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Two years ago, my wife and I had an incredible three-day visit to St. Petersburg (July 17-19, 2011) during a Baltic cruise. After much research, we decided to use UlkoTours as our guide and joined a group of 10 Baltic cruisers. We had such a marvelous time that we booked another Baltic cruise this year that had almost no overlap with our earlier trip except for another two days in St. Petersburg (July 7-8). Without hesitation, we decided to use UlkoTours again, this time just for the two of us. I let Elena Ulko know what we wanted to see, and she turned my list into a workable two-day itinerary. Elena also assured us that we could travel again with Margarita, the same great guide we had in 2011. Now, we have had two great tours of St. Petersburg thanks to UlkoTours! Elena Ulko is a delight...
Saint Petersburg, Russia
- Area: Russia is the biggest country in the world, covering an area of more than 17 million square kilometres, of which 13% is developed and 51% is virgin territory. St. Petersburg is in Russia's North-West Federal Region, and is seen as Russia’s window to the West.
- Local Time: Russia has 11 time zones, and St. Petersburg is in the same zone as Moscow: UTC/GMT +3. So, when it's 12:00 in St. Petersburg, it's 04:00 in New York, 09:00 in London, 10:00 in Berlin and 20:00 in Sydney. Population: Russia: 144 million, St. Petersburg: 4.6 million.
- Ethnic groups in Russia: 81.5% Russian, 3.8% Tatar, 3% Ukrainian, 1.2% Chuvash, Bashkir 0.9%, Belarusian 0.8%, Moldavian 0.7%, other 8.1%.
- Borders: With borders stretching from Europe to Asia, Russia has many neighbours. Norway and Finland border the north-west. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and the Ukraine lie to the west. The south borders Georgia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, and to the south-east, lie China, Mongolia and the Korean People's Democratic Republic. In the Far East, Alaska lies across the Bering Strait, and Japan, across the Sea of Japan.
- Lakes: Russia's Lake Baikal, in Siberia, is the world’s deepest lake. Europe's largest lake - Lake Ladoga - is north-west of St. Petersburg.
- Rivers: Russia’s longest river, the river Lena, flows for 4,400km through Siberia. St. Petersburg's river Neva is 74km long, 32km of which flow within the city’s boundaries. Highest point: Mt. Elbrus 5,642m (Caucasus)
- Climate: St.Petersburg is as far north as southern Alaska and temperatures range from -10° F to -50° F, October through April, with December, January and February being the coldest months. Spring is beautiful with the shrubbery and flowers coming into bloom. temperatures range from 50° F to 90° F, May through late summer.
- Weights and Measures: Russians are a specific bunch, and in a restaurant or bar, you’ll always know exactly what you're getting. Russia uses the metric system, and on menus, next to the column of prices, there is usually a column of measurements in grams. Spirits and wine are also sold in grams. A standard shot of vodka is 50g, and a glass of wine is 150 - 200g. Menus often show prices for meat and wine per 50 or 100g, so be sure to check carefully before you order. Beer is sold in big and glasses; a big glass is half a litre and a small glass 250 - 330ml
- Language: The Cyrillic alphabet has 33 letters – you can find them all here. If you learn and can recognise the letters it is much more easy to find your way in St. Petersburg. Park in Russian is simple парк, metro is метро.