Archive for May, 2016

What to see in Peterhoff

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Peterhoff is one of the most famous summer imperial residences next to St Petersburg.

Millions of visitors come there every year, but it is very easy to get lost in this enormous complex with lots of museums and palaces. Traditionally, everyone walks around the park and goes inside the Grand Palace. However, the smaller palaces should not be left behind, as they are sometimes even more interesting than the Grand Palace.

So, if you are doing a package tour of St Petersburg, which covers the main attractions, instead of requesting an inside visit of the Grand Palace of Peterhoff we recommend checking out the following:

  • Monplaisir Palace
    Monplaisir is one of the few original constructions of Peterhoff, that survived the WWII. Most of the buildings are newly made, but this palace remembers its first owner – Peter I. It was built according to Peter’s own ideas of a perfect dwelling, and after the death of Peter it remained the memorial palace with the interior kept exactly the same as the first Russian emperor had it.

 

  • Bath House
    This is probably the most interesting museum in the whole complex. If you would like to know about the everyday life of the Emperors, you should definitely look into this museum. It seems strange, but the Tzars were also humans, and had kitchens and bathrooms in their residences. Here you will see how they bathed, what they ate and in what ways they entertained themselves.

 

  • Hermitage pavilion
    The word “Hermitage” is usually associated with just the great art gallery in St Petersburg. However, originally this word was borrowed from French language and means “the asylum of a hermit” – an isolated hiding place. There were quite a few hermitages, and they were often used for secret dates and meetings. To keep the conspiracy, the owners of the residence even had mechanical tables in these pavilions – very peculiar thing really worth seeing!

 

  • Catherine’s Block
    This palace gained its name in the second half of the 18th century, as this was the place from where Catherine II went to St Petersburg on the day she became the Empress of Russia. However, this was one of the first gala palaces for balls, receptions and other high society parties, built for Elizabeth, daughter of Peter I. It is a great alternative to the Grand Palace, as the interiors there are fascinating, and it is never as crowded.

 

  • Aviaries
    If you are coming to Peterhoff with children, the aviaries should not be missed out! Very often the kids get bored with the museums, but here they have an exciting chance to see the feathered dwellers of the imperial residences face to face. The two aviaries present the local birds in one of them, and the bright and exotic parrots in the other. By the way, behind this second building there is a small lake with swans and ducks.

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There is one good reason for the difficulty to give a clear answer to the question “What to pack for St Petersburg?”, as all four seasons in this city are way too different.

If you are traveling in summer time, you should know that you will need a minimum of warm clothes. Usually the St Petersburg temperature in July is not lower than 23°C, and it can even go up to 35°C. The weather is not permanently warm in June.

But don’t take it too easy! Bring your sunglasses, as the sunrays are reflected by the water, and this is totally blinding.

A raincoat or an umbrella. The sky may be crystal clear, however, in 20 minutes it will be pouring rain, and this is the usual thing in St Petersburg. You need to be prepared for anything!

It is recommended to check the weather forecast; however, this is also approximate. Generally, it is better to look it up for no longer than 3 days. The weather is changing all the time, so we do not have any stable climate!
Regarding footwear, think of the most comfortable and reliable options. Even if you are planning to use transport, you would still need to walk a lot to see all the beauty of this marvelous city!
Apart from this, play by the weather and do not forget about rain. It is not the best experience to walk around with wet shoes. It is not likely that you will need rubber boots, but good closed shoes will come in handy!

You need to be careful about the weather in St Petersburg in spring and fall. Your impressions about the city can be somewhat spoilt by cold winds and rains coming from the Gulf of Finland, so be sure to bring wind-proof and water-proof jacket.

The winter in St Petersburg can be slushy, but generally it is incredibly beautiful. Apart from warm clothes (VERY warm!) grab a tube of nourishing cream to protect your skin from ice-cold wind and frost.
Write in comments what you would pack for St Petersburg!

Visiting Russia without a visa

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Everyone planning a visit to Russia gets concerned about visa-related issued. The matter is indeed rather complicated, if you start thinking about rules, papers, costs, etc. And it gets even more confusing if you’ve heard that under certain circumstances you do not need a visa to go to Russia. To cut it short, the general truth is:


You can visit Russia with or without visa.

Cruise passengers DO NOT need a visa, to visit St Petersburg, if they are accompanied with a representative of a registered tour operator. If the cruise line is trying to persuade you that you cannot disembark if you book a tour with a private tour company – THIS IS NOT TRUE.
The tour company you book with issues the travel vouchers that you need to print and have with you to disembark. You will need to provide you passport data for the tour operator.
Ferry passengers DO NOT need a visa. They pay 25 Euro for a tour shuttle onboard, and can stay up to 72 hours in St Petersburg. They can stay in a hotel and walk around independently.
If you are coming by plane/train/bus and/or planning to stay more than 72 hours, you DO need a visa. You can apply for it in the Russian embassy of your country. The required documents usually are:
• Filled application form
• Valid passport
• Picture of the applicant
• Check or receipt of the payment of the consulate fee
• Invitation letter from hosting person or organization

Visa fees can be checked on the official websites of embassies. For instance, a single or double entry visa for US citizens costs from 160 USD.
The time of issue can vary from 6 working days to 3 weeks.

Besides, there are some countries that do not need a visa to go to Russia at all. Here is the list of those – check how lucky you are.
Country Notes
Argentina – Period of stay not more than 90 days within 180 for non-commercial purposes.
Armenia – Period of stay not more than 90 days.
Azerbaijan – Period of stay not more than 90 days.
Belarus – Unlimited stay.
Bosnia and Herzegovina – For tourists period of stay should not exceed 30 days within every 60, for any other purposes not more than 90 days; documents confirming the purpose of visit required.
Brazil – Period of stay not more than 90 days within 180 for non-commercial purposes.
Chile – Period of stay not more than 90 days within 180 for non-commercial purposes.
Colombia – Period of stay not more than 90 days within 180 for non-commercial purposes.
Cuba – Up to 30 days.
Ecuador – Period of stay not more than 90 days within 180 for non-commercial purposes.
Fiji Period of stay not more than 90 days.
Guatemala – Period of stay not more than 90 days within 180 for non-commercial purposes.
Israel – Period of stay not more than 90 days within 180. There is an agreement between Russia and Israel about cancellation of guest and tourist visas. For trips the passport valid not less than 6 months from the date of entrance is required. Presence of any other documents by the Agreement is not provided.
Kazakhstan – Period of stay not more than 90 days. Allowed to enter with the internal passports.
Korea, Republic of The period of stay not exceeding 60 days per entry and not more than 90 days within six months.
Kyrgyzstan – Period of stay not more than 90 days. Allowed to enter with the internal passports.
Macedonia – Period of stay not more than 90 days.
Moldova, Republic of Period of stay not more than 90 days.
Mongolia – Up to 30 days.
Montenegro – Up to 30 days.
Nicaragua – Period of stay not more than 90 days within 180 for non-commercial purposes.
Peru – Period of stay not more than 90 days within 180 for non-commercial purposes.
Serbia – Period of stay up to 30 days for holders of biometric passports issued after April 8, 2008.
Tajikistan – Allowed to enter with the internal passports. Period of stay not more than 90 days.
Thailand Up to 30 days.
Turkey Up to 30 days.
Ukraine – Period of stay not more than 90 days. Allowed to enter with the internal passports.
Uruguay – Period of stay not more than 90 days within 180 for non-commercial purposes.
Uzbekistan – Period of stay not more than 90 days.
Venezuela – Period of stay not more than 90 days within 180 for non-commercial purposes.

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St Petersburg navy people never have communication problems, as they know exactly how to break the ice – especially those who work on ice breakers! 2 and 3 May the large-scale Ice Breaker Festival was held in the city.
Being a port, St Petersburg often runs different navy-related events, such as Marine Festival, Navy Day etc. The Ice Breaker Fest is relatively new, however, it is becoming popular. You would feel it if you lined up to visit an ice-breaker – the line stretched for a couple hundred meters, and the approximate time of waiting was about 1.5 – 2 hours. However, this was definitely worth it, as normally you do not have a chance to climb on an ice breaker’s deck every morning.
There were a few enormous ice breaker ships docked at the embankments of Neva river, and they opened free access to their decks for all the guests. While waiting in the line, the visitors were entertained by a concert given at the main festive stage and could enjoy singing and dancing of the local performers. Onboard of the ships the volunteer students of navy institutions were eagerly answering people’s questions and were very excited to share all their knowledge about the ice breakers in particular and the naval service in general.
All in all, the Ice Breaker Fest not only gives a chance for everyone to learn something new and interesting, but also opened the festive season in St Petersburg. Now the summer and fall in the city will be full of various events, and we will be just praying for good weather for them.