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Posted: 1/5/2006 11:43:38 PM EDT
How did you like it? Did you get harassed by the police much? I'm going to be going there soon and was wondering what to expect.
Link Posted: 1/5/2006 11:47:55 PM EDT
I want to go bad. Closest Ive been is Bosnia and Hungary. I have lots of pics from the statue park in Budapest, great to see things like that from the people who couldve been the very cause for the destruction of humanity.
Link Posted: 1/5/2006 11:54:30 PM EDT
I went to St. Petersburg and it was pretty cool. The cops didn't mess with anyone, but they sure looked pretty no nonsense/seathing angry all the time. The only wisdom from me is just stay the hell out of their way and don't do anything that would warrent their attention. St. Petersburg was really pretty and could probably give the rest of Europe a run for its money if the Russian economy ever really takes off and they clean the damn place up. When I went it was before the big aniversary. I heard they cleaned it up for that, but when I went it was pretty fugly although you could tell a good fix up job on the place would make it world class. Their subways was insane too. Freaking mozaics and brass figures and stuff. If you had any of that in the states it would get torn all up or stolen. Vodka museum was pretty pimped. The Hermitage was cool. Went to some palace around there and it was slick. I might try to go back with some Russian friends I have. Would be interesting to see more of the place with people who speak the language.
Link Posted: 1/6/2006 1:54:04 AM EDT
I went to the Ukraine, and a friend went to Russia. It was interesting, in a historical kind of way. Ukraine looked like something out of a Sean Connery James Bond movie. Nothing much had changed since the 1970's except for the central square in Kiev that eveyone saw on TV during the 2004/5 Orange Revolution.

My mate said that Russia was dodgy. He got off the plane at Moscow Sheremyentevo airport and someone tried to scam him. Essentially, the impression of the East bloc countries is that they are dirty, poor, rundown and, in the case of Russia, dangerous for foreigners, esp. non-white foreigners. There's alot of neo-nazism over there right now. The public officials are also fairly corrupt, and there is something about the way Russians do business that doesn't inspire any trust whatsoever. Maybe its the're way of changing their story every time you speak to them. Having had several dealings with them, I wouldn't trust them as far as I could throw them. Bribery is common, but is also dangerous. DO NOT OFFER A BRIBE!!!! You may not offer enough, or the officer might think you have more, or he might even be honest. If you are asked for a bribe, act like you have no idea what they're talking about. All Russians (and Ukrainians) think that all westerners, esp. Americans, are rich. Expect to be ripped off. Don't be afraid to haggle in the marketplaces, but not in the stores. Don't talk politics- Putin has turned Russia into a police state. Expect to be asked about Bush and the war, and expect negative opinions. Russians don't like anyone else being on top except themselves, and they never really got over the fact that they arn't a superpower any more. Don't argue about it, its just not worth it.

Unless you are a very large Irishman, don't get into a drinking contest. The average Russian got vodka with his breastmilk, and could drink just about anyone under the table.

However, most of the above goes for most of the non-english speaking world. If you're looking at going over there, do it for the experience. Its a facinating part of the world. I don't regret my trip over there at all. Just take all of the usual precautions that you'd take going to any foreign country. You know, get your shots, DONT DRINK THE WATER (In the Ukraine in 2002, they didn't have bottled still water, only soda water. Keep that in mind), be polite and respectful, don't piss off the locals, don't look down at the locals, don't complain about everything, don't piss off the police/govt officials, always know where the nearest U.S. embassy is, know where all of the other western embassies are, take alot of cash and travelers cheques, etc. Also, LEARN THE ALPHABET and a few words of the language. English is NOT widely spoken in that part of the world. That is changing, but Russian really is the linga franca of eastern europe. I cannot stress enough that you learn the alphabet. It has 36 characters, is mostly phonetic, and is the easiest part of the language to learn. I taught one of the people who went with me in a couple of days. In short, do not be the stereotypical American abroard. If your skin is thin, and don't like what I've said, get over it. American tourists have the reputation of being loud, rude, ignorant and constantly complaining. I know that most are not, but that is the perception. Deal with it. Australians have the reputation of being loud, drunk party animals that congregate in pubs to watch bizar sports. Well, I suppose thats mostly true. My point is, do not conform to the stereotype, and you'll do ok.

Enjoy your trip. It will be a real eye opener. Go with an open mind, and see how another civilisation lives. Russia is not part of the West, and although it looks similar in alot of ways, it is really different. Like I said, I found my trip to the Ukraine facinating, and appreciated Australia alot more when I got home (hell, I was happy to be back in the UK. It was close enough to home for me).
Link Posted: 1/6/2006 4:24:49 AM EDT
Thanks for the info. Yeah, I've heard much of what you said. I've been to really sketchy places (Colombia, Mexico City, Bangkok, etc...) but it never bothered me since the crime happened in pockets. When the cops are your biggest worry, then you got nowhere to run to. Luckily I'll have a business visa and locals showing me around so I hope that will solve most of my problems. I'll have a bunch of camera gear on me though so I'm sure those cops will be all over me though.
Link Posted: 1/6/2006 4:30:19 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/6/2006 4:31:53 AM EDT by POWER03]
I spent two weeks in Smolensk (Puchinic actually) building playground equipment for a Russian orphanage. This was in July of 2000.

I can unequovically say that it was the best two weeks of my life. The people were absolutely wonderful with a couple of exceptions. But the exceptions were teenagers who were just little assholes.

I absolutely loved Russia. We went to a Museum dedicated to Peter the Great and that was phenomenal. The food was very good.

I would go again in a heartbeat.
Link Posted: 1/6/2006 4:34:10 AM EDT
Link Posted: 1/6/2006 4:35:27 AM EDT
been to st petersburg, novgorod and moscow. i would definately go again. the police and mafia leave you alone if you leave them alone. just don't do anything to warrant attention. i didn't see much of novgorod, so i would like to go back there. it's a small, quiet city. st petersburg is beautiful and i would like to spend a week there just to check out everything. moscow is ok, but it's just a huge ass dirty city.
Link Posted: 1/6/2006 4:39:22 AM EDT

Originally Posted By cookhj:
been to st petersburg, novgorod and moscow. i would definately go again. the police and mafia leave you alone if you leave them alone. just don't do anything to warrant attention. i didn't see much of novgorod, so i would like to go back there. it's a small, quiet city. st petersburg is beautiful and i would like to spend a week there just to check out everything. moscow is ok, but it's just a huge ass dirty city.



Let's say I'm taking a photo of a church or whatever, would it make sense to ask a cop if it's OK first? I get the feeling that if I don't he'll come over making up some BS about how i may have broken some law.
Link Posted: 1/6/2006 4:49:20 AM EDT
Never officially/on the books if you know what I mean.
Link Posted: 1/6/2006 4:55:25 AM EDT

Originally Posted By dvr9:
Never officially/on the books if you know what I mean.




Sure.

Just kidding.

Dude, do you change your avatar or your underwear more often?
Link Posted: 1/6/2006 5:03:11 AM EDT
Been to Moscow recently for a week. Very heavy police presence and mucho security in all buildings esp public buildings/shopping centres. Avoid taking pics inside any buildings and do not be seen taking pics of .gov buildings other than Kremlin etc...it'll save you some time explaining what you're up to. Nice city otherwise, but very large, very busy, loads of traffic etc.
Link Posted: 1/6/2006 5:06:29 AM EDT
I went to Vladivostock while in the navy for a "good will" stop, but that was back in 1996(?). I dont know that I ever saw a policeman, but they sure had some attractive women.
Link Posted: 1/6/2006 5:07:41 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Lert:
Unless you are a very large Irishman, don't get into a drinking contest. The average Russian got vodka with his breastmilk, and could drink just about anyone under the table.



Don't close any deals at 10:00am. They celebrate everything with Vodka and if you start at 10:00am you will be in the hospital by bed time...

G
Link Posted: 1/6/2006 5:10:29 AM EDT
Never been to Russia for work, but I would expect to get the shakedown when they see your gear.

Sort of like the mordidas in Latin American countries. Just a part of doing business.
Link Posted: 1/6/2006 5:21:18 AM EDT

Originally Posted By POWER03:

Originally Posted By dvr9:
Never officially/on the books if you know what I mean.




Sure.

Just kidding.

Dude, do you change your avatar or your underwear more often?



Why are you suddenly so interested in my underwear?

I am changing avatars until I find one I like.
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