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Useful information about Russia and the Ural region

Time: Time in Ekaterinburg is GMT+5; Time is GMT+ 3 for both Moscow & St. Petersburg. From the end of March through to the end of October we have daylight saving time (clocks are advanced 1 hour) and during this period it is quite light until 11PM out on the streets.

Money, Currency & Credit cards:  All prices are generally quoted in rubles. 1 ruble = 100 kopecks. Notes are in denominations of 10, 50, 100, 500, 1000 Rubles. Coins are in denominations of 1, 2, and 5 Rubles. Currency can be freely converted at banks, hotels and kiosks specifically for tourists. Major European and international credit cards are accepted: Visa, MasterCard and Union cards, as well as Travellers Checks. Its easy to find automatic telling machines, so you will be able to cash your money any time.

Banking hours:  09:00 a.m. - 05:00 p.m. Monday to Friday. Some of the money exchange offices are open 24 hours.

Public Holidays: 
January 1 New Year
January 7 Russian Orthodox Christmas
March 8 International Womens Day
May 1 The Day of Spring and Peace
May 9 Victory Day
June 12 Independence Day
August 22 National Flag Day
December 12 Constitution Day

Electricity: Electricity is 220volt/50hz. The plug is the two-pin thin European standard. If you bring a hair dryer or an electric razor, you must bring an adapter and converter for 220v.

Taxi:  Taxi fees are usually negotiated with the driver ahead of time. Do not use gypsy cabs or a taxi without taxi signs.

Crime:  In spite of the fact that crime has been rising, it is still safer here than in many American cities. Precautions include not flaunting valuables or walking alone through streets and parks at night. Petty theft is not unusual NEVER leave any bags unattended and be particularly careful when on public transport.  There is a lucrative business in the recycling of stolen mobile phones, pagers etc.

Water: Water quality varies widely. It is safer to drink bottled water that can be easily bought in any shop.

Suggested clothes: For summer you should pack: Boots, light-sports shoes; Light - colored clothing, Sunscreen crème, sunglasses, sun-protecting hat or a cap, warm sweater and a wind jacket. In winter you should bring really warm clothes; dont forget to bring a warm hat.

Passport, Visas and other Documentation: Each traveler should be in possession of a valid, signed passport that will remain valid for at least six months beyond the completion of the trip. Make a copy of your visa and a  photocopy of your passport to have with you in case your original documents are lost. Please ensure that these photocopies are stamped and signed as certified true copies. Keep these copies in your luggage separate from the actual passport. Carry them with you at all time.

HIV Testing Requirement: Any person applying for a visa for a stay of more than three months must present a certificate showing that the individual is HIV negative. The certificate must contain the applicant's passport data, proposed length of stay in Russia, blood test results for HIV infection, including date of the test, signature of the doctor conducting the test, medical examination results, diagnostic series, and seal of the hospital/medical organization. The certificate must be in both Russian and English and valid for three months from the date of medical examination and blood test. For information concerning entry, exit, and HIV requirements, travelers can contact the Russian Embassy.

Cultural differences: Smoking is quite prevalent in Russia. Non-smoking sections are rarely available.

Women should not be surprised if they are treated differently than their male counterparts. Many Russian people follow the same cultural protocols, as do other Europeans.

Men offer to carry heavy bags for a women, help her getting of a bus or car, as well as assisting her to put on her coat. Also, in mixed groups, Russian men will address the males in the group with a handshake.

One of the greatest extensions of hospitality in Russia is when someone invites you into their home. Guests have a special status. So dont be surprised if you receive the red carpet treatment. Your host will probably put out enough food for twenty people and continually ask you to eat all of it. This isnt a serious request; of course, its just an attempt to be as hospitable as possible. Dont feel you have to eat something if you dont like it. Your host will understand.

Russia is famous for producing alcoholic beverages such as vodka, beer, wine, brandy and sparkling wine.
Your hosts will undoubtedly encourage trying them. If you do plan to drink at dinner or celebration, start slowly. If you choose not to drink, inform your hosts early of an allergy or religious objections to drinking or eating meat, it will help to avoid awkwardness later.

Dont think we discourage you from trying some specialties. Traditional Russian Cuisine is unique and delicious. Try Russian pelmeny (meat dumplings), blinchiki (pancakes) that can be combined with honey, herring or black/red caviar, borsch (beet-root soup) and many others.

Russian banya: A trip to the Russian baths (banya) can be a memorable experience. The banya begins in the dressing and undressing room, where everyone strips down (public banyas are segregated by sex). Towels in the form of large white sheets are available and most people grab one or two. Warm up in the Finnish-style dry sauna (heated to between 100 and 120 C). Take a small break to cool down and then check out the steam room (parilka), where you can be beaten about the body with dried branches (vennik), usually birch, oak or juniper. Half the people in the parilka will claim there's not enough heat and start calling for someone to throw more water on the hot rocks, while the other half feebly croak "too much, too much" - the guys who want more steam usually win. This combination of heat, steam, and physical abuse purges your body of impurities and gives you a clean unattainable by mere showers or baths.
We invite you to visit the Russian banya, one of the most interesting and the oldest attributes of Russian life style, located on the Finnish Gulf shore on the tourist complex's territory. The banya itself is situated in a separate building, contains a cloak room, a hall with a fire place, Russian steam room, a sauna and a swimming pool. You are offered birch and oak dried branches, towels, etc. Also you can order various drinks. After visiting the banya you can try popular dishes of Russian and European cuisine at the restaurant of the tourist complex

Small gifts: Take mementos that are unique for your country, your city or institution such as calendars, postcards, special food, pens, and pictures of your family or house. Note, Russian people are cordial and warm-hearted, susceptible to any signs of attention.

Useful numbers in all cities: Fire 01; Police (Militia) 02; Ambulance 03; Gas Leaks 04; Directory Assistance 09

  • Also please look at these Links - the Special selection of Internet-resources about the Ural region: photos, descriptions of sights, cities, maps, traditional Russian dishes, useful advice etc.

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: «Softmajor», 2003 .