Although service has improved dramatically in recent years, the usual warnings about delays and disappearances of incoming and outgoing mail apply to St Petersburg. Airmail letters take two to three weeks to the UK, and three to four weeks to the USA or Australasia.

To send parcels home, head to the elegant main post office (Map p102; @ 312 7460; Pochtamtskaya ul 9; (M) Sennaya PI). Smaller post offices may refuse to send parcels internationally; most importantly, your package is more likely to reach its destination if you send it from the main post office. Bring your item unwrapped: it will be wrapped and sealed with wax for you. You must provide an address in St Petersburg.

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