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1. Posted by lonelyhear (Budding Member 48 posts) 9y

lonelyhear has indicated that this thread is about Russia

Plz suggest,
1.cheapest available transport between Helsinki-St.Petersburg & back.
I learnt Russian tourist bus @10-15 euro is available.Where exactly it starts at Helsinki?
2.Hermitage - very busy,long queue,these are things I read in severel travell books.
So,what is the sensible and logical way to have a decent & reasonably good time inside?
I do not know Russian language and I can stay max 3 days.
Any further advice for St.Pits and around.Thank you everybody.

2. Posted by augustina (Budding Member 2 posts) 9y

Hello!!!
Welcome to our country!
I know that bus goes every day from St.Petersburg to Helsinki and Russians go shopping . So I think it must stop at sales and markets.

What about the Hermitage... Yes, it`s really very very big . I think you need a guide. I can recommend one.

3. Posted by wendables (Budding Member 3 posts) 9y

I suggest booking your ticket online for the Hermitage prior to arriving in St. Petersburg. This will allow you to bypass any lineups and you will avoid the possibility of not being able to get in. I got my tickets here: http://www.hermitagemuseum.org/html_En/index.html

I stayed in a hostel that is in a very central location and no kidding, about 20 steps to the Hermitage Sqaure. I definitely recommend - the name of the hostel is Nord Hostel: http://www.nordhostel.com/expl/index.htm

4. Posted by aharrold45 (Travel Guru 1281 posts) 9y

I lined up at the Hermitage early in the morning and the line was rather long, but after it opened it didn't take particularly long to get inside, but it does take ages to get around. It is a bit pricey to enter if you aren't a student and it costs quite a bit extra for the privledge of taking photos or video.

If you only have a maximum of 3 days, you are going to be extremely rushed and need to used every minute of those 3 days to even get a taste of St Petersburg. Whatever you do, do not miss out on seeing Peterhof. That was very nice and a good way to get there was getting the hydrofoil from just behind the hermitage. If you got the Hydrofoil there, be sure to go out the other way because it has a nice garden and a nice church (at least on the outside) up the road. If you keep your ticket, you should be able to get back in to get the hydrofoil back if that is what you are wanting to do. It'd save so much hassels and a lot of time if you did that.

I also stayed at Nord Hostel and the location is perfect, but booking online was a lot cheaper than just turning up. I paid 13 Euro a night (which was a special price) and everyone else who was in my room paid the equivalent of 23 Euro a night for turning up. So that sure was a big discount for booking in advance through hostelworld.

Catherines Palace was also a really amazing place to visit, but if you have only got a maximum of 3 days, then you'll most likely have to skip that due to it being a day trip and you having to wait around for ages to get inside the palace.

I think that you should spend 1 day looking around St Petersburg and a lot of the churches and stuff. Then another day do Peterhof and then another day see the hermitage and if you have any time left (which you would have rushed through the hermitage if you do) see a bit more around St Petersburg. It has so many pieces of art and other artifacts in the hermitage that if you spent only 10 seconds looking at each item you'd need at least 3 and a half years to see them all! Thankfully not all of them are on display and about 1.8 million of those are from the coin collection. As for needing a guide like was said by another member, I did it alone and for your sake it is probably best because otherwise you'd spend even longer there and it'd cost you a small fortune which being on a tight budget is not exactly what you want.

Have a great trip.

[ Edit: Edited on May 5, 2007, at 7:08 PM by aharrold45 ]

5. Posted by lonelyhear (Budding Member 48 posts) 9y

Thank you, augustina,
But you have not mentioned the exact place from where this bus starts. If you know, plz tell it.
Thank you for offering me the services of a guide. But sorry and I am afraid, I will not be able to afford it.

6. Posted by lonelyhear (Budding Member 48 posts) 9y

Thank you Wendy,
I will remember both the advice.
But I am a bit uncomfortable in exposing my card in the net.
Any alternative? if none, then posbly I'll do as you said.
By the way your photograph is good. A beautiful lady over a beautiful background.:) Where is it ?

7. Posted by lonelyhear (Budding Member 48 posts) 9y

Thank you Aharrold again,
I got the point. Actually I want to avoid that visa regn affair,since it is not required for 3 days.I will remember your advice. Can you tell me another thing. Euro- is it acceptable at Russia? If it is only rouble, then where should I exchange it or shall I exchange it before entering the country? I mean less or nil commission.
I must appreciate your patience of writing such long mails for everybody. Be happy always.

8. Posted by lonelyhear (Budding Member 48 posts) 9y

Aharrold,
Another thing. Actually all the great Museums of the world are humanly impossible to cover. Think of Louvre,Uffiji, even National Gallery, London. Louvre is said to have its perimeter of 4.5km and the only the Grand Gallery is 1000meter long! I spent two whole days there and thinking of going again.We have to select and priorities the selections according to one's interest. For me, the paintings are interesting, but not the numasmitics. Its like that.
Anyway thank you.

9. Posted by Svetla (Budding Member 11 posts) 9y

Hello!!! :)
Welcome to St.-Peter!
the bus goes every day from St.Petersburg to Helsinki, it is real)) it is shopping bus and the day trip costs about 15-17 euro. it stops at sales and markets. there are 1 day, 2 days and 3 days trip by this bus. But it is not convenient because it can stand for a long time on the Russia-Finland's border, but it can't-on occasion)) You can go to Helsinky by regular bus or by train.
this is a timetable of regular bus to Finland http://www.visitfinland.ru/w5/ru/index.nsf/(pages)/A%D0%B2%D1%82%D0%BE%D0%B1%D1%83%D1%81
the shopping bus:
From St.-Peter (Vosstania square)-22-00 (23-00) evening
in Helsinky (city center near the railway station)-7-00 (8-00) next morning

[ Edit: Edited on May 6, 2007, at 9:36 PM by Svetla ]

10. Posted by aharrold45 (Travel Guru 1281 posts) 9y

I personally felt that the Louvre and National Gallery of London were easy to see in a day in comparison to the Hermitage (not that you can fully enjoy any of them in 1 day if you are an art lover). If you are an art lover then it is such a pity you couldn't allow a little longer in St Petersburg, because Catherines Palace is just amazing and has this one piece of art that goes along the whole roof of this extremely long roof. That piece of art is perfect in every aspect almost like the artwork in the Vatican.

If you did have extra days you could use for St Petersburg and it is just the visa registration thing you are worried about, it is simple to sort out in St Petersburg if you stay at Nord Hostel. They just stamped my card there when I entered and registered for me no problems at all at no extra charge, in Moscow it was a little more difficult and cost extra. If you've already applied for your visa and only allowed for 3 days, you'll pretty much be restricted to that even if you changed your mind. If you are planning on heading back to Helsinki after St Petersburg, going by what Svetla mentions with bus times, you may need to be careful, because if your visa says you are leaving on 20th May and you depart St Petersburg on the 20th but cross the Russian border after 23:59 in the eveing so hence crossing the border on the 21st of May, you may find yourself not leaving the country the way you planned and being banned from re entering again. So when it says you leave on a date it means you are crossed the border before midnight on that date.

Euro will not be accepted anywhere for purchases in Russia (at least no places I went to), you'll have to change your money for Rouble at a currency exchange shop somewhere. For hostels/hotels they may advertise prices in Euro or $US sometimes, but they always expect you to pay up in Roubles. I know down along Nevsky Prospect they had places you could change currency. Undoubtedly in Helsinki you'd be able to change some of your Euro for Russian Roubles.

When you do get to Russia, be careful to watch out in the distance for any cops, because they are reknown for checking passports and lying about their being something wrong with your documents when their really isn't. I managed to escape this when I was there, by crossing to the other side of the road whenever I saw a policeman in the distance, but another person staying at the hostel I was staying at said that they had been caught out by this scam. You are there you are meant to carry your passport with you at all times.

If you haven't already applied for your visa, you should definitely try to grant yourself a few days either side of your arrival and departure dates because if the bus leaves late you're screwed if you leave it to the exact times you are planning on. If you are still yet to apply, as you know a Russian visa is a painful thing to get so don't leave it to the last minute to apply because mine took 4 weeks. You are able to enter after the date your visa says as your arrival date, but not before just the same as you are allowed to cross the border before the visa sets as your departure date, but not after that date. So allowing those days either side allows some flexibility and less worry about if the bus/train is running on time or if it is going to cross the border in time.

Have a great trip in Russia.

[ Edit: Edited on May 7, 2007, at 5:44 AM by aharrold45 ]