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Geographical Position and Climate  |  Brief History  |  Famous Sights  |  Transport  |  Bridges  |  Useful City Links  |  Useful Information

Useful Information

Government in Saint-Petersburg

The head of the city's administration is the governor. The acting governor is Valentina Matvienko, elected in october 2003. The exgovernor is Vladimir Yakovlev. Smolny - the government house - is the seat of the executive power. Seat of the legislative assembly is at the Mariinsky palace on St. Isaac's square. The citizens elect deputies, as well as the governor.

Phone Calls

Despite the recent rapid improvements in the telecommunications infrastructure, telephoning in Russia can be difficult and expensive. To call home is significantly cheaper to use a public phone rather than a hotel phone. There are public, card-operated phones of the entrance halls of Moscow's Metro stations. The cards are available in cashier windows at the same Metro stations. The approximate price is U.S. The credit left on the cards is shown on the phone's digital display. You may also call from post offices, where an operator will connect you to the required number. Phone cards are also available at post offices. It is always cheaper to call on weekends, international holidays, and weekday nights. Local Calls are free from your hotel phone. If you are not at the hotel, you may use street pay phones, requiring ruble coins, tokens or calling cards, which can be purchased at newsstands, in some stores, and many kiosks. Tokens for the public telephones are available at the Metro entrances, but it is much more convenient to use plastic phone cards (with one card you can phone 50 times, provide the duration of each call is three minutes or less). The card operated phones are available at the Metros. Using the card, you may also call other cities and towns in Russian and the CIS. When doing so, dial an 8 first, followed by the city code and the local number. The international direct dial code to Saint Petersburg +7 (812), the long-distance direct dial code (if calling from within Russia) is +8 (812)

Money Matters

The monetary unit of the Russian Federation is the ruble and it's obvious that all payments in Russia are made in rubbles. However, in many shop prices are often indicated in "y.e.", meaning that customers should pay given the present currency rate. The rate of the rubble changes all the time. On August 20 2004, one U.S. dollar equaled 29,23 rubbles. In shops, the exchange rate may be higher than the official listing. You can exchange your money for rubbles at commercial banks, exchange offices, located everywhere throughout the city, which usually work from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Some hotels and restaurants will let you pay in foreign currency, but it must always be either dollars or euros. You may use credit cards as most hotels, shops, and restaurants especially that are near the city center accept all major credit cards. Some may turn down American Express. Visa and MasterCard are known, hence - more widely honored. ATM machines are widely available in major cities, but note that they do not have letters on the key pad, so if your PIN includes letters, do remember them as digits. Remember always carry some cash with you because many shops do not accept credit cards. Remember to change your rubles to dollars before you leave Russia. Most exchange office outside Russia will not change rubles.

Documentation

Once you are in Russia, it is a good idea to carry a photocopy of your passport with you at all times. Also, leave your passport number and other information with a family member in the U.S. in the event it is stolen or misplaced. In each city you visit in Russia, your visa must be validated. The hotel you are staying at will be able to perform this service. Note that the registration in the hotels normally costs 1 USD per passport, but the price of registration in new mini hotels usually differs from 20 USD to 40 USD per passport. If you come to Russia like a guest, not like a tourist, and stay at Russian home, you should be registered in a police office.

Excursions

We suggest that you should order your excursions, theater tickets and tours in the travel company before you come to Russia as it's the best way to save your time, money and effort.

Medical Care

If you take prescription medication, be sure to bring enough of this for the entire duration of your trip, since some medications are unavailable in Russia. It is also advisable to bring your own over-the-counter medications. These medicines are usually sold in pharmacies, however the labels are in Russian and most stork clerks do not speak English. Contact your health insurance company beforehand to find out what your insurance plan offers in case of an emergency. Many insurance providers offer specialized riders which can cover emergency evacuation. We do recommend buying a travel insurance.

Customs

Upon arrival before passing through customs one have to fill in the customs declaration and indicate the available amount of foreign currency in cash and traveler's checks. It is also advisable to mention the valuables you are carrying, especially if you have any jewelry made in Russia or other CIS countries and expensive electronics (including PC notebooks, video cameras, etc). The customs declaration should be kept up to the end of your stay in Russia, as it may be required for departure formalities. No customs duty is required for your personal belongings for a price of ,000 U.S., (the goods priced at up to are duty free, if sent by international mail). However, the amount of some items brought into Russia is limited by the local customs regulations, for example, alcoholic beverages. The customs requirements are subject to frequent changes, but any Russian Consulate, when issuing your entry visa, should always provide you with the information about the latest charges, if any. A foreigner may also bring one car, duty-free, for the period of their stay. The car cannot be sold or transferred to any other person. It is prohibited to import into Russia narcotics, toxic and radioactive items, explosives, explosive devices, or weaponry. On departure before passing through customs you must fill in a customs declaration as well. No duty is necessary if the total cost of items taken out from Russia is less than U.S. Items under may be sent duty-free via international mail (over worth costs 60 percent of the customs value of the item).

Electricity

Electricity throughout Russia is 220 volt/50 Hz. The plug is the two-pin thin European standard. Be sure to bring your own converter as most places in Russia do not carry them.

Time

St. Petersburg are:
+3 for both Moscow & St. Petersburg.
+8 hours Eastern Standard Time (New York City, Washington, D.C., Miami, Boston)
+9 hours Central Standard Time (Chicago, St. Louis, Dallas)
+10 hours Mountain Standard Time (Denver)
+11 hours Pacific Standard Time (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle)

Water

The quality of the water in Russia varies from place to place. It is recommended to drink and brush your teeth with bottled water, which is widely available in supermarkets. Be careful to avoid ice and raw foods and vegetables.

Timetable of bridge opening:

The most breathtaking spectacle - drawing bridges - is in store for those visiting Saint-Petersburg during the navigation period and especially within the White Nights, when the magnificent city is enveloped into light mist and the spans of the bridges, weighing hundreds of tons, lift slowly up into the sky according to a certain timetable, thus dividing the city into three parts: Southern, Northern and the Basil Island.

Palace Bridge - 1:35-2:55 am, 3:15- 4:50 am
Alexander Nevsky Bridge - 2:20-5:05 am
Bolsheokhtinsky Bridge - 2:00-5:00 am
Finlyandsky Bridge - 2:30-5:10 am
Liteiny Bridge - 1:50-4:40 am
Troitsky Bridge - 1:50-4:50 am
Lieutenant Schmidt Bridge - 1:40-4:45 am
Birzhevoy Bridge - 2:10-4:50 am
Volodarsky Bridge - 2-3:45 am, 4:15-5:45 am
Sampsonievsky Bridge - 2:10-2:45 am, 3:20-4:25 am
Grenadersky Bridge - 2:45-3:45 am, 4:20-4:50 am
Kantemirovsky Bridge - 2:45-3:45 am, 4:20-4:50 am

The navigation period lasts from May 5 till November 20 and all the bridges spanning the Neva River are drawn letting the big steamers and ships pass through the delta of the river into Ladoga Lake. Sampsonievsky, Grenadersky, Kantemirovsky, Ushakovsky, Kamennoostrovsky, Krestovsky, Lazarevsky and Bolshoi Petrovsky bridges are only drawn as necessity arises.

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