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Walking around St. Petersburg


St. Petersburg is the perfect place for walking. The main monuments and tourist sights are in the city center and on the embankments of the city's waterways. They deserve to be looked at in a relaxed fashion rather than by bus or car.

The city is especially beautiful during the White Nights, i.e. from May 23 to July 21. At this time of year darkness falls in St. Petersburg for only a short while, after midnight, and the transparent air is bound to put you into a romantic mood.

The nightly raising of the bridges over the Neva is a sight that attracts large numbers of tourists. Each bridge has its own set time for being raised. Before the bridges go up, don't forget to make sure that you are on the right side of the river to get home when you have finished admiring the scenery; otherwise, you risk having to stand around for several hours until the bridges go down again.

Another option is to charter a boat and see St. Petersburg from the water. Boats can be hired at many quays (e.g. on Palace Embankment, kanal Griboedova, the Fontanka, and the Moyka). It is better perhaps to take a small boat all to yourself rather than to share the company of a noisy crowd on a larger vessel - although this, of course, is a matter of personal taste.

If you find your interest in St. Petersburg remains unsatisfied by the above, try a guided tour from one of the city's many tour services. Or buy a guide-book (available in all the major European languages) and venture out into space and time on your own. You may wander through the city without fear. In St. Petersburg there are always many tourists, and during the White Nights Petersburgers themselves, often in whole families and always in a good mood, come out onto the city's squares. The city center is well watched over by the police.

If you find yourself in a district remote from the centre, try not to walk along dark streets and alleys or through empty' courtyards and pedestrian subways. Instead of walking, hail a taxi.

Remember that people come in all shapes and sizes. When you change money, there is no need to draw attention to the fact. Try not to show your money or count it in front of other people, but keep it in an inside pocket. It is best to leave most of your cash at home and carry on you only as much as you think you will need to cover your today's needs.

If you are attacked and your attacker demands money, hand it over without regret. Your life and health is worth more than a few pieces of paper. You may, of course, try using a personal defence device if you have one, but the effect of this may be double-edged: your attacker may back off only to become more aggressive.

If you are attacked in the stairway of a house, shout "Poxhar!" ("Fire!"). This should produce a quicker reaction from the residents. Should you witness a crime, do not shout or get involved, but inform the police as soon as possible.

When intending to use a public toilet, remember that in most such public places you will have to pay a small charge. This is yet another reason why you should carry small change on you. You are advised not to leave your belongings outside a toilet booth.

At metro stations and railway stations you will often see people playing games for money or offering lottery tickets. Do not under any circumstances agree to join in: you will only lose your money. In fact, it is dangerous even to stop and watch, since these tricksters have very clever ways of drawing bystanders into their game. You will hardly notice as you take the first step, and thereafter you will be pulled in.

The same caution should be exercised with regard to fortune-tellers, palmists, astrologists, and hypnotizers. It is unlikely that you will find out anything worth knowing from these types, but you will certainly be parted from your money.

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