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Thinking about going to Moscow & SPB next spring(2012)

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Sep 7th, 2011, 03:17 AM
  #1
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Join Date: May 2011
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Thinking about going to Moscow & SPB next spring(2012)

Couple of questions....
1. Should I leave this all to a travel agency?
2. Is it possible to DYI?
3. Do I need to set up the hotel before the airfare before the VISA? or what order?
4. Which to do before the other, Moscow before SPB or the SPB before Moscow?
5. How late in April or May should we go?

I'm a US expat living (with my domestic partner) in London. Do I need to apply for the VISA with a consulate in the US or can I go to the US Embassy here in London?

thanks!
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Sep 7th, 2011, 04:14 AM
  #2
 
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1. Should I leave this all to a travel agency?
There's no reason to do this

2. Is it possible to DYI?
Easily, just book flights and hotels as you would for any other country. The hotel will provide you with an 'invitation' which will allow you to get a tourist visa.

3. Do I need to set up the hotel before the airfare before the VISA? or what order?
You need to book a hotel and get an invitation in order to get a visa. Flights are irrelevant.

4. Which to do before the other, Moscow before SPB or the SPB before Moscow?
Moscow provides the bigger culture shock - very little tourist infrastructure, so you may want to 'ease in' by going to st Petersburg, which is well set up for foreign tourists.

5. How late in April or May should we go?
Can't comment

I'm a US expat living (with my domestic partner) in London. Do I need to apply for the VISA with a consulate in the US or can I go to the US Embassy here in London?
You apply at the Russian Embassy. The queues are large, so you may want to use a visa agency to do this for you.

Actually, a quick google suggests the russian embassy has no outsourced this service to an agency:
http://ru.vfsglobal.co.uk/
Kate is offline  
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Sep 7th, 2011, 04:15 AM
  #3
 
Join Date: May 2008
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http://www.realrussia.co.uk/

All info you need in above hyperlink.

I have been to Moscow six times by train from UK and St Pete once.

Used an agent in Moscow to get tickets for travel inside Russia.

Very helpful company and their Visa service is just as cheap as doing it yourself.
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Sep 7th, 2011, 02:37 PM
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Research the hotel and the flights & book at the same time, you don't want to find the hotel is available and book that but cannot get the flights or v.v. Once this is done you can apply for the tourist visa usually a max of 6 months before your arrival date.

If you have residency status or work permit etc for the UK you should be able to apply for a Russian visa from the Russian consulate in the UK but you cannot apply directly, only through the agency that the visa service is it outsourced to.

April can be still quite cold so the later in May the better however there are lots of Russian public holidays during May. It might mean that something is closed eg Red Square.

Moscow first followed by St Petersburg. I prefer Moscow, it's a great city and easy to get around with many wonderful sights for a visitor. St Petersburg is one of the most beautiful cities with a more European feel.
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Sep 7th, 2011, 03:48 PM
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Central hotels in Moscow cost roughly twice what they cost in St. Petersburg. Just a heads up.
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Sep 7th, 2011, 06:19 PM
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Russia - esp St Pet is COLD. We were there in early/mid Sept. The first 2 days were fine. The next 4 days the high was about 40 - with winds off the water - and I wore everything I had with me. Locals were wearing winter coats.

I would do late May - not any earlier - and do check the weather forecast to see how cold you can expect it to be.

It is certainly possilbe to do on your own.

And you must have the hotel invitations (which have to be prepaid - or used to be) before you can apply for a visa.
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Sep 7th, 2011, 08:06 PM
  #7
kja
 
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1. Should I leave this all to a travel agency?
2. Is it possible to DYI?

Agree with others - no reason to use a travel agency, definitely possible to visit independently.

4. Which to do before the other, Moscow before SPB or the SPB before Moscow?

This one is probably a personal preference, but I agreed with Kate - I'm glad I had the time to "ease in" in St. Petersburg before tackling Moscow.

5. How late in April or May should we go?

I agree with others - the closer to summertime, the better. And whenever you go, bring layers. I visited these cities in late June/early July. One day in St. Petersburg was swelteringly, miserably hot; one day in Moscow was so cold that a blouse, sweater, scarf, and lined raincoat were not enough to keep me warm.

Enjoy!
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Sep 8th, 2011, 03:11 AM
  #8
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Thanks for the info....

So I have to go with a third party agency for the VISA here in the UK. Any suggestions on which to go with and which to avoid?

I think now we're looking at late May and early June due to holidays and weather conditions.
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Sep 8th, 2011, 10:47 AM
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In addition to the links already provided, I've used CIBT, they are very good but there are loads of others. End of May/beg of June is during the White Nights of St Petersburg and hotels can get booked up quickly.
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Sep 8th, 2011, 08:34 PM
  #10
kja
 
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If you can visit St. Petersburg during the White Nights, do! Utterly breathtakingly amazingly wonderful. (IMO.)
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