Here are some useful Russian phrases for traveling. Print out this article, or jot them onto a note-card. Let’s start with the airport. The phrase you’ll need there is:
Here’s my passport.
vote moi PASSpurt.
The word “passpurt” looks weird, but it’s the best way to write it. The accent goes on the capital letters, PASS, but rhymes with the “pas” part of “pasta”.
Out of the airport, you’ll want a taxi to your hotel. Luckily, the word taxi is virtually the same in Russian as in English, except the accent is on the second syllable: “takSEE.” There are all sorts of questions the drive might ask you, but they’re all bound to be variations on, “Where to, pal?” Since most travelers stay in hotels. Let’s learn that word:
Hotel = gosteenitsa.
As with the first syllable of “passpurt”, “gos” also rhymes with the vowel sound of “pasta.” Then, sounding out the rest of the word, we have: “TEE – neets – uh” with the stress going on the TEE. So one more time, it’s: “gosteenitsa.” Then follow it with the name of your particular hotel.
Before getting in the cab, it’s good to know how much the driver wants. We can ask this with one word:
How much = skoilko
Let’s sound it out: skOIL – kuh
Imagine a company called RISK OIL COMPANY. Watch as we cut out the middle of that name:
SK OIL CO.
This will help you learn and pronounce the word in Russian accurately.
Of course, if you don’t know much Russian, you probably won’t understand his answer. So I recommend just taking out a notepad and handing it to him. Numbers are written the same way in Russian, so you’ll be able to understand. Though clarify that the number is rubles (or grivna, if you’re in Ukraine) and not dollars.
Rubles? = rublei?
roo (As in, “Kangaroo”) + blei (rhymes with “play”). The emphasis goes on the “blei” part.
Hopefully, the driver will nod and say, “Da, da” which means, “Yes, yes.”
So, toss your suitcase in the trunk and thank him as you get in the cab:
Sounds like this: “spa – SEE – buh”
Once you arrive to the hotel, be sure to tell the driver, “Here, this is for you,” as you hand him the money. (A small tip is usually appreciated, but not mandatory as it seems to be in the US). Tell him:
We saw, “Vote” already, when we were handing our passport to the officer in the airport. The “vam” part means, “for you” and rhymes with “mom”. Of course, he’ll then say, “Thank you.” Do you remember the word?
Grab your bag and head to the hotel.
Welcome to Russia!