Are you in Russia for the World Cup? See a few things you need to know about the place, and things you need to enjoy your stay.
Russia is a predominantly white country, and for a lot of Russians (depending on where you are), you will be the first black person they’ll be seeing in real life. So, don’t be surprised if they seem grumpy, cold and unwelcoming. They’re not being racist. It’s just the way they naturally are. Of course, there are exceptions, but the perception is mostly false.
Get a sim card at the Airport (most recommended) or any of the many malls scattered around the city. I got mine – Megafon – at a mall, and it cost me 700 Rubles – about N4000. No, the Sim isn’t actually that expensive (I’m assuming it’s free sef). It is the plan that cost that much. For that amount I got 15Gb of 4G data and 300 mins talk time. I am yet to experience bad network (except in the subway where you can connect to WiFi). Nigerian mobile service operators should take note.
Apps to download
Unless you speak the language fluently, the first app you need to download is the Google Translator app. With it you can type out words in English and show whoever you’re trying to communicate with. You can also use the conversation feature – just speak into the app and have it speak back to you in Russian. The third feature that would come in handy is the image translate feature. You just align texts in Russian, and the app interprets it in real time. The app is a must-have.
In Nigeria, we use Uber, Taxify, and all the others. In Russia, Yandex is the cost-effective equivalent. Download it quickly so normal cabbies do not rip you off. To put it in context, from the Domedevo Airport in Moscow to where I stay cost me 950 rubles on Yandex. If I had gone with the metro, it’d have cost me 500 (Airport Metro to city center) + 55 (Subway from City Center to Zhulebino) + 200 (Cab from Zhulebino to my apartment) = 755 rubles. An airport cab driver said it was 4,000 rubles, then 3,000 rubles ‘last’ when I shook my head and told him I wasn’t going.
For the most part, the underground Metro is the cheapest and best way to move around the city. And it is pretty cheap too. 55 Rubles per entry – meaning you can board as many trains as you like, as far as you do not exit the subway. You can also buy a metro card – there are multi-entry plans based on number of entry, days, weeks, etc. No traffic, just pure speed from one stop to the other. But to use it, you need to be conversant with the various routes. The Yandex Metro app would help you with that. It will help you detect closest stations, current locations, distance to destination, etc. Something like a Google map specifically for the underground lines.
If you don’t have this already, you should download sharply. You may need to walk sometimes, or be sure the cab/bus/train you’re in is going in the right direction. You may also need to know how much time it’ll take you to get to your destination via any means. Google map would do that for you.
Take off shoes
If you get to visit a Russian home, don’t walk into the house with your shoes on. They would usually give you something to wear inside the house, but whether they do or not, they’d rather you do not wear shoes from outside, inside the house.
Russians love flowers. You cannot go wrong with giving them flowers (except it’s a funeral that is). So, when you’re visiting, have a date, anything, take flowers to them and see their face light up. And it’s not just ladies alone. Male, female, transgender, everybody loves flowers.
Using your fan ID and match ticket, you can make trips between host cities via additional trains and access public transit free of charge ON GAME DAYS. But note that the right to free transport is provided on First Come First Served basis. Also, spectators without tickets to the game cannot make use of the right for free transportation via additional train. Only spectators with match tickets and FAN ID will be allowed to board additional free trains.
Registration for free transport stops 24 hours before the departure of the additional train.
It is said that Russians are naturally grumpy (we’ll share why later) and have an air of unapproachability. That is true generally, and while they will mind their business and ignore you – except those curious glances you’ll get from those who rarely see black people – they are most likely going to offer assistance if you ask them. So, whenever you’re lost (which will probably be a lot of times if you’re out without a guide), don’t be afraid to ask any of them for help. I usually look out for ‘uniformed’ people when I need help, but if I don’t see any around, I ask anyone I see.
Whenever you travel out of the country, it is always wise to know where your embassy is, or their contact at least. So, contact details for the Nigerian embassy in Russia:
5 Mamonovsky Pereulok
123001, Moscow, Russian Federation
(5 Мамоновский переулок 123001, Москва, Россия)
Tel.:+7 (495) 690 3785
+7 (495) 690 3783
Fax.:+7(495) 956 2825
Office hours: Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm
In case of an emergency you can call a public ambulance on 103 from any mobile phone, 03 from any landline and 112 for emergency services.