Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Scammed in Moscow- The Train Station

Scammed in Moscow-

I packed my belongings, took a cab (apparently a different one than Nessa had- zero troubles) and got out at Leningravsky Railway Station. As I approached the line, a Turkish man with a few gold fillings saw his mark, and asked me where I was going. Despite the fact that he spoke about as much English as I did Russian (nil) he managed to communicate with me that he would help get me on the train to St. Petersburg.
“Follow me,” he says, grabbing one of my suit cases and guiding me from the line, outside train station to a different ticket office, where they sold me a train ticket for 4,500 rubles. (about $150-- More expensive than a last second Southwest Airlines ticket in the states)

train station- Moscow
I looked at the ticket trying to see if I could decipher any of their alien alphabet, but being illiterate, I couldn’t make heads or tails out of it, and so I followed my guardian angel back out to the platform where he escorted me to my train. A security guard/policeman saw us, and came over, a glimmer and twinkle in his eye. (When you see happiness in Russia, be suspicious) I actually thought he was going to try to shake me down. He greeted my guardian, I’m positive they knew each other. As they were speaking Russian, I will translate the conversation for you as best I can.

Policeman (P): You again. How are you?
Guardian Angel (GA): Another day, another sucker.
P: American?
GA: I believe so.
P: I hope you socked it to him. Super power my ass.
GA: (proud) See for yourself.
P: Can I see your ticket?
(Rich pulls out his ticket, policeman looks at it, admiringly)
P: And how much did you charge him?
GA: 4,500 rubles!!
(Policeman smiles admiringly)
P: You’re the king man. The absolute king.
(Guardian Angel grins from ear to ear)
GA: Well it helps that the guy is an idiot.

So now, Guardian Angel is kind enough to escort me to my train. He explains to me through gestures that I am to board at 4 PM, and that he hopes Russian Mob doesn’t find me beforehand, but if they do, it’s not his problem. But, you know, at least I found my train, I tip him 50 rubles causing him to look at me in disbelief.

GA: Is this for me?
(Rich nods, GA becomes very amused as he takes the bill.)
GA: King idiot.
(Guardian Angel walks away shaking his head)

The funny thing is I was like 90% certain that I was being taken advantage of, and I kind of was like, well, if that’s the price of getting on the right train, so be it. When I got to St. Petersburg and told the story my guide, he looked over the hieroglyphics on my ticket and told me the real price was 2800 rubles.
So Rich got scammed out of $80. I sure wish I could get back that tip.

Up next- St. Petersburg

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