1. The Irish Embassy stands on Grokhlski Pereulok 5, Moscow.
2. The Trade Representation is always keen to help business visitors coming to Moscow. We can be contacted on the number shown above and will be pleased to offer advice and assistance. We can also provide a programme arranging service and help you to find an interpreter.
3. Business cards are always exchanged in meetings and it is worth having some cards printed in Russian. You should bring product details and price lists translated into Russian and simple gifts bearing a company's logo may be well received.
4. Money. A regulation issued on 2 March 2000 now allows non-residents to export amounts up to $1500 from Russia without any documents confirming that the currency was previously imported. Care should be taken to declare higher amounts of foreign currency and other valuables on a Customs Declarations Form when entering the country.
5. All cash purchases must be made in roubles although prices in shops and restaurants are frequently quoted in y.e. This is an approximate dollar equivalent and the exchange rate to be applied should always be prominently displayed.
6. Roubles can be bought at the airport or any official bank or kiosk operating as an exchange office. Most large hotels have exchange facilities. US Dollars and Deutschmarks are the most commonly accepted currencies for exchange and a few places will also change travellers' cheques. Credit cards are less widely accepted than in Europe. It may be possible to withdraw money from cash machines but these are not always reliable and there have been reports of fraud by people who have used them. Changing money on the black market is illegal.
7. Hotels. Moscow offers a wide choice of hotels in different price categories. The main international hotels include the Baltschug Kempinski, the Marriott Grand Hotel, the Metropol and the National. These are all located in the centre and all offer business facilities such as fax and photocopying, a desk and telephone in each room, message-taking services and meeting rooms.
8. In the middle price bracket, the Aerostar and Novotel are convenient for Sheremet'evo airport. The Rossiya, Ukraine and Belgrade are more central.
9. Transport. Moscow has a cheap and efficient metro system. You can buy tickets for an allocated number of journeys inside any metro station. Although the station signs are in Cyrillic, the signs above windows are usually transliterated into Roman letters.
10. You can also travel cheaply all over the city by bus trolleybus and tram. However these forms of transport can get very crowded and prove difficult for non-Russian speakers. Tickets are bought from the driver and must be validated by using a punch near the door. Inspectors often come along and if you travel without a ticket you will be fined.
11. Yellow taxis are usually easy to find in the city centre. Single travellers should use discretion; it is inadvisable to get into a car with two or more people already inside. Seat belts rarely work and many Russians will regard any attempt to use one as an affront to their driving ability. You should, however, be aware that accidents are common and the standard of driving is low in comparison with the West. Two taxi companies which have English-speaking operators are Laska Tel: 384 5262 and Lingua Tel: 290 6324.
12. Driving in Moscow is not for the faint hearted and it can be difficult to find your destination as many signs are written only in Cyrillic script. You may like to arrange a driver for the duration of your visit and this can be done relatively cheaply.
13. Visitors who decide to hire a car need an international insurance and must show an international driving licence and their passport when collecting it.
14. The local telephone system is improving and international calls can be made from public telephones in airports, business centres, many hotel foyers and some restaurants. These telephones accept credit cards or phonecards but calls are expensive. It is possible to call abroad on a direct line from one of the Moscow State Telephone Network blue and white cardphones found on the street and in some metro stations. Cards for the phones are available from kiosks, metro stations and post offices in various units. Phone abroad, you need a card of at least 100 units.
15. International fax and telex facilities are available at the Comstar Business Centre in the Petrovski Passage department store (10 Petrovka Street, third floor, Room 301, Tel: 924 0892 or 924 1385) or the American Business Centre in the Radisson Slavyanskaya Hotel (Tel: 941 8427, Fax: 240 6915).
16. The Russian domestic postal service is slow but becoming more reliable. International mail to and from the Republic of Ireland may take two to three weeks. If a parcel has to be sent by post, an established mail or express courier service should be used:
17. Newspapers. It is possible to buy English newspapers, usually a day old, from kiosks in the main hotels and from some kiosks on Tverskaya. Moscow has two main English language newspapers, The Moscow Times and The Moscow Tribune, covering domestic and foreign news, local events, sport and the arts. Both are free and can be picked up in most hotels and many shops, bars and restaurants. Both papers have extensive listings of exhibitions and events in the Friday editions. The Russian- language Kapital is published every Wednesday and also has listings of events.
18. Emergency situations. For immediate help call:
Fire - 01
Police - 03
19. Weather Hints. September in Moscow is when the cold starts to set in with snow and temperatures below zero beginning and continuing until March or April. Average January temperatures are around -15c but can drop to -30c. A hat, waterproof boots with a good grip and a warm coat are essential. When the thaw begins in late March or April waterproofs are essential, especially footwear. Summers are hot (temperatures averaging around 24c) with the occasional thunderstorm.
20. Leisure Activities. Guidebooks containing street plans and information on the wealth of places of interest to visit in Moscow can now be bought from any good book shop in the Republic of Ireland. The city today boasts a selection of restaurants catering for all tastes and details can be obtained from English language magazines and newspapers which are available free of charge in hotels and restaurants.
21. Before your visit it is well worth spending a little time familiarising yourself with the Cyrillic alphabet, which will help you to get the most out of your stay.
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