Customs and traditions
What is unusual about Russians?
Customs and traditions
In the arrivals hall of the airport you will be requested to fill in a customs declaration form. Respecting the Russian customs is advisable, because breaking customs regulations may result in divestment of your belongings, plus you might have to pay fines measuring in 100 to 300 percent of their cost. If you have more than $1500 in cash, you should go through the red “to declare” channel and get your customs form stamped by a customs officer (especially if you are intending to leave Russia with a large amount of cash). If not, then you may proceed through the green channel. However, in any case be sure to keep your customs declaration form as you may be asked for it when leaving the country.
You can take along with you any personal belongings which you will be needing during your stay in St.Petersburg, for instance, clothes, objects of personal hygiene, travelling equipment, one videocamera and one photo camera, one tape-recorder etc. Besides personal belongings you may bring to St.Petersburg duty-free: foreign currency (unlimited, but prohibited to take out more than you have brought) diamonds: 0.5 karats, 5 items of jewelry, 5 litres of alcohol (if you are over 21 years old), 1,000 cigarettes (if you are over 16 years old), 3 items or 1 outfit of leather clothing, 2 carpets, 3 hats, one set or 3 crystal dishes, 20 litres of petrol, besides that in tank (if you are arriving in your own car), inexpensive souvenirs in reasonable amounts. On leaving, if you have less than $1500 you may progress through the green \’nothing to declare\’ channel. It is illegal to take more than $1500 out of the country without a special certificate.
You may take the following items out of St-Petersburg duty-free: 5 kg of fish, 280 g of black caviar, 280 g of red caviar, medicines (1 pack of each kind), Russian-made colour metal products: not more than 20 kg, gold or platinum jewelry: 5 items of total weight not more than 30 g, silver jewelry: 120 g, precious stone jewelry: 5 items, 20 litres of petrol, other than that in tank (if you are leaving in your own car). Prohibited to import: arms and ammunitions, narcotics, books, videofilms and other items which can inflict harm on Russia. Forbidden to export: weapons, narcotics, invalidated valuables, any Russian orders or medals, books, videofilms and other items which can inflict harm on any foreign state. If you are buying pictures or sculptures in a gallery, don’t forget to ask for a written permission from the author of the piece, in which it should be mentioned that he or she does not object to you taking this masterpiece outside the country.
Bussines people dress conservatively with good shoes. Men should not take off their jackets without asking. Dress casually for dinner in somebody’s home. In cold weather wear hat or old ladies will lecture you on your foolishness:-).In Russian Orthodox Churches women should wear a skirt and cover their heads with a scarf or a hat.Men should bare their heads.
A main meal in Russia usually consists of soup, a main meat/fish dish, sometimes vegetable salad. One of the most favourite food in Russia is salted herrings covered by beet root with mayonnaise (we name it ‘selyodka pod shuboy’-herring under fair coat 🙂 Russians drink a lot of tea, usually often with no milk but with sugar, sometimes lemon. It is customary to have something sweet with tea, such as biscuits, cake, jam (eaten by the spoonful!) or sweets. Lately you can meet in Russia many people who prefer coffee (especially black coffee) to tea,many coffee addicts.
There are vegetarians in Russia. Not too many, probably though. Being one is not hard: your environment will be tolerant to your choices.
Eating out in Russia can cost a lot of money if you choose to eat in the centre of a city in Western style restaurants. Check out the prices first. There are however many other places to eat although these are best found with someone who knows their way around and the language.
Healthcare in Russia
If you have stomach problems or have caught a cold, you won’t have great difficulties buying medicine to treat them while in Russia. A pack of 10 tablets against stomach ache or cold (provided being Russian made) should not cost you more than 20-40 Roubbles.
If you have more serious problems, it is wise to know somebody, who is Russian and who can take you to a doctor, the one he or she knows, who in one’s turn will assist you for either free of a token of payment. No insurance helps much in Russia, strictly speaking.
Religion in Russia
The Russian society is generally tolerant towards various religions. Buddists, Christians, Muslims, Jews – all of them practice their religions freely and very often live just across the street. When in Russia, one most of the time has the feeling of a wide acceptance of other’s values and should not worry too much if he or she will not be properly understood from the values and perceptions point of view.
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