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OUr first trip to Russia..what do you think?

OUr first trip to Russia..what do you think?

Feb 26th, 2007, 02:06 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 45
OUr first trip to Russia..what do you think?

My husband and I will be going to Russia for the first time from april 5 to april 11. We want to do both Moscow and St petersburg in this short trip because we do not think we will have the time to come again.

So far the plan is-
april 5- reach moscow at 2:40pm and head to the national hotel. Take a stroll and keep it easy.
april 6- during the day do the kremlin, the red square and during the night go to the boloshoi theatre.

april 7- fly to St. petersburg in the morning and head to the grand hotel europe.
april 8,9 and 10- IN these 3 days we want to see the peter and paul fortess, the cabin of Peter the great, the menshikov palace, the hermitage, the palace square. The church of our saviour on spilled blood, the mikhailovsky castle, peterhof and the parks and palaces of pushkin. I know I am doing too much so I would like to narrow it down. I also want to do some antique shopping.
April 11- Leave to Moscow for my connecting flight at 6:25pm.

How will the weather be like early April? Will it be low season? I do not speak Russian so will I face a problem?
browning is offline  
Feb 26th, 2007, 04:14 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Not really a good time to visit, chances are that it will still be cold, but not freezing. What snow that still remains will be slushy and dirty. It will be off season. Check open days for the sights that you want to visit.
Garfield is offline  
Feb 26th, 2007, 04:34 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
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In April you could get real winter with lots of snow or you could get mud season. You will definitely need warm coats (at least at night) and waterproof footwear.

(I was in St Pet once in the first half of September and one day the high was 45 and windy, esp anywhere near the water or the river - many of the locals were in their winter coats.)
nytraveler is offline  
Feb 26th, 2007, 06:14 PM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 303
The Grand Hotel is, as I am sure you are aware, just about the most luxurious place to stay. (We could only afford to go there for drinks!)

The Hermitage is like going to any other great art museum (the met, the louvre, etc.) I spent two days there, but you'd know better what you like. But keep that in mind. When you say the palace square, that is the one outside the Hermitage, yes? So you'll walk right past it.

Peterhoff & the other parks is a day trip, as well.

The Church of the Spilled Blood is something to look at.

Before you do any shopping, make SURE you investigate what you can take out of the country. They are very strict. But, the staff at your hotel will be able to direct you.

I would recommend that you catch a ballet at the Mariinsky. THAT was spectacular.
E_M is offline  
Feb 27th, 2007, 01:28 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 478
Any way you can have an open jaw return (fly into Moscow, fly out of St Petersburg)? To make a 6 PM flight from Moscow you have to plan on leaving your hotel in St. Petersburg no later than 11 or 12.

You are covering much sightseeing during your visit, and I would highly recommend a guide during most, if not all, of your trip in both cities. With a knowledgeable guide your itinerary will be doable; otherwise you are going to find yourself running around and missing out on what you want to see. Besides being an expert and making the sights come alive, there is the considerable efficiency factor of being with someone who knows the area, is bilingual and is qualified to show visitors. The only day I would definitely recommend a driver would be the day you go to Peterhof and Pushkin.

Also, depending on your interests there are some particular sights in both cities I would recommend (if you are interested in art, some of the less well known museums in the West, such as the Tretyakov and the Pushkin; for music, several museums and apartment museums; for history, the Museum of Political History and the Museum of the Revolution and House on the Embankment).

As for antique shopping, be very careful that you can, in fact, take the item out of Russia. We very often deal with the importing and exporting of artwork (both for sale and for exhibition) and it can be confusing or expensive to make mistakes in this area.
Marc_David_Miller is offline  
Feb 27th, 2007, 01:31 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 478
As mentioned above, the weather will be unpredictable (last week in Moscow it was -15 F; tomorrow it will probably rain). If you are not accustomed to walking on ice make certain that you are wearing shoes that will not slip.

Also, despite it not being prime tourist season in either city there are many school groups visiting the museums at all times, so you may have to wait in lines if you are not with a guide.
Marc_David_Miller is offline  
Feb 27th, 2007, 02:22 AM
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 4,778
Orthodox Easter falls on April 8 this year so might be an idea to check on opening times for places to be visited. I prefer to take an overnight train from Moscow to St Petersburg as this gives more time in Moscow. Then fly from St Petersburg - home rather than returning to Moscow.

I thought the Bolshoi was closed for renovation until 2008, so presumably the trip to the Bolshoi is for a performance in the small hall?
Odin is offline  
Feb 27th, 2007, 08:37 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
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I highly recommend you to take an overnight train going from Moscow to St.Pete. It can be Red Arrow (departs at 11.55 pm arrives at 7.55 am) 1st class (2-berth comp, meals, bedsheets, security) is about $85 per person or Afanasij Nikitin (departs 0.43 arrives 9.06 am) 1st class (2-berth comp, meals, bedsheets, security) is about $68 per person or if you like to have something unusual and luxurious take Grand Express (http://www.grandexpress.ru/en/ - check the web-site for pictures and prices)

I think Mariinsky Theater in St.Pete is more spectacular and better for the ballet. At www.mariinsky.ru you can check the repertoire and book tickets on-line.

When you plan St.Pete visit remember that both Hermitage and Grand Palace in Peterhof are closed on Monday.
If you like to see as much as possible (as you mentioned) you better take a private tour with English-speaking guide and driver with car. This gives you an opportunity to avoid the lines or any misunderstanding in the museums, to get more information, to hear intriguing stories and visit the best places.

For the first day you can take Big City tour visiting the peter and paul fortess, the cabin of Peter the great, the menshikov palace, the palace square. The church of our saviour on spilled blood, the mikhailovsky castle and even more – St.Isaak’s Cathedral, Spit of Basil Island, Bronze Horseman…

8th – Hermitage with one of the Gold Rooms (you may check the web-site www.hermitagemuseum.org to check which of them you prefer - #1 is about Russian and European jewelry owned by the Tsars, #2 is about ancient gold.

9th - Pushkin and Pavlovsk - two former royal palaces located near each other. On the way back don’t forget to stop at Podvorye restaurant to have Russian style lunch (www.podvorye.ru)

Peterhof – usually fountains which are the main attraction of Peterhof parks are not operated until May so it’s a question – should you go there (1 hour driving one way) to see only the palace or you better skip it staying in the city going to the Russian Museum or Porcelain factory or any other place you may like. It is up to you, but as a guide I never suggest my tourists to visit Peterhof in April. So, I’d recommend to spend the last day for the Russian museum, shopping, walking, visit Yusupov palace (very impressive).

The weather – windy, wet, rainy, slushy,… so be prepared – waterproof shoes, windproof jackets… if you are lucky you’ll get a bit of sun.

In Moscow try to visit the subway – it is really something!!! You will be impressed!
Zhenya is offline  
Feb 27th, 2007, 07:43 PM
Join Date: Feb 2005
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Don't take a train. You don't have the time. Moscow is wonderful. Loved it. Liked it far mroe than St Pete which does have wonderful museums, but has seen better days. Moscow is alive and prospering. Deinfitely hire a guide for the Hermitage. Hire a guide at the Kremlin and they will get you in to see the jewwls. Otherwise you'll only get to see the main buildings. The crown jewels are amazing. But the only way to get in (which no-one will tell you) is hire one of the english speakign gguides at the ticket area near the kremlin. Guides will also help you skip the long lines at both the Kremlin and at the Hermitage in St Pete. Russia is wonderful.
Paulo59 is offline  
Feb 28th, 2007, 10:05 AM
Join Date: Nov 2005
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You do not have to have a guide to see the Diamond Fund at the Kremlin. Anyone can see them if you purchase the ticket, either at the gate or at the Diamond Fund entrance itself.
Odin is offline  
Feb 28th, 2007, 11:36 AM
Join Date: Feb 2005
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Not true. We tried over and over again to purchase ticket and the ticket office kept closing and not letting any individual buy a ticket for two days in a row. Then we figured out the only people getting in were those accompanied by a guide so we did that and of course it worked. It was not expensive. These thigns happenned often all over Russia.
Paulo59 is offline  
Feb 28th, 2007, 11:55 AM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 223
i'm a native of St.Pete.
regarding Diamond Fund in Kremlin, both are true. They sell a limited number of tickets each day. during April, i really doubt that it would be sold out. Also, if regular tickets are sold out, you can buy ( at the same ticket booth) a ticket with audio guide in english. it's more expensive, but has higher quota of tickets available and the audio guide itself is very good.
for st.pete, i'd skip Peterhof. not worth it without the fountains, especially is you are already going to Pushkin/Pavlovsk. As much as i'm an independent traveler to the last step, in this case i think you need to hire a guide. Without speaking any russian, you will have problem getting around. How are you going to hire a taxi? they don't have meters and you have to negotiate each trip. they will rip you off 10x worse that's anything reasonable. Your hotel is in a prime location - many things are walkable (hermitage, etc). but some will be a bit far to walk, especially with short time (peter&paul fortress, mariinsky). navigating subway is possible without russian, but it's not as extensive as forexample, London or New York. You still have a bit of a walk for many points.
a good com[promise maybe do a day or two on your own - go to hermitage, church of spilt blood (go inside - it's magical!), walk on nevsky, some other museums. and then hire a guide to take you to fortress, etc and then give you a ride (or difrecct you) for mariinsky. i'd definitely recommend marrinsky over bolshoi. check tickets as early as you can - good performances sell out quickly.
you don't need a guide for Hermitage. a good guidebook will be sufficient (and you can buy guides at the bookship there, if you need to).
i hope you enjoy it. be VERY careful about antiques. Actually, i wouldn't recommend it, unless you are experts. lots of fakes, paperwork is a nightmare and most of the good stuff is in Europe/US anyway. chance of you finding a "gem" that is priced much lower than in US in those few days is miniscule unless you ahve connections in the art world.
however, there are a lot of very good things to buy that are hand-made and you can't buy abroad (jewelry, traditional crafts, new artwork - sold on the street). Pushkin or Pavlovsk (don't remember which one) has an EXCELLENT shop in the museum - prices are from 5 years ago (at least) and has very nice selection of jewelry, crafts, russian watches, etc.
let me know if you have any other questions. i'd try to make your flight out of St.Pete. saves you a whole day of travel back to moscow.
lerasp is offline  
Mar 6th, 2007, 08:30 PM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 175
Arriving Moscow April 6th ... staying near Red Square, but not at the National. Meet for a drink, and to compare note?
CiaoLeone is offline  
Mar 29th, 2007, 12:57 AM
Join Date: Jul 2006
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You're probably checking this before you pack, but there hasn't been snow & ice in Moscow in weeks (although there is still ice on Patriarshie Prudy). You'll roast here if you pack a big winter coat. Temps have been about 15C and sunny. Can't speak for St. Pete's, but hear it's nice up there too.
neeps is offline  
Mar 29th, 2007, 07:51 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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From Moscow Times

Shortest and Warmest Winter in 126 Years
By Svetlana Osadchuk
Staff Writer
Like many fashion-conscious women, Rosa Kamenev could not bear the thought of facing a Russian winter without a chic fur coat. So when she moved back from sunny Sydney last fall, she stopped over in Paris and bought herself a stylish black mink coat.

"And what do you suppose happened? I didn't wear that coat even once," said Kamenev, a Russian-born Australian who lived in Sydney for the past 17 years. "Where is my Russian winter? Sure, there were a few freezing cold days, but it was just my luck that they happened while I was away from Moscow."

Freezing cold days were indeed in short supply this winter, which, according to the Federal Meteorological and Environmental Monitoring Service, was the warmest and shortest Russian winter in the last 126 years.

"If I had known what had happened to the weather here, I might have thought twice about coming back," Kamenev said. "At least in Australia there isn't so much mud in winter."

Only 28 centimeters of snow fell this year, as compared with the usual 35 to 40 centimeters, and even that meager amount of snow lay on the ground only 50 days, 80 days fewer than the average, said Anatoly Isayev, head of the Moscow State University meteorological observatory.

Higher-than-average temperatures in December and January made this past winter especially warm, with Moscow experiencing days of up to 9 degrees Celsius in December -- something unheard of for a month when the temperature has been closer to minus 6 C for the past century.

This season's first snow fell one day before the new year, although it usually comes in late October, and while typically the city is covered in snow by around Nov. 20, this year it came two months later, on Jan. 24.

These and other unprecedented climatic aberrations were part of what meteorologists dubbed a "thermal wave": 70 consecutive days of above-freezing temperatures beginning Nov. 13 and lasting until Jan. 24.

"Nothing like this had happened since 1879," Isayev said.

The mild winter had an unsettling effect on many in Moscow and across Russia.

Thirty-five percent of respondents said the warm weather negatively affected their mood and sense of well-being, with 26 percent saying it had a positive effect, according to a nationwide poll conducted by the independent Levada Center in December. Thirty-seven percent said the weather had no effect on them whatsoever, while only one percent said weather in their region was typical for December.

National newspapers have been filled with advice on wintertime depression caused by too much warmth, and a lack of sun and light because of the absence of snow was a common complaint.

Depression and negative mood shifts most frequently occur during overcast weather, said Dr. Alexander Nemtsov, a professor at the psychiatry institute of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences.

"Some people are what you might call 'sunshine-dependent,' and for them, perpetually overcast skies and such gray, snowless winters can cause depression," Nemtsov said.

And not only humans were affected. The bears at Moscow's zoo only managed to nod off in late December after a few sleepless weeks because of the unusually warm weather.

Several Moscow residents said they did not like the relatively snow-free winter and that they preferred freezing temperatures, snow and sunshine.

"This was the first winter when I stayed in the city every weekend," said Gennady Sviridov, a 25-year-old accountant. "I always used to drive out to a village and go cross-country skiing in the surrounding woods."

Olga Makeyeva, a 28-year-old teacher, said she didn't miss skiing and skating, but that her daughter, Katya, 3, did not get her fill of sledding.

"We went sledding only about two times this winter," Makeyeva said. "If it will always be like this, then my daughter is definitely opposed to global warming."

Over the past century, average temperatures have increased by 3.5 degrees Celsius in eastern Siberia, the Amur Region and the Primorsky Region, Boris Revich, co-author of a European Commission-sponsored report on the medical ramifications of global warming in Russia, said at a recent news conference.

Over the next 50 years, temperatures will increase by 3 to 4 C in western Siberia, and by 2 to 3 C in the northern European part of Russia, Revich said.

"Temperatures in Russia are growing faster than in the tropics," Revich said.

Roman Vilfand, head of the Federal Meteorological and Environmental Monitoring Service, said at a news conference Wednesday that temperatures were expected to be normal or slightly higher than normal in the upcoming summer months.

The service's official forecasts for next winter will be issued only in late September, and Vilfand's deputy chief, Dmitry Kiktyov, said there was no reason to expect each winter to be warmer than the previous one.

"Even in the midst of a general warming tendency, there can be variations," Kiktyov said. "That is why nobody in Russia is talking about getting rid of fur coats just yet."

Garfield is offline  
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