Tag Archives: spb-FAQ

Train tickets. F.A.Q.

In this article you can see some of the most frequently asked questions about train-ticket purchase and answers to them (in order to refresh your memory with the benefits of Russian travel you should read the relevant article).

a.      How do I receive my train tickets?

 There are a number of ways this can happen depending on the type of ticket you have ordered.

  • E-Ticket – These will be emailed from Real Russia to you within two working days of payment. This voucher will then need to be printed, and exchanged at a rail ticket office within Russiafor a paper ticket, before boarding your train. The identification used to book the ticket will need to be presented; this will usually be your passport.
  • E-Registration – This will be emailed from Real Russia to you within two working days of payment. This voucher can then be printed and used to board the train. The identification used to book the ticket will need to be presented; this will usually be your passport.
  • Paper Ticket – There are a number of options with regards to paper tickets.
      • For tickets departing from a station within Russia, you can have your tickets delivered by courier worldwide, or, if you are beginning your journey in Moscow, they can be delivered to a hotel or collected from the Real Russia offices. Courier prices will vary dependent on location.
      • For tickets departing from a station in China or Mongolia, you can collect them from one of Real Russia partner offices, or have them delivered to a hotel within the relevant city. Further details will be made available on booking.

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b.      There is a mistake on my ticket, what do I do?

Contact Real Russia travel experts for advice in this instance (you can do it in the form of response to a letter with your tickets).

As a rule, you will be allowed to board the train with up to three mistakes on your ticket. Missing out a letter in your name, or a mistype of a letter in your name would each count as one mistake. Beyond three mistakes a new ticket would need to be issued.

Issuing a new ticket would involve cancelling the current ticket and purchasing a new ticket at the current price; which may be more expensive than the price paid originally.

For this reason Real Russia specialists recommend checking all the details on any tickets booked immediately upon receipt of them.

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c.       Can I cancel tickets that I have already purchased and get a refund?

Yes, you can.

Contact Real Russia travel experts for advice in this instance (you can do it in the form of response to a letter with your tickets).

Refunds are calculated by the ticket issuer on a sliding scale that differs for domestic, and international, train tickets from country to country. Generally speaking, the amount of refund you will be eligible for will depend on how many days remain before your date of departure. The nearer to your date of departure, the smaller the available refund.

If physical tickets have been issued, such as those issued for an international journey, departing from Russia, then  Real Russia partner company  will need the tickets in their possession to process the cancellation and refund. If the tickets are already in your possession you will need to send the tickets to Real Russia’s Moscow office at your own expense.

If you have international tickets, and are travelling within Russia already, then returning them to Real Russia partner  may be difficult. In this instance you can go to the ticket counter in your closest station and cancel them there. You will be given a cancellation receipt and your unused ticket, but no immediate refund. You will need to send this cancellation receipt, and your unused ticket, to Real Russia’s Moscow office, at your own cost, who will then be able to process the refund. Your cancellation must be made before the departure date and time on the ticket. You will then have up to four months from the date of cancellation in which to claim your refund.

If your booking is an e-ticket, and you have yet to exchange your voucher for a paper ticket at a station within Russia, or your booking is e-registration, Real Russia travel specialists will be able to process your cancellation.  All requests received will be processed on the next working day. During peak times, such as during the summer, processing may not take place until 48 hours after receipt of your request. All refunds will be calculated based on when Real Russia travel specialists are able to process your request.

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d.      Are prices reduced for children?

Children are eligible for reduced ticket prices.

Within Russia, children under 5 can travel for free with one paying adult provided they share one place. If the child requires their own space, or is between the age of 5 and 10, they will need to pay, but at a reduced rate of around 40 % – 50% of the regular ticket price.

Children’s prices to, from, and within other countries may vary, in both price and what ages are considered to be children; though, generally, prices will be around 40% – 50% cheaper than adult tickets.

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e.      When can I book my tickets?

While Russian Railways and other ticket issuers will not allow the booking/issuing of tickets more than a few weeks before the date of departure, Real Russia booking system can take your details at any time in preparation for booking when the ticket issuers allow.

As it stands, these are the rules that the following issuers use when issuing tickets:

  • Russian Railways issue tickets 45 days in advance for domestic travel and 60 days in advance for international travel.
  • Mongolian Railways issue tickets around two weeks in advance for all travel; this can fluctuate depending on demand and public holidays.
  • Chinese Railways issue tickets around 10 – 12 days in advance of travel; this can fluctuate depending on demand and public holidays.

If you would like to start your journey within these dates Real Russia travel specialists will book and, where possible (such as when E-Tickets/E-Registration are selected), issue your tickets within two working days.

If you would like to start your journey on dates further in advance than these rules allow, Real Russia booking system will save your booking enquiry so that on the first day that booking is available your ticket will be booked and, where possible (such as when E-Tickets/E-Registration are selected), issued within two working days. Payment will be required before booking takes place; one of Real Russia travel experts will be in touch to confirm these details in advance of confirming the booking.

Please note:

Owing to the fact that the ticket issuers are based in various time zones around the world, the time at which Real Russia travel specialists are able to book/issue your tickets may vary.

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f.        Is Russian train travel safe?

Millions of people, both Russian locals and tourists, travel safely on Russian trains every year. In many ways they are the safest trains to travel on.

  • Each carriage is looked after 24 hours a day by at least one or two conductors.
  • Each passenger must show their ticket upon entry and present with it an official identification document; for foreign visitors this will usually be a passport.
  • At every stop the train will be checked to ensure there is no damage.

With regards to remaining safe and secure, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office has the following to say:

    • If you are travelling by overnight train in a sleeping compartment, store valuables in the container under the bed or seat. Don’t leave your sleeping compartment unoccupied as some compartments only have a simple lock on the sliding door. On some trains there may be an additional security device, which can be attached to the fitted handle/lock unit. There may also be a steel switch at head-height on the door panel which, when pulled down, prevents the closed door from being slid open.
    • Don’t agree to look after the luggage of a fellow traveller or allow it to be stored in your compartment.

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 g.      What are ‘gender specific’ cabins?

 On the many trains travelling the Russian rail network it is possible to select to travel in a male, or female only cabin. This may be of interest to lone female travellers who may feel awkward, or unsafe, sharing a room, exclusively, with men they do not know.

You can only mark a cabin for single gender use if it is currently empty. If there are any bookings at all this will not be possible. Once a cabin has been selected for single gender use it is not possible to change it back again. Please bear this in mind if you are travelling with, or potentially travelling with, a member of the opposite sex.

Real Russia travel specialists cannot guarantee that single gender cabins will be available. The earlier you book the more likely it is that you will be successful in creating a single gender cabin.

Not all countries that have connections with the Russian rail network operate single gender cabins. So if you travel outside of Russia in a single gender cabin, you may find that the cabin becomes open to all again.

You will find gender specific cabins in the booking system by looking for tickets marked with sign-gender-specific-cabins.

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Useful links

train-easttowestandwesttoeastofRussia

Enjoy your trip, explore real Russia!

Back to “Russia by train” section

St. Petersburg. FAQ-2

There you will find the answers for the second half of questions mentioned on the FAQ page.

  1. Money
  2. Patriotism of citizens
  3. Rules of politeness
  4. Side of the road to pass
  5. Smoking and drinking restrictions
  6. Toilets in the city
  7. Tourist offices and helplines
  8. Wheel-chaired travelers

 

Money

Russian currency is the ruble. Currency exchanges are made in exchange offices of banks. The exchange points are located throughout and work, as a rule, from 10.00 to 20.00 hours. The most popular exchange office is situated in the city center, close to the big shopping mall Gallery – Центр обмена СКВ Лиговский . There are usually long lines, but they move very quickly.   Warning – It is unsafe to  exchange money through strangers in the streets or to count money on the street. Also, do not withdraw money from the ATMs standing on the streets, as that may be unsafe.

Advice – if you are going to exchange your money here in St-Petersburg (dollars or euro, it may be problematic to exchange other currency), do not forget that the banknotes from your currency should be clean.  They should not be torn, should not be glued, should not have any marks on them , otherwise they will  not be exchanged.

Average price: bottle of water in the shop -30 rubles, the ride on the public transport -25-28 rubles, on commercial transport– 36 rubles more.  A business lunch with a set of 2-3 courses costs about 300-350 rubles per person. The  entrance fee for the museums is about 300-400 rubles.

A  visit to St. Petersburg  can be economical. A safe trip will be guaranteed if you read the information here.To the top

Patriotism of citizens

Entering the city (if you go from the airport to the place of your destination), you will see some history which will never be forgotten by the Petersburgers.

In order to understand the historical context for the city  you should know some important information. For Russians,  the war of 1941 – 1945 was the Great Patriotic War. The country was attacked by fascist Germany, but did not concede.  Russia won the liberating war in the country and continued fighting in the general World War until the end. This war was liberating for the citizens, although a huge number of people were  killed in battles and in the rear. As for St-Petersburg, lots of defenders died because of the famine in the blockade city, which was besieged for more than for 900 days. People still remember this feat of the city which earned St Petersburg hero status.

Petersburgers respectfully honor the memory of the past days. You will see monuments devoted to war everywhere in the city, pay attention to them, as they have great meaning to the city’s residents. For instance, at  the entrance to the city there is a monument commemorating the breaking of the blockade.  There  is a special Stella on the main central street of the city – Nevsky Prospect. On the walls of the buildings there are the signs warning of the shelling.To the top

Rules of politeness

In cafes and shops the sellers and the customers greet each other with the phrase «Здравствуйте» (“Hello”) or доброе утро \ день \ вечер (good morning \ day \ evening), the word «спасибо» means “thank you.” (You can check the pronunciation at the russian-speaking section here).

In the restaurants, cafes, bars  (in any places where you get service) a customary tip is 10-15% of the bill, or more if desired. Do not be too shy to thank the waiter for attention. In that way, if you had a great time, your tip is a well-deserved reward for good service.To the top

Side of the road to pass

Due to the rules of the pedestrian moving people should be moving in public places on the right side. If the person is on the escalator, he should stand on the right side and other passengers will pass him by from the left side. The same goes for going up on the escalator.

Advice -some of the traffic lights have a very long waiting time and show a very short time for crossing the road. Don’t panic while crossing the road – you are allowed to finish your walk.To the top

Smoking and drinking restrictions

Smoking restrictions

 Due to the last federal law, smoking is not permitted in public places (outdoors, indoors), including the restaurants, in public transport, at the distance of 15 meters to the entrance of any kind of transport stations (train stations, airports, subway halls). Now cigarettes can be  bought in the shops only; sometimes you need to ask for them.

 The drinking restrictions

 It is not allowed to carry an opened bottle of alcohol outdoors. You may carry that in a  bag, if you want and drink from the bag or pour the liquid into a  glass. The shops sell  alcohol to people older than 18 who can prove their age with an  id. The time for buying the alcohol is restricted: from 11am to 10pm.To the top

Toilets in the city

In the city you can find the commercial public toilets (they can be of 2 types: the small houses and toilet cabins) and the free public toilets (one of them is located in the big yellow shopping mall “Gostiniy dvor” which stands in the middle of Nevskiy Prospect; another one is in a big shopping mall Galeria).

The food courts in all the shopping malls have free toilets.The fast food places such as McDonalds , KFC, Carl’s Junior are also attracting peoples’ attention for that purpose. The toilets are pronounced practically in the same way as in English; they have the following signs: Туалет, WC, ▲▼.

Tourist offices and tourist helpline

You can always use the tourist 24 hour English speaking helpline. The number is the following: +7(812) 300-33-33 or 8(812) 300-33-33.

The main functions of the help service:

  • Providing information about various institutions (consulates, banks, exchange offices);
  • Providing information about possible leisure (such as museums, showrooms, galleries, Internet cafes, restaurants, bars, coffee places, clubs, shops, shopping centers, sanatoria, pools, beauty shops etc);
  • Transport (taxi call, car rent, any information on city transport);
  • The organization of personal services may include escort of a  translator, a call for a personal assistant for shopping, being a personal guide, planning sightseeing tours, personal round-the-clock protection, the order and delivery of a bunch of flowers, a call for a  personal driver.
  • Booking for hotel accommodations, plane tickets, train tickets  etc.,  restaurant reservations,  tickets for theatre, opera, cinema, philharmonic, etc.
  • The help in emergency situations such as a  call for a medical care, a police assistance , consultation in emergency situations, communication with departments: FSB, Federal Border Service, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Emergency Situations, Customs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) (information is taken with www.ispb.info)

In order to get the map of the city or some extra printed information, you can go to one of the tourist offices at the following addresses:

  • площадь Растрелли (8.30-16.00, Mon-Fr);
  • Дворцовая площадь (10.00-19.00, daily);
  • Аэропорт Пулково (10.00-19.00, daily);
  • Кронверская набережная, напротив Петропавловской крепости (10.00-19.00, daily);
  • Исаакиевская площадь (10.00-19.00, daily);
  • Площадь Восстания (10.00-19.00, daily);
  • Пассажирский порт «Морской Фасад» (9.00-18.00, daily from May to September).

Also, you can take the maps in Russian or English in 2 huge shopping malls in the center: Stockmann and Galeria. They have information desks on the 1st level.To the top

Wheel-chaired travelers

From the list of city museums only the Hermitage, the Russian Museum, the Mikhailovsky Castle, Marble Palace, Erarta, Anna Akhmatova Museum in Fountain House have elevators and lifting devices for wheelchairs. Some stations of subways have the special accommodations (the list is there)To the top

I will be glad if you find this information useful for your trip or the trips of your friends. It will be easy to find the information if you share the article. Enjoy your trip!

St. Petersburg. FAQ-1

There you will find the answers for the half of questions mentioned on the FAQ page.

  1. Beggars
  2. Communication in St. Petersburg (phone, mail)
  3. Customs rules in Russia
  4. Drawbridges
  5. Electricity
  6. Health care (pharmacies)
  7. Holidays and days off
  8. Insects in the city

Beggars

In the streets and in the subway you may face the professional beggars telling enthusiastically a dozen different stories per day for sensitive and responsive city visitors. That is also a kind of work which they chose on their own,  if they do begging in public places where it is not allowed (subways, for instance), a realist can understand that such a work pays off. During their days off these actors are well-dressed, have the newest gadgets and do have the dream vacations (it is a well-known fact written in the newspapers, I do know these stories from the real life). Some of these people can bring bad luck (as it seems to me), so try not to talk to them or unswer their questions. Also, be aware of people, who seat near calm sad lying dogs and ask for money to feed those unhappy creatures are the only ones who worsen the lives of their (or may be not their) pets. You do not feed the pets, you feed these people.

If you really want to share the extra money with others – encourage the street artists or buy something from the quite old ladies who are selling the home-grown production (fruits, vegetables, flowers) or the hand-made things. To the top

Communication in St. Petersburg (phone, mail)

1 . Phone

International code of St. Petersburg is +7 or 8; the code of the city is 812.

In order to call from other countries to St. Petersburg, you should dial the following numbers: 00 – 7 – (a city code) – a person’s phone  number (usually, it has from 5 to 7 digits). Example: 00 – 7 – (812) – 1234567

In order to call from Russia to other country: From the city phone: 8 – beep (or if you do not hear the sound you can keep dialing) – 10 – ___ (a telephone code of the country) – (a city code) – a person’s phone number. From the mobile: + __ (a telephone code of the country) – a person’s phone number

How to make a call to another city: Country code – a city Code – a person’s phone number. Example: 8-495 – 1234567.

Mobile telecommunication. The phones of foreign guests catch a network here, however the calls and messages can be very expensive. If  you stay in Petersburg for a long time and you are going to use a  mobile phone for communication, you can get a SIM card of one of the

Petersburg operators: MTS, Megafon, Tele2, Beeline. The card can be bought in the cellar shops (the shops are named by the brands.  Also there are the special cellar shops Связной, Евросеть , where you can refill the amount of money on the SIM card in any of the mentioned shops by the special device or with the cashier).

Advice – I would recommend you to use the Internet apps for communication, for instance, Skype, Google Voice, MagicJack, Viber, Tango, Whats up, Facebook messanger.

If you do not have a computer, you can go to an Internet cafe (you can check the information in the section “Easy Petersburg“). There you can use the headphones for comfortable communication. If you have a laptop or any other portable device, look for  places with Wi-Fi (hotels, the business centers, the cafes and restaurants of the city, some stations of the subway, some parks).

You can buy USB-modem with a pre-paid SIM card of any mobile operator.

 2 . Mail

Post offices are located everywhere in the city. At the central post office (Pochtamtskaya Street, 9. Metro Nevskiy Prospect, subway Адмиралтейская. The schedule is the following: 9.00-19.30, Sundays 10.00-17.30 The phone: +7 (812) 315-80-22) it is possible to send and receive a letter, a parcel. There you can buy envelopes, cards, stamps. As for additional services,  the mail offers phone connection, money transfer services, Internet access, photocopying services, etc.

Postal indexes of Petersburg have an appearance 19XXXX.To the top

Customs rules in Russia

Some of the information is taken from the official website about St. Petersburg.

Crossing the Russian border, you will have to fill in the customs declaration. The customs declaration has to be filled by all who are 16 years or older. Currently, it is permitted to import $3000 without customs declaration.

In Russia, you can import items which are not intended for trading purposes without declaring them. Expensive jewelry or other valuables should be mentioned in the declaration.   The person who carries  the declaration  will need to pass through the red channel for customs clearance. Other  tourists pass through the green channel.

A foreign citizen may bring into Russia no more than $ 10 thousand dollars in cash and may  leave the country with  no larger sum. If you declare this sum you need to provide the Customs with the documents confirming withdrawals from your bank account. The amount which less than $ 1.5 thousand is not declared. If you are travelling with a credit/ debit  card, no one will check the sum on it.

For the export purchased original works of art, not in the list of cultural significance for Russia, it is necessary to have a document  certified by the Ministry of Culture Antiques signed and sealed. Icons export is prohibited. Limited exportation is permitted for medicine – no more than one pack of each denomination; fish and shellfish – not more than 5 kg and black caviar – 280 g per person; no more than five pieces of  gold and platinum with a total weight of up to 130 g or 120 g of silver,etc. When crossing the border by car, you can export only 20 liters of gasoline canister. If you buy the unique expensive items in the shops, always try to ask if there are any export restrictions for them.

 Upon entry to   Russia,  tourists must fill in the migration card (2 copies) which is issued in the airplane, train or ferry. When a foreign citizen crosses the Russian border, he will receive the seals (stamps) in his passport, visa and migration card according to official requirements. The date specified on the stamp, is considered to be the first day of tourist’s stay in the Russian Federation. Migration cards should be kept in a safe place, as well as the passports, during the whole period of stay in Russia.

Customs rules forbid import or export of  weapons, ammunition, drugs. It is forbidden to export antiques and objects of art, except the ones that tourist imported into the country and declared on border. Souvenirs, including products of national trade, do not need to be declared for export from Russia. Nevertheless, saving of receipts, labels and checks can be useful. To the top

Drawbridges

It is a wonderful view when the bridges are up, but can also create big problems for those who was left on the wrong side of the city.  The Central part of the city with Nevskiy Prospect is separated from the Vasilievskiy Island, Petrogradskaya Side.  Transport is available only during the weekends and some of the holidays (you can read the information here).

The bridges are open at a night time only during the period of navigation – from the middle of April to the middle of November (more than for half of the year!).

The schedule of the raising of the drawbridges:

Bridge Drawn (AM)
first second
The bridges over Neva are raised as follows:
Volodarsky Bridge 02:00—03:45 04:15—05:45
Finland Railway Bridge 02:20—05:30
Alexander Nevsky Bridge 02:20—05:10
Piter the Great Bridge (former Bolsheokhtinsky Bridge) 02:00—05:00
Liteyny Bridge 01:40—04:45
Trinity Bridge (former Kirov bridge) 01:35—04:50
The bridges over Bolshaya Nevka are raised as follows:
Sampsonievsky Bridge 02:10—02:45 03:20—04:25
Grenader Bridge 02:45—03:45 03:20—04:50
Kantemirovsky Bridge 02:45—03:45 04:20—04:50
The bridges over Malaya Neva are raised as follows:
Exchange Bridge 02:00—04:55
Tuchkov Bridge 02:00—02:55 03:35—04:55
The bridges over Bolshaya Neva are raised as follows:
Palace Bridge 01:25—02:50 03:10—04:55
Blagoveshchensky Bridge (former Lieutenant Schmidt Bridge) 01:25—02:45 03:10—05:00

There is only one bridge which is not raised – Vantoviy, but it is far away from the city centre so it takes a lot of time to get to the needed destination through it. Additionally, it is too expensive!To the top

Electricity

Electrical network in the city: alternating current, voltage 220V, frequency 50Hz. To the top

Health care (pharmacies)

Official information about health services in the city can be obtained by calling the city administration of Health Committee 571-09-06 or on their website www.zdrav.spb.ru .

The pharmacies in St. Petersburg

The pharmacies in St-Petersburg are open at least from 9am to 9pm and some of the pharmacies work 24 hours. You can find the list of  pharmacies here: http://apteki-peterburg.ru (the information will be in Russian, choose English translation on the top of this page and click than or use Google translation).  Also you can check the information through Google search.To the top

Holidays and days off

The citizens are fond of their city’s celebrations as well as Russian and universal celebrations. They  participate in parades and special events, go to concerts, watch the fireworks.

During all-Russian holidays the days are considered to be days off, so some of the government places (the consulates, some banks, the post, museums) are closed, people are not working, everyone who is outdoors is competing for having a great time. Due to the parades, some streets of the city are not available for transportation, including the main central street – Nevskiy Prospect.

The major holidays in St-Petersburg and their types:

 JANUARY
  • The 1st of January, the New Year — it is considered to be a big family feast! International and All-Russian (the days off are the 1st – the 8th of January )
  • The 7th of January – Christmas – All-Russian (the days off are the 1st – the 8th of January)
  • The 18th of January, the day of breakthrough of the Siege – a historical event for the city and the country –Local
  • The 27th of January- the total finish of the Siege – Local
 FEBRUARY
  • The 14th of February – International
  • The 23rd of February – the day of Defender – International and All-Russian (in 2014 the days off were the 22nd – the 23rd of February)
 MARCH
  • The 8th of March – the Universal and Russian (in 2014 the days off were the 8th – the 10th of May)
 MAY
  • The 1st of May – the Holiday of Spring and Labor — All-Russian (in 2014 the days off were the 1st – the 4th of May)
  • The 9th of May — the Victory Day — International and All-Russian holiday devoted to the end of the Great Patriotic War. It is celebrated by a  military Parade– International and All-Russian (in 2014 the days off were the 9th – the 10th of May)
  • The 27th of May ­ – the Birthday of the city – Local . It is usually celebrated with the parades, fests, fireworks. The celebrations usually last during 3 days, which are close to the weekends.
 JUNE
  • The 12th of June – The day of Russia –All-Russian (in 2014 the days off  were the 12th – the 15th of June)
  • The 3rd Saturday (or Friday) of June –Scarlet Sails (celebration of school graduation for the recent scholars) – Local. There is a concert for the graduates (the entrance is limited by the invitations), there is the firework and the beautiful ship with the scarlet sails is passing the embankments– a symbol of hopes, dreams and amazingly bright future.

 JULY
  • The last Sunday of July is the day of the Russian navy. There is the parade of ships in the city – All-Russian
 NOVEMBER
  • The 4th of November – the day of National Unity – All-Russian (in 2014 the days off  will be the 1st – the 4th of November)

 Advice – in order to avoid the lines in front of museums, you should know that during the days of school vacation you can see a lot of families with children, who want to explore the cultural life of the city. Excluding summer vacations there are 3 more school vacations:

  • in autumn – the last week of October and a half of the next week,
  • in winter – the last week of December,
  • in spring – the last week of March and a half following.

 There are also the international forums in the city (the international economic forum) during which there are some limits for to the  availability of transportation. Vasileostrovsky island and the Central part with Nevsky Prospect can be closed for the public transport (the same comes to the arrival of Father Frost to the city in winter!). Due to the many visitors who attend the forums, forums, the rental unit prices can be doubled or tripled, so it is a good idea to book apartments in advance.To the top

Insects in the city

In late spring, summer and early autumn there are a lot of midges and mosquitoes in the city, which can bite. It it is possible to buy repellant sprays for protection  from mosquitoes. There are repellant devices for electrical sockets in shops and hypermarkets. Be careful while going to the woods during the end of May and the whole June, as there are the ticks there which can be dangerous.To the top

I will be glad if you find this information useful for your trip or the trips of your friends. It will be easy to find the information if you share the article. Enjoy your trip!