Last week, I shared the inspiration behind my Russia trip, and how I burned my Club Carlson points for maximum value.
Whenever I travel to a new place, I like get acquainted with the city by exploring on my own and taking part in tours and activities lead by locals.Angelina once posted a jumbo list of free walking tours around the globe. When we first arrived in Moscow, we took the free walking tour by Moscow free tours. Marina, the tour guide, did a great English tour. Tours are free, but the guides appreciate tips in the end, so keep that in mind.
As far as dining in Moscow, we ate almost every meal at a Russian-style cafeteria on the 3rd floor of the Gum department store called no.57, which is frequented by both locals and tourists. The best part of all is that there’s no language barrier; you can simply point to the food you want. The food was delicious and very reasonably priced.We did our own metro tour in Moscow, and we also visited the great American War Museum located at the blue-line Park Pobedy stop.After touring Moscow, we took a short flight to St. Petersburg. St. Petersburg felt more like Western Europe. We took the free walking tour here as well. For dining, we ate at a restaurant called Market Place, which was similar to cafeteria style, where you simply point to the food you want. The food was really good and reasonably-priced.
How to get to Peterhof with public transportation: Most people take a tour or fast ferry for about 1,800 rubles. We took the train to Avtovo metro on the red line for .31 rubles each, then switched to the 424 minibus for .65 each. The minibus drops off right in front of the upper gardens, and travel time less than one hour.The metro stations in St. Petersburg are a must-see. We did the tour of the stations on our own.
Overall Impressions of Russia
Although the weather was mostly gray and damp, both cities felt safe and clean. Moscow felt like everything I imagined Russia to be like, while St. Petersburg had more of a Western European vibe. In general, we thought that the Russian locals came across as rude and unfriendly, but they are just very professional and to the point. I did not find Moscow to be a tourist-friendly destination.
In the end, I am glad I was able to take a nearly 2-week trip to a new place on a budget. What are your impressions of Russia?