How to make simple tasks soooo difficult!!

Some tasks are just very simple, like for example buying stamps at a post office. Even in Spain or Italy, if you do not manage to speak a word of the local language, you just show up with your postcards, point at the place where the stamp should be and there is a big chance they will understand.

Not in Russia…

We went to the post office to have some (already written) postcards sent and so we entered this big hall, which looks like a post office, but also like a local store selling tooth paste and brushes and other stuff you might desperately be looking for when going into a post office. There were several queues and so we waited at one (we anyway did not understand what was written above the counters) until some kind lady told us that this counter would close soon.
Just for information: in Russia, everybody has his personal working hours which are displayed at each counter. So you can see that they work from 10 AM until 7 PM for example and have 3 breaks of 10 minutes each independent of the general opening hours, which can be completely different. So it happens that you are standing in line and that all of a sudden the counter closes because the lady (or guy, but rather rare actually) goes for a break.

So we lined another queue where the lady told us she did not have any stamps, but that we had to go to the post office downstairs (??? We’re not at the post office here???) where they could sell us some stamps. All fine, we went there, pointing our postcards and smiling at the lady which told us: “U menya nyet markei” which means something like she does not have stamps. The lady next to her also did not sell stamps, so we tried our luck again upstairs at the “post office” (still get it??).

We walked up to a free lady at a counter and “asked for stamps” on which she also said she did not have any. Hello??? Are we at a post office here?? What are you supposed to do??? Suddenly Vera’s russian got quite good (always when she gets angry) and so she managed to tell the lady that if she did not have stamps where the bloo** he** we should get them??? As a response, the lady started shouting at all the other ladies at different counters like: “Olga? Do you have stamps?” A question that was most of the time followed by a “nyet” (no) or some other answer from which we deduced that they did not have any. And finally, oh finally, we found one (1) lady, at the post office (yes!!!) that had some stamps (not only shampoos and toothbrushes)!!!

But then there was still the very difficult task of paying them! Oh yes! Because, we had to pay 57 Rubbles, but the exact amount please! Not 60, not 100, no 57!!! Aaaahh! Of course we did not have it and the lady just kept telling us “Nyet, nyet” when we wanted to give her the 100 Rubbles bill. So after emptying all our pockets, wallets and other places we possible could have money and showing her that they were really empty she would accept our 56,50 Rubbles. My god!!!

Well, so now we just have to see if our efforts paid off and if anybody ever receives a post card (in a few years maybe). ;-)

Vera & Jean-Christophe special Russia reporters from Novosibirsk

Russia Travel Map - Novosibirsk
(Click to enlarge and for more information)


  1. Posted August 16, 2007 at 19:18 | Permalink


    it is a great pleasure to send greetings to you on your big trip.
    The other Jürgen told me about the webside.
    I hope you can enjoy the simply life in Russian, even when it is so difficult to buy some stamps.
    Enjoy your journey and don’t matter about some difficulties …
    … hope to read some more funny stories


  2. Posted August 16, 2007 at 23:24 | Permalink

    Once upon a time there were two very young people, a man and a woman. She came from the Netherlands, a small developing country near Germany. He was born in France, a land were the citizens thought, they must be the ‘crème de la crème’. They were travelling to Russia, a very progressive land. And they asked for stamps……. And they lived happily ever after.

    I analized their problem. It’s not that they are underdeveloped. It’s not that grandmother or uncle Hans is underdeveloped. Vera and Jean-Christophe are just romantic, that’s all. And some ladies in Russia, in stores were you can buy tooth paste and other useful things are not romantic. That’s all.

    Don’t worry be happy!

    By the way: Are there russian girls which cannot sell stamps but searching for a beautiful german guy?

    Ok, ok, it’s boring I will drink a vodka and shut my mouth.

  3. Posted August 17, 2007 at 10:17 | Permalink

    Good to know you’re handling it…
    Grüsse from DA!


  4. Posted August 17, 2007 at 16:52 | Permalink

    groetjes van opa en philomena

  5. Posted August 18, 2007 at 14:19 | Permalink

    Entre l’attentat train Moscou/St Petersbourg juste apres votre passage, le cyclone qui devaste actuellement la Martinique puis Haiti, le tremblement de terre au Perou, je suis la maman la plus heureuse du monde!!!!! Je viens juste de decider de ne plus lire la presse ni allumer radio ou television, pas plus qu’Internet [sauf pour Magical world -:)] jusqu’au 31 juillet 2008. Bacioni kisses, bisous et continuez surtout a vous faire plaisir!

  6. Posted August 18, 2007 at 14:45 | Permalink

    Hey Vera et Jean Christophe!!!

    ça a l’air d’être un peu galérien pour un timbre… A Moscou ça a été plus simple pour nous!!! J’espère que vous allez bien. On s’est rendu compte le jour de notre départ qu’une bombe avait explosé dans un train entre moscou et Saint Pétersbourg. Heureusement que vous n’avez rien.
    Bon courage et profitez en bien, @+

    Quentin et Nico.

  7. Posted August 18, 2007 at 16:17 | Permalink

    Hi Vera,
    been reading your fascinating stories as often as i can. Am very impressed. I just noticed that u have been gone for almost 3 weeks now. Wow, how times fly.

    Russia is quiet an experience. I am very interessted about how your trip goes on. Definatley will check in as often as i can.

    Liebe Grüße aus Good Old Germany,

    Anke (Toobig70 aus dem WW-Forum)

  8. Posted August 18, 2007 at 20:02 | Permalink

    Hey Jean-Christophe…mag toch hopen dat je een foto hebt gemaakt van je woeste geliefde tijdens de aankoop van de postzegels!! Enne…Vera misschien was het toch handig geweest om wat valium mee te nemen,hahahaha!!

    Ik blijf jullie volgen vanuit mijn computerdomein in het nietige Hoensbroek..


  9. Posted August 19, 2007 at 13:20 | Permalink

    Dear Vera and JC,
    Stamps? Postcards? I wondering how it is in China to sell stamps.
    Good luck. In the future we don’t need to sell postcards and stamps because of the modern iCT possibilities. it is a pity because it always nice to receive some postcard in your POB.

    Giel and Paul

  10. Vera
    Posted August 20, 2007 at 13:49 | Permalink

    Please don’t worry about any earthquakes, cyclones and train bombs. As those things are all happening now, that means they will be over once we’ll get there! :-)

  11. Posted August 21, 2007 at 21:12 | Permalink


    I knew Vera can scare russian-dealer-lady too!

    In bocca al lupo (ma non quello della steppa siberiana).

    Un abbraccio

  12. Posted August 21, 2007 at 21:32 | Permalink

    Hallo Vera and JC,

    what a nice story how to buy stamps in Russia, I’m looking forward to the fotos of your face during this action!

    Greetings, Yvonne

  13. Posted August 22, 2007 at 0:27 | Permalink

    Vera, das ist amazing! Das hätte ich nicht überlebt in der Transsib. 3. Klasse! Ich möchte deshalb nicht mit dir tauschen, aber ich bewundere es sehr, was Ihr macht, und es ist eine schöne Website. passt gut auf Euch auf!
    Sabine aus ww-Forum