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Did you go to Russia on an organized tour or own your own?

Did you go to Russia on an organized tour or own your own?

Old Feb 9th, 2003, 01:50 PM
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Did you go to Russia on an organized tour or own your own?

Thinking about a trip to St. Petersburg and Moscow. I'm not a big fan of organized tours, but I'm a bit nervous about doing it alone.
To you lucky ones that have been there already, can you shed a bit of info?
Did you book it yourself or did you go to a tour organizer?
Is it like the Wild Wild West in Moscow,am I getting bad info?
Jjax18 is offline  
Old Feb 9th, 2003, 04:36 PM
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Jjax - I am also not a big fan of organized tours, but would strongly recommend that your first trip to Russia be on an organized tour - unless you speak Russian or understand the Cyrillic alphabet. At least at the start. Pretty soon you will come to know that "PECTOPAH" is actually pronounced "restaurant" or an extremely close proximity. Then you will have the time of your life! After one week of guided tour in Moscow, we set off independently for St.P. and really enjoyed the freedom. Though we enjoyed Moscow - it may be the "wild" west, but not the "wild, wild" west, we enjoyed St.P the most - it is truely spectacular. Enjoy your trip!
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Old Feb 9th, 2003, 07:29 PM
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I have done a number of visits to Russia both with organized tours and independently. The secret with independent travel is do your homework, plan your trip, do research. Important source for information is the internet, you will find much information on the lonelyplanet website, click on thorntree. You can get by without being able to speak the language but it is very important to be familiar with the alphabet. It is important to be able to understand a subway map as stations are all in Cyrillic. Not many people speak English, try to make up word cards in Cyrillic that you think that you will need, such as I need two bus tickets to: and then list the names. Many tour guides in Moscow and St Petersburg offer walking tours, try to take one so that you can become familiar with the city, also make use of the Russian travel agents if you need to. Moscow and Russia is definitly not the Wild Wild West but independent travel can certainly be an adventure but a wonderful adventure. To OP send me an email and I will send you more information.
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Old Feb 10th, 2003, 01:54 AM
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We went to Moscow & St. Petersburg on our own 2 years ago, and had a great time. We found the people very friendly, and didn't have any difficulties finding our way around.

The Cyrillic alphabet can be a challenge, but if you're not interested in learning it, you could very simply make yourself an index-card "cheat sheet". Armed with that and a Berlitz-type of mini-phrasebook to which you can point if you run into problems sounding things out, you should be fine!

We're Americans living in China and have travelled to several countries with non-Roman-alphabet-languages, and find that as long as you keep your hotel card with you (at all times!!) and a map or phrase book (with the foreign letters/characters in it), you should have no problems navigating.

As Orgy7 pointed out humorously in another post, all it takes is becoming a really loud Pictionary-playing mime!
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Old Feb 10th, 2003, 05:49 AM
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I went on my own this past summer. I hired a guide for for part of my first day to show me how to ride the metro and to show me around a bit in St. Petersburg. I don't know the russian alphabet but knew that the stop I most often wanted was two stops on a certain line. There are people there that speak some english and can help out. I did the hotel booking and visas over the internet and everything worked out fine.
I enjoyed Moscow very much and it is not at all the wild west. When you see the Gucci and Chanel stores you will understand it is very safe and upscale in the area around the Kremlin. You can e-mail me directly at [email protected] for more info or do a search on this board for Russia and the past posts will help you out. There are probably some things I missed out on by not being as comfortable with the metro system and that probably limited me so do try and find a guide or a few day tours but I would not do a fully organized tour.
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