HOW TO DRESS
Please keep in mind that Tomsk isn’t just Athens, Tomsk is also the Siberian Athens. The Tomsk Region is situated on the southeast part of the West Siberian plain and located mostly in a taiga zone. The Siberian winter is severe and long, therefore you have to stock very warm clothes, including headgear.
The average January temperature is about 19-21C below zero, but sometimes it can be as cold as 30 or 35C below zero. Tomsk is rather snowy, so you’ll need good and warm waterproof boots, with soles that are suited to snowy or icy sidewalks. By the way, waterproof boots, a raincoat, and an umbrella are necessary for autumn and spring too, when it can also be windy and wet. Siberian summer is relatively short and sometimes rainy; the average July temperature is 17-18C, though sometimes it’s 30C and higher.
Before leaving the house you should always check the weather outside and the forecast. For example, here: http://pogoda.vtomske.ru/, http://pogodavtomske.ru/.
If you didn’t bring warm clothes with you, you can always buy things you need here in Tomsk. There are a lot of shops and markets where you can find suitable clothes.
The main kinds of transport in Tomsk are city public service vehicles (buses, trolleys, and trams) and taxis, which make it possible to reach almost all parts of the city relatively effortlessly. The longest duration of a trip is about an hour. Traffic jams are usually on the main streets (such as Lenina, Elizarovikh, and others) during “rush hours” – from 9 till 10 in the morning and from 5 till 8 in the evening, and on the weekends on the incoming and outgoing streets of the city. In the majority of buses, the stops are not announced, although it is more common now in the central part of the city. There are no announcements in English.
CITY AND COMMUTER BUSES
The popular smaller buses, called marshrutki, have the most extensive routes. Each line is numbered and the main stops are usually listed on the outside of the bus, on the curb side (in Russian, of course).
The fare is 17 rubles. To stop the bus it’s best to raise and hold out your right hand (as you will see others do). Otherwise the bus driver can just pass by, if no one is getting off the bus at this stop. It is necessary to pay your fare during the time just before your stop, but before the bus gets to the stop, so that the driver will know it’s for that stop; if you pay and don’t get off till a later one, the driver or assistant will lose count, and therefore if you pay sooner you should say the stop. When the bus is crowded at rush hours, you may be asked to pass forward the fares of other people, or need to ask others to pass your fare forward. The front door is often the main exit unless someone asks that the back be opened.
Trams and trolleys don’t need to be waved down. The conductor will collect your fare (15 rubles) soon after you enter. Each passenger receives a ticket, which should be saved up to the end of the trip and be shown to the inspector in case of checking. The trolleybuses have extensive routes but fewer stops than the marshrutki. The tramway routes are not as long, but they do cover many of the main streets, where you can see some picturesque sights. On either, you can get off at any stop, or at the end of the line, and go to the “matching” stop nearby on the other side of the street to travel back to your origin. But such a trip is better to make for the first time with a Tomsk inhabitant to find the way back home. A helpful site for determining bus routes is http://www.tomsk.ru09.ru. Although it is in Russian only, with the help of a Russian fellow student or friend you can learn to navigate and find the information you need, including photographic street views of the stops. Some bus stops now have detailed maps posted showing routes and numbers.
The one and only night transport in Tomsk is taxi. The minimum fare for a short ride is 95 rubles, the usual fare is 120 rubles, a ride to the far districts costs about 140 rubles, and to the airport or Seversk the cost is about 300-350 rubles. Extra fare may be charged for large luggage, extra stops during the trip on your request, or other special requests. You can catch a taxi on the street, but the cost will be about twice as high as that of a car ordered by phone. You have to remember that the level of service in such a taxi is usually lower than in ordered ones and it may be more risky. Therefore it is better to order a taxi and wait a bit, than to go into the dark unfamiliar city, looking for adventures. If you don’t speak Russian, you can ask a friend or one of the staff at the store or restaurant to place the order for you, if you have your destination written down in Russian, and they will inform you of the cost and the number of the car.
The most popular taxi-service numbers: 90-00-00 – “Maxim”, 44-55-44, 40-80-40 – “Pilot”. 081, 90-90-90 – “Russian” 20-55-05 – “Student”
You can get acquainted with the full list here: http://alltaxi.tomsk.ru/list/. This is in Russian only.
HOW TO REACH THE NECESSARY PLACE?
You can use Google Maps, Yandex Maps or one of the most popular sites in Tomsk - http://tomsk.2gis.ru/. There you can find a telephone directory, a map, and the names of the bus stops, and plan your way, whether as a pedestrian or not.
We doubt that you could meet a bear on the street, but it goes without saying that you should take care of your safety. Public security is provided by state security forces and the local law enforcement department (the police, in short). Police respond to Russian and foreign citizens’ safety throughout the region and the country.