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On Baltics tour Aug 5-13; interested in sharing a guide in Moscow afterwards?

My husband and I will probably spend the day in St. P the day the tour ends, then take the night train to Moscow for a 3 day visit. Any suggestions on where to stay, or how to spend time would be appreciated. Also, deciding whether to book train myself using Real Russia, or www.rzd.ru, or use the travel agency suggested by Rick.
After Russia, we will probably fly to Vilnius for a couple of days, then fly, drive, or take the tour bus to Riga, to visit there for a couple of days. We fly home from Helsinki. All suggestions welcome! Thanks!

Posted by
319 posts

Hi,
For trains - definitely go with rzd; I think sales open 90 days before the date. The process is pretty straightforward.
As to places to stay and things to do - these are heavily dependent on your preferences; maybe if you let us know what your interests are, you'll be able to get more meaningful feedback.

Posted by
18 posts

Perilofp,
Thank you for your very detailed list.
I did try the train website you suggested. One place said that Red Arrow is available 120days in advance in August, but I cannot get it to respond, so they are probably sticking with 90days before, so I have just over a wk until that opens. I did send an email, but haven't rec'd an answer. It discusses single sex & mixed sex cabins, but I cannot tell how to select the mixed, since my husband and I will share a 2 berth cabin. It looks like we will need 1st class, as he needs an outlet in the room, to run his CPAP machine. I also do not know if getting breakfast on board is recommended, so we don't have to look for somewhere to eat, when we get off the train, which would delay our sightseeing. I assume since we leave at midnight, and arrive at 8am, we will have eaten dinner, and will want to get to sleep, ASAP.
Are some hotels more cooperative about issuing the letters needed for the VISA, or shall I just pick one from Hotels.com or Trip Advisor?
We are interested in:
The Kremlin. Do you recommend a guide? Is there a boat tour you recommend?
Space museum @VDNH
Bunker 42, and an Air Museum outside Moscow?
Perhaps a circus, ballet, or concert
Some of the metro stations that we have heard are interesting
Gorky Park and /or gardens
Thank you very much for your help. It's clear that 3 days will be a short visit, but that is what our schedule allows.
Take care,
Mary

Posted by
319 posts

Mary,
First thing first: Visa/invites (LOI).
I'm not familiar with the way RS Tours operate, but I would assume they "take care" of your visas for the tour. If they apply on your behalf for a 3-year multiple entry visa (as they should), you shouldn't be worried about adding any dates towards the end of the trip, as the visa is valid for up to 6 months per entry.

Trains: it is 90 days, period. Anyone claiming they can do it sooner is most likely an enterprising reseller (or, in a less politically correct lingo, a despicable scalper) that will take your money and sit on it until 90 days sale period opens, and then buy those same tickets on rzd site.

Over the years, I have pretty much switched to Sapsan, and generally prefer it over overnight trains. Not sure about CPAP (or wall outlets), but Red Arrow (001a) is not your only option as far as night trains go - maybe also look into Grand Express (53).

Single-sex vs co-ed cabins shouldn't be an issue for you if you book together.

Night trains of higher classes usually come with prepackaged lunch boxes, but there will also be a restaurant car.

Air museum (Monino) is awesome - but don't expect Smithsonian Udvar-Hazy kind of sterile experience. Will likely take a full day (you could still do circus or theater in the evening). Here's a community of volunteers working on maintaining and restoring some of Monino's unique exhibits - the photos should give you a pretty good idea of what to expect: https://m.vk.com/aviarestorermonino

As an option if pressed for time, check out the Central Museum of Armed Forces (Dostoevskaya metro) - they have some cold war-era aircraft outside (and debris of Gary Power's U2 inside). Closed Mo, Tu.

If you are really into air&space stuff, maybe consider a day trip/excursion to Star City (actually, more of a Star Village, Zvezdny Gorodok) - an operational cosmonaut training facitlity. Excursion must be booked 2 months in advance.

No need for guide for the Kremlin (a guide book would suffice), better to have one for the Armory (or get an audio guide). Also check out izi.travel app for free geo-located audio guides (might NOT work inside the Kremlin due to GPS spoofing). For the boat, you have a choice of older Soviet ones (cheaper, more fun people-watching), and more modern Radisson Flotilla (more comfortable, better chance of having info in English). Either way, it's more of a scenic boat ride than a tour.

As to Bunker42 - only a small portion of the original facility is accessible (the staircase, a short corridor, two larger halls, and a long corridor). If you could just walk through it, it would only take about 10 minutes. So taking the steps down (and especially up) is not only to add to the experience, but also to stretch the excursion to the advertised length of 1.5hrs.