Wednesday, August 30, 2006


An addition to my previous story: some pictures of Budapest from the useful country website: and from the Thermal Baths website that I mention in my story below (if you haven't read it yet - it is worth reading!)


Today I would like to continue my series of stories about Eastern European countries and this one is about Hungary. Hungary is very close to my heart because I lived and studied there for 2 years.

When I was a little child I believed that Hungary was a place where my Grandma had her garden because the majority of products that were exported from Hungary to USSR in those days were fruits and vegetables, the canned ones in particular, for instance tomatos in their own juice, plum and cherry compot, pickles, peppers (paprika). This was heaven on Earth especially in winter!

When I went to Hungary to study I had a feeling of going back to my childhood. For one, paprika was everywhere, they add it to everything, for the exception of, may be, ice-cream :-) The climate in Hungary is such that allows to grow all these fruits and vegetables and I actually had an impression that Budapest had about 300 sunny days in a year! This same climate is fantastic for grapes and that is why Hungary is famous for its sweet desert wine - Tokaj. It can actually be so sweet (if it has 6 stars) that it has a honey-like texture and extreme sweetness.

With all this sweetness around, however, Hungary made a different impression on me than Czech Rep. It felt like it was a more sad country, people smiled less as if they were constantly depressed by something... There was no sign of that bubbling evergy and the only place where there were bubbles were the famous Hungarian thermal baths/spas.

This is indeed a unique experience: it is kind of a big water park but there are no slides, only pools, plenty of them, with different water temperatures, outdoors and indoors, just with water or with some salts and herbs added, steam rooms and saunas. Hungarians claim these will treat any of your diseases. That's one thing you MUST experience in Budapest. For more information, please, see the link:

I also would like to say a couple of words with an educatioal institution I was associated with: CEU- Central European University. I think what is unique about it is diversity: it attracts students from all over Central Europe, including all those tiny countries most people have never heard of. This is a great place to learn about the region.

Another thing that is unique about CEU is the Department of Gender Studies. I never heard about anything like this anywhere I went, may be you have? Up to this day I am puzzled about the essence of this program. I was doing my MBA at that time and didn't have an opportunity to go into details about that department but it felt like they were studying differences between men and women and also feminism. For one, the absolute majority of the class were ladies and only 1 or 2 men. Well, this is still an unsloved mystery for me and I invite you to try to "solve" it, if nothing else, it would be a great learning experience:

The last thing I would like to mention about my Hungarian experience is the fireworks. I was lucky to see tremendous fireworks in 1999 in Budapest, which celebrated, if I am not mistaken (and let the Hungarians forgive me) 1000 years of the foundation of Hungarian State. I have never ever in my life seen anything like this before in its length, might and beauty! And I have seen a number of good ones, like Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee fireworks in London, several Independence Day fireworks in USA, 300-th anniversary of the Russian Navy fireworks - all really good but Hungarians made it an excellent unforgetable show! If you are lucky enought to live till the 1500's anniversary of the Hungarian State or even better - 2000's :-)))) make sure you are in Budpest at the end of august - I promise you an experience of a lifetime!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Getting started in International Trade

Today I would like to introduce a very usful link for those who are thinking about getting invloved in INTERNATIONAL TRADE. Please, visit the website:
The article is very useful for beginners. Also check out Incoterms guide on the left-hand column navigation.

One great tip for beginners: do A LOT OF market research. Even if in the end you decide not to developm export-import relationship with that particular country your market research will surve you good - it means it preveted you from loosing a lot of money in the venture that was not worth it.

Always start with a humble attitude "I don't know anything" rather than "I know everything - let's just go and do it!" that I often hear from my clients in Chicago in my day-to-day activities. KNOWLEDGE/INFORMATION IS POWER! This is my favourite proverb.

Monday, August 28, 2006


As promissed here are some photos of Prague borrowed from Prague Information Service: (very useful site and much more photos there!):

Eastern European Stories: Czeck Republic.

Dear Readers!
Today I would like to start a series of stories that will uncover some myths about Eastern Europe that exist. And the greatest myth of all is the following: it is believed in many countries outside Eastern Europe that countries, which are located in that region are very simillar and many people won't be able to tell the difference between, say, Poland and Hungary. I would like to correct that. Each country in the region is unique and proud of its individual character, though many of them share some history.

I plan to write a little story about some of the countries in the region (mainly the ones I visited, so that I speak from my own experience and not someone's words), provide some useful links and pictures and hopefully it will bring people aronud the world closer to understanding of the importance and heritage of each individual nation.

If you have any stories of your own about these countries, please, write a coment! In this way we can truely enrich this site.


I would like to start with this country because for me it represents the sweetest and the most exciting of memeories form my childhood: firstly, the tastiest cake I ever tried in my life is a Russian cake called "Praha" (Prague). Second of all, it's a distant memory of a the most important festivities where champaign has to be poured in Bohemian Crystal glasses (still one of the most famous products produced in Czech Rep.) So for me it was a fairy tale country, which was all about fun and celebration.

I went to Czech Republic in 2000s and somehow that was exactly the way I found this facinating country: very welcoming and cheerful people, great food and BEER (one of the best in the world!) and generally I felt a lot of energy and enthusiasm form my colleagues there and just people in the streets. I think it's not by accident that this nation was the homeland of the world-known writer - Jaroslav Gashek who created the famous hilariously funny novel "The Good Soldier Svejk". (definitely worth reading!!!)

Another thing Czechs are famous for is sports: those who are at least a little bit interested in soccer and ice hockey will understand what I am talking about (those who are not interested in these games but want to do business in Czech Rep. here is a tip: get interested! Especially in ice hockey. Czechs are historycally outstanding in it - great ice breaker! And if you mention their life-long rivalry with Russia in this sport they will love you for taking the time to understand and appreciate at least one thing that is very important ot their hearts). And don't forget Martina Navratilova - this is for tennis lovers.

Of course, no story about Czech Republic will be complete without mentioning Prague. One cannot really talk about this city, one has to see it. It is wonderfully beautiful and I really don't want to spend much time elaborating on this, just see the photos for yourself (I will be placing them in my next post because otherwise they mess up the text)

I great resource about all aspects regarding Czech Republic (political, historical, cultural, tourism, etc.) is: I love their "Did you know...?" section on the right-hand side navigation: even if you think you know it all it will present you with a surprise!

An interesting comment from my blog's visitor

For those who missed my friend's comment regarding my August 26 post, here is an interesting link he left:
It is an educational discussion between a Harvard Business School professor and a Russian student: it is entertaining in its format but also it gives a lot of useful information about Russian economy, growth potential, immigration, etc.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Brunei blog and VISA to Russia

It's fantastic that this blog is starting to get feeds from all of the world! The recent comment from Seemon from Brunei is very valuable. (BTW if you didn't find the address of his blog about Brunei, here it is : )
I knew where Brunei was (geography is one of the important subjects that are taught in Russian schools) but for many it is a mysterios place somewhere on the other side of the world, so there you go - take a glance.

As for the the VISA to Russia question, it was always quite simple for African and Asian nations to get visa to Russia - these were our friends in the time of USSR. Loads of students from these countries studied in the best Universities of Moscow and other major cities. When I travelled to Mauritius (and I will be publishing a story about this facinating land soon) I had to go to a doctor. He spoke perfect Russian because used to study in Moscow Medical University for several years!
There might be less foreign student in Moscow now (a lot of them are going to USA these days) but I guess we are still good friends with Africa and Asia for the most part. So it's worth checking with the Embassy: the visa process might be easier and shorter for countries of these regions.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Doing business in Russia

Just to add to what I said in my "3 Myths" story about Russia: the country is great to visit as a tourist but to do business there is one big headache for a foreigner (unless you know the right people and you have an insider, i.e. Russian helping you). My friend sent me this link the other day:
This is an audio story of an American who opened his business in Moscow - quite educational!

What Russians think about Americans

Hello there!
First of all, I am glad my blog is of interest to people - this is the goal of having it. So, please, spread the word about it! I plan to up-date it on a regular basis with interesting stories, articles, experiences.
Now about the question that Mrs. B. Roth wrote: there are several perceptions Russians have about Americans: first of all, we admire you being very goal-oriented, organized, and great entrepreneurs. However general population in Russia think Americans are not open-hearted. In terms of being not really smart, well, it is believed that as individuals Americans are very interesting people, very often well-educated and intelligent but somehow as a crowd they don't make the same impression.
Please, don't get offended, as I said, these are just general perceptions of an average Russian.

Friday, August 25, 2006

3 myths about Russia

People all around the world usually ask me 3 main questions that are based on their image of Russia and today I want to give answers to them for everyone to know:
1.Russia is cold? Russia is NOT cold, it has 4 different climates from subtropical to tundra. It is cold in the north but hot in the south. In Moscow summer temperature is around + 25 C (77 F) but it can also reach midle 30s C (middle 80s) in July and August.
2. Russians and vodka go together? Russians prefer beer! The results of the consumer research performed in 2002 showed that beer comes first in most answers (accept for men between 36 and 50, but the difference is negligeable). Wine comes as a close 3d and if you put beer and wine preferences together the figure will be nearly twice as big as vodka preferences. For detailed report, please, see the following link:
3. Russia is danagerous? Russia is not dangerous! Moscow and St.Petersburg are not more dangerous than Chicago, London or Paris. The only problem tourists might encounter is when they would like to ask directions: not all people in the street will speak a foreign language.
As for the business it is a different story: you need an insider to expand your busienss into Russia. It is about who you know, not what you know and connections are everything. But here where we can help! visit us at

Rarely seen pictures of Russia

Hello everybody!
As promissed I am publishing some rare pictures of Russia. I will be bring more whenever I travel back home, please, keep coming back!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Wellcome to my Blog!
I would like to start with introducing the country where I come from - RUSSIA.
Good place to learn news about Russia is from "Russia Today":
Travel information can be found at Lonely Planet:
Please, visit later for pictures! I plan to show not the standard Moscow - St. Petersburg photos but something you cannot find in regular travel guides: smaller towns, local beauty