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Please comment on my itinerary for Russia and a bit of the Baltics (and UK/Ireland as well!)

Please comment on my itinerary for Russia and a bit of the Baltics (and UK/Ireland as well!)

Old Jun 22nd, 2008, 08:47 PM
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Please comment on my itinerary for Russia and a bit of the Baltics (and UK/Ireland as well!)

Hi all

I'm an English guy currently living in Sydney with my aussie girlfriend and we're planning a trip back to Europe to see my family. I've lived here for nearly 2 years and it'll be my first trip home so v excited!

We're both mid 20's and v experienced travellers. We like to spend 1 month each year taking a trip (had 4 great weeks in the USA last year). We're fast paced travellers on the most part, like busy cities with lots of local life. I like museums, she doesn't as much. She likes nature and we both like long walks, good food and a few drinks in the evening (pubs rather than nightclubs)

Please take a look at my proposed itinerary and let me know what you think - it's Russia and the Baltics I mostly need advice on - the time in the UK and Ireland is with family - but I'll put the whole thing here for context. My parents are comming to Ireland with us, the time in Russia and Baltics is on our own.

My girlfriend arrives 5 days after I do as she didn't have as much leave to take and I'll be able to spend a bit of time with my parents on my own as well.

Aug 24 - I arrive in London at 5.55am
25
26
27
28
29 - Girlfriend arrives in London at 4pm
30
31
Sept 1
2
3
4
5 - Mum's bday
6
7 - Drive to Fishguard, take 11am Ferry to Ireland, drive to village in Co Galway that Dad was born in and my uncle still lives in. Should arrive about 4pm or so?
8 - My bday. Day trip to Galway city or Connemara
9 - Drive to Dublin am, pm in Dublin visiting family
10 - Day in Dublin
11 - Fly to Riga at 6am, arrive 11am
12 - Riga
13 - Riga, night train to Moscow
14 - Arrive Moscow 9am
15 - Moscow
16 - Moscow - Golden ring day trip?
17 - Moscow
18 - Moscow, night train to St Petersberg
19 - Arrive St Pete's at 7am
20 - St Pete's
21 - Day trip to Peterhof
22 - Day trip to Catherine Palace
23 - St Pete's, night train to Tallinn
24 - Arrive Tallinn 7am - Girlfriend's bday
25 - Fly to London at noon, arrive 1pm
26 - Final day in London with family
27 - Fly out of London at 12 noon

I know it's pretty packed but that's how we like it!

What I would like is for someone who has been to Russia and Baltics to comment on my allocation of days there, advice on possible day trips, or just general comments from anyone. Thanks!
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Old Jun 22nd, 2008, 08:59 PM
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Recommend a lot less time in Moscow and more time in St. Petersberg. Not much to see in Moscow but make sure you get a private guide for Red Square (for Lenin's tomb) and in particular for the Kremlin - it's not tourist friendly city.
Recommend the Moscow River boat tour - very nice. Ride the subway - beautiful art in some of the stations.
While in Moscow the taxi drivers will try to take advantage of you so be sure to negotiate the prices beforehand and agree to less than half of what they ask for.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2008, 09:04 PM
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Thanks SusanD

Did you visit any Golden Ring towns? I'm not sure which ones work best for a day trip or even an overnight trip if Moscow doesn't need as much time as I thought.

I'll look into that River cruise - sounds good.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2008, 09:09 PM
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What a fun trip.

Just a couple of quick comments -

1) I totally agree w/ SusanD. I'd take at least one, but better two, days from Moscow and add them to St Petersburg. There is a lot to see in Moscow - but a LOT more in StP.

And 2) where are you driving to Fishguard from? You can fly into Galway from several UK cities and rent a car there instead of taking a car across on the ferry and save a full day's journey. Rosslare to Galway is a huge slog.

Or you could even fly into Shannon and save most of a day.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2008, 09:37 PM
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thanks janisj - looks like St Pete's deserves a bit more time!

We'll be driving from South London/Surrey and thought a lot about how to get to Galway - but nothing booked yet so if you see a good way please let me know!

Unfortunatly flights from Gatwick to Knock (closest airport) don't arrive until about 8pm, and then we'd have an hour or so drive to where we're going so it'd be pretty late by time we arrived. Flights from Stanstard or Luton involve a drive from home of about 90 mins and then we'd leave the car there and have to pay car park fees - plus they weren't great times either. Driving all the way is a pain but at least we save on car hire I guess! I think flights to Shannon weren't great times either - but I'll take a second look -thanks for your comments

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Old Jun 22nd, 2008, 10:10 PM
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there are flights from LGW to Shannon - maybe that would work. Now that we know you are driving from south of London - there is NO way I'd drive all the way to Fishguard and then all the way across Ireland. That is about 2 days worth.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2008, 12:25 AM
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The time allocated to Moscow is about right since there is alot to see and do. It's a big busy city with alot of interesting life, loads of sights inc museums, churches, parks and open spaces, markets etc. The nightlife is amazing but expensive, restaurants are great and there are some v nice bars to go to. Check the days that the Kremlin is closed.

Instead of (or as well as?) the Golden Ring trip, it might fit in with your itinerary to stop in Novgorod on the way to St Petersburg.

There is hardly any time in Tallin, maybe cut time in Riga? I'v been to Riga twice and it's great but small city, the part of Tallinn worth seeing is inside the old city which is not a large area either.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2008, 05:51 AM
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Would also recommend stopping in Novgorod between Moscow and St. Petersburg. It's a great contrast to the big cities, as are the Golden Ring towns. I haven't been to Riga or Tallinn, but I very much enjoyed Vilnius.

My trip reports for Vilnius and Russia are at www.wilhelmswords.com/rtw2004 - North by Northeast and Rainy Russia. Pix of Novgorod and Golden Ring at kwilhelm.smugmug.com/Travel/287618
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Old Jun 23rd, 2008, 09:17 AM
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agree w/ janis. That's a lot of driving when you could catch a flight. I can't imagine going London to Fishgard, then Rossslare to Galway and including time on the ferry, is faster or more convenient than a flight. Which village in Co Galway are you staying in?

Bill
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Old Jun 23rd, 2008, 05:53 PM
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Thanks everyone for the replies and advice.

I'll look into Shannon flights - could be best way forward.

Bill - The village is near Mountbellew.

Re: Golden Ring vs Novgorod - if we only had time for 1, which would you pick? (I hate those vs questions - sorry!)

I've got 2 full days in Tallinn, and 2 and a half in Riga - is this the right balance? More time in both would be best but that can't be helped!
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Old Jun 23rd, 2008, 06:54 PM
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"Re: Golden Ring vs Novgorod - if we only had time for 1, which would you pick?" - depends a bit on how much you like churches! The Golden Ring tour is mostly about churches, although I also enjoyed driving through the countryside. Novgorod has an open-air museum with assorted wooden buildings which I found very interesting as well as a small museum and a kremlin. Then, you can do Novgorod by public transport, while the GR is much easier using a car and driver. I think I would vote for Novgorod, but I like small towns.
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Old Jun 24th, 2008, 02:17 AM
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my g/f went last year and i have spoken to a number of people who have been recently
definitely more days in st petes than moscow is the way to go ..moscow is very different..harder harsher and not as tourist friendly

have a look at sergei posad..thats close to moscow one day ..
and then suzdal via vladimir on another

thats all i think ud manage for a day trip
at any one time

novgorod is nice apparently..we are definitely going there for a day maybe an overnight next year

be careful where you stay in moscow..the metro's novelty wears off pretty quick
prices are ridiculous...about 300 euros a night to stay centrally in a hotel
arbat is supposed to be good ...we are leaning that way
in st petes we are thinking seriously about the dostoevsky...get close to nevsky prospekt..thats all the advice im getting
good luck with the planning and have a blast on the trip
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Old Jun 24th, 2008, 02:56 AM
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I agree with previous posters... I think you could eliminate at least a day in Moscow from the original itinerary. But rather than adding an extra day in St Petersburg (I think 5 days there is enough), I would add a day in Novgorod.
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Old Jun 24th, 2008, 04:39 AM
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How were you thinking of "doing" the Golden Ring towns? Just that someone mentioned Suzdal via Vladimir on "another day". This is not really possible as a day trip if you are travelling by public transport.

I guess if you have a car and driver it would be different - I wouldn't know.

Agree more days in St P and fewer in Moscow. Though again, it depends how you travel. If you are in Moscow with a guide, etc. etc, and don't have to rely on the Metro (which is fantastic but time consuming getting from A to B) then your horizons may well be broader than mine were.

The same would apply if you can speak Russian and can plug into the bus network.

Are you sure there is a night train from St Petersburg to Tallinn?

Have a fantastic time.
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Old Jun 24th, 2008, 05:51 AM
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Funny, I preferred Moscow to St. Petersburg. I'm not fond of baroque, and St. P is resolutely baroque, while Moscow has much more variety. It certainly has a better metro system - since St. P is built on a marsh it's hard to build underground. I gather Moscow's gotten a lot more expensive since I was there (2004), so I might try for a home stay or hostel rather than a hotel.

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Old Jun 24th, 2008, 04:05 PM
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Thank you all so much - some great advice!

Novogord seems to get a great write up so i'll have to try and fit it in - perhaps at the expense of Suzdal/Vladimir as I think they'll need at least an overnight as well - maybe I can fit it all in but I dn't want to cut my time in Moscow too much.

If I do get to Vladimir/Suzdal I wasn't going to hire a car and driver - I perfer public transport if I can. I think there's trains to Vladimir I can take in the morning, look around for a few hours, then take a bus in the arvo to Suzdal.

Could I then take an overnight train from Vladimir the next day to St Pete's? or do I have to go back to Moscow?

If I scrap V/S maybe sergei posad is doable as a day trip without an overnight - thanks for the tip.

I'm not too sure about the overnight train from St Pete's to Tallinn - there's some conflicting information about that - can anyone confirm? If not I'll take the overnight bus if I need to.

I'm looking into hostels as hotels are v expensive - then again, the hostels aren't really cheap! We're more than happy with basic accomodation though - have used hostels a lot in the past. Lanejohhan thanks for the accomodation tips -will look at those as well.

thursdaysd your trip looks amazing! would love to get on the transiberian myself one day.

Thank you all again - very nice of you all to take the time to help me plan this.
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Old Jun 24th, 2008, 04:59 PM
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Well, www.poezda.net shows the night train - Saint Petersburg Vitebskii to Tallinn (you need to search using Sankt-Petersburg), train no. N 649. On the other hand, while bahn.de shows the same train, with no. 649H, clicking on the train no. doesn't bring up any details. Note that bahn.de says this train is second class only, and the higher the train number the slower, and the worse the rolling stock. Still, second class is fine.

Poezda.net also shows a night train from Vladimir to St. P - no. N 059.
Have you looked at the Russia sticky on Lonely Planet's Thorntree for hostel info? www.waytorussia.net is also a good resource.

Hope you have a good trip - just come back and tell us about it!
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Old Jun 25th, 2008, 01:34 AM
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There's no mention about Russian visas so guess they are all done-is the trip for this August?
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Old Jun 25th, 2008, 04:21 PM
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thursdaysd - thanks for the train info - very kind of you to look it up for me.

odin - loking into visa's right now.... I've got 2 months so should be ok (I hope!)

Thanks again everyone
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