Getting around Moscow and St. Petersburg
Replies: 7 - Last Post: Jul 3, 2012 8:35 AM Last Post By: everbrite
Jul 1, 2012 8:07 PM
Are sites indicated in English / Roman alphabet?
Is there good public transportation? Or are taxis easy to use; how affordable?
Jul 1, 2012 11:22 PM
1In Moscow most street signs in the centre are in both alphabets, and recently tourist information signs pointing to major attractions have popped up all over the place. Most signs on the metro are in Russian only, but with a map it should not be too hard to use, and it is by far the best way to get around over any distance. Taxis are another story. There are virtually no official taxis that you can flag down on the street (private cars fill that role, and for that you need Russian language skills and to know where you're going). Ones that are parked in obvious areas of demand (outside train stations, outside hotels etc.) should generally be avoided, as they are likely paying protection to park there and will demand ridiculous fares from which they'll rarely budge. If you really need a taxi, best to order one by phone (e.g. kommandir taxis have English speaking operators, but are relatively expensive).
Jul 1, 2012 11:53 PM
Jul 2, 2012 4:08 AM
3I highly recommend the Russian Language Map for learning the alphabet, reading menus, common phrases, etc. I also found the Insight laminated city maps to be useful as they are plastic coated and have metro maps as well as center city maps. Familiarize yourself with where you want to go prior to getting there.
You might want to consider taking an overview bus tour in both cities to help you get oriented.
Jul 2, 2012 10:02 AM
4Learning the alphabet is a breeze, so don't sweat that. Learning it will make your life easier for reading signs and navigating the Metro, street signs, etc. But you could probably get by without it. Your biggest issue will probably be the occasional language barrier at a shop or a restaurant. You're sure to have one or two of those, but you can usually get what you want based on body language, hand gestures, etc. And if there is a complete loggerheads, often you'll see a clerk find an English speaker to help translate. Basically, you'll be fine. Prepare yourself for the occasional language headache, and hopefully you will be pleasantly surprised when you don't have any problems.
Jul 2, 2012 2:21 PM
5The subway is very easy to use. I do not speak a word of Russian and do not know their alphabet and I managed to go everywhere I wanted to go. The St Peter underground has both Russian and english as has most sights in St Peter. I dont remember seeing too much english in Moscow but I managed by sign language and pointing. As pointed out above some stations are a little tricky as there are 2 or 3 at the same place but on different lines and they have different names but you soon get used to them.
Jul 3, 2012 7:39 AM
6I really want to thank you all for the great information. I feel much more comfortable with the input.
Has anyone taken the SAPSPAN from Moscow to St. Petersburg? I see that there are 2 levels and wondering if it's worth the ~$100 for first class or if the standard seating is just fine for 4.5 hours?
If you have any recommendations for hotels in either city that would be great. I can see that it's pretty pricey. Not really interested in budget or luxury accomodations but mid range would be best and a good area. What is your opinion to pay more and stay centrally located vs. a 20-30 minute subway to the sights?
Jul 3, 2012 8:35 AM
7Standard seating is fine. You should be able to find pipctures of it online.
Most people take the train overnight because it provides accommodation and thus saves you that cost. Plus the experience.
What is your budget for accommodations? Personally of late when traveling I have taken to staying in a private room in a hostel. All sorts of advanatges. Free internet. Other people around. No smoking policy. Good locations. Reasonable prices. Of course, you need to be willing to share the bathrooms and you need to be sure that it isn't a party location but otherwise they tend to be a good deal.
For St. Petersburg try searching for information about minihotels. Check with Aleksei at Palladium travel in Petersburg for options. He might also know of places in Moscow.
To me a central location is more important than the price but then I have the money to afford 5* if I wanted to do so. Generally I like walking in the evening and when centrally located there are places to walk that are interesting, less so if you are 20-30 min outside of center in a primarily residential area.
(5 star Hotel)
From US$446.75 per night
(5 star Hotel)
From US$132.06 per night
(0 star Hotel)
From US$35.00 per night