Warsaw Station, is mainly for suburban trains. Almost from all railway stations you can go to Saint Petersburg suburbs: 1. Baltijski (Baltic) railway station: address: Nab. Obvodnogo Canala, 120 (local trains: to Strelnya - 35 min, to Petrodvoretz - 40 min, Lomonosov - 50 min, Gatshina - 55 min) 2. Finliandsky (Finland) railway station: address: Pl. Lenina, 6 (local trains: to Zelenogorsk - 30 min, Vyborg - 2,5 hours, Priozersk - 3,5 hours) 3. Moskovsky (Moscow) railway station: address: Pl. Vosstaniya, 2 (local trains: to Kolpino, Tosno, Liuban) 4. Varshavsky (Warsaw) railway station: address: Nab. Obvodnogo Canala, 118 (local trains: to Gatshina - 55 min, Luga - 2,5 hours) 5. Vitebsky (Vitebsk) railway station: address: Zagorodny pr., 52 (local trains: to Pushkin - 30 min, Pavlovsk - 40 min) Enquiries about arrival and departure of trains (at all stations) - tel. 168 0111
Saint Petersburg has direct air links with most major European capitals and airlines, many offering several connections each week. Pulkovo-1 and -2, respectively the domestic and international airports that serve Saint Petersburg, are 17km (10mi) south of the city centre, about a half-hour taxi ride and about an hour by public transport (metro plus bus). Pulkovo-I: Domestic flights (to Russia & CIS): tel. 104 3822; Pulkovo-II: International flights: tel. 104 3444
Driving a car
Foreigners can legally drive on almost all of Russia's highways and can even ride motorcycles. You'll need to be 18 years old and have a drivers' licence, along with an International Driving Permit. On the down side, driving in Russia is truly an unfiltered Russian experience. Poor roads, inadequate signposting (except in St Petersburg's centre), low-quality petrol and keen highway patrollers can lead to frustration and dismay. Motorbikes will undergo vigourous scrutiny by border officials and highway police.
Planes To experience Russia you need to get there:so I decided to fly from Prague, Czech Republic to Novosibirsk, Russia on Aeroflot (Russia's national airline). Yes I flew Aeroflot, despite dire warnings (from my worldly friends?) of aircraft overrun with mechanical defects, free ranging sheep and chickens, and of course pickpockets. Knowing that my friends had my best interests in mind and not having any direct experience with Aeroflot I planned for the worse. I would get a window seat and carry my bags on my lap the entire flight,
thus avoiding and stray livestock in the aisles and only having to worry
about the wandering fingers of my one neighbor. To my dismay, at Prague
International Airport, I was informed that I would have to check my luggage
through to Moscow - and then recheck my luggage for my transfer to a
domestic flight to Novosibirsk. Now fearing the worst I tried to lock up my
luggage as securely as possible and donned a set of clothes easily washable
(you never know what can happen on a plane overrun with livestock).
Getting on the Aeroflot Boeing 737 to Moscow I suddenly felt the great big
fool. The plane was clean, modern, and without a trace of chickens. The
big difference was that Aeroflot still had a smoking section on the plane.
I assuaged my damaged ego with the notion that this was an international
flight and thus Aeroflot had to comply with international regulations. The
Moscow-Novosibirsk flight would be filled with sheep and chickens!
Despite their good intentions, my sources of information regarding Russian
air travel were severely mistaken. Aeroflot was clean, comfortable and as
modern as any major western airline. My only negative impression was
derived from the existence of a smoking section on the plane:yes I am a
I would definitely fly Aeroflot again:on time, comfortable, and soooooo much
cheaper than any of their competitors.
If you are going to travel long distances through Russia, your cheapest
alternative is the train. Slower than the plane or car it is definitely an
experience not to be missed.
Any train story needs to of course start at the station. Russians take
great pride in their train stations. In Novosibirsk, the train terminal
building was the second most beloved civic building after the Opera house.
Large, imposing, meticulously clean, it was obvious the people of
Novosibirsk placed a high value on it. I would learn that most Russians
travel by train, far more than by plane or car for long trips - so the train
became a central focus.
Long trips by train are best spent in a Koopay, a small room fitting 4, with
beds. I had the opportunity to ride the train a few times under very
different conditions, and found myself liking each experience for different