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

St. Petersburg, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia + Helsinki, Delft, & Amsterdam

St. Petersburg, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia + Helsinki, Delft, & Amsterdam

Old Aug 16th, 2016, 03:28 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 208
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Great report as always. Love all the details and of course the beautiful pictures! Where's the next adventure?
CollK is offline  
Old Aug 16th, 2016, 08:18 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 21,369
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you!

Danon, I'm sure you're right about Moscow - hope to get there someday as well as get back to St. Petersburg.

CollK, no idea where my next trip will be at this point! Time to start thinking about it...
Andrew is offline  
Old Aug 16th, 2016, 01:09 PM
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 15,572
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
"Time to start thinking..."

If you have not already been, I will take the liberty to suggest Spain -
a photographer' s treasure trove.
danon is offline  
Old Aug 16th, 2016, 05:36 PM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 1,935
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I very much enjoyed your photos. The night shots were especially nice. The ones of the canal in Brugge at night with the reflections were magical.
deladeb is offline  
Old Aug 17th, 2016, 08:04 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 21,369
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you, deladeb! Actually, the Bruges pictures are from another trip in 2013. My website suggests pictures from other picture groups (shoots) as you browse.
Andrew is offline  
Old Aug 31st, 2016, 03:00 AM
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 41
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Excellent write up, sounds like a great trip.
I wanted to make a few comments. The visa for a 3 year multiple re-entry Tourist, Business, Private or Humanitarian visa is $160 which is quite a good deal, allowing each stay up to 6 months before getting another entry stamp in the passport for another 6 months.
There is a visa application fee of $30 for a visa application center which handles public contact by contract with the consulate.
Early summer is a terrible time to come here to St Petersburg for photographers except from 03:30-06:30 when the light and lack of traffic/pedestrians allow great exterior photography. After about 8, the city center streets and sidewalks are full and block the best sightlines. Since everyone stays out so late, locals tend not to get up too early and empty streets, parks and plazas are the norm until 9am or so. Due to the ruble being weak, Russia is the best bargain in European travel but will likely be more expensive in coming years as the economy is recovering and showing good growth.
Mid day is not a good time for photography because of the hard shadows on people and buildings but fine in lush parks where the colors are still vivid in the shadows.
About 40% of the population speak English and almost all under 25-30, as it is a required subject from the second grade. During the summer, many of those speaking Russian on the busy center streets are not locals but visitors themselves from other regions of Eastern Europe since it is the number 1 tourist destination for Russians. Moscow gets more visitors but many of those go for business.
As you mentioned, people are friendly and the streets are safe. In the peak of tourist season, particularly June and July, pickpockets are a problem like every European city. But a few simple precautions eliminate the problem:wallets in front pockets, not rear, nothing of value in backpacks unless swung around to the chest, and carrying purses with strap over the head across the body and not hanging from one shoulder. Same with cameras, alth the biggest threat there from hanging a camera strap over the the same shoulder is simply dropping it. The pickpockets work in very limited areas, immediately around Church on Spilled Blood, on a 200 meter section of Nevsky Prospect, around St Isaac Square and in lines of group tourist entering the Hermitage. Otherwise it is very rare to hear of street crime.

For less packed streets and sidewalks just travel 1-2 blocks on either side of Nevsky Prospect, or visit in April, May, Last week of August, and any time after September 1st(School Day; September 1st, where all kids have their favorite day of the year when they return to school...really, they love school and their teachers)
September and early October have good calm weather, no real lines for the 354 museums or hundreds of drama theaters and easy getting good seats for ballet, concerts and opera. the pace is slower, socializing it still in full time mode but more relaxed than in the summer.
One additional reason to come to St Petersburg is now food. It has become a real foodie city with over 10,000 restaurants and wine cafes opened in the last 10 years. A new passion of creative dishes using freshest ingredients has become the norm. Now it is easier to find a very good meal than cities like San Francisco which had that reputation of good food at all price ranges. Due to the competition and depressed value of the ruble, a visitor with euros or dollars is going to be dining very well for very low prices.
So come back after getting the 3 year visa, and let me know if you want some specific photo tips since it is something I am actively involved with and moderator for the largest Nikon on-line community.

My own experience in Riga and Vilnius is to visit in mid winter and stay in old town in each. Really nice experiences. St Petersburg is stunning in the snow but recent years have gotten so warm that little if any snow falls and there is not enough ice for winter sports. We had only 6 weeks of winter last winter and each year of the last 8, with the exception of 2010 when it snowed record amounts but still not not very cold.
am_expat is offline  
Old Sep 2nd, 2016, 12:11 PM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 4,179
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Andrew, as always, a wonderful blog. Will be on a Baltic cruise next year, so really enjoyed your input on St. Pete, Tallinn and Helsinki, and of course Amsterdam. Now, if we could only get some lovely pictures like you have.

Your travel style is so foreign to me, yet I envy it. A couple of carry on bags, buses and trains and ferries. More of a checked bag plus carry on, taxi and tram girl. But I envy your easy of travel.
rncheryl is offline  
Old Sep 2nd, 2016, 02:21 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 21,369
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you, rncheryl! Yes, we probably do have different travel styles. I am pretty used to getting around just fine without a taxi, though. I used to carry a big bag but have found it so much easier to get around in recent years with less luggage.

am_expat, I would probably enjoy St. Petersburg more at a different time of year, no doubt. I added it to my itinerary near the end of planning. I tend to return to places I like so don't mind a quick sampling at a non-ideal time of year.

The cost of a multi-entry Russian visa seemed a bit higher than you say, though, in part because I was also assuming fees to mail your passport, etc. Agencies will handle everything for you but charge for it, of course. I had some friends who just visited Russia and paid something over $400 per person to get their multi-entry visas. Perhaps I could save a few bucks to do it myself.
Andrew is offline  
Related Topics
Original Poster
Last Post
Jan 11th, 2017 05:53 PM
Dec 30th, 2015 06:07 AM
Jun 6th, 2015 10:34 AM
Jun 24th, 2011 10:16 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information -