Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

rhkkmk's off to Helsinki, St. Petersburg and Tallinn via JFK

rhkkmk's off to Helsinki, St. Petersburg and Tallinn via JFK

Old Aug 31st, 2009, 03:17 PM
  #61  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 27,624
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
"They do not yield on sidewalks, they don’t yield to let you pass, they never say thank you…" - I asked my home stay hostess in St. P's whether Russians passed on the right or left on sidewalks. She totally didn't understand the question! After I explained, she said there was no system...

I noticed that people never seemed to smile, either, but I think that's a public face - Russians will be friendlier in private.

"almost an hour in russian customs followed 5 minutes later by an hour in estonian customs" - be thankful! On the Trans-Mongolian it took three hours to get out of Russia, and another three to get into Mongolia.
thursdaysd is offline  
Old Aug 31st, 2009, 03:51 PM
  #62  
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 392
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for this trip report. I studied Russian in school and dream to go to St Petersburg one day. Your raodmap is great.
puttakka is offline  
Old Aug 31st, 2009, 08:33 PM
  #63  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 184
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
"almost an hour in russian customs followed 5 minutes later by an hour in estonian customs...ugh!!"

A carbon copy of my bus ride from Estonia to Russia (I did the trip in reverse). Did you go inside of that green monster of an immigration center in Ivangorod, Russia? Enough shades of the color green for you? Narva, Estonia is no picnic either, sitting there in your seat waiting for them to process your passport.

You'll love Tallinn. It will make your forget all that waiting.
trsny is offline  
Old Aug 31st, 2009, 11:47 PM
  #64  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 29,053
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
we are in fact loving the trip, just not the prices which seem extrodinary high, and the russian attitude...its totally different here in estonia...

perhaps later today when i catch up on the report i can be more clear about our observations, likes and dislikes...
rhkkmk is offline  
Old Sep 1st, 2009, 01:45 AM
  #65  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 4,466
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Bob - looking forward to hearing more. Am interested to hear if its super $$$ compared to the USA or on a par with the UK?
Smeagol is offline  
Old Sep 1st, 2009, 03:39 AM
  #66  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,614
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You traveled all that way to spend 7 hours on a bus with people like Panda???? OMG! Well, at least Alex seems to have counter-balanced that experience. Looking forward to hearing more, and wishing you and Karen the best.

BC
bookchick is offline  
Old Sep 1st, 2009, 04:14 AM
  #67  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 897
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Crayfish in August is an old Scandinavian tradition. I just celebrated my birthday here in NYC with a crayfish party, 14 people and 7 kilos of delicious crayfish. Lots of singing with each Aquavit, definitively an acquired habit.

Am enjoying your trip report, looking forward to your next segment.
Nywoman is offline  
Old Sep 1st, 2009, 07:22 AM
  #68  
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 6,818
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
bob...hope you'll have an oppotunity to berate a plainclothes, former KGB'er...you'll love winter in the Gulag.
stu
Great report thus far....
tower is offline  
Old Sep 1st, 2009, 08:00 AM
  #69  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 29,053
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
i'm trying to keep my mouth shut....karen keeps poking me...
rhkkmk is offline  
Old Sep 1st, 2009, 08:43 AM
  #70  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 43,586
Likes: 0
Received 4 Likes on 1 Post
Hi Bob, you must tell us more that's unprintable at the Boston GTG
cigalechanta is offline  
Old Sep 1st, 2009, 08:50 AM
  #71  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 29,053
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
This is karen...I warned Bob that there would be no warm and fuzzy people in Russia...Alex being the exception. We really did have a great time in SPB. Words can not describe how beautiful the Palaces are. Their elaborate decoration is some what lost on Bob. The craftmanship that was needed to reproduce the amber room at Tsarskoe Selo is not even fathomable to me who has some artistic skill. So far he dose have MOST of the facts right.
rhkkmk is offline  
Old Sep 1st, 2009, 11:42 AM
  #72  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 29,053
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
here are two more days


Monday


Breakfast downstairs after a bit of a sleep in….

I forgot to mention that a few days earlier K was in the lobby when a group of young adults from USA were checking in…many had Babson insignias on luggage, etc….We later learned that they are from Babson college in wellesley ma, the next town to us….small world….so at breakfast I introduced myself to their leader, who also happens to live in the dreaded needham…. We met no one from exalted Cambridge however, they have stayed in a place where communism is still the rule of law… The Babson leader introduced me to his breakfast companion who happened to be the general manager of this courtyard hotel and also the st pete renaissance… I did not want you to think I have given up my search for managers…

Alex came for us at 10:15… He drove us over to the peter and paul fortress, one of the major sights…. It’s located on a small island just across the river from the Hermitage…
It was interesting to be in a huge fort, complete with an impressive church where all but 2 of the post Peter the great Tsars are buried… In 1993, the remains of the last royal family were moved here from Siberia where they were murdered… K was very interested in seeing this site…Let me say that the ‘tour groups’ here were oppressive… we could not wait to get outside…

From there we drove to the bus station for our 1:15 bus to Estonia…. I had booked the express lux link bus on line---64 euros…
The bus was comfortable, but was not express as we made about 6 stops. The ride was 7.5 hours… Exit and entrance from Russia to Estonia was time consuming and annoying… We made a stop at duty free in Estonia and I bought K some wine, and some chips and candy to hold us over… On arrival in Tallinn, we jumped into a cab and in 10 minutes were at our hotel, the Baltic Imperial Hotel, in old town---90 eec (~$9.)..
Part of the city wall runs through this hotel and one wall of our bathroom is this wall…The room is decent and comfortable (80 E incl. breakfast—senior rate—50% off)… We are very happy here… The town square is about a 10 minute or less walk…

As we arrived about 8:45 we were hungry for a decent meal… We checked out the neighborhood and chose an attractive restaurant--- In Vino Veritas; Lai tn 6---www.invinoveritas.ee
I had a fresh raviolis, which looked like tortellinis, stuffed with tomato mousse and were surrounded with fresh pesto…K has a penne carbonnaro…both were delicious…we shared a wonderful green salad…we each had a large beer and a Crème Brule---570 EEK…. 11.1 EEK = $1…. A very delicious meal!!

We walked back to the hotel, did internet in our room and fell into our twin beds…



Tuesday Sept. 1


Up a bit late… downstairs to a very lovely buffet in a charming dining room..
We lazed around the room until after 11…We then started a stroll around the town… it reminds us of rottenburg in germany with a touch of cesky krumlov…. Its very german… lots of nooks and crannies… passageways… lovely shops… many churches, plus all the government buildings to be found in any capital, but they are housed in lovely old style buildings… Tons of restaurants too… inside and outside dining….

We had lunch in a charming courtyard---delicious beef and barley soup with tomatoes and a plate of the delicious black bread…YUM!!... Revalia, Rafkoja 8…

We had beers at about 3 in the town square watching all the local and tourist movement… We ran into a young couple we had met in st pete who were nearing the end of a CA to asia, then overland Russia thru Mongolia to st pete and ending in Prague trip… they had lots of tales so we talked travel for more than an hour…
After a return to the hotel we did internet and skype with my sister in italy and grandchildren in Ma… Downstairs for a simple dinner in the café: Delicious chicken parm with a side of fried mushrooms for me and a pork, baked apple and sauerkraut plate for Karen….yummy chocolate dipped cookie each in the room afterwards…

And now this..

goodnite
rhkkmk is offline  
Old Sep 1st, 2009, 12:30 PM
  #73  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 742
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Bob - Had forgotten about how delicious that black bread was! We sat on the patio (if you can call it that) when we stayed at the Imperial-it washes down nicely with beer. Other than breakfast, we didn't eat any other meals at the hotel - good to hear their dinners are good!

If you have time, check out the 2 bakeries across from the Imperial - we had a treat at the one on the right hand side (when you're directly facing them) - oh yeah, it was good!
Debs is offline  
Old Sep 1st, 2009, 12:38 PM
  #74  
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,214
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for posting a wonderful report
cambe is offline  
Old Sep 1st, 2009, 01:51 PM
  #75  
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 37,423
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
This is a really fun report. My neice was in Russia a few years ago and had much the same impression regarding the Russians as you do. I think they are much better one on one. My parents had some Russian friends when I was growing up and they were lovely people with great sense of humor. I just think Russia is still a difficult place to live.

I was interested in this because there aren't many in depth reports about these cities and I enjoy your reports on the Asia Board. I tend to lurk there, I'm quite curious but Asia still doesn't "call to me" like it does you, so love to get your point of view and who knows, the day may come that off I go to Thailand, or Japan, or China, ya never know.
crefloors is offline  
Old Sep 1st, 2009, 03:02 PM
  #76  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 11,334
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Bob and Karen...
DH and I were enthralled last night with a fantastic History Channel program on Russia and the Tsars. Wow... we have GOT to get to St Petersburg sometime. We were both in awe. I was not very much aware of the history... DH likes history much more than I do...

Enjoying your report.

Carol

Oh, and crefloors, I'm headed to Bangkok for my 18th time in October!!! Do give it a try sometime.
simpsonc510 is offline  
Old Sep 1st, 2009, 03:13 PM
  #77  
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 37,423
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Have a wonderful trip simpson....not to hijack the thread, but Bankok is hot and sticky and I get all sweaty. LOL My next to last trip abroad was Copenhagen and Stockholm at the end of Dec. first part of Jan., the highs were a blistering 20 degrees F. Heaven!!!
crefloors is offline  
Old Sep 1st, 2009, 07:18 PM
  #78  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,408
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi Bob and Karen-
Still following along. You guys always seem to have a knack for picking the good guides. Alex sounds like a gem.
Kristina is offline  
Old Sep 1st, 2009, 11:25 PM
  #79  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 29,053
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
It's Karen again...One thing BOB did not touch on was the process of going thru customs on the bus. At the Russian check point you have to get off the bus with ALL of your luggage. Go up about 4 steps and wait in line like you do at the airport. While you are doing that they are going over the bus, so on the far side of customs there is a small area where everone is crowded into with all the luggage. There is 1 toilet-unusex-that leaves alot to be desired. bACK ON THE BUS AND THEN THE 15 MIN DUTYFREE STOP. aFTER A 2 MIN DRIVE YOU ARE AT THE eSTONIAN BORDER. tHE GUARD COME ON, TAKES ALL THE passport after checking pictures and faces and goes off with them for 30 min. In the maen time the drug dog comes thru the bus. It took 45min to 1 hr on this side.

My point of all of this is ...the lighter you can travel the better. It was an expierence, but then that is what travel is all about. k
rhkkmk is offline  
Old Sep 2nd, 2009, 05:47 AM
  #80  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 29,053
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
oh i see karen's spelling is about as good as mine.......it's those schools in the 1950's...

Wednesday

Breakfast downstairs and today they added fresh crepes so we had honey and apricot jam on them….YUM !!

Did some skype

K mapped out a walking route for us. Among other things it took us both inside and outside the fantastic thick wall….The wall towers are very medieval and are connected by walkways… We really like this town/city… We do still however notice a certain coldness in the locals…. Few smiles and even fewer thank yous or hellos-- in any language.. shop owners do not even look up when you enter..

We had a lovely walk around, all of it new… We stopped in a passageway (supposedly the most picturesque in town) for some lunch at an Italian place, where we ate outside—today was warm and sunny, maybe 75 F..….Minestrone soup freshly made served with rolls and butter (my request, as its rarely served with breads) and two large beers… just perfect—220 EEK…. Around $20..

We ended up at a shop K had liked on the first day… she bought a number of linen household items and a shawl for herself… linen is the big thing here along with cold weather gear---mittens, hats, and bulky sweaters …

We also revisited a wrought iron shop--- still thinking about items from there--- very heavy…

A stop at the bakery across from the hotel for bedtime snacks--- Deb’s suggestion… still need to visit the chocolate place--- maybe tonight on the way to dinner…

It’s a toss up between where we had lunch today or where we had dinner our first nite for dinner tonight… the salad from the first nite may win out…

A note about this hotel--- Baltic Imperial Hotel… We think it’s just fantastic… The location is perfect, the breakfast is excellent, the staff are friendly and more than helpful... The rooms are modern, the beds are decent, the bathrooms are good and modern…. After walking around we have decided that this is the perfect place, plus it’s quiet… There is an elevator also if that is important to you… English is no problem here or in old town Tallinn for that matter… For me Tallinn is the #1 place on this trip overall… For K St Pete is still #1…

Tomorrow we return to Helsinki, via ferry, and some lux accommodations at the Hotel Kamp.. Then Sunday it’s home..
rhkkmk is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Your Privacy Choices -