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shelleyk Jan 14th, 2015 04:27 AM

Peterhof and St. Catherines Palaces-DIY or tour?
I am going to Moscow and St. Petersburg in Sept.. I could pay for a private tour to Peterhof and St. Catherine's Palace, but I would prefer to go on my own if it is not too difficult or time consuming. .

How difficult is it to get to Peterhof and St. Catherine's Palace, and how much time would it take by public transportation? From my reading, I am assuming Peterhof is easier to get to than St. Catherines Palace.

Debs Jan 14th, 2015 06:54 AM

It would help tremendously if you have a basic understanding of the Russian language. Assuming English is your 1st language, there wasn't much (if any) signage in English, although it's been a few years since we visited on a group tour.

shelleyk Jan 14th, 2015 07:18 AM

I have no understanding of the Russian language. I have traveled independently for 3 weeks in Japan
without any understanding of the language, but in Japan there was English signage in the train stations.

nytraveler Jan 14th, 2015 10:49 AM

In Russia English signage is farily rare - an also uneven - may appear in one place and not in several others. In any case I think that a quality guided tour would provide a grat deal of perspective on what you are looking at.

Caveat: We are independent travelers and have been to Russia on our own - and saw many sights in St Pet and Moscow that way. But to get to and from these palaces efficiently - and also to get some detailed info on what you are looking at - I would do a tour (but make sure it isn;t least common denominator).

Odin Jan 14th, 2015 01:28 PM

If you managed in Japan, you can manage in Russia. People go to countries where they don't speak the language all the time and seem to survive. There is more English signage in St Petersburg than Moscow, but even Moscow has improved. It is most definitely not rare but then some posters have not been to Russia for years and don't understand how much the country changes from year to year.

As with most sights in Russia, if you change your mind about not having a guide, there are usually ones waiting around the entrance that you can take.

Percy Jan 14th, 2015 03:10 PM

How long will you be in both places.?

Do you have a list of places you want to see.?

Have you done your homework well, so that when you are at Catherine's Palace on your own , you will know what you are looking at and some of the history.?

You will know when you are in the Hall of Mirrors and the Amber Room (do you know about this room)
but what about the other places.

The Blue Drawing Room
The Chinese Blue Room
The Green DinningRoom

If you walk about the grounds these are some of the places you will see:

Agate Pavilion
Upper and Lower Baths
Cameron Gallery and Lions Garden
Caprice Grand Bridge
Chesma Column
Morea Colum
Marble Bridge

Hermitage Building
Concert Hall
Bronze Statue of Girl sitting on a rock called
" Girl with a Pitcher"

There is lots to see outside of the Palace but to know what these other places were used for and what the Columns were erected for.

If you want to go on your own...then okay, maybe you are not interested in knowing what I wanted to know.

I had a private tour guide for many places in Russia, as I wanted to maximize my time getting from point A to point B

shelleyk Jan 14th, 2015 03:46 PM

I will be on a guided tour for most of my time in Russia- 2 full days in Moscow and 3 full days in St. Petersburg. I am staying an additional 2 full days in St. Petersburg after the tour ends. I want to see Peterhof and Catherine's Palace and I can do that 3 different ways:

1-with the tour group as optional tours for which I would pay extra beyond the cost of the tour. If I choose this it would mean leaving the Hermitage after only 3 hours, instead of spending the whole day there.

2-on a private tour of these 2 places which obviously would cost more than the group optional tours, but I could schedule this on my 2 extra days in St. Petersburg

3-On my own with a guide book, as I have done in many countries I have visited, the last 2 being Japan and Myanmar.

I always spend a lot of time researching the places I want to see in any country I visit, and I feel capable of doing that for Russia. What I am concerned about is the logistics of getting to Peterhof and Catherine's Palace.

Percy Jan 14th, 2015 05:49 PM

Well shelleyk there is no reason why you cannot do Catherine's Palace and Peterhof on your own.

You seem to know very well what you are doing and how to get around and you do your homework also.

It is about 22 miles from Catherine's Palace to Peterhof.

I had a private guide take me to Peterhof and Catherine Palace.

If you want a good tour guide in st. Petersburg you can contact Alla Tours.

Have a good time

Odin Jan 16th, 2015 04:50 AM

The links I provided shows how to get to each place by public transport but not how to get between the two. You can also get a car and driver to take you to each and wait for you in each place. They are not always as expensive as it might seem, unless you book through the hotel or via a travel agency, in which case it will be expensive. Contacting a taxi company direct would seem a good place to start with that.
There is English signage at mainline train stations and airports.

Smeagol Jan 16th, 2015 07:59 AM

I had THE best guy when were were in SP in August.... Bob off the Asia board gave me his details... Great value, lovely clean car and such fun. He can arrange everything , note he is not a guide but will arrange to take you from place to place, arrange tickets, get in the front of the sometimes looooong. Queues. He also suggests itineraries... Honestly we would have been lost without him.... Let me know if you want his details....

Percy Jan 16th, 2015 08:52 AM

Sounds like a good guy Smeagol .

Smeagol Jan 16th, 2015 08:57 AM

Percy, he was brilliant, absolutely made our trip to St Petersburg. :)

shelleyk Jan 16th, 2015 09:33 AM

Smeagol-Sounds exactly like what I am looking for. I need the logistics taken care of, rather than a tour guide. Could you post his contact information? Is the Bob you are referring to, the Bob who organizes the Boston GTGs?

Thank you all for your responses to my question. I really appreciate it. Fodorites' input has always been such a help in planning my trips..

Smeagol Jan 16th, 2015 10:11 AM

Yes THAT Bob....,let me dig the email out.. Actually if you click on my screen name and see my post ref St Petersburg, Alex's details are on there.... I'll top it for you too?
Honestly Shelley this guy is a gem and fabulous value!

Smeagol Jan 16th, 2015 10:12 AM

Sorry just realised it's not on that post, Bob sent it to me privately . I'll dig it out.

Smeagol Jan 16th, 2015 10:19 AM

[email protected]

Tell him Nicky and the gang from the UK who he took to eat Perogi in August say hi!

Smeagol Jan 16th, 2015 10:20 AM

Sorry misspelled arghhhhh
[email protected]

shelleyk Jan 16th, 2015 10:52 AM

Thank you. Isn't it wonderful how Bob finds great contacts around the world.

Smeagol Jan 16th, 2015 10:58 AM

Yes it is,......and this sites helps us pass them on. :)

Kathie Jan 16th, 2015 11:57 AM

Hey, Shelly, just looking at where you are going next. Are you taking a river cruise?

I'd love to go to St Petersburg, so I will look forward to your report. And isn't it just like Bob to have a contact even there!

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