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Old 08-17-2004, 09:07 PM   #1
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Hey all-
Who has traveled through Belarus by train to Moscow and can give me tips on how hard it is to
1. Get a transit visa through Belarus- Is it expensive? How long did it take?
2. Get the damn Russian visa. So far its been a hassle!Really I am just confused about having to book a hotel first to prove I am staying there. Do I need to book the hotel the entire trip or can I just book it for like 2 days of the trip?
3. Also, most importantly, how long does it take to process the request? I found a good deal on a ticket and I want to buy it now, before my visa clears. Is this a bad idea? Or are visas given out like candy?
I would soooooo appreciate your help!!
xo
Olygurl
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Old 08-19-2004, 09:05 AM   #2
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The whole Russian visa process is a pain. You do need to book the hotel first, because one of the things you need for the visa is a letter from the hotel stating that you will be there for a certain time period. I think if you are planning to spend time outside of Moscow, you are supposed to show a planned itinerary. This has stopped me from travelling to Russia so far. Just seems like too much trouble.

There are places that will help you get an expedited visa for a fee. Check around your town. I would think that as long as you provide the Russia Consulate with all it's needed info, then you should not have a problem getting a visa. You will need a plane ticket to get the visa, so if there is enough time (maybe 5-6 weeks), you should go ahead and buy the ticket.

I don't think a transit visa through Belarus is too much, BUT make sure you have all the neccesary documents needed. I know someone who had to pay an "extra fee" to the border guards on the train for lacking some document. From what I have read many tourists get charged an "extra fee" for not doing anything wrong. You just have to give a bribe in order to ensure a safe ride.
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Old 08-19-2004, 09:50 PM   #3
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thanks for the sound advice! I have been researchig gorgous hotels near Red Square all day and although its a pain to make such concrete plans in order to get my visa, I have to say its making me all the more excited! I think I will buy the plane ticket before I get the visa- I'm 95% sure it will be fine- I really needed that extra boost! Any one else have advice or stories about traveling t Moscow?
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Old 08-25-2004, 10:46 AM   #4
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The transit visa through Belarus is something like $150 US - it depends on your nationality I think. As a Canuck, I get the privilege of paying darn near $200 last time I checked. Since transit visas are about the only source of hard currency Belarus has, they pretty much depend on the visa income to support their entire economy. Or so it seems...
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Old 08-25-2004, 04:56 PM   #5
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Yeah, I've decided its a needless expense. What I'm going to do instead is travel through Lithuania where there is no transit visa needed! I just decided to visit Saint Petersburg first. Makes sense! Although I do understand Belarus' position and a little bit of their economic situation...I bought my plane ticket and am applying for my Russian visa tomorrow! I can not believe I'm going to see Russia after so many years of obsessing!
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Old 08-26-2004, 10:04 AM   #6
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We're in Vilnius, so any Lithuanian questions you have, we can help!
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Old 08-26-2004, 10:25 AM   #7
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Oly,

I am not sure how long or when you are planning on going but the one thing I found while in Moscow is that the weather is like Florida. It can be beautiful one second and a blizzard then next. Just make sure to keep a water proof outer shell on you at all times in your day pack. Other than that Russia is a fairly friendly country. The reason I say fairly is because they do not completely like Westerner's but they really love our money. My advice is tip well if you can afford it and they will treat you like a God. $10 USD is like handing out a $100 USD here in the states. Hope you have a great time; an try to make it out to St. Petersburg if you get a chance you will love it!!!

Mikie
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Old 09-12-2004, 02:40 PM   #8
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Thanks for the advise! I think the weather will be pretty brutal when I arrive- the end of November! Packing will be hard. Yes, I plan on going to Moscow after Saint Petersburg. So exciting! A little scary too. What surprized you the most about your travels to Russia?
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Old 09-15-2004, 07:19 PM   #9
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Russia is one of the coolest places I have ever been. It is the only place you can see first hand the countries greatest achievements on one corner. Then how it all went to shit 2 doors down...LOL

I don't know I look at Russia as a reminder of how this country was during the Great Depression. Walking around small towns and even big cities you can not help but think you are seeing a photo of the U.S. during the depression some times.

Now off the depressing stuff.....Russia's history is so vast and has so many secrets every day is like a treasure hunt for historical knowledge. No matter how many times I have been to Russia I always feel like it is my first. There is just so much there to see and learn! If you can meet a local that speaks good english try to make a friend. They usally will be able to show you places you never heard of that you will always remember.

Well I hope I have pumped you up for your trip!!! You are going to have a blast. Just make sure to be safe!!


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Old 10-05-2004, 07:39 AM   #10
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Weather will be wretched in November, layering is the only way to survive. Good quality polar fleece, wool or silk long johns and something waterproof over top will get you through most everything. Get those before you go, they're harder to come by here. Although my mother-in-law just found some woolen long undies here (Lithuania) that she swears by. Of course you'll need a hat, gloves and scarf - no matter how dorky any of those may seem to you in your natural habitat, you'll be miserable without them here, and everyone else will be swathed from head to toe, so you won't look dumb. If you want to wait until you arrive, we have some great places to buy gloves, hats etc here, and I can give you the name of a second hand clothing store where you can get anything you need for pennies - good quality stuff, too. I bought a wool hat for my daughter for 1 Lt (about $0.30 US) and saw the identical one in a souvenir shop in Sweden for $50!

Are you flying into Vilnius? If you're arriving by train, double check that you're not passing through Belarus, since they won't let you through without the Visa, even though there's only one stop in that country.
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