Are you about to visit Russia for the first time and looking for advice how you can get the most of your experience? What can you really expect from your upcoming trip to Russia?
Depending on the country of origin, you can expect various culture shocks from your visit to Russia. There is a significant gap between rich and the regular population which is in my eyes considerably large compared to life in Central European countries. You can see this fact particularly when looking at the living environment of the population or their vehicles (especially if you go somewhere off the beaten path).
2. Public Transport
If you plan to visit Moscow, be prepared to the crowds in their Metro system. The population of the city is growing faster than the infrastructure itself. In the last 25 years, the population in Moscow has doubled, while the underground transportation system remained roughly the same.
If you plan to do some metro station sightseeing, better do it on the weekends. You can hardly enjoy the architecture during the week since you feel like there is a rush hour all day long.
You might also experience “marshrutka”, which are small buses driving mostly outside of the central areas. When using them be prepared to know your destination and have some cash on to pay for the ride directly to the driver. No American Express or any other form of payment by credit/debit cards allowed in “marshrutka”.
From my experience many western minded people tend to say that Russians are cold blooded and that they don’t smile. I can not confirm that, for me Russians are very welcoming and communicative people. Their lives are not the most easiest ones, but I would not say that they are in any means impolite or rude.
It’s actually right the opposite, when using the public transportation you can see how men get up and offer their spot to women, which is not that common in Europe. This shows me that the respect and values in Russia are different compared to some Western countries.
From my experience the more of Russian you speak, the better is the chance that you will have an awesome time in Russia. Although, I have met many educated people who spoke several languages, most of the time I communicated in Russian as good as I could. Their alphabet is also different, and having it written down to check how to pronounce something in urgent situations, is for sure something you might want to use.
You can also download some translation and dictionary apps to your smartphone which will help a lot with communication.
For many travelers budget is usually limited, depending of your country and your lifestyle you might consider Russia a budget travel destination or a very costly one.
From my point of view it’s cheaper than any Western Europe country or USA, which is again depending on your lifestyle. The prices also depend on the ruble exchange rate, which is not very stable. Last year when I spent 4 months in Russia, the costs for foreigners were 20% less than today.
To conclude, don’t be scared to visit Russia, it’s a country often misunderstood by the media and the rest of the world. Their culture, food, traditions, language and architecture is something every traveler should experience at least once in a lifetime.
This post was contributed from Kuba who is sharing his travel experiences so others can benefit from them on his blog Kubasjourneys, you can also read about his adventures from his 4 months long visit of Russia here.
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