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General And Slightly Off Topic Talk Forum for exchanging ideas and talking about general issues without straying too far off topic.

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Old 03-04-2009, 06:27 PM   #241
EricFG
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Re: Russia

Maybe see if ya can hook up with some diggers? A day or two sifting through muck looking for goodies sounds like a blast.
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Old 03-04-2009, 08:37 PM   #242
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Re: Russia

Visit Volgograd and take a look at Vasili Zaitsev´s rifle at Stalingrad War Museum!
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Old 03-04-2009, 10:39 PM   #243
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Re: Russia

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Originally Posted by Esteban_cool View Post
Visit Volgograd and take a look at Vasili Zaitsev´s rifle at Stalingrad War Museum!
ooo, yeah that is a neat sight. if you have time, try to hit some of the smaller villages too. i find it amazing each time, and you can find a lot of neat things there too.
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Old 03-05-2009, 04:28 AM   #244
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Re: Russia

Quote:
Originally Posted by Commissar View Post
Well, I've decided I will go back packing through Russia and eastern Europe in a year or two.
I'll try and get a pal to come along with me, but otherwise its just me on my lonesome trudging through the land!

So.
Any suggestions?
OK,
If You go to St.Petersburg, You should make a reservation in a hotel in advance, as finding acommodation tends to be troublesome.
Also, I don't know if this applies for all, or only for citizens of some countries, but when I was in Russia, they required everybody to fill in a form with information such as: where You are going, why, and at what adress You are to stay in Russia. Than You had to get the hotel stamp on that paper during the check-in, and within three days bring it to the local MVD delegature (altough the hotel staff would take care of that).

Be sure to check the laws of the countries You are to visit - e.g. You can't take soviet awards from Russia, from Ukraine You cannot take anything that is still in use by the Ukrainian army (also be carefull with protective stuff, like gasmasks - A friend of mine had to wait few hours, as the customs officers found radar maintanance crew coveralls in his luggage, and they had to check wether it wasn't radioactive - no surprise as this things look like something taken directly from the zone of Chernobyl), from Poland You can't take anything older than 50 years (in theory).

And a general rule:
Everything is possible in the eastern Europe. Everything.



Quote:
Originally Posted by ECD3 View Post
Suggestions for places to go or ...? I have 2 suggestions for you...trains leave at the exact time it says on the ticket
This may work in Russia. But in the rest of the eastern Europe (I have heard Hungary is an exception, but I don't know for sure) timetable is not somethig train drivers and (to even greater extent) bus drivers pay much attention to.
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Old 03-05-2009, 08:28 AM   #245
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Re: Russia

I am not sure if you are a fluent russian speaker. My first advice is to have such a person travelling with you. One thing I learnt from my travels is that you don't joke with Russia (or other EstEU countries)! Especially if you do not look Russian. Also a Russian person can help you with the burocratic things. Al-muell is right, I also recall I had to get a hotel stamp, luckily I had some contacts there..

Also if you want to bring something out, train is better than plane. And again, especially if you have a person with a Russian passport travelling with you. Fly out of Poland with Ryanair to another EU country, and then to your ruote.

Another place to visit is Kiev. Lots of nice stuff to look at!

Do not go by yourself in any small villages. I have seen nasty stuffs there.. Also I would strongly advice you not to look for any "diggers".

My 2 cents!
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Old 03-05-2009, 09:33 AM   #246
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Re: Russia

That process you are talking about is called "registration", and is common thorughout the not-so-free former republics (basically all but the Baltics). Usually the place where it's done is called OVIR in MVD, but also as noted, hotels will do it for you. My experience has mostly been in Central Asia, but I think it's close to what you'll see throughout. If you stay with friends or other private citizens, you'll need to do that registration yourself, and not doing it can lead to a great excuse for the cops to jack you up on the street for vodka money or spare cash in general, and it can also sometimes lead to serious fines at the airport on departure and (of course) delays. In short, stick with hotels and let them do the work for you.

Outside of the bigger cities, you'll see that prosperity is often skin-deep and Moscow-based. Running and hot water are not always ubiquitious, and drinking that water can lead to runs while you sit. Cops are corrupt in a way that us westerners don't usually understand, and the average dude on the street often sees that cop as as much a threat as petty criminals. In Moscow, you can expect to get stopped one to three times a day as you walk around because they'll tag you as a foreigner in no time. They'll check your docs and size you up for a possible cash transaction (not in your favor) as they tell you about how they can "fix the problems with your docs" that you really don't have. You can very quickly get over your head in the former Soviet Union...
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Old 03-05-2009, 09:33 AM   #247
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Re: Russia

Maybe jokes aren't forbidden, but before You tell one, make sure it won't offend Your interlocutor.
But it's true that some topics should be avoided - and in each country they may vary. It's generally better to not talk about politics and controversial elements of history at all, unless You realy trust somebody.
And if someone starts to moan about their country, it's better if You tell them that it's not that bad, since there's usually a rule: We can say anything we want about our country and government, but if You are from outside - you will offend us if You say the same.

Another thing comes to my mind - be carefull with drinking, as there some nice, but deadly hospitality roules in some countires - the sooner You drink the portion of vodka you got from Your host, the sooner You'll get another one.
If You are not used to "eastern" drinking, try to avoid drinking situations.
I even remember a joke:
USArmy units came to Poland for joint military excersises. An extract from US officer's diary:
Monday - Today we were prepearing the plans. After that, I have been drinking with the Poles.
Tuesday - I am dying...
Wednsday - After the excersises I have been drinking with the Poles again.
Thursday - Oh, God... Why didn't I die on Tuesday?

And an epilogue to that joke - some 7 or 8 years ago my brother went to Ukraine (as a university student at that time). In the evenings they would drink with Ukrainian students. When he came back, he said that this joke should be actualy changed from "I have been drinking with Poles" to "I have been drinking with the Ukrainians"...
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Old 03-05-2009, 09:47 AM   #248
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Re: Russia

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kirchgoens View Post
That process you are talking about is called "registration", and is common thorughout the not-so-free former republics (basically all but the Baltics).
My experience with Ukraine (which IS not-so-free) was that You had to fill in this form, but then You would give half of it to the customs official at the border and the second half you would keep in Your passport on event of police control, but no stamp was neccessary there. But maybe because Poland had separate contract (e.g. no additional visa required) with Ukraine it was different.

As for bribery - In Russia the cops are paid silly money, so they look for every occasion. However, it doesn't apply to all the cops - Road "menti" seek for any opportunity to earn extra $$$, while most of the criminal investigation policemen would not hesitate to arrest you when proposed a bribe. It's less of a problem in Ukraine, and from what I know You shouldn't try to bribe ANYONE in Belarus.
Also, not everyone in uniform who wants (and ussually has a right) to check Your ID is a policeman.
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Old 03-05-2009, 01:41 PM   #249
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Re: Russia

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Originally Posted by Al-muell View Post





This may work in Russia. But in the rest of the eastern Europe (I have heard Hungary is an exception, but I don't know for sure) timetable is not somethig train drivers and (to even greater extent) bus drivers pay much attention to.
My only experiences are with Russia. Also, I may have forgot to mention I am a fluent speaker who looks more Russian than tourist.

As per the bribery, I agree to never bring it up. I have had more friends arrested for asking "can we make this go away" than for the original crime they committed.

And I am not insinuating anything by this (so please don't take offense to this, it is a true fact), but your skin color will make you a target. If you are more Italian or Hispanic, often times you can be mistaken for a Georgian or Chechen and they will give you a hard time. Cooperation is key and most of the time, they will just give you a smug look and tell you to go about your business. Be wary of cops/police that try to tell you your documents are not in order. The corrupt ones, especially in Moscow, will try to rob you blind by threatening to arrest you. The advice I gave to the people I took on a tour through Moscow was to always tell them you want to go to the embassy before the station. Usually, they will just leave you alone or, in the worst case, take you to the embassy where they will prove your documents are correct.

Never insult their country and be able to laugh at yourself (if they make fun of you...because they will if you look like a tourist or sound like it).

No idea on Eastern Euro countries...only met a few Ukrainians so no idea what it's like.

One more thing, the comment about drinking from Al. Be extremely careful. These guys drink gasoline. Now, I am a college student. I can hold my own with beer and drinking and all that jazz. The things they drink that taste "good"...wow. Homemade wine = God only knows what went into it. Vodka is the only safe bet and make sure you know when you're done. Sip the vodka or be prepared to drink into a coma. I destroyed my liver while I was living over there. The worst part is I outdrank the native Russians (I like to say I am a transplanted Russian...since I am 3rd generation American). While I earned their respect and earned the nickname "alcoholic" (that literally was what they referred to me as), I would often black out and wake up in some unknown area. I rolled the dice and got lucky 7's every time. I do not suggest doing the same.

And one thing I noticed...the first few days I was working in Moscow, a co-worker offered me a smoke. Now I had never smoked before...but I decided eh, why not. Well I had that one smoke, but he and I talked for a while and I guess word got around, but soon everyone was inviting me to do things with them. Go play hockey, go out for lunch, go shopping, go clubbing, etc. etc. Moral of the story, in Russia...don't be shy. If you're not interested in the activity, don't be afraid to try something new or to at least hang out and talk to people (obviously use good judgement and common sense...I mean if they guy is shady, then yeah...and I don't mean random people on the street either...funny story there...for another time, another day). I learned a lot about myself and about their culture from just trying new things with people. But then again, I worked there for a while so...I had more time to bond with people.

Yeah...so. Have fun!
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Old 03-05-2009, 01:56 PM   #250
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Re: Russia

And these lasts three posts prove my points. I too went to Russia and Ukraine when I was young thinking that since I was completely able to survive in the big "western" metropolies, I could be fine even there. Now, I realize that if I were alone (I was with several eastern european citizens) I could have run into a multitude of problems...
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