St Petersburg, Russia travel tips

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1 Panhandling is a problem in the city. Be aware of this, especially in parks, and keep in mind that if you feel the urge to give money, you will probably be bombarded by panhandlers.
2 When walking or driving, be aware of manhole covers, as they are likely to be poorly-fitting or missing altogether.
3 For a lovely stay, book a room at the Grand Hotel Europe.
4 In the summer months, the bridges over the Neva River are raised every night from 1am to around 5am to allow ships to pass through. If you don't want to get stuck on the wrong side of the river, be sure you cross back over before the bridges are raised.
5 In Russia, the word "festival" doesn't necessarily mean the same thing it does in English. It might be a festival, or it might be a relatively mediocre event with "festival" attached to generate interest. Check ahead to make sure you're actually going to a festival.
6 If you're in St. Petersburg during the summer and want a hotel with air conditioning, try the Herzen House or the Nevsky Inn.
7 A nice, cheaper alternative to the city's major hotels are the many small guesthouses. Among them: the Central Inn, which is next to St. Isaac's Cathedral. It has a small gym and a sauna.
8 If you're unsure of where to stay or what kind of accommodations you want, contact City Realty. An American-owned company, City Realty can help you book whatever kind of accommodation you desire, and can also help with visa support. www.cityrealtyrussia.com
9 If you find yourself in St. Petersburg during the White Nights, book a room in the St. Petersburg, and try to get a room facing the Neva River, where the views will be fabulous. Otherwise, it's a pretty nondescript, slightly worn hotel.
10 For a small hotel in a great location, book a room at Casa Leto. It's next to the Hermitage and has only eight rooms. They're a bit larger than average, and the hotel is brightly decorated and has a friendly, accommodating staff.

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