How to get from Moscow to Riga

Dec 11th, 2005, 10:54 AM
  #1  
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How to get from Moscow to Riga

I am planning a trip for late May which will include a tour to St. Petersburg and Moscow and then going on our own to Riga and other Baltic cities. It looks like there is a Eurolines bus (two actually) daily from Moscow to Riga. Has anyone done this? Am I correct that it leaves from the Leningrad train station? Would it be easiest to buy tickets from the internet ahead of time rather than trying to buy them there since we know no Russian? (Will try to learn polite phrases by then.) Any other ideas or suggestions, including possible complications? (Some friends have warned me that this is just too difficult for ordinary travelers. We have traveled thru most of Europe on our own, but friends say Russia is an entirely different story. Comments, please!)
Kristinelaine is offline  
Dec 11th, 2005, 01:44 PM
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Might see you there - I'll be in St. P. in late May. I'll only blow in from Helsinki for a few days (on my own, I can't stand groups and tours), nothing like what you're planning on doing, and I have already started to learn Russian, on the advice of friends who have travelled there and wished they had learned ahead of time.

Start now and you'll be fine - after only three weeks I've got good recall of close to a hundred words and short phrases, and I just about have the alphabet down.

No kidding - how can you read the simplest signs and directions, even if the word turns out to spell similarly to the equivalent in english (like platform or autobus happen to do) when they look so different? Let alone the many more words that are nothing like the equivalents in english - train, plane, station, hour, etc. etc.

For the price of a meal you can get the CDs I'm using, from Penton Overseas Inc., called "Learn In Your Car: Russian" by Henry L. Raymond. Make your commute a language lesson, it seems to work for me.

For backup I got Berlitz "Essential Russian" - it's okay, but I found a few mistakes already...

It's a very complicated language if you want to learn all the right endings, but I'll bet you if you say "Please - what time train Moscow" in the simplest (grammatically incorrect) form of each word, and if you know the numbers in the reply when you hear them spoken, it'll work.

In other words, what my Russia-travelled friends tell me, you'll need a lot more than just a few polite phrases.

Good luck!

WK
WallyKringen is offline  
Dec 11th, 2005, 06:27 PM
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Actually I learned the alphabet once before and unfortunately it went right back out of my head! But I plan on re-learning it before going. However, the people who have told me how difficult it is to be in Russia knew quite alot of Russian, so that still makes me a little bit worried. But thanks for your thoughts and especially for the specific recommendation for tapes. Other thoughts from other people?
Kristinelaine is offline  
Dec 12th, 2005, 12:08 PM
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Hi kristinelaine,

For sure I am no expert on travel in these areas but I have been to Moscow and Riga and some other parts of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus on my own and can share my experience and opinion. Most of my trips have been on short notice, for business purposes, which I then extended for a few days etc. to do some exploring around on my own.

I have gotten to the "know the alphabet and a few polite phrases" level without much study, if you are more motivated than I am (like Wally) so much the better. I would say go for it, you should be able to do what you are planning without too much complication. For instance, I travelled from Moscow to Sumy, Ukraine by overnight train just last week and then onwards to Kiev from Sumy also by train. I prefer travelling by train to bus.

Do you have a guided tour in Moscow and St. Petersburg? I believe that you can purchase Russian rail tickets up to 6 weeks in advance. You can do this through an internet broker and have the tickets delivered to your hotel in Moscow for instance, for a fee. Alternatively, it might be possible to have someone from your tour company or a hotel employee or any acquaintance assist you to purchase a rail or bus ticket while in Moscow. Or you can go to the railway station yourself and get the ticket, but the lines and language problems can be daunting.

There are 2 trains daily Moscow-Riga, both are 15 hour overnight trains. I have been on an overnight Russian train in a 1st class 2 berth sleeper and found it quite nice and comfortable, and very reasonable cost.

I am like you, lot of experience in traveling Europe on my own, I have found the short periods I have spent in Russia, Ukraine, etc, very interesting and rewarding. More difficult, yes, but I do not agree to the extent stated and certainly manageable.

Riga is a beautiful city, I think you will enjoy, be sure to try the local chocolate and if you take alcohol the Black Balsam liqueur, quite unique.
maytraveller is offline  
Dec 12th, 2005, 02:32 PM
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Thank you, maytraveller, for your thoughtful answer. Any others?
Kristinelaine is offline  
Dec 13th, 2005, 03:32 AM
  #6  
 
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Just a quick response before I run to work-

I brought a group of students from Moscow-Riga two years ago via overnight train. It is a long ride (14-15 hours) and one little fun addition is that you will be woken up- twice- to go through "customs" on the train. (Once upon leaving Russia, then again upon official "arrival" in Latvia. About 30-45 minutes apart.)

This can be a bit of a shock for people who don't speak Russian I think. I know that my group was fine, but my friend who did the same trip previously said that if the customs officials did not feel they were being taken seriously, they emptied out everything from your train compartment and searched it. So be awake and alert!!

Will answer any questions, if you have some. I teach Russian and have been many times, as a tourist and a student.

Check out www.spoonfulofrussian.com

for a free Russian podcast- good way to get started!!

katya_NY is offline  
Dec 13th, 2005, 05:17 AM
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I'm researching an August trip to the Baltics and found this site that you might find useful:

http://www.inyourpocket.com
JaneB is offline  

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