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Russia & CIS – Travel Tips

Time Zone

Russia:

  • Moscow, St.Petersburg, Sochi, Karelia, Silver Ring, Golden Ring - UTC+03
  • Irkutsk (Baikal) - UTC+8
  • Far East: Vladivostok, Khabarovsk - UTC+10
  • Kamchatka – UTC+12

Kazakhstan:

  • East (Almaty) – UTC+06
  • West & Central (Astana, Baikonur) - UTC+05

Belarus:

  • UTC+03

Georgia:

  • UTC+04

Uzbékistan:

  • UTC+05

Money

  • Russia - Ruble (RUR)
  • Kazakhstan – Tenge (KZT)
  • Belarus – Belorussian ruble (BYR)
  • Georgia - Lari (GEL)
  • Uzbekistan – Sum uzbek (UZS)

Communication

Most people in Russia, Ukraine, Georgia and Uzbekistan speaks Russian. Many people understand at least a little English, rarely French, and they appreciate that you make the effort to say a few words in their language. It can be very useful to learn the Cyrillic alphabet to read street names and signs in Russia.

Souvenirs

  • Russia: carved and painted figurines, nesting dolls  matrioshkas, birch boxes and accessories, Gzhel and Majolica Ceramics, Mstera, Kholuy, Palekh and Fedoskino wooden boxes, tin soldiers, clocks, wooden figures, vodka, caviar
  • Belarus: Pysanky - painted wooden eggs, Ukrainian vodka (Horilka), salted or smoked lard, wine of Crimea
  • Georgia: silver jewellery, Georgian Wine, Georgian vodka Chacha, churchkhella - A Georgian toffee made with caramelized grapes baked with walnuts, spices
  • Uzbekistan: embroidery, fur coat/hats, ceramics/pottery, silk, wine, paper, carpets, knives

Food & Cuisine

  • Russia, Belarus & Ukraine – cuisine is similar to Eastern European. Most of the dishes contain potato or wheat and can be described as hearty peasant food. Typical (traditional) and well-known dishes, which you definitely need to try, are: borsch (beetroot soup), solyanka (soup with different meat and pickled cucumbers), Beef Stroganoff (sautéed pieces of beef served in a sauce with sour cream), Chicken Kiev, pirozhki (small pie with different fillings as potato, meat, cabbage).
  • Kazakhstan - traditionally Kazakh cuisine is mostly based on meat and milk products. Highlights of cuisine: Appetizers of horse or mutton meat follow (kazy, shuzhuk, zhal, zhaya, sur-yet, karta, kabyrga), kumys (fermented mare's milk), shubat (fermented camel's milk) or airan (fermented cow's milk), then to tea with milk or cream, baursaks (fried dough balls), raisins, irimshik (dried cheese balls), kurt (dried cheese and whey).
  • Georgia – the main feature of Georgian cuisine is the presence of all kinds of meats (unlike in Moslem countries) – poultry, beef, mutton, and pork. Highlights: gomi - corn flour bread, meat – mutton, salty cheese (suluguni), shish kebab, satsivi – chiken with sause, vegetable appetizers (pkhali, aubergines), Georgian pizza – khachapuri
  • Uzbekistan – the native Uzbek food as plov, dimlama, buglama, shurpa, mastava and many others are served at tables of many countries of the world. Due to warm climate rich harvests of grain and legumes (green gram, pea) are gathered, and great variety of fruits, vegetables, grape, watermelons, melons, gourds, greens, berries and nuts raise here. All this gastronomical splendor is used in preparation of Uzbek food.