- Red Square has long been at the heart of Russian history – visit the austere mausoleum of Lenin, the initiator of the 1917 Russian revolution, contrasting with the eye-bulging treasure collection in the Kremlin and Armoury Museum.
- Share in traditional tastes with visits to the homes of local friends in Suzdal and St Petersburg for a hearty home cooked meal, piles of pancakes and endless cups of tea.
- With its perfectly preserved medieval wall and watchtowers, Tallinn's quaint Old Town is an ideal place to explore on foot.
- Explore 13th-century Turaida Castle on a guided tour, then wander through pristine woodlands and along the winding Guaja River.
- Aukstaitija National Park offers unique opportunities for both action and relaxation. Kayak across pristine lakes, indulge in home-cooked meals or cleanse yourself in a traditional sauna.
26 Feb 2020
Highlights of Russia & the Baltics
Validity: 01 Jan 2020 to 31 Dec 2020
Get the low-down of the historical, cultural and culinary highlights of Russia and the Baltics on a 19-day immersive experience through Russia, Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Marvel at the grandeur of Moscow, the beauty of Russia's ancient capitals Suzdal and Novgorod, and the grace of St Petersburg. See the medieval spires of Tallinn, the funky bars of Riga and the Baroque-styled quirks of Vilnius. Visit colourful markets, be immersed in art and architecture and kayak Lithuanian lakes. Discover what these northern European neighbours are hiding within their bounds – often the most unassuming of places have the best-kept secrets, and spots on this trip are no exception.
Overnight Sleeper Train,Private Vehicle,Public Bus,High Speed Train,Taxi,Metro,Ferry,Canoe,Tram
You will be expected to carry your own luggage including up and down stairs, in busy public transport hubs, and on and off buses and trains. Although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage, you are expected to be able to walk with and handle your own luggage for up to 30 minutes. And some accommodation may not have lifts. Good general fitness and mobility will play a big part in making your trip more enjoyable.
Moscow Arbat House Hotel Отель Арбат Хаус
13 Skatetrniy Pereulok Скатертный переулок, дом 13
Metro station Arbatskaya м. Арбатская
Phone: +7 (495)6431910
Arbat House Hotel is located in Moscow’s centre, 3 minutes walk from New Arbat avenue and only a short distance to Arbatskaya metro station. From here you can easily walk to Red Square and the Kremlin through Moscow's historical and cultural centre. The nearest airport is 30km away. Rooms are equipped with TV, telephone, air-conditioning, hairdryer, Wi-Fi, and some rooms will have a small fridge. Reception staff speak English. Visit the hotel's website here: www.arbat-house.com
Moscow has 4 international airports (Sheremetyevo, Domodedovo, Vnukovo and Zhukovsky). Domodedovo and Sheremetyevo are the most commonly used by our travellers. BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT: All airports have public transport links that allow you to get to our starting point hotel cheaply and quickly. From Sheremetyevo you can take the airport express train (RUB470, 30-40 minutes) to metro station Belorusskaya (Белорусская) on the dark green & brown (circle) lines. The train runs every hour from 6am to midnight. You can find timetables and buy aeroexpress ticketы on-line at www.aeroexpress.ru. From Domodedovo, the airport express train runs every hour to metro station Paveletskaya (Павелецкая, RUB 500, 40 to 50 minutes) on the brown (circle) & dark green lines. From Vnukovo airport, the airport express train goes to Kievskaya (Киевская) metro station on the dark blue & brown (circle) line and takes approx. 35 minutes (RUB 500). From these stations, take the metro (RUB55) to the blue or dark blue line. Our starting point hotel is located 7 minutes walk from metro station Arbatskaya (Арбатская). There are two 'Arbatskaya' metro stations - one is located on the blue line, the other on dark blue. Both are linked. Exit the metro, cross by the underground walkway to the north side of Novy Arbat Avenue. Head west along Novy Arbat (Новый Арбат), pass the MTS Bank and turn right into Merzlyakovskiy pereulok (Мерзляковский переулок). Go straight. The second street on your left is Skatertny pereulok (Скатертный переулок). A bit further up this street on the left side you'll find the Arbat House Hotel. BY TAXI: The taxi ride from the airport to our starting point hotel takes at least one hour depending on traffic and should cost around 4000RUB (approx. US$65, to be paid in local currency). Avoid taxi touts. From all airports we recommend you use the services of one of the official taxi desks (such as MosCab or Gett) located on the ground floor inside the arrival terminal. ARRIVAL TRANSFERS: Arrival transfers are available - if you have pre-booked a transfer with us the driver will be waiting for you at the arrival hall (inside), beyond the passport control, after getting luggage and clearing customs. As you exit to the arrivals – you’ll see plenty of drivers holding signs, just look for a sign Intrepid + Your Last Name If you can't allocate the driver - call the following number of the local supplier: Ilya 007 916 156 49 69 In rare case if local supplier not answering – call Russia Emergency Number listed below Please note that driver will be waiting for you for 1 hour after your arrival time If you experience flight delay or luggage lost, please don’t hesitate to call above numbers so we can coordinate your transfer more efficiently Your leader will put a welcome note on the reception. Please look for it as it contains important information. Luggage storage is available free of charge. Please note the address for Arbat House Hotel below in Russian which may be useful to show to a taxi driver or to ask for directions: Отель Арбат Хаус Скатертный переулок, дом 13 121069, Москва м. Арбатская
For trips departing on the following dates, use this joining point.
04 Jul 2020 (WBSRC200704), 18 Jul 2020 (WBSRC200718)
Marco Polo Presnja Hotel Гостиница Марко Поло Пресня
123104, Moscow, 9, bldg. 1, Spiridonjevskij Lane
Phone: +7495 6600606
Marco Polo Presnja Hotel is situated in historical Moscow center, close to the Patriarshiye Ponds and the main city attractions, such as the Red square, the Kremlin, the Bolshoy theaters as well as several ancient churches and the synagogue, are located just few blocks away. It is also near Tverskaya street with numerous boutiques, restaurants, and cafes. The hotel offers comfortable rooms including en-suite bathroom, TV & AC. For more information, please go to http://www.presnja.ru/en/default.html
Moscow has 4 international airports (Sheremetyevo, Domodedovo, Vnukovo and Zhukovsky). Domodedovo and Sheremetyevo are the most commonly used by our travellers. BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT: All airports have public transport links that allow you to get to our starting point hotel cheaply and quickly. From Sheremetyevo you can take the airport express train (RUB500, 30-40 minutes) to metro station Belorusskaya (Белорусская) on the dark green & brown (circle) lines. The train runs every hour from 6am to midnight. You can find timetables and buy aeroexpress ticketы on-line at www.aeroexpress.ru. From Domodedovo, the airport express train runs every hour to metro station Paveletskaya (Павелецкая, RUB 500, 40 to 50 minutes) on the brown (circle) & dark green lines. From Vnukovo airport, the airport express train goes to Kievskaya (Киевская) metro station on the dark blue & brown (circle) line and takes approx. 35 minutes (RUB 500). From these stations, take the metro (RUB55) to the green line. Our starting point hotel is located 15 minutes walk from metro station Tverskaya (Тверская). Exit the metro, cross by the underground walkway to the south west side of Tverskaya street. Head south west towards MacDonalds (the first one in Russia and once the biggest in the world). On the first intersection after MacDonalds turn right to the Sytinskiy lane (Сытинский переулок). Keep walking till the hotel. The lane will turn left soon and become Bolshoy Palashevskiy lane and then Spiridonievskiy lane. Once the lane turned left, our hotel will be on the right hand side after the forth intersection. By taxi: The taxi ride from the airport to our starting point hotel takes at least one hour depending on traffic and should cost around 4000 RUB (approx. US$65, to be paid in local currency). Avoid taxi touts. From all airports we recommend you use the services of one of the official taxi desks (such as MosCab, Gett) located on the ground floor inside the arrival terminal. Your leader will put a welcome note on the reception. Please look for it as it contains important information. ARRIVAL TRANSFERS: Arrival transfers are available - if you have pre-booked a transfer with us the driver will be waiting for you at the arrival hall (inside), beyond the passport control, after getting luggage and clearing customs. As you exit to the arrivals – you’ll see plenty of drivers holding signs, just look for a sign Intrepid + Your Last Name If you can't allocate the driver - call the following number of the local supplier: Ilya 007 916 156 49 69 In rare case if local supplier not answering – call Russia Emergency Number listed below Please note that driver will be waiting for you for 1 hour after your arrival time If you experience flight delay or luggage lost, please don’t hesitate to call above numbers so we can coordinate your transfer more efficiently Your leader will put a welcome note on the reception. Please look for it as it contains important information. Luggage storage is available free of charge. Please note the address for Marco Polo Presnja Hotel below in Russian which may be useful to show to a taxi driver or to ask for directions: Отель Марко Поло Пресня Спиридоньевский пер., 9, стр. 1 Москва, 123001 м. Тверская
T Ševčenkos Gatve 16
Phone: +370 5 2102361
Corner Hotel is a modern hotel located in the centre of Vilnius, nearby public transport and supermarkets. Each room has a private bathroom, TV and access to Wi-Fi.
Trains depart Vilnius railway station frequently for Vilnius Airport (airport code VNO). Tickets can be purchased online, on the train or at the railway station. The journey takes 7 minutes. The station is approximately 25 minutes walking distance from your accommodation at Corner Hotel. Upon leaving the hotel, turn right onto Svitrigailos Gatve. Turn left onto Kauno Gatve and follow the road until you reach a roundabout. Vilnius station will be directly across the intersection. Alternatively, we can arrange an airport transfer. Please ask your agent if you wish to add this service at time of booking. If you have purchased a transfer you will be collected at the hotel reception 2 hours and 15 minutes before your flight departure time, however please reconfirm this with your leader. In case of flight cancellations, changes or if you are not able find the driver, please contact the transfer operator directly: +37069857526
1. A Single Supplement is bookable on this trip, with the exception of Day 2 and Day 4, subject to availability. 2. In order for our local operator to book train tickets we require below information to be provided to your booking agent no later than 35 days before departure. Below information must be provided exactly the same as per your passport • Passengers full name (First/ Middle/ Last) • Full Passport Details (number, date issued and expire) • DOB • Nationality • Gender Please note that any wrong information provided for the above may result in chargeable extra fees for changing or reissuing ticket. 3. To avoid disappointment we recommend that you book any theatre performances that you wish to attend in Moscow or St Petersburg in advance. 4. Please note that this is a combination trip which saves you from the hassle of making multiple bookings. But your tour leader and group composition will change on Day 8 and you will be unaccompanied on the train from St. Petersburg to Helsinki. Also the Russia part of the trip will have a maximum number of 16 people in the group.
All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders. Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trips. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, flight tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests or relax and take it easy. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns. For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD: Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY: While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
RUSSIA Most visits to Russia are trouble-free, but petty crime does happen in cities. In St Petersburg there have been reports of street crime where tourists have been specifically targeted. These crimes are carried out by well-organised gangs. Be aware of pickpockets in the main tourist areas and around the main railway concourses. Bogus police officers have harassed and robbed tourists. If you are stopped always insist on seeing identification.Avoid openly carrying expensive items. Avoid walking about late at night alone. Incidents of violence in major cities are usually linked to criminal/business activities and are not usually directed against foreign visitors. If you are travelling by overnight train in a sleeping compartment, store valuables in the container under the bed or seat. Don’t leave your sleeping compartment unoccupied as some compartments only have a simple lock on the sliding door. On some trains there may be an additional security device, which can be attached to the fitted handle/lock unit. There may also be a steel switch at head-height on the door panel which, when pulled down, prevents the closed door from being slid open. Don’t agree to look after the luggage of a fellow traveller or allow it to be stored in your compartment. When on international trains crossing borders, you should be extra vigilant and pay special attention to your luggage to be sure that no one else has put anything in your luggage.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking RUSSIAN VISAS Most nationalities require a visa for Russia. RUSSIA - LETTER OF INVITATION (LOI) You will need a Letter of Invitation (LOI), sometimes called a Voucher or Visa Support Letter in order to apply for your visa. Logins and your trip code will be sent to you at the time of booking so that you can obtain your LOI online through our local partners in Russia, Parallel 60, via this link: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/au/russian-letter-invitation-loi-and-visa You will then be able to download your LOI instantly. Please note that the LOI included in the cost of your tour is for a Single Entry Tourist Visa. We will also add 3 days to the LOI duration before and after your trip dates for your convenience in case you have booked pre or post accommodation. If you require a different visa type or are planning to stay longer than these dates please contact Parallel 60 (www.visain.ru) directly to request a LOI to fit your specific travel plans. INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR RUSSIAN VISA APPLICATION: Once you have obtained your LOI you can apply for your visa. You must apply for your Russian visa in advance. Visas are not available on arrival or en-route. It is your responsibility to apply for your own visa either directly through a consulate or by using a visa agent. We do not recommend trying to obtain your Russian visa outside of your home country or place of residence as your application may be refused. Use ONLY the information and dates on your LOI when filling in your visa application. There is no need to reference us or include a copy of your itinerary as Parallel 60, our Russian partners, are the official inviting organisation. Do not be concerned if the destinations and accommodation listed do not match your trip exactly. This information is for the purposes of obtaining the visa only, not an indication of where you must travel and stay once in Russia. DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR RUSSIAN VISA APPLICATION: * Letter of Invitation (LOI) * Photocopy of your passport * Passport size photos * Flight or other transport details (if requested) * Please check with the consulate for any other specific requirements VISA EXTENSIONS IN RUSSIA Please be aware that visa extensions are NOT possible in Russia. INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR RUSSIAN TRAIN TICKET BOOKINGS Train tickets in Russia are booked with passport numbers. Please make sure you provide us with your correct passport number. If you have to renew your passport after booking please notify us as soon as you have a new passport number and bring your old passport with you on your trip. If we receive changes to passport numbers less than 30 days prior to departure we cannot guarantee purchase of train tickets. We do NOT recommend travelling on multiple passports for trips that involve border crossings by train. This can cause difficulties with train ticket bookings and cause significant issues delays at immigration. RUSSIAN MIGRATION CARDS All foreign citizens entering Russia are required to fill in a migration card on arrival. The entry portion of the card will be retained by immigration upon arrival. The stamped exit portion of the card must be kept with your passport during your stay in Russia and submitted to immigration upon departure. If you are not given a migration card at immigration on arrival you must request one, even if the immigration official says that you do not need one. Loss or failure to receive the exit portion of the card will result in you not being able to travel on our trip as all hotels require this card for registration and may result in significant delays or fines upon departure. If you travel to Russia from one of the Custom Union countries – Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia, please ask for one when going through immigrations into one of these countries or make sure to get one when entering into Russia. Visas for Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Germany are not required for passport holders of the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada. All other nationalities should check with the relevant authorities. CROSSING BORDERS With the so called "Schengen Agreement" border controls between many European countries have been abolished. However in special situations passports may still be checked. Passport stamps are no longer issued.
Red Square has long been at the heart of Russian history – visit the austere mausoleum of Lenin, the initiator of the 1917 Russian revolution, contrasting with the eye-bulging treasure collection in the Kremlin and Armoury Museum.
Share in traditional tastes with visits to the homes of local friends in Suzdal and St Petersburg for a hearty home cooked meal, piles of pancakes and endless cups of tea.
With its perfectly preserved medieval wall and watchtowers, Tallinn's quaint Old Town is an ideal place to explore on foot.
Explore 13th-century Turaida Castle on a guided tour, then wander through pristine woodlands and along the winding Guaja River.
Aukstaitija National Park offers unique opportunities for both action and relaxation. Kayak across pristine lakes, indulge in home-cooked meals or cleanse yourself in a traditional sauna.
This trip includes an overnight train journey. Conditions are simple but comfortable – a truly Intrepid experience and a great way to meet, and travel like, the locals. There is a toilet/bathroom and compartments with bunks/berths. Please note that we travel 2nd class on all overnight trains (4 people per compartment). While we always try to have our groups staying together, there may be times where due to ticket availability the group will be staying in different compartments and carriages. An attendant is assigned to every carriage to look after your comfort and safety (although service standards can vary greatly). Bedding is provided, although some travellers still prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. There's hot water available for making drinks or instant meals, tea and coffee. Sometimes snacks and drinks are available for purchase on board and most trains also have a dining car, although with a limited menu. This trip involves some long journeys by bus and train (up to 7 hours) so please read the itinerary carefully for estimates. Using public transport is better for the environment and you’ll get an authentic look at daily life, plus it’s a good chance to grab a nap or watch the world go by. As well as overnight train travel, we experience a variety of different transport types on this journey high-speed train, public and private bus, metro and of course plenty of exploring on foot. Please note that on occasion Lenin's Mausoleum and Red Square may be closed to the public during regular opening hours without prior warning. There is a reason ‘baltic’ is used as slang to describe chilly weather. Areas visited on this trip can be very cold throughout the year, especially in the evening and at the start and end of the season. Please bring appropriate clothing for adverse weather conditions, including thermal layers, a warm hat, gloves, a scarf, a raincoat and/or an umbrella etc. For those travelling as a duo, hotels in Europe often don’t have double beds, but rather two single beds that can be pushed together. In some cases, bathroom facilities will be shared rather than ensuite. Some of the accommodation along the way is basic, staying in guesthouses with shared rooms and bathroom facilities. There is a fair amount of free time in various destinations on this trip so you can explore each destination at your own pace. This trip involves regular orientation walks. While this may be tiring for some, it’s the best way to get your bearings in a new place and set yourself up for further discoveries.
All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid Travel reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund. You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared. RUSSIA GIARDIA Giardia intestinalis, a parasite that causes severe diarrhoea has been reported from time to time in the water supply in Russia. For this reason, we recommend against drinking unboiled tap water in all Russian cites. IMPORTANT - BANNED MEDICATIONS By law, travellers bringing prescribed medicines into Russia must carry a prescription in the patient's name, that includes the name of the drug and prescribed quantity. According to official channels, if your medication contains "narcotic or psychoactive substances", a notarised translation into Russian is also required. This may include medications containing codeine or opiates, sleeping pills, medication for ADHD, antidepressants and strong painkillers. Some medicines that you can buy over the counter in your home country may require a prescription in Russia. There have been cases of travellers being detained at border crossings when undeclared or banned medications have been discovered by customs sniffer dogs. If you’re unsure whether you need to provide a prescription and notarised translation to bring your medicines into Russia, check with the Russian Embassy before you travel. TICKS In spring and early summer in rural areas of Russia ticks are prevalent. Please take precautions when walking in these areas by wearing long trousers and covered shoes, and check your clothes and body thoroughly. HYGIENE The diet and hygiene standards on this trip may be very different from what you are used to so please take care with washing hands before meals etc. and bring some medication/re-hydration salts etc if you commonly experience stomach problems with a change in diet.
VEGETARIANS Vegetarians might find the menu selection in Europe less varied than they would see at home. Vegetarianism is not as common in this region and generally the choices are basic, involving vegetables, soups, salads, bread, cheese, fruit, yoghurt, eggs etc. Vegans and those on gluten-free diets may find this region very challenging and may need to supplement meals with their own supplies from supermarkets and markets. Wherever possible we will cater for dietary needs for any included meals, but there may be times when those with special requirements may need to provide their own. BREAKFASTS There are some continental breakfasts included on this trip which may simply include bread/toast or pastries, butter, jam, coffee/tea/juice (or similar). RUSSIA What is food in Russia really like? See our blog here for some must try foods: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/5-foods-really-need-try-russia/ Vegetarians in Russia certainly won't go hungry as there are usually plenty of meat-free options on menus including salads, certain soups, and cooked dishes such as mushrooms, potatoes, cabbage, buckwheat, dumplings with vegetable fillings, savoury pancakes etc. Vegans will need to look for options without mayonnaise, sour cream and cheese which are common in Russian dishes. Moscow, St Petersburg and increasingly other towns have an ever growing number of excellent vegetarian and vegan eateries. Wherever possible we will cater for dietary needs for included meals, but there may be times when those with special requirements may wish to supplement inclusions with their own supplies from markets or supermarkets.
SPENDING MONEY When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document). The local currency in Russia is Rubble (RUB). The local currency in Poland is the Zloty (PLN), however, the rest countries visited on this trip have now adopted the common currency of the European Union, the Euro (EUR). The most convenient and cheapest way to acquire money in Europe is via an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) or Bancomat as they are often referred to. Check with your bank in advance concerning the suitability of your account / card overseas and any international fees that will be applied. You can withdraw local currencies easily at airports, major train stations and most city centres, but be sure to bring some extra emergency cash in a major currency that can be exchanged if the ATMs are not functioning. When leaving home don't forget your PIN and make sure you know the telephone number for cancelling your card if it is stolen. Keep this in a safe place. Credit cards are not always accepted in stores and restaurants. We recommend you carry some cash to pay for restaurant bills and other services. TIPPING IN RUSSIA and Europe If you are happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it is of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. We recommend that any tips are given to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader. The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers: - Restaurants/cafes with table service: We suggest 5% to 10% of your bill, however check if a service charge has already been added. - Local guides: Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest €2-€3 per person per activity day for local guides with the amount adjusted accordingly for guides who are with you for a for a full day. - Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey, while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group, however a base of €1-€2 per person, per day is generally appropriate, with the amount adjusted accordingly for drivers who are with you for less than a full day. - Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline €4-€5, or the equivalent in any currency used on the trip, per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip isn't compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service. Please do not tip with coins, notes of and less than €1 or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult. CONTINGENCY FUNDS We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you have access to an extra US$500 for emergencies (e.g. severe weather, natural disasters, civil unrest) or other events that result in unavoidable changes to the itinerary (e.g. transport strikes or cancellations, airport closures). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to enable our trips to continue to run, and as a result there may be some extra costs involved. The recommended amount is listed in USD for the relatability of universal travellers, however the local currency is needed in the countries you are visiting. RUSSIA The official currency of Russia is the Ruble (RUB). 1 ruble = 100 kopeks. ATMs are widespread in Russia so the easiest way to access cash on your trip is to bring a credit or debit card. Please check with your bank about overseas withdrawal fees before you depart and note that recent travellers have experienced difficulties in using credit cards without a debit function from US banks for purchases or withdrawals. If you are travelling to remote parts of the country you will need to prepare cash exchanged into local currency. The easiest foreign currencies to exchange are USD and EUR, however please be aware of the security risk of carrying large amounts of cash. Commission is sometimes charged for currency exchange. Check the rate before you exchange as what is advertised is sometimes only for transactions above US$500, carefully check the amount you are given and ask for a receipt. Due to restrictions on changing money in Russia, only US$50 and US$100 notes/bills printed after 1996 and in good condition (no creases, marks, stamps or tears) will be accepted. Avoid bringing US$ notes in smaller denominations. By law, all purchases in Russia must be made in local currency. TIPPING IN RUSSIA: If you are happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it is of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. We recommend that any tips are given to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader. The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers: - Restaurants/cafes with table service: We suggest 5% to 10% of your bill, however check if a service charge has already been added. - Local guides: Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest 100- 200 RUB per person per activity day for local guides with the amount adjusted accordingly for guides who are with you for a for a full day. - Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey, while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group, however a base of 100- 200 RUB per person, per day is generally appropriate, with the amount adjusted accordingly for drivers who are with you for less than a full day. - Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline $US3-5, or the equivalent in any currency used on the trip, per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip isn't compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service. Please do not tip with coins, notes of and less than 10 RUB or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult.
PACKING On this trip you must pack as lightly as possible because you will be expected to carry your own bag and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we strongly recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb. Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps to accommodate the cobbled streets, uneven surfaces, stairs and steps you are lightly to encounter while carrying your luggage. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips. You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
TRAVELLING ON LOCAL TRANSPORT It's important that your bags can be locked, as on local transport it may be necessary that your luggage gets stowed separately (and unattended). The smaller your bag the better for you and other passengers. To ensure maximum comfort, try to pack small and light.
WATER BOTTLE Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation or simply refill with tap water (your leader will advise whether tap water is safe to drink in your destination). When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day.
WHITE NIGHTS The closer you travel to the second half of June, the shorter the nights are in this part of the world. As many of our accommodations may not have suitable curtains to block out light you may want to consider bringing an eye-mask, especially if you are a light sleeper. CLOTHING & CLIMATE The climate in this region is extremely varied. In shoulder season (April, May, September, October and beyond) you can expect temperatures to vary between single digits and warm sunny days, while from June until September temperatures can reach well above 30 C. It is always a good idea to bring a warm windproof jacket, a hat and waterproof footwear. No matter which time of year you decide to travel, it can get quite cool at night especially when in the countryside, so we recommend that you bring a warm jacket or fleece.
TAP WATER Cold tap water is generally safe and good to drink so you can avoid the purchase of bottled water by refilling from the tap. It may be better to boil water before use in some areas, please check with your group leader.
IMAGES FROM HOME: During our trip there will be many opportunities for you to meet and talk with locals. One way to start any conversation is with pictures. We recommend that you bring some photos / postcards of your family, home, city or country where you live, animals peculiar to your country etc.
The areas visited on this trip can be cold throughout the year, especially at the start and end of the season, and at night. Rain is possible at any time of year. Winter temperatures frequently drop below freezing, and snow fall is common. Summers on the other hand can be quite hot, and temperatures can reach up to 30 C. Please familiarize yourself with what climate to expect and bring appropriate clothing for adverse weather conditions, including base layers, hat, rain coat and anything else that you think may be applicable. RUSSIAN PUBLIC HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day: 1 Jan New Year Holiday Week: 2-8 Jan Orthodox Christmas Day: 7 Jan Defenders of the Fatherland Day: 23 Feb (25 Feb 2019, 24 Feb 2020) International Womens Day: 8 Mar (9 Mar 2020) Spring & Labour Day: 1 May Spring & Labour Day Holiday: 2-3 May 2019 Victory Day: 9 May (11 May 2020) Russia Day: 12 Jun Unity Day: 4 Nov OTHER OBSERVED HOLIDAYS: Old New Year: 14 Jan Special Operations Forces Day: 27 Feb Orthodox Easter Sunday: 28 Apr 2019, 19 Apr 2020 Day of Knowledge (First Day of School): 1 Sep
Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden. Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, we encourage responsible drinking, and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption. The sex tourism industry is known to exploit vulnerable people and have negative consequences on communities, including undermining the development of sustainable tourism. For this reason, patronising sex workers will not be tolerated on our trips. By travelling with us you are agreeing to adhere to these rules. Your group leader has the right to remove any member of the group for breaking any of these rules, with no right of refund. If you feel that someone is behaving inappropriately while travelling with us, please inform your tour leader or local guide immediately. Alternatively, contact us on the emergency contact number detailed in the Problems and Emergency Contact section of this Essential Trip Information.
After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback/
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip. We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager. You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete. For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/ In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, please contact our local office: Intrepid's Local Operator: +49 8677 9186 657 Intrepid’s Local Operator: +7 918 6151572
Our Responsible Travel Policy outlines our commitment to preserving the environment, supporting local communities, protecting the vulnerable and giving back to the places we travel. All our trip leaders, suppliers and staff are trained on these principles, and are core to us delivering sustainable, experience-rich travel. Explore the different parts of our Responsible Travel Policy by visiting: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/responsible-travel http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsibletraveller DRESS CODE In general, there are few dress restrictions in Europe. Note when visiting churches, monasteries or other religious sites modest dress is required - shorts or skimpy tops may not be permitted, for both men and women.
Help us change thousands of lives by creating meaningful work and supporting skills training in communities around the world. The Intrepid Foundation is the not-for-profit for Intrepid Group. We work with local organisations around the world to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable individuals and communities through sustainable travel experiences. With our travellers’ help, we’ve contributed more than AU $6 million to over 100 community organisations since 2002. Did you know that tourism is one of the biggest contributors to the global economy, making up 1 out of every 10 jobs? That’s why we support local projects that create meaningful jobs and give people the skills they need to work in the destinations we take you to. And it’s why we exist – to make it easy for travellers to give back to the communities and places they’ve been in an effective and meaningful way. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation are matched by Intrepid Group dollar for dollar (up to AU$10,000 per donor and AU$500,000 in total each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And because Intrepid Group covers all administration costs, every cent goes directly to the projects. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information about the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or visit our website: http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/
Accommodation on this trip is on a twin-share basis. The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in your selected accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances. Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for your arrival, especially if you're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible, which means you won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, you can store your luggage and explore the new destination. If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights. RUSSIA REGISTRATION: According to Russian law, all foreign citizens must be registered with the immigration authorities within 7 business days of arrival into Russia. If you have made your own independent travel plans in Russia for more than 7 days outside of your trip dates with us, please ensure you are registered through your accommodation in order to avoid any issues at passport control when leaving the country. HOT WATER: Please note that in many cities in Russia, including Moscow, hot water is turned off for up to one month during summer for routine maintenance. During this time only cold water may be available at some accommodation. HOMESTAYS & GUESTHOUSES: Please note that at our homestays and guesthouses rooms may be multishare and open gender. When we stay at people's homes, beds may be sofa beds or mattresses on the floor. DOUBLE BEDS: Please note that rooms with double beds are not always available at our accommodation in Russia and two single beds in a twin share room is the default. Wherever possible we will put couples in rooms with double beds if available. RUSSIA TRAINS: Trains on this journey are simple but comfortable, with standards and age of the carriages varying from route to route. You’ll travel in 2nd class ("kupe") on this trip. There's a toilet/bathroom at the end of each carriage with a small sink and cold water, but no showers. An attendant is assigned to every carriage to look after your comfort and safety (although service standards can vary greatly!). Each compartment has four bunks with luggage storage space inside. Clean bedding is provided, although some travellers still prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. There's hot water available for making instant meals, tea and coffee. Sometimes snacks and drinks are available for purchase on board and most trains also have a dining car, although often with a limited menu. Trains are generally heated but do not always offer air conditioning. The train can become very hot even in winter and the train attendants will often not allow the windows to be opened, so please pack clothing appropriate for the warmer conditions on these train journeys.
TRANSPORT IN EUROPE Half the fun of travel is the travelling itself, that's why we like to travel the local way – whether that means mingling with commuters on a train in Spain, cycling past a historic chateau in France, or encountering the world's most extravagant public transport system on the Moscow Metro. In Europe, you are guaranteed to travel by genuine local public transport wherever possible, which puts you right in the centre of the action.
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader. If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/insurance.php
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. SINGLE TRAVELLERS: Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Essential Trip Information. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
ITINERARY CHANGES: Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and may be on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk. BOOKING THEATRE TICKETS IN ADVANCE To avoid disappointment we recommend that you book any theatre performances that you wish to attend in Moscow or St Petersburg in advance. Please consider carefully which performances you are going to want attend and make sure that the dates correspond to your trip. If you are unsure about when to book your tickets please get in touch with your booking agent and find out what times and dates are free for you to see a show. As we don't want you to double book yourself! In particular we recommend you see what's playing at the Bolshoi and Mariinsky, as it may be difficult to get tickets when you are there especially during White Nights in St Petersburg. Here are some useful internet sites to check for what will be on (ballet, opera, exhibitions, etc) in Moscow and St Petersburg: www.mariinsky.ru, www.bolshoi.ru and www.mikhailovsky.ru
Hotel (12 nights),Guesthouse (6 night),Overnight Sleeper Train (1 night),Homestay (2 nights)