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Old February 6th, 2006, 12:03 PM
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Default Scandinavia/Baltic Excursions

Would like recommendations for excursions anyone has done and enjoyed on this cruise. We have already scheduled our St Petersburg excursions, so I don't need anything for there. Would like to hear of experiences in Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki, and Copenhagen. Thanks!
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Old February 12th, 2006, 11:00 AM
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Hi Jimmy:
Your excursion choice ultimately depends on your interests. Some folks enjoy cruise tours, others like going independent. There are pros and cons in any of these. If you hop on the 50-people bus the cruise line offers you will definitely not experience as much as during an independent tour. So cruise lines also offer private tours but hose are just ridiculously priced. Still there are some cost-effective alternatives in some ports. I heard good things about these folks:

www.travelinrussia.com for St. Petersburg, and
http://privatetours.ee in Tallinn

Hope you enjoy your cruise!
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Old February 12th, 2006, 11:43 AM
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We've already booked our excursions in St. Petersburg with Red October. Will look into your Estonia recommendation. Thanks for your input!
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Old February 13th, 2006, 02:32 PM
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Most of these ports are very simple to do on your own. Celebrity provides bus transportation to the part of town where you want to be and from there you can walk, do the buses and pretty much do self tours. We did this last May and did most on our own and saw more than what ship excursions would show you.
Marilyn
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Old February 14th, 2006, 11:02 AM
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Thanks, Marilyn! We did similar walking tours on our South American cruise last year with NCL. I had heard that Celebrity might have something like that available for this cruise.
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Old February 14th, 2006, 04:04 PM
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It was really easy to do self tours on this one, unlike the Med where we had to hire drivers and guides for everything. You will be just fine independently. Have a great trip.
Marilyn
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Old February 23rd, 2006, 10:08 AM
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Default Re: Scandinavia/Baltic Excursions

Quote:
Originally Posted by JimmyD
Would like recommendations for excursions anyone has done and enjoyed on this cruise. We have already scheduled our St Petersburg excursions, so I don't need anything for there. Would like to hear of experiences in Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki, and Copenhagen. Thanks!
You might be interested in this link if it works. The trip was in 2000 so quite some time back.
http://www.cruisemates.com/gallery/s...YNOLDS&match=1
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Old February 23rd, 2006, 11:28 AM
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we are booking st petersburg with denrus and the other ports you can do your own thing 26 aug 2006
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Old February 23rd, 2006, 12:45 PM
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Default Re: Scandinavia/Baltic Excursions

Quote:
Originally Posted by JimmyD
Would like recommendations for excursions anyone has done and enjoyed on this cruise. We have already scheduled our St Petersburg excursions, so I don't need anything for there. Would like to hear of experiences in Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki, and Copenhagen. Thanks!
Baltic Sea Cruise Aboard the GTS Millennium

Flew out of Jackson, Ms July 10,2000 connecting in Atlanta aboard Delta Airlines and only one hour late leaving Atlanta. Arriving Amsterdam, Netherlands at about 11:15 AM we took a blue and white bus from Schiphol Airport into town. Alternate arrangements would have been the train to the Central Station and a cab to the Grand Hotel. A cab from the Airport was quite expensive from what I have read. We had to walk with the luggage about one block since the bus did not let us off in front of the hotel. We met up with our friends from Blackpool, England and spent a wonderful time touring together. They are the ones that encouraged us to take this trip and it is the fourth time we have traveled together, after meeting on an Orient Cruise in 1997.

The Grand Westin Demure Hotel-Amsterdam was originally created as a convent in the 15th century before being converted by the city governors in 1578 to a lodging for princes and great lords’, aptly called the Princes’ Court. The building served as the headquarters of the Amsterdam Admiralty for most of the 17th and 18th centuries, before becoming Amsterdam’s City Hall from 1808 to 1988. The following year, work started to transform the monumental City Hall into the five-star deluxe hotel it is today. The hotel is situated in the historic city-center, just a stone’s throw away from Dam Square and the Royal Palace and about 30 minutes from the Airport.
In Amsterdam we visited Anne Frank Huis, and a Modern Art Museum, and walked around the town visiting Dam Square and walked through the RLD. Took a Canal Boat tour, which I would recommend.
For dining, Alberto’s is an excellent restaurant in walking distance Argentina beef restaurant, but also had a very good fish soup so we dined there twice.
One night we had a very nice dinner at The Oriental City Restaurant on the corner of Damstraat and Oudezids-Voorburgwal, which was only a half block from the hotel. Café Roux in the Grand Hotel is run under the direction of renowned chef Albert Roux. The food was excellent and I understand that a relative Michel Roux possibly his brother is the director of the restaurant services aboard the Millennium.
Tour out of Amsterdam to the North to visit a cheese factory, some pottery making factory and an island where reclaimed land being done.

July 15,2000
Boarded Celebrity Cruise Line’s Millennium early at 1:30 PM after a short cab ride of about 10 min from the Grand Hotel. This was to be the second voyage of GTS Millennium. It was originally the third but the first was cancelled.
The ship is a magnificent product at 91,000 GRT and propelled by two electric Mermaid pods (4 fixed blades for each) She has three bow thrusters at 2350 KW each.
The ship is gas turbine driven. Marine diesel fuel is burned and the exhaust gasses are used to drive a high pressure turbine at 9500 rpm and power turbine at 3600 rpm. Turbines turn generators to produce electric power to propel the Mermaid pods and everything else on the ship.
Exhaust gasses are also used to boil water to steam and produce heat and hot water in a constant circulating system so that the showers have immediate hot water.
The ship has 10 elevators that are the fastest I have seen on a ship. Amidships, two of the four glass elevators are outside of the ship to give a very impressive view as well as a different sensation as the elevator goes up and you watch the waves go up or down.
In the ports we visited I would say thousands of people were on the banks to watch us. The ship must be an impressive sight sailing in or out of port.
The bow has a heliport for any emergencies.
We had a stern cabin with 271 sq.ft cabin and a 242 sq.ft veranda. We brought a clothes line along and hung clothes out to dry we had so much room. Don’t ask why you pay this much for a cabin and then wash your own clothes. It must be deep seated do it yourself instincts.
The restaurant has the two level eating arrangement with the central stairs and the ceiling to floor glass behind the captain’s table. A beautiful Venetian scene is electrically controlled to shade as well as the large round side windows. The show room has three levels of seats all with unobstructed views. The entertainment was first class productions good comedian wonderful dancers and singers. Brooks Aaron concert pianist and Renato Pignalero tenor singer were excellent. Theo only bummer was David Polydor the quick change artist and Magician, with a French like impressionist performance. We did miss about two shows which were reported to be excellent. Telephone response time and guest services response time is excellent. The people do what they promise.
The Olympic Restaurant is only 134 person capacity and must have a reservation to eat. Reservations are taken in this A La Carte French Restaurant limited to six persons at a time. Only one reservation per couple at $12/per person. The food is excellent. The wall paneling is the same paneling that was taken from the restaurant aboard the RMS Olympic. Following the loss of her sister ship “Titanic? the RMS Olympic (1911-1935) was brought to Belfast for renovation consisting of an outer hull. The ship was advertised as a ship within a ship. One of the renovations was to expand the A La Carte restaurant and bring it up to par with the lost Titanic. Craftsmen were imported from Palestine to carve and guild the paneling. An expended Café Pariesiene restaurant was created in which passengers could dine while viewing the ocean. This had never been seen before on an ocean liner. The RMS Olympic was scraped in 1935 and the paneling from the RMS Olympic's A la Carte Restaurant was purchased by a man and installed in his house. Celebrity found the house and bought it, then removed the paneling sent it to France and had it installed in the Olympic restaurant aboard the Millennium. The restaurant has high-class service and high-class prices with a glass of wine about $15 to $90. Bottles were also expensive. We had a $40 bottle which has the 15% service charge added as do all drinks on cruise ships now. The Waldorf pudding for desert was excellent and the recipe is the same one that was served aboard the RMS Olympic in 1912.

July 16,2000
Day at sea allowed us to tour the ship and see the wonderful indoor heated pool with jets and hydrotherapy for many people at once along with two separate hot tubs. A sauna was available for general use for men and women separately.
The outdoor pool had two hot tubs associated with it. The windows around this outdoor pool could be opened to the air. The center of course was open with an upper sun deck overlooking the outdoor pool.
Deck 3 was guest relations, the bank and shore excursions. Deck 4 was the lower entrance to the main dining room, the rendezvous lounge, the platinum bar and the café-o lait bar with chocolates and the champagne bar with caviar. Also the Fortunes Casino and several private meeting rooms were available. The lower entrance to the Celebrity Showroom. On Deck 5 were the upper entrance to the main dining room aft and the upper entrance to the Celebrity Showroom forward. A long emporium of shops and photo gallery also available. Deck 6 had the Penthouse suites and the Royal suites.
Deck 7,8,9, were cabins. Deck 10 was the outdoor pool and indoor pool and spa forward and the Ocean grill and café aft. Deck 11 forward was the Cosmos lounge forward and the children’s game room aft.
There was a flower shop located aft also with a tower.

July 17,2000
Oslo, Norway’s capital since 1299 is located at the end of Oslo Fjord. . Since our friends had booked a tour we also booked a tour after coming aboard using the TV located in the room. I think the cost was slightly higher than pre-booking, but we only booked two. (Oslo and Stockholm). The booking by the TV was easy and the tickets delivered to the room.
We took the Oslo city sightseeing ships tour and visited The Vigeland Sculpture Park created by Gustav Vigeland. A 55-foot Monolith with 121 nude stone figures climbing on top of each other representing the struggle for life. There were 150 sculptures of stone and bronze in the park.
We passed in front of the building where the Nobel peace prize candidates stay during the ceremony of selection.
We went to the Holmenkollen Ski Jump where the first jump was built in 1892. There is a splendid view of the Oslo Fjord and City of Oslo.
We visited the Viking Ship Museum housing three authentic long ships dating from the Viking era that had been excavated from the mud banks of the Oslo Fjord.

July 18,2000
A day at sea.

July 19,2000
Stockholm, Sweden. Our second scheduled ships tour visited the Vasa Museum, which is built around the 17th century sailing ship that sank in the harbor as soon as she was launched. Without proper ballast and top heavy she went over and sank in 1628. She was discovered in 1956 and salvaged in 1961. Three Cannons were found on her deck. Some say she was a cargo ship, but she had gun turrets just like a Man of War .
The Vasa Museum was more impressive than either my wife or I had expected. It was worth the visit, but could easily have been seen without a ships tour. Gamla Stan, the old city of Stockholm was narrow cobble stone streets. Saw the change of guard at the palace and got one of the guards to return a salute on video.

July 20,2000
Helsinki, Finland
Coming into the harbor noticed the construction of the Carnival’s new ship “Spirit? in the shipyard.
Elected to just take the shuttle into town, but as soon as we got off the bus, we were greeted by a salesman selling a local city tour from an old English double deck bus. We thus took this tour at $20/person that was half the ships shore excursion and saw the same thing.
We saw the Sibelius monument (only a bunch of pipes welded together), not much, The Rock Church which was formed by blasting through 100 feet of solid granite and topped with a copper dome. We also drove past many government buildings, and the Olympic stadium with a statue of the Flying Finn in front.
We got a good geographical map study of the city with this tour and thus did some nice walking touring after we got off the bus to Uspenski Cathedral, the Market Square, and the Presidential Palace.

July 21, 2000 Friday and July 22, 2000 Saturday
St. Petersburg, Russia. Our traveling couple along with ourselves had planned ahead and each had a Russian Visa. We had mad previous arrangements for two full days of tours in and around St.Petersburg not connected with the ship’s shore tour office. Our English friends had found the company called Nota Bene Co. Ltd. Manager Nikita A. Zonin e-mail “kit@travel.spb.ru"
“www.travel.spb.ru"

Address is: Russia, St.Petersburg Griboedova, 34 office 323 Tel.(812) 939-06-98 tel/fax (812) 313-87-37.
Our Russian Visas cost $70/person through the Russian Embassy in NY. The Celebrity Visa service was more expensive as was the Russian tourist agency. Nota Bene usually requires a deposit but we did not make one somehow. If a deposit is made it could be lost if the ship for some reason did not make the port. I think the Nota Bene company should refund the deposit if the ship did not make the port,but this should be agreed upon.
A one-day tour in St.Petersburg through the shore excursion office was $148 pr person. For two days we paid $470 which was $117per person plus $70/person visa equal $187/person for the two days, as opposed to the $296/person for two days via the ship’s shore excursion. An additional plus is that with just four people a driver and an English-speaking guide, we were able to see more with much better personal attention. For an additional $22.50/person we attended a wonderful folk show in an old 1800’s building that was beautiful inside and we had champagne ,caviar ,vodka and juices and cokes during the intermission, which was not furnished by the ship’s folk show tour. I think we also saw the better Russian Folk show Friday night. Our fee included our transportation in our Red Van. We could easily have shared this with another couple had we known in advance, which could have possibly decreased the price per person.
On our tours we visited the outside of St.Isaac’s Cathedral, and the Church of the Spilled Blood . We visited the Hermitage entering through a back door without any crowd and hit all three Hermitage buildings at a record pace including the Winter Palace. We made the visit to Pushkin previously known as the Czar’s Village (Tsarkoe Selo – mentioned in book Nickolas and Alexandria) . We visited Pavlovsk palace and grounds and were also able to visit Peter and Paul Fortress and the Peter and Paul Cathedral with the tombs of the Czars. In the back are stones on the wall for Nicholas II, his wife Alexandria and the children Olga, Tatiana, Maria , Anastasia and Alexi (the hemophiliac). The other Czars have large tombstones in the church but Nicholas II and his family were originally not welcomed to be buried in the church. Later the bones were moved into the church and wall stones placed in the back of the church. The last of the Romanov’s who died in France in 1992 is also buried in the church.
I would certainly recommend the above method for visiting St.Petersburg, not only because it was cheaper but because the convenience of not having a bus load of people and more personal attention from a guide for four people.
The ships charge for the Russian Folk spectacular was $55 per person as compared to our $22.50 per person.
We were also taken to a very nice shop that the four of us were the only ones shopping at the time. Prices were very good and they took USD or Charge Card.

July 23,2000
Tallinn, Estonia. We took the shuttle which dropped us at the side of the Viru Hotel and we walked through the town using the Lonely Planet guide and maps as recommended by Pam Kane. The maps and directions were very accurate. There is much walking to see this town even with a shore excursion from the ship. Many nice places to sit and eat lunch and watch the people that are watching you.

July 24,2000
Gdynia,Poland to visit Gdansk, Poland
We teamed up with two ladies traveling together to rent a cab at $20/hr and used it for 2hr 50 min which was cheaper than the ship. The ships shuttle just takes you to downtown Gdynia not to Gdansk. Gdansk was well worth a visit

July 25,2000
Rostock, Germany
We took the train from Warnemunde, Ger the port town paying about 6 DEM /person for a day ticket which entitled you to use the trams in the city of Rostock. This is a good deal and easy to do. The biggest problem is figuring out how much it cost and where to put the money. Some representatives were available to help us here. Once in Rostock (don’t get confused and get off too soon) information tells you to get off at the third stop (Nier Mkt) and you are in the center of town. The train did not have city stops posted in the train like the London Tube and we almost got off when it read Rostock. A map obtained before you get on the train shows all the stops before Rostock.


July 27,2000
Copenhagen, Denmark.
We took the shuttle into town and used the Lonely Planet guide to tour and make our way back to the ship and the little mermaid. My wife got kind of tired with me following the guide. We did stop in some department stores along the route.

July 28
Day at sea.

July 29, 2000
Back in Amsterdam and to the airport where we were 2 hours late for takeoff. We missed our connecting flight in Atlanta at 3:30 PM but made a 5:20 PM flight. Delta’s overseas flight seats had less room then their Atlanta to Jackson flight. I think I would try another airline for overseas next time because of the little amount of space between the seats.



All in all this was a wonderful trip, and shore excursions are doable by yourself but better with another couple for cab ride sharing but you can usually find someone at the dock looking for the same thing you are. Only thing is prior preparation for St.Petersburg, Russia. They check your passport every time you come off the ship. In Poland we had to give up our passports prior to arrival and got them back as soon as we cleared Poland. This was required and was easier than the Russian thing where we had to show them each time we went off the ship. Lonely Planet for Scandinavian countries
is recommended.

Signed,
Joe Reynolds
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Old February 23rd, 2006, 12:53 PM
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Default 2000 visit

Agree 100% on private touring options! They are indeed more flexible and fun than cruise tours. Yet I heard that prices increased since 2000 and one can no longer attend a folk show for $22.50 in St. Petersburg. Or can one still get to see it for less?
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Old February 23rd, 2006, 01:09 PM
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Default Re: 2000 visit

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex4
Agree 100% on private touring options! They are indeed more flexible and fun than cruise tours. Yet I heard that prices increased since 2000 and one can no longer attend a folk show for $22.50 in St. Petersburg. Or can one still get to see it for less?
I'm sure prices are different that in 2000. I just posted this FYI.
I was thinking of posting more travel information that I had back then that is still in the computer. Do you think it would help anyone on this cruise or not?
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Old February 23rd, 2006, 01:13 PM
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thanks for your very detailed report i will read it later
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Old February 23rd, 2006, 01:26 PM
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Yep, go ahead and posti it. It is definitely worth looking at to compare experiences and prices. Many thanks for your input!
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Old February 23rd, 2006, 01:50 PM
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This information was copied in June 2000
Keep that in mine, but it does remind one what to look for.

===================================
St. Petersburg Wednesday, June 14


Yellow Pages Maps

Fact Sheet
________________________________________
Passport/Visa Requirements—Passports, visas and proof of onward passage are needed by Australian, British, Canadian and U.S. citizens. Reconfirm travel document requirements with carrier before departure. If you arrange your trip through a tour agency, the agency will obtain a visa application and process the visa for you. If you are traveling independently, you’ll need an official letter of invitation from a Russian citizen or company, and you will have to process your visa application at one of the Russian consulates. (Although there is apparently some sort of mechanism for purchasing a visa upon arrival at Pulkovo II Airport, never do this: There’s a very good chance you will simply be denied entry or arbitrarily given a visa for a matter of days only, or even hours.) After entering the country, the visa needs to be registered within three days.
The Russian parliament has passed laws requiring foreigners who intend to stay in the country more than three months to have a doctor’s certificate saying they are not infected with HIV. But the law is sporadically enforced.
Note: Don’t travel beyond Russia’s border if you do not have a multiple-entry visa (mnogo kratkaya), because you won’t be able to reenter without obtaining a new visa.
Language—English is spoken in hotels and most upscale restaurants. Taxi drivers will speak just enough English to charge three times the going rate. Many Russians who claim to speak English actually have only a vague ability, so consider hiring a professional translator for business meetings. And, even though we have given telephone numbers throughout this profile, be aware that only the most obvious places (hotels and places that cater to tourists or foreign business travelers) will be able to reply in English. A crash course in the Russian alphabet will prove very helpful for deciphering maps and signs on streets and subways.
Currency—Rubles are the medium of exchange. Two recent, dramatic changes: On 17 August 1998 Russia effectively devalued the ruble, setting a floating exchange rate that will hover officially between 6 and 9.5 rubles per US dollar; this floating rate, which significantly affects the purchasing power of those visiting the country, is tentatively planned to expire at the end of 1998.
Earlier in 1998, for the sake of efficiency, Russia officially revalued the ruble by removing three zeros (example: The old 100,000-ruble bank note gives way to the new 100-ruble bank note). Until 31 December 1998 both old and new ruble notes will be in circulation. Old and new bank notes are identical in size, color and appearance, other than the missing three zeros on the new notes. The exceptions are the new five- and one-ruble coins that replace the old 5,000- and 1,000-ruble bank notes. The new five-ruble coin bears a striking resemblance to the old Soviet five-ruble coin (now out of circulation): Be sure to check the back of the coin, making sure it has the Russian two-headed eagle on it and not the Soviet hammer and sickle. The new coin is distinguished also by ridges around the outer rim.
One ruble equals 100 kopecks (which are always coins). Gone are the days when the two currencies—rubles and U.S. dollars—circulated practically side by side. Today, the only place to use dollars is at one of the many currency exchange booths that have sprouted on every corner. The exception that proves the rule is the occasional taxi driver who will still ask for dollars.
At the time of this writing, the ruble was very shaky; one U.S. dollar converted to 6.8 rubles, the Australian dollar to 4.0 rubles, the British pound to 10.9 rubles and the Canadian dollar to 4.4 rubles. Check before departure to ascertain current equivalencies. Many hotels, restaurants, businesses and arts venues will probably continue to quote prices in U.S. dollars (or in “conditional units,? a euphemism for the dollar).
Even if restaurant menus, shop prices and hotel tariffs are expressed in “conditional units? (dollars), cash payments are possible only in rubles. In some cases, it’s possible to bring dollars and change money at the restaurant, but this is far rarer in St. Petersburg than it is in Moscow.
Traveler’s checks remain unwieldy and difficult to cash in Russia, but credit cards have become far more useful. All hotels, nearly all good restaurants and even many grocery and department stores now accept Visa cards. Eurocard is a close second. (Be warned: American Express is not widely accepted, whatever its company literature may say.) ATMs (automated teller machines) that disburse dollars and rubles have sprung up all over St. Petersburg. They’re in most major hotels, banks, some fast-food restaurants and on the streets.
Emergency Numbers—Russian speakers can call the police at 02, the fire department at 01 and ambulances at 03. English speakers can call the American Medical Center at 326-1730; the U.S. Consulate at 275-1701 (or 274-8692 after 5:30 pm); the British Consulate at 325-6036 (325-6166 for the visa department); the Canadian Consulate at 325-8448. Australia does not have a consulate office in St. Petersburg.
Health Advisories—St. Petersburg’s tap water is notoriously unclean. Traces of gardia lamblia—a microbe that causes severe diarrhea and stomach pain—have been found from time to time. City authorities recommend boiling tap water for at least five minutes before drinking it or using it in food preparation; locals often boil it even longer. The better hotels often have their own water filtration systems, but elsewhere it’s best to use bottled or boiled water for brushing your teeth. Keep your mouth shut in the shower and avoid ice in your drink. Fruits and vegetables should be washed thoroughly with bottled or boiled water. Food sold by street vendors or from kiosks can be suspect.
The lack of good-quality health care has prompted some foreign consulates in the past to advise sick or infirm persons to avoid Russia. No hospital in St. Petersburg provides Western-level medical care or accepts non-Russian insurance plans. Ambulances are not quick to respond nor do the paramedics understand or speak English. However, the city has bought a new fleet of ambulances and revamped its equipment.
Make sure all your immunizations are current. For several summers, Russia has been swept by epidemics, such as cholera and diphtheria. Take along sterile syringes, prescription medicines and an extra pair of glasses.
In case of an emergency, go to the swank new offices of the American Medical Center at Serpukhovskaya Ultitsa 10, phone 326-1730.
Crime—Crime has risen throughout Russia since the Soviet Union collapsed, but police say it has leveled off in recent years. St. Petersburg is reasonably safe for tourists, having no more or less of a problem with pickpockets and other pests than any other European city. Russia on the whole is, however, a more dangerous place to do business than anywhere else in Eastern Europe. Thus there are two types of crime—the first being pickpocketing and random violent crimes (which can affect any foreigner), and the second being rackets hassling local businesses for a cut of profits. The latter is a more serious problem and has colored the city’s reputation, frightening off uninformed tourists.
While doing next to nothing to help local businesses fend off mobster protection rackets, St. Petersburg officials have taken some steps to try to improve safety for tourists. A special police force called the gorodoviye—English-speaking officers in bright red hats—was created specifically to help tourists, but these officers appear to know no more English or be any less corrupt than ordinary police (who are of little use to travelers in trouble). Police will usually intervene to halt a violent crime in process, but don’t expect much help from them in solving a crime that has already occurred. Police can stop anyone on the street for random document checks, and there have been numerous disturbing reports of police “checking? wallets by removing all the money. There are also reports of traffic police, or GAI officers, arresting foreign tourists who jaywalk on Nevsky Prospect, bundling them into a paddy wagon and assessing a fine before releasing them.
The U.S. consulate has long been criticized as of little use to travelers in trouble. Officials remain overworked, understaffed and not much help. Nevertheless, if you are a victim of crime, you should report it to both the police and the consulate. Police can issue a report—in Russian, of course—for use in dealing with your insurance company if you need one.
Visitors should observe the same caution on the streets they would in any foreign city: Avoid gypsies and gangs of street kids, do not flash cash, and be wary of anyone who tries to strike up an acquaintance.
Dress—Suits for men and women are the norm for business. Women planning to visit Russian Orthodox churches should (officially) wear skirts that cover their knees and take scarves to cover their heads, but this precaution is actually followed only in the more provincial parts of Russia. Most Russians dress up for an evening at the theater or symphony. When just walking around town, dress down to attract less attention (though be forewarned that blending in is often difficult: Western shoes, eyeglasses and backpacks tip off pickpockets). Warm, waterproof boots are a must February-April, when the entire city can turn into a slushy swamp; sidewalks are slippery and treacherous in winter.
Business Practices—If you’re traveling on business, take lots of business cards: Failing to offer your card may be taken as a slight. Fancy business cards are admired. As a courtesy, print information in English on one side and Russian on the other. Russians shake hands upon meeting and generally are willing to discuss business in any venue.
Russians have three names: first, middle and last. The middle name always ends in -itch or -ovitch for men, -a or -ovna for women, meaning “son (or daughter) of.? So a man named John Smith whose father is named Robert would be John Robertovitch Smith; John’s sister Suzy would be Suzy Robertovna Smith. In formal situations, Russians are often introduced only by their first and middle names—John Robertovitch, not John Smith—and it is mildly presumptuous to drop the middle name when addressing them. So do not ask your new acquaintance, “John, would you like a drink?? Instead, ask, “John Robertovitch?—or, more likely, Vladimir Nikolaovitch—“would you like a drink??
Most Russians smoke and will do so without asking permission during business meetings or meals. They may also drink copious amounts of alcohol, although rarely during business meetings. In personal, nonbusiness situations, you may find yourself staring at a large glass of vodka. If you don’t want to drink, don’t.
Russians expect men to be solicitous of women—to hold doors for them, light their cigarettes and so on—whether in business or personal situations. At meals, be sure to pour drinks for women first and see that they are served first. Russians religiously hand their coats over to cloakrooms whenever they go indoors—keeping your coat with you is akin to putting your feet on the table during dinner. If you’re going to visit a Russian at home, take your dress shoes along with you in a plastic bag. Upon entering a home, you’ll be expected to remove your street shoes and slip on the shoes you have carried with you.
Russians are great gift givers. Flowers are especially popular and can be bought outside virtually any Metro station. Give female friends and acquaintances an odd number of flowers on holidays—always on 8 March, International Women’s Day—and when visiting them at home. (This is not a gesture of romantic interest but of respect, and it’s perfectly polite to give flowers to the wife of a friend when visiting.)
Population—4,672,000; Russia’s second-largest city (after Moscow).
Area of City—City proper: 230 sq mi/600 sq km. Metropolitan area: 580 sq mi/1,500 sq km.
County—Leningradskaya Oblast (an administrative area about the size of Ireland).
Time Zone—Three hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. Daylight Saving Time is observed from the last Sunday in March to tthe last Sunday in October.
Weather—Very cold winters, mild summers. Heaviest rain in August and October. Average temperatures: Jan 8-19 Fahrenheit/-13 to -7 Celsius; Feb 11-22 F/-12 to -5 C; Mar 18-32 F/-8 to 0 C; Apr 33-46 F/0-8 C; May 42-59 F/6-15 C; Jun 51-68 F/11-20 C; Jul 55-70 F/ 13-21 C; Aug 55-69 F/13-20 C; Sep 47-60 F/9-15 C; Oct 39-48 F/ 4-9 C; Nov 28-35 F/-2 to 2 C; Dec 18-26 F/-8 to -3 C.
Holidays—Like so much else in Russia, holidays are in flux: Prerevolutionary holidays, particularly religious ones, are being slowly revived, and today the Russian Orthodox Church’s Easter celebrations are elaborate affairs well worth seeing. Soviet holidays are ignored by the state but marked nevertheless by angry political speeches and marchers waving red flags.
1998: 17 Aug, Air Force Day; 7 Nov, Day of Unity and Accord; 12 Dec, Constitution Day.
1999: 1 Jan, New Year’s Day; 7 Jan, Orthodox Christmas; 27 Jan, End of the Blockade of Leningrad; 23 Feb, Defense of the Motherland Day; 8 Mar, International Women’s Day; 11 Apr, Orthodox Easter; 12 Apr, Cosmonaut Day; 1 May, International Labor Solidarity Day (May Day); 9 May, Victory Day (end of World War II); 27 May, Founding of St. Petersburg Day; 12 Jun, Russian Independence Day; 28 Jul, Naval Day (look for the ships in the Neva); 17 Aug, Air Force Day; 7 Nov, Day of Unity and Accord; 12 Dec, Constitution Day.
Note: These dates are the same every year, with the exception of Orthodox Easter.
Voltage Requirements—220 volts; round, two-prong plugs. Visitors from other countries may need a standard step-down converter and adapters for the plugs. A pocket-size surge protector for computers is a good idea.
Note: Often tourists buy electronic appliances in Finland for use in Russia. Be aware that Finnish plugs are sometimes too big to fit in Russian sockets, especially if they’re high-voltage units.
Telephone—St. Petersburg’s public telephones are in far better shape than Moscow’s. Some take a subway token, others take an electronic phone card that can be purchased at the subway and at some newsstands and stores.
Country code for Russia is 7, city code for St. Petersburg is 812. You must dial 8 (and wait for different dial tone) to call outside the city. To call Moscow from St. Petersburg, dial 8, then 095 and the number.
Note: Russian businesses (stores, theaters, etc.) are generally loath to answer the phone. Nonetheless, we have provided phone numbers throughout this profile.
International calls to the U.S. consulate must be made to the satellite line: 7-812-850-4170, fax 110-7022.
Time/Temperature—Dial 08 to hear the time (in Russian). Temperatures in cities throughout Russia are shown at the close of each evening TV newscast.
Taxes—The value-added tax (VAT) is a whopping 23% and is levied on everything, from services to meals to hotel rooms. The additional hotel tax levied by the mayor’s office is less than 2%. Russian customs law places a 600% export tax on souvenirs—wooden stacking dolls, vodka, contemporary art—but it is not strictly enforced. Icons cannot be exported under any circumstances; old paintings and other works of art can technically be exported only with a permit from the Ministry of Culture and after paying a duty (100% of their value), estimated on the spot by customs officials. Be careful to declare upon arrival laptop computers, jewelry and other valuables.
Tipping—Tipping is not customary outside of Westernized hotels. At restaurants, tip 10% at most. Do not tip taxi drivers. Hairdressers are not tipped.
Business Hours—Most businesses are open Monday-Friday 9 or 10 am-5 or 6 pm and briefly on Saturday. Most close for an hour’s break, but the time of this interval varies from place to place. Post offices and museums are open Sunday. Shops will sometimes randomly close for “technical reasons,? a Soviet-era euphemism that can signify an employee birthday party or other event.
Copyright © 1998 by Reed Travel Groups. All rights reserved.

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What to Do
Sights—Beautiful churches (Kazansky Cathedral, Smolny Cathedral, The Resurrection of Christ Church, St. Isaac’s Cathedral and Alexander Nevsky Monastery); the Peter and Paul Fortress; Palace Square (Dvortsovaya Ploshchad); and the stunning pal ... [more]
Shopping
Traditional Russian souvenirs are far more elegant and less kitschy than those found in most other cities or countries. Samovars, black lacquer boxes, the famous nesting matryoshka dolls, fine porcelain tea ... [more]
Sightseeing
St. Petersburg’s history is a mixture of opulent czarism, revolutionary communism and World War II horrors. Each era has left its distinct mark on architecture and each is represented by landmarks, ... [more]

DESTINATION
ST PETERSBURG

If Moscow is Europe's most Asiatic capital, then St Petersburg is Russia's most European city. Created by Peter the Great as his 'window on the West' at the only point where traditional Russian territory meets a seaway to Northern Europe, it was built with 18th and 19th century European pomp and orderliness by mainly European architects. The result is a city that remains one of Europe's most beautiful; where Moscow intimidates, St Petersburg enchants. Today, despite their problems, residents feel enough affection for their city to call it simply 'Piter' while reform and transformation is giving the city a facelift that's almost 80 years overdue.
Map of St Petersburg (11K)

Facts at a Glance
History
When to Go
Orientation
Attractions
Off the Beaten Track
Activities
Events
Getting There & Away
Getting Around
Recommended Reading
Lonely Planet Guides
Travellers' Reports on Russia
On-line Info



Facts at a Glance
Area: 600 sq km (235 sq mi)
Population: 5.5 million
Country: Russia
Time Zone: GMT/UTC plus 3 hours from October-March; plus 4 hours April-September
Telephone area code: 812

History
Alexandr of Novgorod defeated the Swedes near the mouth of the Neva in 1240 - earning the title Nevsky (of the Neva). Sweden took control of the region in the 17th century and it was Peter the Great's desire to crush this rival and make Russia a European power that led to the founding of the city. At the start of the Great Northern War (1700-21) he captured the Swedish outposts on the Neva, and in 1703 he founded the Peter & Paul Fortress on the Neva a few kilometers in from the sea. After Peter trounced the Swedes at Poltava in 1709, the city he named, in Dutch style, Sankt Pieter Burkh, really began to grow. Canals were dug to drain the marshy south bank and in 1712 he made the place his capital, forcing administrators, nobles and merchants to move here and build new homes. Peasants were drafted in for forced labour, many dying for their pains. Architects and artisans were brought from all over Europe. By Peter's death in 1725 his city had a huge population and 90% of Russia's foreign trade passed through it.
Peter's immediate successors moved the capital back to Moscow but Empress Anna Ivanovna (1730-40) returned to St Petersburg. Between 1741 and 1825 under Empress Elizabeth, Catherine the Great and Alexander I it became a cosmopolitan city with a royal court of famed splendour. These monarchs commissioned great series of palaces, government buildings and churches, which turned it into one of Europe's grandest capitals.
The emancipation of the serfs in 1861 and industrialisation, which peaked in the 1890s, brought a flood of poor workers into the city, leading to overcrowding, poor sanitation, epidemics and festering discontent. St Petersburg became a hotbed of strikes and political violence and was the hub of the 1905 revolution, sparked by 'Bloody Sunday' - 9 January 1905 - when a strikers' march to petition the tsar in the Winter Palace was fired on by troops. By 1914, when in a wave of patriotism at the start of WW I the city's name was changed to the Russian-style Petrograd, it had 2 million people.
Petrograd was again the cradle of revolution in 1917. It was here that workers' protests turned into a general strike and troops mutinied, forcing the end of the monarchy in March. The Petrograd Soviet, a socialist focus for workers' and soldiers' demands, started meeting in the city's Tauride Palace alongside the country's reformist Provisional Government. It was to Petrograd that Lenin travelled in April to organise the Bolshevik Party. The actual revolution came after Bolsheviks occupied key positions in Petrograd on 24 October. The new government operated from here until March 1918, when it moved to Moscow, fearing a German attack on Petrograd.
The city was renamed Leningrad after Lenin's death in 1924. It was a hub of Stalin's 1930s industrialisation programme and by 1939 had 3 million people and 11% of Soviet industrial output. But Stalin feared it as a rival power base and the 1934 assassination of local communist chief Sergey Kirov was the start of his 1930s Communist Party purge.
When the Germans attacked the USSR in June 1941 it took them only two-and-a-half months to reach Leningrad. As the birthplace of Bolshevism, Hitler hated the place and he swore to wipe it from the face of the earth. His troops besieged it from September 1941 until late January 1944. Many people had been evacuated; nonetheless, between 500,000 and a million died from shelling, starvation and disease. By comparison the US and UK suffered about 700,000 dead between them in all of WW II.
After the war, Leningrad was reconstructed and reborn, though it took until 1960 for its population to exceed pre-WW II levels. Corny as it may sound, St Petersburg did re-establish itself as Russia's window on the West. Today St Petersburg is a cosmopolitan city with a lively cultural and artistic core. Foreign and Russian business is quickly putting down roots. St Petersburg is Russia's biggest port, a huge industrial centre and truly an international city. For the first time in almost a century, St Petersburg residents live in a city that's both stunningly beautiful and well stocked.
When to Go
St Petersburg is a year-round destination. The city's northern latitude means long days in summer and long nights in winter. In winter, hotels and tourist attractions are less crowded and, while some describe the weather merely as 'dark', there's a twinkling magic about the winter sky. And while white nights in mid-summer are undeniably beautiful, some people find it disconcerting to look out of a window and think it's about 8 pm when it's really 3 am.
Climate-wise, St Petersburg is much milder than its extreme northern latitude would suggest. January temperatures average -8°C (17°F); a really cold day will get down to -15°C (5°F). It's a windy city though and in some areas the wind chill is quite fierce, so bring a good warm hat and scarf. Summer is cool and takes a while to get going: snow in late April is not uncommon and the warm weather doesn't really start until the period between June and August, when temperatures reach 20°C (68°F). During these months the city is packed with foreign and Russian tourists.
Orientation
St Petersburg was built on a grand scale, with palaces and boulevards designed to be viewed from afar, and bold symmetry embracing the whole. The city sprawls across and around the mouth of the Neva River, at the end of the easternmost arm of the Baltic Sea. The Neva splits the city into northern, eastern and southern sectors. The area spreading back from the Winter Palace and the Admiralty on the south bank is the city's heart, and Nevsky prospekt is its main artery. This central area is a pedestrian's dream, as the waterside walkways and elegant streetscapes are best seen on foot.
Off the record
The north side of the city has three main areas. The westernmost is Vasilevsky Island at the eastern end of which stand many of the city's fine early buildings. The middle area is Petrograd Side, a cluster of delta islands whose southern end is marked by the tall gold spire of the SS Peter & Paul Cathedral. This is where the city began. The third, eastern, area is Vyborg Side, divided from Petrograd Side by the Bolshaya Nevka channel and stretching east along the north bank of the Neva.
Attractions
Palace Square
For 200 years the vast Russian empire was ruled from this half-km block at St Petersburg's heart. This is one of Europe's great squares, lined with colourful yet elegant edifices and dotted with monuments commemorating Russia's victory over Napoleon. It witnessed Bloody Sunday in 1905, the Bolshevik's grab for power in 1917, and all-night vigils in the name of democracy during the 1991 coup.
The square is dominated by the green and white rococo fantasy of the Winter Palace, the largest of the architectural components which make up the State Hermitage Museum. In the grey old days visitors came to the city for the museum alone and even today it could probably eat up a week of your precious time. The complex of buildings is the size of a small town - a map and compass are absolute essentials. Four linked riverside buildings - the Winter Palace, the Little and Large Hermitage buildings and the Hermitage Theatre - hold a vast collection of Western European art, with enough chandeliers, over-the-top interior encrustations and tsarist jewels and treasures to have you seeing stars for days. The collection largely dates from the culturally heightened days of Catherine the Great, and many works were gained when Napoleon's power began to wane.
Adjacent to the Winter Palace is the gilded spire of the Admiralty - a good landmark to use when you're out and about. This Empire-style classical building houses a naval college and is replete with trumpeting angels, oversized statues and fountains. Another building which dominates the skyline is the golden-domed St Isaac's Cathedral, which provides fine views from the supporting colonnade.
Peter & Paul Fortress
Tiny Zayachy Island contains the oldest building in town - the Peter & Paul Fortress. It was built in 1703 to defend the newly acquired land from the Swedes and designed according to plans laid out by Peter the Great himself. However, its main use up to 1917 was as a political prison and the first inmate was Peter's own son Alexey, who was followed by other notables such as Dostoevsky, Gorky, Trotsky and Lenin's older brother, Alexander. The adjacent cathedral, though plain on the outside, has a magnificent baroque interior. Most of Russia's Romanov rulers are buried here. All this was built while Peter was still roughing it in a log cabin overlooking his golden embryonic city. The cabin is preserved as a shrinelike museum.

Tsarist St Petersburg
St Petersburg's splendid architecture provides a visible means of understanding the revolution of 1917: just mentally contrast the opulent lifestyles of the royal family and nobility with the lives of the have-not soldiers and workers. The city's buildings reflect European tastes and traditions, and were largely commissioned during the reigns of Empress Elizabeth, Catherine the Great and Alexander I. Neoclassical styles predominate. The Summer Palace, located in St Petersburg's loveliest public gardens, was built for Peter and is pretty nigh intact today. Its comparative modesty contrasts with the Versailles-like symmetry of the gardens.
One of the city's most photographed relics of former glories lies at the eastern end of Nevsky prospekt: the Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace. The building is easily recognised by its dark-red stucco and row of weight-bearing musclemen sporting crumpled nappies. It's easy to understand why the building was utilised by the local branch of the Communist Party until 1991. Empress Elizabeth's favourite architect (and lover), Rastrelli, was responsible for the green and white Stroganov Palace, which overlooks the Moyka River. The family fortune was based on the Siberian fur trade, and, yes, their chef did invent beef stroganoff.
Vasilevsky Island
St Petersburg's largest island lies wedged like a plug in the mouth of the Neva. The main points of interest are clustered on its eastern 'nose', just across the river from the Admiralty. They include maritime buildings, the city's university, a clutch of museums, and some of the best views of the city. Museums include the Naval Museum, Zoological Museum, Kunstkammer (with its freakish collection) and the Academy of Arts. The island's nostrils are adorned with the Rostral Columns, navigation beacons shaped like ship's prows which today spurt forth gas-fuelled fire on holidays. The Menshikov Palace was one of the first buildings erected on the island and today it functions as a museum, overflowing with period furnishings and fittings.

Nevsky Prospect
St Petersburg's `Champs Elysées' is the famous Nevsky prospekt, which runs west from the Admiralty 4km (2mi) to the Alexandr Nevsky Monastery on the banks of the Neva. It's lined with fine buildings and thronged with people - a good place to feel the city's pulse, particularly during the midsummer White Nights. The list of former residents who lived on and around the famous thoroughfare reads like a veritable Who's Who: Gogol, Tchaikovsky, Turgenev, Nijinsky, Rimsky-Korsakov and Dostoevsky. While strolling, don't forget to look up and around at the wealth of architectural details. Sights you'll pass include the many-columned Kazan Cathedral (home to the Museum of Religion), the Art Nouveau former premises of the Singer sewing-machine company (now a bookshop), the arcaded Gostiny Dvor department store and the huge square dominated by the statue of Catherine the Great surrounded by her numerous lovers. Many of the shops are worth browsing for their interiors alone. They range from 19th-century palaces of merchandise to amazingly opulent Art Nouveau and Art Deco extravaganzas.

Literary Connections
Pushkin launched Russia's impressive literary pedigree and described St Petersburg's decadence particularly well in Eugene Onegin. His poem The Bronze Horseman brings the famous statue that graces the Neva's embankment to life. Tolstoy also had a go at the nobs in War and Peace and Anna Karenina, comparing simple Moscow life with superficial and sophisticated St Petersburg. Dostoevsky on the other hand targeted the life of the poor in Crime and Punishment. Pushkin's last home, on one of the prettiest curves of the Moyka River, is now a museum, complete with stopped clock and replicated library. The writer expired here after fighting a duel to defend the tarnished reputation of his wife. Dostoevsky's home has also been turned into a faithfully reconstructed museum. He died here of a throat hemorrhage while writing up his diary.
Off the Beaten Track
Radio-Tele Antennae
The Leningrad Radio-Tele Broadcasting Centre's antenna is open to visitors. The 50,000-watt, 310m (1020ft) transmitter tower offers excellent views of the city and its environs, and there's a bar-café 200m (660ft) up the structure. The tower sways on windy days, and you can feel it! The construction of the tower was supervised by an all-female crew.

Petrodvorets
Most European rulers had at least one Versailles, and Peter the Great was no exception. He built a series of palaces on a beautiful site 30km (20mi) west of St Petersburg, the combined ensemble known as Petrodvorets. This legacy of tsarist overindulgence was virtually destroyed by the occupying Germans in WW II, and what you see today is a faithful reconstruction that stands as a symbol of the nation's postwar recovery.
Fountains play a very large part in explaining Petrodvorets' impressive charm. The Grand Cascade & Water Avenue is a symphony of fountains and canals partly engineered by Peter himself. Petrodvorets' other components include the Grand Palace, enlarged by Rastrelli for Empress Elizabeth and later remodelled by Catherine the Great. The pendulous chandeliers and paintings are originals; fortunately they were removed before the Germans arrived. Peter's original villa, Monplaisir, has bright and airy galleries facing the sea - it's easy to see why it was his favourite place to doss. The gardens are dotted with the ubiquitous fountains, charming pavilions and summer houses, including the ultimate in private dining rooms, the self-contained and moated Hermitage.

Kirovsky Islands
The outer delta islands, lying to the north of the centre, are collectively called the Kirovsky Islands, and include Kamenny, Yelagin and Krestovsky. The islands were granted to court favourites and developed into elegant playgrounds. Today they're mostly leafy venues for picnics and cavorting. Summerhouses, gingerbread mansions, palaces, boating channels, cycle paths and a seaside park mingle with the houses of St Petersburg's very rich.

Pushkin
Evocative of the rosy days and the grey days of the Romanovs, the summer palaces at Tsarskoe Selo (renamed Pushkin in 1937 to commemorate the centenary of his death) were created for Empress Elizabeth and Catherine the Great. They lie 25km (15mi) south of St Petersburg. The baroque Catherine Palace was left in ruins by the Germans at the end of WW II but today is a masterpiece of restoration. The facade features golden domes and blue and white detailing, while the interior positively gleams and glitters with mirrors, chandeliers and tumescent cherubs. Don't miss the Fabergé exhibition. Just north of the Catherine Palace is the lemon-coloured Alexander Palace. Favourite haunt of Nicholas and Alexandra, it ironically became their prison when they were put under house arrest before being shunted off to Yekaterinburg. It's the least touristed palace, so in some ways the most pleasant, and now open after an eons-long renovation.
Activities
In summer, a lovely way to while away a day is paddling through the canals and lakes around the Kirovsky Islands. There are also rowing boat rentals at the northern end of the moat around the Peter & Paul Fortress. If that's too much effort, the 100,000-seat Kirov Stadium on Krestovsky Island is a bracing place to watch some woeful soccer - the local team is unfortunately rather skill-challenged.
Events
During the last 10 days of June, when night never falls, many St Petersburgers stay out celebrating White Nights all night, particularly at weekends. There's a White Nights Dance Festival with events ranging from folk to ballet, but the main Kirov company doesn't always take part, more often its students do.
Festivities during the Russian Winter Festival, 25 December to 5 January, and Goodbye Russian Winter, late February to early March, centre outside the city, with troyka (horse-drawn sleigh) rides, folk shows and performing bears. Less known are the Christmas Musical Meetings in Northern Palmyra, a classical musical festival held during the week before Christmas. The St Petersburg Music Spring, an international classical music festival held in April or May, and the mid-November international jazz festival, Osenie Ritmy (Autumn Rhythms), are built around St Petersburg's jazz clubs.
Getting There & Away
St Petersburg has direct air links with most major European capitals and airlines, many offering several connections each week. There's a departure tax of about US$11. Domestically, you can fly just about anywhere you want, but only a few times a week in some cases. Air service is best between St Petersburg and Moscow.
St Petersburg has two long distance bus stations - one serving northern destinations; the other serving destinations to the south and east. There are three bus companies offering shuttle services between Helsinki and St Petersburg.
The main international rail gateways to St Petersburg are Helsinki, Tallinn, Warsaw and Berlin. The city has four stations, all south of the Neva River, except the Finland Station, which serves trains on the Helsinki railway line. Moscow Station handles trains to and from Moscow, the far north, Crimea, the Caucasus, Georgia and Central Asia; Vitebsk Station deals with Smolensk, Belarus, Kiev, Odessa and Moldova; and Warsaw Station covers the Baltic republics and Eastern Europe. Baltic Station, just along the road from the Warsaw Station, is mainly for suburban trains.
Foreigners can legally drive on almost all of Russia's highways and can even ride motorcycles. You'll need to be 18 years old and have a drivers' licence, along with an International Driving Permit. On the down side, driving in Russia is truly an unfiltered Russian experience. Poor roads, inadequate signposting (except in St Petersburg's centre), low-quality petrol and keen highway patrollers can lead to frustration and dismay. Motorbikes will undergo vigourous scrutiny by border officials and highway police.
Getting Around
Pulkova-1 and -2, respectively the domestic and international airports that serve St Petersburg, are 17km (10mi) south of the city centre, about a half-hour taxi ride and about an hour by public transport (metro plus bus).
Though less majestic than Moscow's, the St Petersburg metro leaves most of the world's other undergrounds for dead. You'll rarely wait more than three minutes for a train, and the clock at the end of the platform shows time elapsed since the last train departed. Taking the metro is the quickest and cheapest way around the wider city.
The best way of getting around the city by road is by bus, trolleybus (an electric bus) or tram. Each require payment of an inexpensive talony (ticket), which are sold in kiosks at major interchanges, by hawkers at the train stations, and often in strips of 10 by drivers. Driving a car or motorcycle is definitely not wise - roads are gnarled, road rules are strange, and the traffic cops are empowered to stop you and fine you on the spot. Oh yeah, they can also shoot at your vehicle if you don't heed their command to pull over.
Recommended Reading
• For a quick coverage, A Traveller's History of the USSR and Russia by Peter Neville is quite a good read, and it's good on pre-Gorbachev Russia. An excellent history of the Soviet period from start to finish is in Robert Service's A History of Twentieth-Century Russia.
• Robert K Massie's Peter the Great: His Life and World is a great book on the history of St Petersburg's founder.
• Between Heaven and Hell: The Story of a Thousand Years of Artistic Life in Russia by W Bruce Lincoln is a fascinating in-depth history of arts and artists in Russia, ranging from religious icons to Soviet film makers. Its author also wrote Romanovs: Autocrats of All the Russias, a complete history of the Romanov dynasty.
• Women's Glasnost vs Naglost by Tatyana Mamonova combines essays by this leader of the Russian women's movement with interviews with a cross-section of women in a country where wife-beating and abortion have reached horrific levels.
Lonely Planet Guides
• St Petersburg city guide
• Russia, Ukraine & Belarus
• ook
• Click here for information on Moscow and Russia
Travellers' Reports
• Click here for the latest (but unverified) travellers' reports on Russia
On-line Info
• Take the subWWWay to St Petersburg
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