Is Russia a good and safe place to go this summer? I'm a big Rick Steves follower, bought his books, followed his travel advice and done several trips to Europe but I'm not sure about Russia this August. We are going to Norway, Estonia and Finland then four days in St. Petersburg and four days in Moscow. I'm following Rick Steve's advice on how to get a Russian visa and I will hire the suggested companies for a one or two day guided tour in each city (St. Pete/Moscow) but the language/alphabet barrier looks so difficult, their economy is not doing so great, international relations.....I don't know. Is this a good place to go for tourists kindof on our own with two teenagers? Any thoughts appreciated.
We were just in St. Petersburg and had a wonderful time. We encountered no difficulty and people treated us well. No one discussed the political situation with us. St. Petersburg is a beautiful interesting city. The Hermitage is amazing.
One thing you could do to kind of put your mind at ease is join a local travel meetup and talk to people who have done a Russian trip; or read multiple trip reports on this board, Cruisecritic, TripAdvisor, fodors, and other similar resources.
Someone has also posted a link here to Rick Steve's recent podcast on doing the trans-siberian, the guest speaker there (Lisa Dickey) addresses some of your concerns.
Another thing is that if you do hire a company for a guided tour, you are hardly "kind of on your own": somebody will be taking care of you for at least half of your trip. It's a great way to ease your way into new and sometimes overwhelming settings.
If we move from psychological to more practical aspects of it, the economic situation, if anything, is an incentive rather than a hindrance: at current exchange rates, you get more bang for your buck.
The language barrier may be a bit of an issue even in the two cities you're planning to visit, but learning the alphabet takes about two to three hours of practice (there are many free apps out there that will help you with that).
International relations per se is not something you are likely to be affected by in any way at all. Not any more than an average Russian citizen in the streets of New York or DC.
Finally, if you spend some time developing a sensible and appropriate itinerary, you can ensure that your teenage children will also have a blast - if you need any particular suggestions, please expand a little on your interests and preferences, and I'm sure some members here will be happy to chime in.
If you have any other questions - do not hesitate to ask.
My dad and i are traveling to Russia in June . We are using a tour company Express to Russia . They have been very helpful. Our tour is Sat to Sat - Moscow and St Petersburg . We did not want to do this on our own - felt the language and alphabet was too much a barrier. Anyway - look at their web site.
Their website is: http://www.expresstorussia.com . We used them too and were very satisfied. We reserved accommodation and some tours in St.Petersburg and Moscow with them. Then we had Volga River cruise with them all the way from Moscow to Astrakhan on Caspic Sea (which is actually lake - the largest in the world). We did not need the agency for everything because I can read the alphabet and speak some Russian.
Russia super dalu