Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
Russia, Finland, and Estonia all have quite different cuisines. But as northern (and there-
fore chilly) destinations, they share many of the same ingredients and flavors: Potatoes,
cabbage, beets, dill, cream, salmon, berries, and vodka are just a few of the staples you'll
find here. I've noted specific culinary tips in each destination's “Eating” section. While
not exorbitant, menu prices can be high; to save money, consider assembling a picnic at a
local market and finding a scenic perch.
Service: Good service is relaxed (slow to an American). When you want the bill, you'll
have to ask for it. A base gratuity is already included in your bill; if you're pleased with the
service, you can round up a euro or more. In most restaurants, 5 percent is adequate and
10 percent is considered a big tip. Tip only at restaurants with waitstaff; skip the tip if you
order food at a counter. Servers prefer to be tipped in cash even if you pay with your credit
St. Petersburg, Helsinki, and Tallinn are all connected by boat; St. Petersburg is also linked
to both cities by bus, and to Helsinki by a speedy rail line. The details are described in the
“Connections” section at the end of each destination chapter.
Helpful Hints
Emergency Help: To summon the police in Russia, call 112; in Finland, call 10022;
in Estonia, call 110. For medical emergencies in all three countries, dial 112. For
passport problems, call the US Embassy or Consulate —in St. Petersburg: tel. 331-2600, ; in Helsinki: tel. 40/140-5957, emergency tel. 09/
616-250, ; in Tallinn: tel. 668-8128, emergency tel. 509-2129, . For other concerns, get advice from your hotelier.
TheftorLoss: To replace a passport, you'll need to go in person to an embassy or con-
sulate (see above). Cancel and replace your credit and debit cards by calling these 24-hour
US numbers collect: Visa—tel. 303/967-1096, MasterCard—tel. 636/722-7111, American
Express—tel. 336/393-1111. File a police report either on the spot or within a day or two;
you'll need it to submit an insurance claim for lost or stolen railpasses or travel gear, and
it can help with replacing your passport or credit and debit cards. Precautionary measures
can minimize the effects of loss—back up your photos and other files frequently. For more
information, see .
Time: Europe uses the 24-hour clock. It's the same through 12:00 noon, then keep go-
ing: 13:00, 14:00, and so on. Finland and Estonia are one hour ahead of most of continental
Europe, and seven/ten hours ahead of the East/West Coasts of the US. St. Petersburg is one
hour ahead of Finland and Estonia; two hours ahead of continental Europe; and eight/elev-
en hours ahead of the East/West Coasts of the US. For a handy online time converter, see .
Holidays and Festivals: The three cities in this topic celebrate many holidays, which
can close sights and attract crowds (book hotel rooms ahead). For information on holidays
and festivals, check the national websites: , ,
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