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Russia Cruise- spend more time Moscow or St. Petersburg’s

Russia Cruise- spend more time Moscow or St. Petersburg’s

Nov 24th, 2018, 08:17 PM
  #21  
 
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Originally Posted by kja View Post
Eye of the beholder? In any case, OLD Moscow holds some unique treasures IMO.
Kja, yes - OLD Moscow does - so, need to focus on treasures, trying to ignore everything else...
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Nov 24th, 2018, 08:29 PM
  #22  
kja
 
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Originally Posted by helen63 View Post
Kja, yes - OLD Moscow does - so, need to focus on treasures, trying to ignore everything else...
OR try to match one's time in this amazing city to the things one wants to see and do! (easier said than done.)
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Nov 25th, 2018, 04:29 AM
  #23  
 
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Originally Posted by kja View Post
OR try to match one's time in this amazing city to the things one wants to see and do! (easier said than done.)
Good planning and a lot of homework, I guess also decide beforehand how you are going to get from place to place. And leave some time for an occasional dancing bear
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Nov 26th, 2018, 06:55 PM
  #24  
 
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Kja, I was in Moscow more times than I can count. It is an interesting city, but I do not love it for many reasons that would be understood by many Russian people who grew up in USSR.

It has magnificent theater scene (unfortunately, it would be hard to appreciate for people who do not speak good Russian), Bolshoi theater (old stage) is the best, many outstanding museums, etc... But... I do not love it.

The original poster asked where to spent more time - Moscow or St Petersburg. For me and most of my Russian friends - this is St Petersburg, hands down.
My husband is American, who has never been to Russia, and I am planning a trip for ourselves, so my husband can see the place I am from

For ourselves, I would plan about 3-4 days in Moscow (main sights for my husband, visit Bolshoi and Tretyakovka, meet friends for dinner), a couple of days around Golden Ring, and at least a week in St Petersburg. People often talk about "Russian Soul", so " Russian Soul" is the best felt in St Petersburg.

For someone who would like to understand Russia, my personal advice - read a lot before the trip, go during White nights, stay out late, see bridges go up, read some Russian poetry at Summer Garden, take it slow in Tsarskoe Selo and Pavlovsk, see Hermitage over a couple of days, and just walk and take it slow everywhere... It is magical... All the best things in Russia are associated with St Petersburg... IMHO...

Last edited by helen63; Nov 26th, 2018 at 06:58 PM.
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Nov 26th, 2018, 07:37 PM
  #25  
kja
 
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@ helen63: I appreciate your perspective and know that many people who grew up in the USSR would agree that St. Petersburg has a greater pull on their hearts. As someone who grew up in the U.S., all I can say is that I greatly enjoyed my time in both Moscow and St. Petersburg, that I found them incredibly different, am glad that I had 6 full days in each, and wish I'd had more in each city. While in St. Petersburg, I did stay up for the sunset / sunrise during the White Nights, sat with a book while in the Summer Garden, spent hours and hours and hours in the Hermitage, paid homage to Dostoyevsky and Pushkin, etc. And I treasure every one of those moments! That said, St. Petersburg is clearly a newer city than Moscow, with an abundance of Baroque architecture (which is not my favorite). To my eye, Moscow provided a much greater contrast to other parts of Europe -- and greater insights into the changes from it's historical roots through the Soviet era. From my non-Russian perspective, I felt moved by the monuments of Red Square and the Kremlin, awed by Kolomenskoye and Sergiev Posad (and not just for the lavra, but also for it's toy museum), delighted by a night at the Tchaikovsky Competition, and stunned by the contrast of these experiences to the Stalinist Towers and vast ranks of Soviet-era apartment buildings. I don't pretend to understand the Russian "soul" -- but I can say that I believe I have a better sense of Russian history and culture for having spent even a little time in each city. JMO.
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Nov 26th, 2018, 07:57 PM
  #26  
 
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@helen63 - I'm sorry that Moscow has bad associations for you. But that does not make it a less desirable destination for a non-Russian without such associations. Also, Russia is a very old and VERY large country, so I find it strange you would locate its soul in a rather new city on its extreme western edge. I felt as much if not more in touch with the country riding trains from St. Petersburg to Ulan Ude than in the cities.
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Nov 26th, 2018, 08:35 PM
  #27  
 
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I agree with kja....

St. Petersburg, as beautiful as it is, was a designed city , It did not exist before 1700....
I don’t know where and why Russians place their “ soul”, but there is something about a natural
development of great cities that , for me , SP lacks.
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Nov 27th, 2018, 09:35 PM
  #28  
 
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Originally Posted by kja View Post
@ helen63: I appreciate your perspective and know that many people who grew up in the USSR would agree that St. Petersburg has a greater pull on their hearts. As someone who grew up in the U.S., all I can say is that I greatly enjoyed my time in both Moscow and St. Petersburg, that I found them incredibly different, am glad that I had 6 full days in each, and wish I'd had more in each city. While in St. Petersburg, I did stay up for the sunset / sunrise during the White Nights, sat with a book while in the Summer Garden, spent hours and hours and hours in the Hermitage, paid homage to Dostoyevsky and Pushkin, etc. And I treasure every one of those moments! That said, St. Petersburg is clearly a newer city than Moscow, with an abundance of Baroque architecture (which is not my favorite). To my eye, Moscow provided a much greater contrast to other parts of Europe -- and greater insights into the changes from it's historical roots through the Soviet era. From my non-Russian perspective, I felt moved by the monuments of Red Square and the Kremlin, awed by Kolomenskoye and Sergiev Posad (and not just for the lavra, but also for it's toy museum), delighted by a night at the Tchaikovsky Competition, and stunned by the contrast of these experiences to the Stalinist Towers and vast ranks of Soviet-era apartment buildings. I don't pretend to understand the Russian "soul" -- but I can say that I believe I have a better sense of Russian history and culture for having spent even a little time in each city. JMO.
Kja, I love what you wrote about both cities! You really found the best in both, and did fair judgement to both. I do understand and appreciate your perspective, and have no arguments. I do agree that Moscow has a lot to offer, and I have personal cherished memories of being there as well.
St Petersburg is much newer city, and it was intentionally planned and designed to look more like major European capitals, than Russian cities. Nevertheless, since it was built, all the best in Russian culture was concentrated in there. This the least Russian looking city has a special place in many Russians hearts. Peter... This is how we call the city, even when it was officially named Leningrad.

On a previous thread - you told me - cities are like people... I agree. With that, Moscow for me is like a person whom I can spend a few interesting days with. St Petersburg - is more like love affair... I hope this makes sense
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Nov 27th, 2018, 09:59 PM
  #29  
 
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Originally Posted by thursdaysd View Post
@helen63 - I'm sorry that Moscow has bad associations for you. But that does not make it a less desirable destination for a non-Russian without such associations. Also, Russia is a very old and VERY large country, so I find it strange you would locate its soul in a rather new city on its extreme western edge. I felt as much if not more in touch with the country riding trains from St. Petersburg to Ulan Ude than in the cities.
Thursdaysd,

This morning, you actually made me think about my personal association with Moscow, and I felt nostalgic. I actually have wonderful memories of being there as a child with my then young parents, going to parties with my Moscow cousins when I grew older, and holding hands with someone I was so in love with at that time, while waiting in a log line to see Lenin
But I explained above my response to KJA how I feel about Moscow and St Petersburg...

As for Russian Soul... Russia is a huge country, and most people do not get a chance to see it outside of major sites. My answer was to the OP, who was asking to choose between Moscow and St Petersburg.
It seems like you had an opportunity to see more Russia, then most visitors see. I do agree with you that you see much more of real local life outside of these cities. Traveling by Train in Russia, especially on multi day trip - this is separate great topic... There is whole culture on traveling by train in Russia...
However Russian Local Life is not equal to "Russian Soul" . I place it in the city that wakes up all feelings, if this makes sense.
I guess, this is a deeper conversation than it needs to be at Travel Forum
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Nov 27th, 2018, 10:08 PM
  #30  
 
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Originally Posted by danon View Post
I agree with kja....

St. Petersburg, as beautiful as it is, was a designed city , It did not exist before 1700....
I don’t know where and why Russians place their “ soul”, but there is something about a natural
development of great cities that , for me , SP lacks.
Danon,

There are some historical facts, and there are feelings...

You are talking about cold historical facts, and I am trying to explain passion...

The way Russians feels toward one city or another, has nothing to do with a natural development rules of great cities

Of course, you are correct about historical facts
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Nov 27th, 2018, 10:14 PM
  #31  
 
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Today, I had a dinner with my friends - two from Moscow, and one from Peter. I brought up the OP question - where would you suggest to spend more time Moscow or Peter?

All agreed on Peter... One suggested to add Kiev to the mix...Another city with great Russian history.

Just few more opinions from Russians, nothing more
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Nov 27th, 2018, 10:54 PM
  #32  
kja
 
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@ helen63: I think your husband is fortunate to look forward to seeing these magnificent cities with the benefit of your memories of Moscow and love for St. Petersburg,
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Nov 28th, 2018, 07:22 AM
  #33  
 
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@helen63: I'm glad my post awakened some good memories. This thread is an excellent example of why this kind of question can have no definitive answer. We all have different reactions to the same place. To you, Moscow has bad associations and St. Petersburg holds Russia's soul. To me, Moscow is more interesting, and I find St. Petersburg too baroque, too monumental and too "all of a piece" - in fact, soul-less. And I do find it strange that a city purpose built to change Russia, to turn it to the west, should be thought to now hold its soul. I wonder if this is just the view of an educated, English-speaking, elite, or whether Peter the Great really was successful?

In any case, the OP should decide what they want to see in each city and allocate time accordingly. I would reiterate that time visiting the "Golden Ring" would also be well spent.
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Nov 28th, 2018, 10:25 AM
  #34  
 
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Thanks, Kja! WIll see if he shares my opinion He is much less romantic than me, so perhaps he would like Moscow better
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Nov 28th, 2018, 10:45 AM
  #35  
 
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Thursdaysd,

Peter the Great is viewed by majority of Russians as the greatest tsar ever, who brought a lot of progress and culture to then backward Russia.

St Petersburg is a beloved city for majority of educated or somewhat educated Russians regardless if they speak English or not.

Until recently, not too many people spoke English in Russia, even elite

Apart from architecture, that you can love or hate, there is inner beauty in that city, that we treasure the most.

This is from Aleksandr Pushkin, the greatest Russian poet (Not the best translation, but still reflects the feelings)

------------------------------
I love thee, city of peter's making
i love thy harmonies austere
And Neva's Sovran waters breaking
Along the banks of granite sheer
Thy traceried iron gates, thy sparkling
Yet Moouless, mediative gloom
And thy transparent twilight darkling
And when I write within my room
or Lampless, read - then, sunk, in slumber
The empty thoroughfares, past number
Are piled, stand clear upon the night
The admiralty spire is bright
Nor may the darkness mount, to smother
The golden cloudland of the light
For soon one dawn succeeds another
With barely half-an-hour of night
I love thy ruthless winter, lowering
With bitter frost and windless air
The sledges along Neva scouring
Girls' cheeks - no roses so bright and fair!
The flash and noise of balls, the chatter
The bachelor's house of feasting, too
The cups that foam and hiss and spatter
The punch that in the bowl burns blue
I love the warlike animation
On playing-fields of Mars to see
The troops of foot and horse in station
And their superb monotony
Their ordered, undulating muster
Flags tattered on the glorious day
Those brazen helmets in their luster
Shot through and riddled in the fray
I love thee, city of soldiers, blowing
Smoke from thy forts, thy booming gun
-- Northern empress is bestowing
Upon the royal house a son
Or when, another battle won,
Proud Russia holds her celebration
Or when the Neva breaking free
Her dark-blue ice bears out to sea
And scents the spring, in exultation

Now, city of Peter, stand thou fast
Foursquare like Russia, vaunt thy splendor!
The very element shall surrender
And make her peace with thee at last
Their ancient bondage and their rancors
The finnish waves shall buy deep
Nor vex with idle spite that cankers
Our Peter's everlasting sleep!

I agree, that we are all different, we have different interests and we love different things... and the best thing is that we can discuss and choose!
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Nov 28th, 2018, 05:48 PM
  #36  
kja
 
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Originally Posted by helen63 View Post
Thanks, Kja! WIll see if he shares my opinion He is much less romantic than me, so perhaps he would like Moscow better
Must he choose? My friends know to NEVER ask me what I preferred, as I refuse to make comparisons among places that aren't comparable.
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Nov 28th, 2018, 08:54 PM
  #37  
 
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Originally Posted by kja View Post
Must he choose? My friends know to NEVER ask me what I preferred, as I refuse to make comparisons among places that aren't comparable.
I hope he enjoys both cities, but will be nice enough to tell me he liked St Petersburg better
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Nov 29th, 2018, 01:30 AM
  #38  
 
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I've also been to Moscow more times that I can remember and St Petersburg too. Russians often argue about which city is better, rivalry about it is common IME, just the same as it is on this board eg is London better than Paris or Barcelona better than Madrid etc. Muscovites love their city too. Some consider St Petersburg very provincial whereas Moscow has the feeling of a great capital. St Petersburg is very beautiful but step away from the main tourist sites, you might see a crumbling city underneath, the suburbs were dire. It might have changed now but previously it was always a pretty facade. The way a Russian soul was explained to me, it was about the Russian personality, not just about a city.

<<Until recently, not too many people spoke English in Russia, even elite >> True, but what I found is that older Russians had the choice of learning French or German at school and spoke these languages very well.
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Nov 29th, 2018, 05:51 AM
  #39  
 
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We recently went on a Baltic Cruise and spent 3 days in St. Petersburg. I wish we could have stayed at least 2 more days. To maximize our time there we booked a private tour through Best Guides: https://www.bestguides-spb.com/

I wrote a review for them on TripAdvisor. I feel that we got the most out of our three days by using a private tour service. We were able to customize our tour by adding nighttime activities and dinners in the city. We had a driver and an English Speaking guide who had us all set up with entrance times into all the museums and palaces we wanted to see.

If you only have a few days in each city, I would recommend a private tour to get the most out of your stay.
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Nov 29th, 2018, 12:08 PM
  #40  
 
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Originally Posted by Odin View Post
I've also been to Moscow more times that I can remember and St Petersburg too. Russians often argue about which city is better, rivalry about it is common IME, just the same as it is on this board eg is London better than Paris or Barcelona better than Madrid etc. Muscovites love their city too. Some consider St Petersburg very provincial whereas Moscow has the feeling of a great capital. St Petersburg is very beautiful but step away from the main tourist sites, you might see a crumbling city underneath, the suburbs were dire. It might have changed now but previously it was always a pretty facade. The way a Russian soul was explained to me, it was about the Russian personality, not just about a city.

<<Until recently, not too many people spoke English in Russia, even elite >> True, but what I found is that older Russians had the choice of learning French or German at school and spoke these languages very well.
Odin, this is true, this rivalry does exists. Muscovites consider St Petersburg a bit provincial, and people from Peter, consider Moscow a bit provincial, and then people from both Moscow and Peter consider all other cities Very provincial

As for language - no, there was no choice. Older people had to go a school located in their district. Each school would offer 1, or at best 2 foreign languages to study. Most school would only have one. Most often schools would offer English, and less German, French and Spanish. The problem was though, they way languages were taught in school (unless it was language focused school) - even good students could not learn. And with that, until recently, most Russians did not speak any foreign language, unless they had to study languages for work or any other reason.

As for St Petersburg crumbling parts, they may not look pretty and not good for people to live there, but I love those parts ... All of them have special history. And all European capitals have those crumbling parts behind pretty façade, where government have no money or desire to maintain. This does not make those cities less charming IMHO
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