With 11 time zones, the most western and eastern time zones in Russia are +2 hours GMT and +12 hours GMT respectively. This means residents in the far east of the country start their day while the European side is watching the sun set. Want to know more? Here’s the basics about Russia.
Australian passport holders going to Russia on holiday are required to obtain visas before entering the country. A tourist visa is applicable if you are staying in hotel-type accommodation and a visitor visa is for those staying privately. All travellers are required to register with the Federal Migration Services within 7 days of arriving in Russia. Make sure your passport has at least 6 months’ validity from your planned date of return to Australia. This information is only a guide, so check with your nearest Russian embassy for up-to-date visa requirements.
Russia uses the Russian Rouble as currency. The exchange rate between the Australian Dollar and the Russian Rouble changes constantly. For safe spending while overseas, consider using a credit or debit card.
Russia’s food and eateries vary as much as the landscape from traditional Russian feasts to bland Soviet cuisine, simple peasant dishes to the culinary delights of the emerging super rich. Well-known dishes include borscht (beetroot soup), caviar (from Beluga to whitefish roe), blinis (buckwheat pancakes) and beef stroganoff. For some authentic fare, dishes range from the unusual to the sublime. Try salo (cured pork belly), kholodets (jellied meat) and kvass (a fermented bread drink) for items with an acquired taste, or the more appealing pirozhki (meat pies), pelmeni (mince dumplings), shashlyk (skewered meat), galuptsy (meat-filled cabbage) and vareniki (veg or fruit-filled dumplings).
Moscow is renowned for its hedonistic nightlife with bars, raves and massive dance clubs in areas such as arts district Krasny Oktybar. Moscow venues run the gamut from exclusive rooftop clubs with expensive rides parked outside and table service (Kyrsha Mira) to rock’n’roll beer bar chains (Darling I’ll Call You Later), massive underground techno raves (Arma 17) to live music venues with international artists (16 Tons) and an outlet of the hedonistic Pacha megaclub chain. St Petersburg is another party hub, with an edgy artistic feel with after-hours venues from glamorous VIP clubs to dance halls, summer terraces and the more relaxed Konnushenaya Ploshad bars near the city’s centre. The Russians can be a stylish lot, so follow their lead and dress to impress. Beware of places with hefty entrance fees.