Thursday, May 03, 2007

Mother Russia

My trip to Moscow is now just a few days away. It finally dawned on my earlier this week that I should really purchase a travel book so I could make a sightseeing list and learn a bit of tourist Russian.

I'm super excited but am also now a bit concerned. Among the most worrisome facts in my guide book:

- You can't take Rubles out of Russia or exchange them anywhere but inside Russia. When you do buy them, you need crisp bills, without tears and that were minted after 1990.

- You should not walk over manhole covers because they are prone to collapse

- You should consider bringing your own toilet paper because the ladies who run the bathrooms distribute toilet paper and sometimes it isn't enough

- Police officers often supplement their income by charging "fines" to people who jay walk or commit other minor offenses-- $5-$10 is the going bribe rate

Now I know that you have to take advice in travel books with a grain of salt, but even if one of these things are true, I could be in for quite a bit cultural adjustment.


Anonymous des pudels kern said...

from my own experience and what i have heard from others, it is a good thing not to get in trubble with the police, because they can be quite nasty. i wouldn't be too concerned about the tp-bit. i don't recal it as troublesome. although i did not go to moscow. maybe the capital is quite different from kalinigrad where i went to.
a friend of mine also told me that russians don't queue. the last person to enter a room asks who the person in front of him is and then comes after this persons has been served. (i know one should know some russian to do this, but take it as a hint)
have fun in russia. it is a very interessting country.

5:29 AM  
Anonymous Ole Begemann said...

Do you still have your Berlin travel book? Would be interesting to see how much of these kinds of "facts" turned out to be true in hindsight. Grüße aus Treptow!

6:54 AM  
Blogger Erin said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7:16 AM  
Anonymous jp said...

Okay, maybe not a whole ROLL of tp, but a little purse pack of Tempo (still better than Kleenex, in my humble opinion) is always a good idea, as is a pack of disinfectant/baby wipes. Granted I haven't been to Russia, but based on my Czech experience - better safe than, um... well, you know. ;-)

Have a wonderful time - can't wait to see blog updates!

12:44 PM  
Blogger Anuradha said...

Erin, be careful . . . based on my experience in Moscow, these tips are mostly true.

6:52 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

Thanks for the queue tip! I would probably stand around confused before I realized what was going on. Good to know that you didn't have problems with the tp...I certainly wasn't going to bring a whole roll, but might have been very uncomfortable

Hi Ole, you are right, I should see what kinds of crazy things my Berlin books talk about. I find that even Deutsche Welle's website about Germany is a bit off (though some of the stereotypes are spot on!) Interestingly enough, I steared clear of one Moscow book that actually stereotyped Moscovites into 4 or 5 groups including gypsy cab drivers and babushkas. Ach du lieber!

9:59 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

Hi JP, yes i will definitely be packing some tissue packs. Do you really like Tempo better? Kleenex is softer.

AB, I hope to not become the second GW grad arrested in Russia;-)

10:02 PM  
Blogger Anuradha said...

Please please be careful. Carry dollars with you so you can bribe your way out of prison if necessary (I am not joking.) Take care.

12:42 AM  
Blogger Erin said...

I got $50 in small bills yesterday. I'll have some $20s with me too, but I heard small bills are best. Do you think that's enough?

6:53 AM  
Blogger kelly said...

haha. enough to exchange or to bribe your way out of prison?

a tip from a friend who spent quite a bit of time in russia-- always carry a copy of your passport with you, but not the real thing. the reason? if you carry the real thing and are asked to show it (which apparently you sometimes are just because you look foreign), the police sometimes confiscate it and make you pay to get it back! have fun and liebe grüße to everyone from me :-)

8:54 AM  
Blogger Erica said...

Have a great -- and safe -- trip!! Here's hoping for no international incidents!

2:41 PM  
Blogger Anuradha said...

That being said, I was arrested for NOT having my passport and for only carrying a copy of the passport. With the Russian security dudes, the best thing is cash, other than that there are really no rules to how they operate. I am brown though so I stuck out more. Erin, just try to blend in and don't "act" American around the police and you will be fine.

8:07 PM  
Blogger kelly said...

oh my! well then nevermind my friend's advice.

i would just like to say that your absence was clearing noted- did you hear about bush's slip of the tongue in almost saying the queen had last been to the states in 1776? ... oops. i bet if you had been at work you would have headed off that undiplomatic slip of the tongue ;-)

9:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I had read these blog comments a couple of days ago, I would have been standing in front of Erin's jet on the runway, feet firmly planted on the ground with my hands stopping the takeoff! Oh my gosh! Be safe Erin Laurel. Love you,
PS a picture of you infront of St Basil's cathedral for Mother's Day would be nice. A picture of you returning to Clark Street will be even better!!

2:58 PM  

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