One of the most enduring Soviet traditions is that of'catching a car'. The shadow economy is thriving and numerous people drive the city streets specifically looking to give people paid lifts in their 1970s Zhigulis and Ladas. See the boxed text (above) for more information about the cultural norms associated with this form of transport.

Nearly all official taxis are unmetered, so if you do flag one you'll have to go through a similar process of negotiation to that involved in catching a car, only the driver will want more money for being 'official'.

If you know in advance that you'll need a taxi, it's easiest to order one direct from your hotel. The operator will tell you the price, which will usually be considerably lower than what an official taxi will quote you on the street. Some recommended private taxi companies are listed following (all of these work 24 hours):

Peterburgskoye Taxi (@ 068, 324 7777; www.taxi068 in Russian)

Taxi-4 (@ 633 3333; in Russian) Taxi Blues (@ 321 8888; in Russian) Taxi Million (@ 700 0000)

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