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Thread summary:

Taking trip to Russia, travel tips for Russia, how to travel to a foreign country, travelling to Russia, St. Petersburg, Moscow, supplies to take on trip to Russia

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Old 04-07-2008, 06:00 PM
Location: Catonsville, MD
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I agree with fromrussiawithlove -- rent an apartment. They can be rented for less than a month. We have spent a total of a month over 3 trips to Russia (in the process of adopting our two wonderful daughters) and we stayed with a family in a homestay. This was absolutely wonderful because we felt like we really got to know a bit about life in Moscow. Since this was arranged through our adoption agency, I don't know where to find a homestay, but we have other friends who stayed for short periods of time (2 days - 2 weeks) at apartments. It was considerably less expensive than the hotels and you could save a little money by fixing some meals at home.

Our homestays were very close to Red Square so we were able to walk there and all around the Kremlin. Be sure to go early to get tickets to go inside the museums. In summer, it's very hard to get tickets (we weren't able to ever get tickets for inside the museums becuase we only had one day without our children that we could use to do touristy stuff.) We did, however, walk all around inside the kremlin and went into all the churches. Really beautiful! We also were given a tour of the Tretyakov Gallery (mentioned in a previous post) by our homestay host who is himself an amateur artist and who studied art history. It was probably the best tour of an art museum I've ever had.

We also went to some amazing weekend flea markets and went to Sparrow Hill which is by the University of Moscow. It sits high above the Moscow River and is right by where they held the 1984 (year might be wrong?) winter Olympics. There is a ski lift you can actually ride up from the bottom of the hill. Never thought I'd ride a ski lift inside Moscow city!

Also of interest, if only to pass by, is Lubyanka Square which is where the KGB headquarters was. On the other side of Lubyanka Square is the most incredible toy store, the Detsky Mir which translates to Children's World. It puts Babies R Us to shame. Even if you don't have kids, it's a treat walking in and seeing all the high quality (and very expensive) toys.

Another gorgeous place to visit is the Novodevichy convent. The architecture is truly amazing. It's a very peaceful place right next to an urban lake.

I just went onto google and put in the words 'homestay' and 'Moscow' and immediately, things came up. Depending on how adventurous you are, this could be an option. Like I said above, our homestay host was our art gallery guide, but he also showed us all around Moscow and told us the history and what it was like living there when it was still the Soviet Union. He was the one who picked us up from the airport too (AWFUL traffic!) Of course, we paid him for giving us tours and for picking us up and delivering him to the airport.

Learning Russia -- a little bit is helpful, like how to say hello, how are you, etc. I did learn a little bit and I learned the sounds of the cyrillic alphabet so I could read signs (not that I really understood them!)

One hint: like I said above, traffic is awful all over Moscow. You have to be really careful while walking. If you see guardrails up that make it so you can't cross a street, that means there is an underground passageway (often linked to subway stations.) Do not climb the guardrails and try to cross on your own!

Also if you're there in the summer, be sure to go to Red Square at sunset (which will be quite late in the evening.) The sun sets behind the building on the far opposite side of Red Square from St. Basil's Cathedral and it is just beautiful. It's a red stone building (can't remember what the building is or what it is called.) One of the most beautiful sunsets of my life and for sure the best urban sunset I've ever seen.

Because we were in Moscow for such momentous occasions, we think of our time in Moscow (and Tula, south of Moscow, where our girls are from) with great joy. We tried to see as much as we possibly could in order to be able to tell the girls about their homeland. We plan (if the girls are agreeable) to go back to visit when they are in their teens and we will, hopefully, stay at the same homestay apartment with the same hosts .

Have a wonderful time!
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Old 04-08-2008, 07:29 AM
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No but thats one place I would love to visit someday, am very curious.
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Old 03-31-2012, 06:04 PM
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No. I know a lady that went on a Scandinavia, Baltic, St. Petersburg trip or cruise (?). She didn't like Russia. With so many places I would gladly return to (Western Europe and South America), other places I haven't seen (Oceania and Hong Kong/Tokyo), Russia gets a real low ranking on my priority list.
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Old 04-01-2012, 08:43 AM
Location: Earth
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It's now over $150 for a Russian Visa. My experience is from June 2009; I was there for White Nights.
You don't need a tour to get you from the airport at St Petersburg. It's a short distance from town.

I'll suggest that you go to the library and get a few tour books, make sure one of them is the Eyewitness book - great photos.

I was there for the opening of the Peterhof fountains; loved the Hermitage and Russian museums, Went to Catherine's for the amber room, was disappointed at the Russian ballet (they stop after every dance for applause, it becomes tedious), enjoyed the concert I attended. If you're vegetarian, you can eat at "The Idiot" (even if you're not a veggie); if veggie, you'll eat lots of blinis.
Dostoevsky's neighborhood is quite walkable. In fact the city is large but walkable.

The signage is in Russian, it's not very tourist friendly as far as that goes.
The metro stops are worth seeing.

There's a nice market for nesting dolls by the Church of the Sacred Blood (nice gardens beside it).
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Old 04-02-2012, 05:38 AM
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No, too complicated, although it is a country I admire a lot -but from far away.
I often went to Orthodox Russian churches to enjoy the spectacular Orthodox Mass.
Before going to Russia, I believe it is necessary to learn the Russian language -not necessary to be bilingual, but at least to have a thotough knowledge - I know only a few words like spassiba, and I can (just about) decipher their alphabet - not enough in my book. I would hate it to step foot on the sacred soil of Mother Russia and be considered just like another stupid English only speaking tourist...and learning Russian at my age (I'm soon to turn 57), well ...seems a bit tough to me!
But I never miss a TV documentary on Russia and of course I watch RT (English version)on a weekly basis !
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