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    Gardening, dogs, judo.
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    Cruiser Aurora
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  1. Now, that would be interesting - thinking about Italy and San Marino here. San Marino is not an EU member, is located smack in the middle of Italy, and the majority of SM population (which, at about 55% vaccinated, currently boasts one of the highest vaccination rates in Europe) has been vaccinated by Sputnik ...
  2. Ah, I see... So you seem to be positing that Sinovac/sinopharm or cansino have been less than properly researched and documented. May I ask you - purely for educational purposes, of course - which research papers and documentation have you reviewed to arrive at that conclusion?
  3. EU approvals of both CN and RU vaccines will likely follow, but for the time being, that's kind of ironic, as the "Western Standards" seem to be set a fair bit lower than the Chinese or Russian ones when it comes to documentation. To illustrate: all Ru citizens have an account with the Russian e-government site; each account has a unique identifier that is linked to the account holder's ID; vaccination info is uploaded there and available in the form of a QR code. That arrangement seems a bit more secure than a hand-written laminated vax card, if you ask me...
  4. Unless we care to read some literature or even news outlets, that is... Such as the most recent piece of news from Chile on Sinovac/Coronavac protective efficacy (based on 2.5m vaccinations, one of the largest samples worldwide to date), or Gamkovidvac's publication in the Lancet.
  5. That - or maybe they just went for "in Soviet Russia" meme. It does get pretty ridiculous, though - all of my Russian friends who wanted to get vaccinated did it back in January. The vast majority, though (all educated, smart, successful people) claimed they were "on the fence", pending official publication on efficacy in a reputable peer-reviewed journal. Well, publication in Lancet came and went, and they are still on the same fence. The vaccine has been readily available across all age groups for months now. All your have to do is open a stupid app on your phone for a same-day or, at the worst, next-day appointment. These same people do bi-weekly PCR and antibody tests just for the fun of it. Blows my mind.
  6. I wonder what you come up with if you google that... Your "50% efficacy" figure for Sinovac, for instance, is in fact the regulator threshold in Brazil, not the reported efficacy of Sinovac. Sinovac's reported efficacy in Turkey is about 91%, and 78% in Brazil, which doesn't seem too impressive, but then again, Pfizer's efficacy in Brazil was also not quite 94 (something like 87.7, iirc). At any rate, at this point, given the opportunity, I'd be happy to get anything - Sputnik, Sinovac, Moderna, Oxford, whatever...
  7. Go listen to "This American life" with Yelena Khanga, a granddaughter of one of those people, and see how it all worked out: https://www.thisamericanlife.org/694/get-back-to-where-you-once-belonged
  8. Could pose the same question to a bunch of Black engineers and cotton agro-technicians who decided to go from the "free" Alabama to the "communist" USSR back in the late thirties. Or to Snowden.
  9. As small and medium businesses, Russian tour companies qualify for a pretty comprehensive stimulus package (off the top of my head, I can think of tax breaks and deferrals, moratoriums on ad-hoc fiscal and safety audits and creditor-initiated bankruptcies, as well as direct support, but I'm sure there's more to it). In addition, there was a substantial injection of cash to support domestic tourism (afaik, the government compensates 15 to 25 percent of domestic tour costs as instant cash back for consumers, provided that tours are purchased from qualifying providers and via a qualifying payment system). Even with these measures in place, tourism industry has suffered a substantial blow, and there is little doubt the market will see some major reshuffling before things are back to normal. Frankly, I hope this reshuffling will lead to a more transparent and accountable market (remember recurring advice on these boards to pay with crisp US cash? How much of that cash do you think has ever made it into those companies' official books?) That said, in the case of St. Petersburg, I believe the two most important components (world-class attractions and world-class talent and knowledge of individual guides) are still in place. Even if some companies go, there will be no shortage of others willing to take their spot - and no shortage of highly qualified guides to make it all work.
  10. As an aside - it's not exactly the same logic - first, Chesapeake Bay is not a very good example (I think it's one of "historic" bays that are considered the country's internal waters through historic conventions); and second, to qualify for innocent passage, submarines must travel on the surface. But yes, otherwise it would've been OK for a Russian submarine, nuclear or otherwise, to enter Chesapeake Bay under innocent passage clause, and it would still be considered Russian territory 🙂
  11. For what it's worth - I have a bunch of friends in the industry. Yes, most have been hit pretty hard - but they were able to switch to domestic tourist flows (Russia was more or less completely open for domestic tourism between I think June and until recently). Not sure about corporate financials - but I think it's safe to assume they don't look too good, - but for individual entrepreneurs (and most of individual guides are IPs by definition), it has been a trying time financially. That said, looking on the bright side, they were able to switch from the top 5 "must sees" to more interesting places, and some found it refreshing. Another thing to remember - for a good number of guides, it was a seasonal job, they have another profession or two to fall back to. Once it's back to business as usual, they can all come back, even if the landscape of top 10 preferred companies changes.
  12. I'd I'd probably reconsider posting someone's personal data (phone nr) on a public board. I'm sure Romeo will be less than thrilled when he finds out 🙂 As to stolen/different - can't comment on "stolen" part, but it does seem to be quite different from the rest of the current adenovirus-based bunch - for starters, it's a two-shot deal, the first one based on ad-5, followed by a ad-26 booster.
  13. I'd argue the selection of sights offered is primarily demand-driven. That, and time constraints. There's so much more to SPB than the self-perpetuating list of "must-sees", but, given time limitations, only a tiny minority of cruisers would pick something like the museum of the Siege, the Russian Museum, the excellent Navy Museum, or Grand Maket miniature museum over the much more intuitive combo of "Top 2 cathedrals", "Top 2 imperial palaces", and a mandatory gift shop stop. On a separate note - Goodtime Cruising, thanks for the metro videos. And kudos to the OP - at $36, I think your panorama tour was money extremely well spent!
  14. You mean daily ridership of about 2 million, only 5 lines, and about 70 stops?
  15. Speaking of breakthroughs in East-West relations, I think over the past couple of years Bald and Bankrupt has, single-handedly, done more to humanize "the other side" and at least partially undo the damage done by mass media on either side of the infobubble than all cruise line tours, cultural exchanges, and travel forums combined. Here's a couple of my favorites: Searching for Moksha speakers in Mordovia: Drinking with random people in Belarus:
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