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The Baltics & St. Petersburg--need advice

The Baltics & St. Petersburg--need advice

Mar 16th, 2006, 04:30 AM
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The Baltics & St. Petersburg--need advice

We're from the US, and our son is being married in Lithuania this summer. While attending the wedding we plan to spend 2 to 2 1/2 weeks in the region and are trying to decide how to prioritize our time. But, that isn't my main concern right now.

We have some friends from the US who are planning to come to the wedding. They are all fairly well-travelled, but none have ever visited Eastern Europe. Most of them will not have as much time to spend on this trip as we will. In addition to the wedding in Kaunus (which makes Vilnius a no-brainer as far as a place to visit), they know they want to visit St. Petersburg. Other than that they are wide open as to suggestions. I know that most visitors on shorter trips to the region also typically visit Riga and Tallin. But, as I read, there seem to be other very interesting areas as well.

If you know the area, what would you suggest for must-visit areas (I'll get down to specific sights later)? How much time would you allot to each of these places? If you had to rank places as far as interest, which would get your top votes? Also, does anyone know of a good agency that might help some of our friends arrange for transportation and/0r guide service etc? We are budget travellers who always feel comfortable with making our own arrangements, but some of our friends are accustomed to a higher standard of travel than we are. I'd like to be able to give them some suggestions that will be at their comfort level. I appreciate all the help I can get.
julies is offline  
Mar 16th, 2006, 05:08 AM
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"Eastern Europe" covers a lot of territory and there's much to see, especially if you're including Russia. You don't indicate how much time your friends will have, or their interests, other than it's less than two weeks. Do they want to tour all three of the Baltic states? They can easily spend a week in Lithuania visiting Vilnius, Kaunas, Trakai, Kryziu kalnas and Palanga.

The same problem arises with guide questions. Do you want suggestions for guides in Lithuania? The bride's family can probably audition guides, although it's not a problem to prearrange them from the US. There are travel agencies that specialize in Lithuania.

I hope your daughter-in-law is arranging a traditional Lithuanian wedding with many interesting folk customs! Have a great time and do post with more specific questions.
Marija is offline  
Mar 16th, 2006, 05:19 AM
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Here's a clip you might enjoy:

Marija is offline  
Mar 16th, 2006, 06:02 PM
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Thanks for your help Marija. I guess the difficulty is that my friends don't know what to see or where to visit. My guess is that this will be their only trip ever to the Ba;tocs. That's why i don't know if I should suggest that they try to see at least a part of all 3 countries or if they should just limit htemselves to Lithuania (and St. Petersburg which they already know they want to visit).

Are some of the places truly much more nice than others so that there are certain 1st tier must-sees and then other places that might come in 2nd place?
julies is offline  
Mar 16th, 2006, 08:26 PM
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Be aware of the need for visas for St. P. (all of Russia) and the time that can take and the system of "invitation" that is needed. Search for it and read up, your guests will need to act two months before to have a chance to get across the border into Russia.

WallyKringen is offline  
Mar 17th, 2006, 02:26 AM
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If you click on my name, you will see several comments about travel to Russia. Piter is not to be missed, esp. in the summer! Yes, visas add another layer to the travel plans, but we can blame our own (US) government for that. Just plan ahead and you will find several agencies that will handle the "leg work" for you.

Let me know if you have specific questions about Russia- I have been to Riga as well, but I am not as well-versed as some other people on this page.

katya_NY is offline  
Mar 18th, 2006, 12:04 PM
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Visa support for a Russian visa should be obtained several weeks in advance - Russian consulates usually take two weeks to process an application. A faster processing is possible for an additional fee. A visit to St. Petersburg will require at least three days to a week depending on how much you want to see.
Alexey is offline  
Mar 18th, 2006, 01:28 PM
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Twenty one years ago, we arranged a 4-day bus tour from Helsinki to St. Petersburg (Leningrad) through Finnsov Tours in Helsinki. It was a wonderful trip and we had English speaking tour guides in our bus and in St. Petersburg the entire trip. Of course that was before the internet made everything so much easier to plan. I would gladly use them again.

They are still in business and have a web site <http://www.finnsov.fi/>. I see that they have trips to the Baltics and even offer support with visas. I'm sure you could e-mail them (in English) and get your questions answered.
Orlando_Vic is offline  
Mar 18th, 2006, 02:44 PM
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Thanks so much for the info. As I am sure you all know, there is always a much stronger concern that things turn out really well when one is trying to help other people plan.
julies is offline  
Mar 19th, 2006, 05:36 AM
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I have also extensively posted on Riga (where I used to live for a while) and Tallinn (and the route in between) (you might find some advice by clicking my screen name or searching for Riga).

I think Riga is one gorgeous place for which one should allow 2-3 days when in the area.

A daytrip to Sigulda for nature and a ride in the bobtrack is recommended, as is an excursion in the direction of Bauska (although coming in from Lithuania, this might be on the way anyway). There is Rundale Palace there, a nice appetizer for St. Petersburg.

Tallinn, while nice, is a bit Disney-esque to me as it has a very nicely preserved Old Town, where all the cruise people go (and the hordes of Fins that come into town for cheap booze), but not much around it.

The Baltic Sea is lovely, though and the drive up the coast should include a stop in Pärnu IMHO.

In Lithuania I would have loved to see the beaches and dunes at the Curonian Spit, but have never made it yet. Nida, where Nobel Prize Winning author Thomas Mann had his summer estate, would certainly be intriguing.
hsv is offline  
Mar 19th, 2006, 07:03 AM
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Your impressions of Tallin are interesting, and I was starting to get the same impressions from some reading I've done. I also understand that this is a place for wild and crazy bachelor/batchelorette type parties. Riga does sound fascinating though, particularly the Art Nouveau architecture. I am starting to think that I should recommend my friends limit themselves to Lithuania, Riga and St. Petersburg.
julies is offline  
Mar 19th, 2006, 07:27 AM
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If you haven't already, take a look at this site. I have found a lot of good information on it.

JaneB is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2006, 11:26 PM
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Don't get me wrong - a day or 2 in Tallinn is perfectly fine - I just prefer Riga a bit!
hsv is offline  
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