Sunday, December 31, 2006


I get a ride from Anastasia (great name or what???) who works at the Hostel, to the airport. Quite an enjoyable ride. The flight - well I will say one thing. The leg space was the smallest I have EVER experienced. Aeroflot is breaking some records on that one. Wow. But, no matter - the ride is short and it is time to transition.

I am getting in the groove now. I arrive at St. Petersburg and manage to 1. Borrow a phone from a local for a call. 2. Call Nord Hostel and determine room availability. 3.Negotiate a cab fare that is one quarter the asking price. Make my way quickly to the Hostel and check into a nice room, very centrally located.
Now I am starting to get this!

I had never heard back from another hostel I had a reservation at so I find another one that seems to be a much better location. I go with that, and it turns out to be a very wise decision. Follow your instincts.

I am speaking a little Russian now and my confidence is building. There are a few critical factors to smooth international travel transition points. Such as: Knowing some key phrases of the local language, like Hello, Hows it going? Please - I would like, How Much, That is Too Expensive, No, Speaking the name of your destination with confidence (you do this by asking someone else how to say it before you talk with the cabbies, is critical. Also, your body language, facial expressions and tone are also equally important. You must be confident, firm, and let those you are dealing with know you know what you are doing. When you are asked is this is your first time here, take a guess what your answer should be... NO! I came a few years ago and am happy to be back! Getting a bench mark for how much a cab ride SHOULD actually be before you begin negotiating is also key. Talk to a local, or do a little research with a hotel or busienss at your destination in advance via internet or phone.

You get these elements dialed, and you can negotiate as if you are a world traveller - now a floundering tourist.

St. Petersburg is beautiful. Much smaller, more European, and WAY more laid back than Moscow. Everything seems easier, safer and the people seem happier in general.

My first night out on the town, I find a random small restaurant called Beer Exchange. This is where the price of beer changes depending on how much of what type is being bought! Genius.

One of the locals speaks english and we have great conversation, drink some vodka (of course) and I have a delicious Russian sausage meal.

I wander around the Nevsky Prospect looking at some of the Cathedrals and statues. I really like the feel of St. Peterburg. The people are nice. They actually will stop and talk to you when you need to ask for directions. Some people are even smiling~ WHOA - culture shock!

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