People are very friendly here, though an average fellow would hardly understand a word in English or any other language exept his native Russian. English is usually taught as a second language in most schools, but in the past the policy was to enable people to read English, but prevent them from speaking fluently, to discourage the communication with the foreigners. Times have changed and now more and more people learn Engish for business, travel or pleasure at numerous crash courses and language schools. Contrary to popular belief, Russia's population is not divided into white and black Russians. In fact, there is no such thing as white or black Russian. There are many eithnic groups in Russia. All people, being Russian citizens are Russian, speaking of nationality, but they can be from different eithnic backgrounds. Ekaterinburg is no exeption. Most people in Ekaterinburg are of Slavic background. Their traditional religion is Orthodox Christianity. Though 70 years of Communist anti-religious propaganda certainly had it's influence and many people position themselves as not religious. People of other ethnic groups in Ekaterinburg include Tatars, Bashkirs, Finno-ugric minorities and so on. There is a small Jewish community in Ekaterinburg. In recent times a tiny Chinese community has started growing, due to economic improvents in Sverdlovsk region and business opportunities it offers.
People's attitude to foreigners is friendly and curious. Some people will virtually stare at you, especially in public transport. Many of them have never seen a foreigner. No surprise, simple people in Russia would never go to a restaurant or a hotel, where they can possibly meet one, as they can't afford it. Another thing is while people in major toursit cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg got used to tourists, in Ekaterinburg they still feel a little surprised to see someone from overseas, as Ekaterinburg was closed for visitors from overseas for over 50 years and was re-opened only in the early 1990's.
Do and do not I hope you will enjoy your stay in Ekaterinburg, but there are some things to remember in order to stay safe. Always carry your passport and visa with you. Police have a right to check the identity of any person and if there is no ID, they have a right to take person to the police office. However it doesn’t happen often. There are some pickpokets in public transport and in crowded places, so always hide your valuables in an inner pocket,or belt bag, say it is no good to carry the vallet in the back pocket of your jeans. Check your wallet from time to time.
Many apartments in Ekaterinburg have secure metal doors, intercom, back-to-base security systems and so on.
Ekaterinburg's serious crime rate is decreasing, but petty crime is not uncommon. Stay alert, do not trust the strangers, but do not get paranoid either, do not spoil your time in Ekaterinburg worrying too much. Russia in general and Ekaterinburg in particular are far safer than many places in South East Asia and Latin America.
Ekaterinburg restaurant industry is booming. New restaurants and cafes are being opened. It is hard to believe that some 10 years ago there were only a handful of places where one could go for a meal. Now there are cafes and restaurants everywhere. Many visitors to Ekaterinburg remember Astoria on Malysheva St, for it’s sturgeon and other treats. It is now closed, it went out of business several years ago. But there’s no need to be sad, there are other excellent restaurants in Ekaterinburg.Troekurov Restaurant, 137 Malysheva St. 378-81-18
A special restaurant of Russian cuisine, which is recommended for it’s good food and excellent service. The free standing house near the corner of Malysheva and Komsomolskaya Street is this probably the best restaurant in Ekaterinburg. Impressive interior, amazing menu and terrific service. Restaurants of such class can still be found in London, Paris and Moscow, but one will have to spend two-three times more there. This restaurant’s theme is Imperial Russia and the legendary way the guests were treated there.
The restaurant is probably the most expensive in Ekaterinburg, but it is a real treat. If you have some spare cash, love the style and can appreciate the Russian cuisine – get there. "Hans" restaurant is conveniently located on Lunacharskogo-Malysheva streets corner in the heart of Ekaterinburg has a distinguished German flavour. The interior recembles German beer-house. It is cozy, informal and open for lunch during the day. Good German beer from the tap and German-style hearty meals.
"Shweik" restaurant is just around the corner from Hans, on Malysheva St. and is a Czech cuisine restaurant. Probably the best spot in town for famous Czech beer and hearty meals.
"Uralskie Pelmeni". Recently re-opened famous Ekaterinburg Restaurant is located on the ground floor of Hotel Iset (corner of Lenina and Malysheva St, across the road from City-Center shopping mall), was popular with the locals in 1960’s. Now, completely refurbished, it offers meals of Russian (for example Pelmeni - Russian dumplings), Georgian (argually the best cuisine in the former USSR area) and Uzbek (very tasty, give it a try). The restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner and it offers Kids menu aswell.
Ekaterinburg has over 200 cafes and restaurants. Below are just a few. Caffe Del Mare, 7G Vostochanaya St . Tel 229-4-229 Italian cuisine, works round the clock.
Old Dublin Pub. 23 Hohryakova St , Ph. 3765163
Podkova (The Horseshoe), 137 Malysheva St , Tel. 378-81-18 Russian cuisine. Near “Plotinka” (The Dam).
Dacha Restauarant , 20/а Lenina St , Tel . 379-35-69
Sushi Planet , 43 Lenina St. Tel. 358-94-32 Name says it all.
Saloon El Paso café , 6 Voevodina St. , Tel. 371-69-17
Melnik (The Millman) café , 23 Mira St , Tel. 374-44-02