Russia in two weeks - part I
My country is allowed only two weeks of tourist visa in Russia. Fourteen days for this huge country is unarguably not enough. Fortunately, I made a plan how to cover all popular landmarks for the given time. My story will take you to the most beautiful city Saint Petersburg and show you how to use it as a starting point to the city’s suburban Royal Palaces – Gatchina, Petergoff, Pushkin. We will have a closer look of the Saint Petersburg's amazing buildings and visit the largest museum in the world Hermitage. We will continue to Moscow and enjoy the humongous Red Square. Then we will go on a subway ride to the most beautiful of the famous stations in Moscow’s metro. I will split this article into few parts as it turns out I have quite a lot tips and beautiful pictures. Stay tuned for the next post :)
When to visit Russia
Plan your vacation if possible during summer time – June, July, August. I was there in the beginning of June and I have to say that even then it was colder than I expected. As I remember some of the days the temperature was below 10 degrees. On 1st of June it was snowing for a while and I understood why Russians drink so much :) - it’s just depressing to be snowing in the summer. To be honest I bought a bottle of wine that day as well :). Although it was cold some of the days, it was most of the time sunny and I had the chance to make beautiful pictures. I only had 3 days of rain, but those days can be used in a proper way also – if you would like to visit Hermitage and you want to see all paintings and go to all exhibitions you can easily spend a whole week there. If you are in Moscow and it is raining just buy a ticket and enter the subway. You can spend easily 4-5 hours just wandering on different stations.
Visiting Russia in summer time will give you also long day for sightseeing. The sun is setting at about 11 pm and it will be back before 4 am. The sunsets are amazing, so on a clear day don’t forget to find a place with a view for the best experience.
Although, you will be visiting during summertime don’t forget to bring your jacket with you. St. Petersburg weather can change very quickly and to be honest, it’s never too hot there for a jacket. Even if the day was nice and warm you will probably need your jacket during the night. Walking near to the river is always a refreshing experience and if you would like to go and see the bridges opening you would love to have a warm cloth with you. It was never hot enough to go in my dress, so don’t bring more than two of those. Moscow is a little bit warmer and there is no humidity. Temperatures can go up to 25 degrees.
From Saint Petersburg, there are lots of minibusses running to the close by Royal Palaces. To find those go to Moskovskaya metro station. When you exit the station you will find a large area full of buses and mainly minibusses running to all directions you would like to visit. The price for those is fixed and not expensive. The only problem that you might encounter is that the signs most of the time are written in Cyrillic alphabet. The street labels will be very rarely written in Latin letters as well. Having the Cyrillic alphabet printed or downloaded on your phone can come in handy. Not so many people speak English so having a dictionary on your phone will be also useful. Buying local SIM card it’s a good idea, as it will give you access to the Internet the whole time.
Except for the language differences, I found it quite easy to travel around and I felt safe to travel alone. The Russian rubles collapsed recently and it is quite cheap to go to Russia right now. Travelling to Moscow from St. Petersburg can be done on a plane or a train. The plane takes about one hour and a half but most of the time the internal flights got delayed and you can end up spending 4-5 hours for the whole journey. The plane tickets can be very cheap if you book them in advance. They can be cheaper than the train. I traveled by the night train and I found it pretty comfortable, they also had free tea and it was clean. No delays there. Arriving early in the morning in Moscow will give you the chance to go to the Red Square before the crowd.
What to see in St. Petersburg
The first thing you need to visit and the building I was most excited to see was, of course, Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood. Enter the building – it is really beautiful inside as well. For a magical experience with rays coming from the windows go in the afternoon. Go to St. Isaac's Cathedral and climb to the top. You will have a really good view over the city from it. Hermitage has free entrance ticket on the first day of every month. I didn’t know that but I was super lucky to go there at exactly the first day of the month. So if you have more days in Saint Petersburg and some of those will be the first day of the month use the opportunity to enter it without paying. The ticket is not cheap and there weren’t bigger queues than usual on that day. For amazing sunset pictures over the city visit café named Solaris Lab. They have a terrace on the top of a building. They also have blankets if you are staying outside. There is a festival in summertime called Dragon festival – people release hundreds of kites on the beach and it looks amazing. Make sure you check it out. There are a lot of amazing buildings in the city you can see just wandering around. So, take a walk in the center and you will fall in love with this beautiful place, as I did.
I will take you to the Royal palaces in my next post. Let me know if you have questions or you need more information for some of the places here. Thank you for reading and upvoting :)
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