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Old 09-29-2003, 07:22 PM   #1
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Hi People,

In my trip next year i'm wanting to go to Russia and thought i'd share the info i've obtained on the process of doing so incase anyone else plans to do the same at some time.

To get a visa you are required to obtain visa support from within Russia, be that a hotel or hostel, have your accommodation prebooked and supply your itinerary (with dates) to officials before your visit and this is meant to be done in your home country. Now, for me this isn't possible as i don't know exactly when i'll head to Russia once i land in Europe.

I stumbled across this site http://members.aol.com/imershein/Page4.html#kind and emailed the site admin (Ruth), who emailed me back the following useful information explaining how to obtain a visa for Russia in Latvia or Lithuania (you can also obtain one in Estonia). I have her permission to post the email here:

Quote:
Probably the easiest place to get a Russian visa is Vilnius, Lithuania or
Riga, Latvia because there are no health insurance requirements, there are
travel agencies with connections in Russia and the consulate there issues
them all the time since a significant portion of the population has ties
to Russia.

In either city, it is my understanding that the way to go is to get the
application online, bring some photos with you and look for a travel
agency near the Russian consulate. A friend got a Russian visa that way
this summer. He went one day and found a company (they were hading out
leaflets to people in line in front of the consulate) and the next day he
went back and picked up the visa. Total cost was $100 and he was able to
register easily in Moscow. This was in Vilnius.

You need the agency to provide the necessary visa support documents. This
generally costs about 15-40$ for a 20-30 day tourist visa.

If you have more time, it can probably be arranged for less money.

If you want to stay longer, it will cost more money. It is getting harder
for travelers to obtain a 90 d business visa. 30 or 90 day visas can be
issued that are double entry but you will need to give outside dates and
explain that you plans to travel and return to Russia are vague.

BTW it is almost impossible now to obtain a 6 or 12 month multiple entry
visa.

Any my final note is DO NOT plan to arrive in Moscow or Petersburg without
housing, at least for the first night or two. There are very limited
inexpensive accommodations and you don't want to be stuck in either city
without some place to stay.

Again I don't know if this is of use to anyone else but i thought i'd post it anyway so that the info is available on the boards for anyone who plans the same kind of thing as me at some point.

cheers guys,

cliffo
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Old 10-01-2003, 05:19 PM   #2
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Dude, any info, on ANYPLACE is going to be help to someone, and looking at these requirments, sounds like Russia is not as easy to go and see as Egland or Spain or somewhere like that...if you have helped on trav'la with this info, your job is done! Its all about da family!!!
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Old 10-03-2003, 07:19 AM   #3
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Thanks for that, cliffo! I'm sure that it will come in handy for people passing through here.
Good work, bro B)
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Old 10-03-2003, 09:07 PM   #4
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yeah Ive heard it can be a headache settin it up fo da land of vodka! Ive never gotten around to considering a visit but Im sure one day it will be attempted
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Old 10-10-2003, 08:48 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by TUI@Oct 4 2003, 04:07 AM
yeah Ive heard it can be a Ive never gotten around to considering a visit but Im sure one day it will be attempted
Hm... I am from Russia, so, if you need some help out here, get in touch. TUI is totally right - "headache settin it up fo da land of vodka!" :D

PS: I have a lot of stories about traveling Eastern Europe and ex-USSR, but i speak English very bad, and you wouldn't understand anything at all.

cheers guys!
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Old 10-10-2003, 09:19 AM   #6
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Siggi!...you seem to be doing alright on the english front my friend...where abouts in russia are you from?

as for the stories - give it a go. you never know how much we will understand...let me be the first to welcome you to the family.

cheers bro,

cliffo
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Old 10-12-2003, 03:03 AM   #7
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I'm from Moscow. Stories? Ok, I'll try to remeber anything about my trip to Serbia this summer, or something about Romania - I love them very much. Hm, my lovest way to travel is hitch-hiking, so, all this spaces i 've covered by cars, cargo-trains and feet, of course...
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Old 10-12-2003, 07:01 AM   #8
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I'm going to Russia next spring for about a month. I would like to take a russian course over there but I have problems getting in touch with the different institutes. Over the last year, I wrote by email and fax to a few schools and got no answer back... I wonder if they need students !!! My last attempt was the Pushkin Institute in Moscow.

Siggi!, maybe you could tell me if my idea will work, but I was thinking of simply showing up there one day, at a school door, and ask them to take me !

But I was hoping to get a letter of invitation from a school, in order to have a student status instead of tourist, because you can stay longer than a month then.

Help !!!
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Old 10-12-2003, 05:01 PM   #9
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Siggi! WELCOME TO THE BOARDS!

You've been chosen as our official Russian representative! hahaha.. hope you don't mind ! We could use your expertise, tips, advice, stories, and opinions, on this board.

Sorry to put so much pressure on you :D , but you come from a very fascinating part of the world that someday most or all of us would love to explore someday, if they haven't already B)

Love to hear some travel stories
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Old 10-13-2003, 05:46 AM   #10
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atchoum, try this links:

www.language-learning.ru
www.russianlanguage.ru
http://rki-2000.narod.ru/
www.allbest.ru
www.albion.am

you also can mail here:

nhliliam@cityline.ru - this is the center for foreigners where you can learn Russian.

If you need more, I can find it
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Old 10-14-2003, 08:33 AM   #11
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Spasiba Siggi! (sorry, no cyrillic alphabet here so I have to go phonetically)

Most of the schools are demanding too much $$$ for my small backpacker budget. There is one among those you sent me who could fit it, so I'll try to contact them... Let's hope they answer. My problem is not really finding places to learn as much as having them answering me. I've written to schools in Moscow, St-Petersburgh, in Karelia and Astrakhan and only silence responded...

Do you think it's unrealistic to rent a small room somewhere for $50 ?

I'll keep in touch with you and will let you know if it works out with the addresses you gave me.
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Old 10-15-2003, 05:35 PM   #12
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Hi, cliffo!

I am Lithuanian, and i can asure that it is easy to make Russian visa in Lithuania (Latvia or Estonia) by going to the travel agency which works with Russian visas.
You pay small fee for the travel agency, but you do not have to search for invitation letter from Russia or hotel reservations, which you mos probably would need if you go directly to the embassy of Russia.

Prices for Russian visa depends on country of citizenship. If you want I can find out the exact visa prices in Vilnius (Lithuanian capital) travel agencies, if you will tell me your nationality.

I tried to find any website of such agencies with Russian visa information in English, but i didn't succeeded.

By the way, if you plan to visit Lithuania/Latvia/Estonia or S.Petersburg/Moscow in Russian, you are welcome to contact me and I will ask my friends to show you around in those cities.

Augustas
www.kligys.com
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Old 10-16-2003, 01:06 AM   #13
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augustas, WELCOME TO THE BOARDS!

Thanks for your advice and your open invitation to contact you if we travel to those cities! It always helps to know people abroad, in the cities that you travel too .

I checked out your website and it has a lot of nice pictures and info! I hope that you stick around these boards and give us lots of tips and pointers, as well as meet all the friendly members here!

You can be our official representative from Lithuania B)
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Old 10-16-2003, 01:12 AM   #14
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Cliffo,

You will enjoy Russia, I am sure. I also see that you are Australian- which is a good thing. I am American and I had to pay a rather steep visa fee because Russia and the US (plus some other countries) are in the midst of a visa war. Instead of the 25 Euros, I had to pay 78. I know that citizens of the UK also had an 100% markup and Australians had an increase also, but thankfully a good amount less than the US's. Travel agencies will be a big help. I didn't use one and it took a long time for me to receive my visa (also they misspelled my name on the visa- always check!). Meanwhile I met some folks from England and the US who got their visa the same day- though the cost was near 200 euros. Here's a website that may help:

http://www.visatorussia.com/

I went to Helsinki, were the embassy peronal speak English (the city is very expensive ). But, in the end, I am not sure if this will help you.

Augustas: I am a quarter Lithuanian and am planning to go to Lithuania in a month and a half. Do you know anything about a big rock? Allow me to elaborate: my Grandmother's parents were both immigrants from Lithuania, came to the US early in the 20th century. My grandmother, who has never seen Lithuania has told me "if you ever go to Lithuania, go see this one rock, it is famous" her father, I guess told her about this rock. Needless to say, I have asked several people and nobody has heard of it. Maybe you have? I would like to take a picture of it (and all of Lithuania in general) for my Grandma.

My guess is that the rock played some part in pagan rituals or in folklore. Maybe human sacrifices ? nah...
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Old 10-17-2003, 01:55 PM   #15
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augustas, thanks for the info - much appreciated...i'm australian. I might just take you up on the offer of contacting you when i finally make it over your way..cheers

npabga, thanks for the info on visa prices (they can be expensive buggers can't they) and the link, looks like it has some very good info.
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Old 10-30-2003, 01:06 PM   #16
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Hey,
Thanks for the info on getting into Russia, I was hoping to get into St. Petersburg for a few days to travel around and am prepared for quite a battle, but just wasn't sure where to start. I was hoping to be able to set it up to travel from Helsinki, but I guess if I have to I will have to go down to Vilinus. Glad to find this info and much more here.

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Old 10-30-2003, 07:10 PM   #17
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Sijuki, you could always go from Helsinki into Tallin (Estonia). Theres a ferry that goes between the two cities and from there get a train into Russia. At this stage thats the way i'm looking at doing it because I need a visa to get into Lithuania (I'm an Aussie) but I don't require a visa for Estonia. Just a thought any how.

When are you looking at going to Russia? If its before me I 'd be interested to know your experience in getting a visa. I'll be heading to Europe around late Feb 2004 but probably won't head to Russia until about May or June. If you're going after me i'll be sure to post my experiences.
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Old 10-30-2003, 10:24 PM   #18
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Cliffo,

I am not planning on leaving to Europe until sometime late summer 2005 actually. I have to finish paying of some debts and save the money needed and am meticulously working on a itinerary. I am going all out when I get to Europe... a good 5 or 6 month journey. So I am just starting really early, but that can never hurt anyone, right?

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Old 10-30-2003, 10:45 PM   #19
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I Hear ya on the debts things mate...i just sold my house on monday which will pay off all my debts and fund what i hope to turn into a solid 6-12 month adventure....can't wait - less than 4 months till i go now!!

As for planning early - thats the way to do it i reckon. i've been playing around with ideas of where to go, where to stay, how to get to places, etc... for a few months now and i'm still not 100% sure of my plans. So its probably a good thing you are starting early with the whole planning thing.

One thing though - guess it depends on the person, but do you really want to plan out your itinerary in so much detail? You may do that and then when you get there change your mind on where you want to go, meet people to go somewhere else with, etc... I'm pretty much just gonna wing it when i land and see which way the wind blows.
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Old 10-30-2003, 11:48 PM   #20
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There is a lot in Russia to see. Unfortunately, the most days you can spend there on a tourist visa is one month. So sometimes a rough itinerary would help you see some of the most important historical cities.

Cliffo and Sijuki, I don't know how long you are planning to stay. But, if you can stay for a full month, then you should be able to stay in St. Petes, Moscow, Novogord (the old capital in Russia) with churches from the 10th centuries, for three days, and the historic Golden Ring cities. To travel around the Golden Ring you will need a week, and divvy up the time in St. Petes and Moscow as you see fit. These are the definite places you should hit, if you have time and don't mind a bit of traveling.

As for getting into St. Petes- There are two trains that leave Helsinki in the morning and the afternoon. There are also buses, which I have used for 30 Euros (one called Finnord). Bring a student card or the prices are 45. The trains are around 40 Euros. The bus leaves at 11pm and arrive at 6-7am. Expect to be woken up several times around the border. There is also a bus that goes for 10 Euros that leave from Helsinki, but I am not sure where. However I know where the return 10 Euro bus to Helsinki is found in St. Petes, and that is in front of the Oktyabrskaya Hotel. There are also buses that leave to Tallinn from St. Petes for under $10- what a deal!

In St. Petes, I recommend going to a couple famous suburbs such as Peterhof, Pushkin (formerly Tsarskoye Selo) and to a lesser extent Pavlosk and Kronstadt. It is cheap to get there- and well worth it, since especially the first two are the locations of famous palaces- such as Peter the I and Catherine the II's digs. Round trip you will spend no more than 2 bucks, including the metro. Novgorod and St. Petersburg is a 3 1/2 hour and $4.50 one way trip, but well worth it. There are night trains to and from Moscow (several trains in fact, and you can have a seat (I heard something like $3.50 for those, by platzkart, something like 60 people to a wagon to a more private set up of four people to a room.) Trains are a cheap means of getting somewhere (about a $1.80 per 100km for a place in a four berth coupe). And you save money by sleeping on the train.

If you like the outdoors, than Karelia is a good go (north of St. Petes.

If you need more info please let me know, or if there are particular sights you'd like more specific info about- for example to Kronstadt or St. Isaac's Cathedral, don't hesitate.

Just as a note- study some Russian, because you will not find many English speakers outside of hotels and internet cafes generally. Knowing the alphabet is a must!

Hope you will enjoy Russia!
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