Russia in the dead of winter
Replies: 10 - Last Post: Feb 3, 2013 11:14 PM Last Post By: qyenye
Oct 13, 2012 8:30 PM
Russia in the dead of winterI'm planning a trip to Russia next January, which is not really peak season so I had some questions
1. Length of the day and weather: I've been to Poland in January so I have a good idea of how Moscow can be, but it appears that St. Petersburg is in a league of its own when it comes to the length of the day. Is it so short that it's a problem for sightseeing? Also how is the weather?
2. Safety/racism: Some of St. Petersburg's palaces are in the surburbs, yet there is a passage in the LP book saying that if you are not white, do not venture out alone to the surburbs during the day? I look Chinese/Korean to the vast majority of people so is it really that bad? BTW I don't mind about the police bothering me for my papers or low-level racism, only the violent stuff bothers me.
3. Has anyone been to Perm-36 in winter? Is it doable in winter?
Oct 13, 2012 11:31 PM
11. December 21 is close to the shortest day of the year. In Gdansk, Poland which is about as far north as you can get in Poland, the length of day is 07h 18m, in Warsaw it is 7h 43m, in Moscow it is 7h 02m and in St. Petersburg, it is 5h 58m. While there will be a little more day light in January, there won't be much. OTOH the change per day is greater in St. Petersburg than in Moscow, so if you have the option, go to Moscow first.
Siteseeing outside is usually limited by the cold so the amount of daylight is only a partial factor. In winter it is probable that you will spend more time inside museums than walking around outside. That being the case, the amount of daylight won't be too much of a problem assuming that you plan your time carefully.
Regarding temperatures. St. Petersburg tends to be colder, snowier and windier than Moscow.
2. Assuming that you stick to the well traveled path and don't go off wandering on your own, you shouldn't have any safety issues. That also means not being out late in areas that aren't well frequented by foreigners.
3. Perm 36 should be possible in winter but it won't be pleasant and unless you find other travelers to go with you, a tour is likely to be very expensive. Personally I haven't been in winter.
Oct 14, 2012 4:20 AM
2At the start of January you are looking at just over 6 hours of daylight at the end of January its closer to 8 hours, personally the short days don't bother me, but I know for some it is an issue. Weather is difficult to predict, it was actually quite mild at the beginning of this year in both Moscow and St Petersburg with very little snow, the further east you go the colder it tends to be with much more snow.
There is a great deal written about racism in the guide books in places such as St Petersburg, but all the recent accounts that I've read from real tourists suggest that this is outdated information and petty crime such as pick pockets are the biggest cause for concern now. Again being stop by the police and ask for documents seems to be a rare event now and not something I've ever experienced.
Perm is a 2 hour flight from Moscow or nearly 24 hours by train and Perm 36 is actually a good 100km from Perm, not far from Chusovoy. Yes it's possible to go there in January, but I suspect you'd need a tour guide yourself and the museum is closed on Mondays.
Oct 14, 2012 9:01 AM
3I visited St Petes in January and loved it. Beautiful snow everywhere. Transport, restaurants, museums etc all keep going but without fighting your way past other tourists.
St Petersburg has many high rise suburbs of crumbling apartment blocks, some of which are reportedly unsafe for non-whites, although I have never been to these and there's no reason for a toursit to do so. If you are visiting Catherine's Palace or Peterhof, these are not that kind of suburb. More small villages, mostly inhabited by old ladies with no high rise buildings, largely dependent on tourism and completely safe (apart from the hazard of slipping over in the snow).
Oct 14, 2012 11:44 AM
4Opposite of what you may be would expect the temperatures in Moscow is slightly colder than in St Petersburg (as usual the climate is milder on the west cost north of Equator) measured in degrees and degrees only (expect 1-2 degrees colder in Moscow on average, more on maximum temperatures - if you are surprised by Moscow being colder, you should try the temperature in the Desert of Karakalpakistan or Steppe of Kazakhstan at night). Expect more snow/rain in St Petersurg than in Moscow, a bigger difference than in winds - St Petersburg also will be somewhat more windy. St Petersburg is famous for variable weather.
In practice I don't think you will notice much difference. The constantly changing weather in St Petersburg is more a problem in spring and autumn, when it can be a sunny day in the morning, rain by lunch and cloudy and rather cold in the afternoon.
Edited by: jaoto
Edited by: jaoto
Oct 19, 2012 2:08 AM
5By the way, there are quite a few "Chinese" looking migrants in St Petersbourg... I think those comments were more meant for "Black", "Arab" or "Hispanic" looking people. I don't think I saw a single Black person when I was there, and discussed the subject with a friend from Moscow. He and his friends had many prejudices, but not against "Chinese" looking people...
Oct 21, 2012 2:15 PM
6Does anyone know what is the best and most reliable transportation method to & from St. Petersburg and Moscow in late december - january? I was thinking Sapsan express train which seems to be about the same price as a plane ticket anyway.. but worried about weather conditions .. what is the safest bet
Oct 21, 2012 3:22 PM
Oct 23, 2012 1:31 AM
8Most people take a train between Moscow and Petersburg for a variety of reasons.
1. Getting to and from the airport is a huge hassle
2. Trains go from center city to center city and have cheap public transport to/from stations
3. Weather is more likely to delay planes than trains
4. It is common to take the overnight train to have the experience of sleeping on the train and to include the cost of accommodations
5. The view from the train window isn't great
6. Overnight trains mean you are traveling while sleeping instead of using precious daytime which could be spent site seeing.
Dec 14, 2012 8:33 AM
9I was in SP 2 years ago in December, under a cold wave. I can imagine this city with a better looks. Sunrise 10:30, sunset 15:30, but you have to take in count that the area between day and night is elarge in such hight latitudes.
About racism, yes, there's. A Russian friends had told me about it saying " You looks Russian, no problem" It was evident every day. Even russians with mediterranean looks, as usual in people from the Caucasus were harrased in front of me by the police in metro and train stations.
About the cold, modern mountain clothes can easily keep it out, a suggestion. Russians like high temperatures indoors, so dressed with a layering system, it takes too much time putting on and off clothes. In case you have a polar parka, as a Canada Goose, the last point is solved in the best way.
Feb 3, 2013 11:14 PM
10I've just travelled to Russia by myself last winter. The views were amazing and there wan't any safety issue.
If you want to learn more, here's my recent post with a few travel tips: http://travellingwandering.blogspot.com/2013/01/traveling-to-russia-winter-tips.html
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