Interesting 'Short' Trips in Russia

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alex17595

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After being stuck on a Work-Home cycle for so long I have decided that once we can travel again I'm going to try and be a bit more adventurous than a trip to France. I have been watching some youtube videos and I'm considering a trip to Russia, however I'm struggling to find interesting short trips.

Short in this case being >6 hours.

So far I have considered:

St Petersburg

- Train from Finland Station-Repino 45 Min
- Walk to Kurort Station
- Local Train back to St P. 1hr
- High Speed Service to Moscow
There is also the railway museum in St.P as well as a transport pass to visit various other places

North Caucus Area
There is some interesting looking lines around this area.
- Krasnodor Krai - Adler - Runs through the hills before hitting the Black Sea coast for 2 hours.
- Maykop to Adler - Joins the Krai route at Indyuk
Theres also a local branch up to the mountain resorts.


Has anybody got any recommendations for trips in Russia, sadly much of the information on the internet seems to Revolve around the Trans Siberian and other famous Journeys with little information on local lines.
 
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SteveM70

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It’ll be of no help to you at all, but my then girlfriend and I did the St Petersburg to Moscow sleeper in about 1993.

It was alright, comfortable enough but missing the little frills round the edges. I remember the ashtray in the vestibule was an empty tin can with the lid not quite detached and then peeled back to make a rudimentary handle

On the same trip we had a week in Yalta, which I think still had trolleybuses. The flight from Moscow to Simferopol was the last of the day and departed with standing passengers

About a month after we got back there was a story in the Sunday Times advising against Russian sleeper trains because gangs were apparently gassing people in the compartments and then robbing them, and against using internal Aeroflot flights because allegedly they operated an “internal only” sub-fleet with shall we say less stringent maintenance regimes than those which flew to the west. It made us feel like really intrepid travellers
 
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superalbs

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There is a train that runs from Sankt Petersburg to Pskov, which is in a Lastochka Desiro EMU running on electric for some of the journey, before getting dragged by a TEP70 to its final destination. Might be interesting, it's about 3.5hr.

Video:
 

daodao

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North Caucus Area
There is some interesting looking lines around this area.
- Krasnodor Krai - Adler - Runs through the hills before hitting the Black Sea coast for 2 hours.
- Maykop to Adler - Joins the Krai route at Indyuk
Theres also a local branch up to the mountain resorts.
One interesting trip within Russia itself, that might not be in English guidebooks, is from Krasnodar to Simferopol in the Crimea via the new Kerch bridge, and then by interurban trolleybus to Yalta. Another might be from Sochi/Adler to Sukhumi in the independent republic of Abkhazia, if this train service is still running.
 

AMR

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St Petersburg is great for trains in general, on the Moscow-Mainline Terminus Moskovsky You can see High-speed ICE Variant trains on one side then Trains from the 70s/80s on the other with wooden benches ect. The Finland High-speed train is named after an Austin which is technically a Pendolino. The Metro is fantastic.

 

Gostav

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It’ll be of no help to you at all, but my then girlfriend and I did the St Petersburg to Moscow sleeper in about 1993.

It was alright, comfortable enough but missing the little frills round the edges. I remember the ashtray in the vestibule was an empty tin can with the lid not quite detached and then peeled back to make a rudimentary handle

On the same trip we had a week in Yalta, which I think still had trolleybuses. The flight from Moscow to Simferopol was the last of the day and departed with standing passengers

About a month after we got back there was a story in the Sunday Times advising against Russian sleeper trains because gangs were apparently gassing people in the compartments and then robbing them, and against using internal Aeroflot flights because allegedly they operated an “internal only” sub-fleet with shall we say less stringent maintenance regimes than those which flew to the west. It made us feel like really intrepid travellers
In 1993, almost all "Eastern" countries were in hot water.
 

alex17595

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Thanks for the replies, I had not thought of Crimea because I had assumed there was still political issues in the area. It seems like as long as you come i/outn via the Kerch bridge and don't try to go via Ukraine there should be no issues. I have actually been looking at the Cable cars in Chiatura which could have been done from Adler but the political situation means you can't transit through Abkhazia. Sokhumi has some war damaged building that could be interesting.
 

alex397

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I can’t add anything here, but I will also be interested in further replies! I have also been watching a lot about Russia recently, largely from Russian YouTubers (is great to hear about Russia from actual Russians). Their government sounds awful, but western media rarely talks about the good side of Russia - the places to see, the culture, the friendly people.

I would certainly like to see some of the country especially by rail, and not just seeing the cities of Moscow or St Petersburg.
 
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AMR

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Thanks for the replies, I had not thought of Crimea because I had assumed there was still political issues in the area. It seems like as long as you come i/outn via the Kerch bridge and don't try to go via Ukraine there should be no issues. I have actually been looking at the Cable cars in Chiatura which could have been done from Adler but the political situation means you can't transit through Abkhazia. Sokhumi has some war damaged building that could be interesting.
My mother is from Russia (St Petersburg), that's why I go offern. She always said Crimea was one of the beautiful places.
 

alex17595

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I can’t add anything here, but I will also be interested in further replies! I have also been watching a lot about Russia recently, largely from Russian YouTubers (is great to hear about Russia from actual Russians). Their government sounds awful, but western media rarely talks about the good side of Russia - the places to see, the culture, the friendly people.

I could certainly like to see some of the country especially by rail, and not just seeing the cities of Moscow or St Petersburg.



I watch Bald and Bankrupt on Yotube which was my inspiration for looking at Russia. He's a british guy who can speak Russian and visits some on the more obscure places in the former USSR. I'm actually struggling for places to go which is why I started this thread, all the smaller towns look exactly the same apart from the places with Kremlins. The only other inspiration (apart from my first post) was the Patriot Park millitary Museum near Moscow. Also looking at places which had significant WW2 battles such as Volograd and Kursk.
 

vlad

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Volgograd is an acquired taste. The war museums are very moving, especially if you visit the Mamaev Kurgan statue and eternal flame when nobody else is about, as I did. The city also has a tram that thinks it's a metro system.

However, because the city was pretty much destroyed in World War II, it was rebuilt to the glory of Stalin (remember it was called Stalingrad from 1925 to 1961) so is full of long, wide streets lined with imposing buildings. There's hardly anything old there - but at least the architecture is (in my opinion) more pleasant than what came in the 1960s and 1970s.

It's not a short trip from Moscow but is only a few hours from Astrakhan, which is completely different.
 

MarcVD

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You can have a one day excursion on the shores of Lake Baikal. I did it in 2011.
This is the old transsiberian route along the lake, before part of it was flooded by a dam constructed on river Angara.
 
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Avoid travelling alone, some British tourists have been stopped and harassed by police in the last couple of years in Moscow and St Peter.
It's a great experience with so many extraordinary sights.
 

rf_ioliver

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St Petersburg is great for trains in general, on the Moscow-Mainline Terminus Moskovsky You can see High-speed ICE Variant trains on one side then Trains from the 70s/80s on the other with wooden benches ect. The Finland High-speed train is named after an Austin which is technically a Pendolino. The Metro is fantastic.

Took me a moment to get the "Austin" joke ... fortunately the trains are more reliable :)
 

TravelDream

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Spent a fair bit of time in Russia, though sadly not been for a few years now.

Lots of stuff already said. St Petersburg is an absolutely stunning city. On trains, some really beautiful metro stations with Avtovo standing out for me. The railway museum isn't too bad either. If you can afford it, try the Red Arrow train (it's number 1 and 2 on the number system) to/from Moscow. It's gaudy as, but a real experience. The HST is nice as well.

From SPB, you can head north to Vyborg next to the Finnish border which is a stunning small city with its Swedish castle. From memory it's about 90 mins each way so would give a few hours to look around. Vyborg is very much a walkable place. Heading south you can visit Veliky Novgorod which has many stunning churches and its own Kremlin. When I went there was a Siemens Desiro/ Lastochka train once in the morning and once in the evening. Probably best to hire a guide with a car though as things are spread out.
I'd also really look into renting a 'village dacha' with a banya (sauna) if possible for a day or two. There are lots on the commuter lines which snake out of Moscow and St Petersburg. You'll experience how ordinary middle class Russians spend their weekends and many holidays. When we went, we rented one with a Russian family as hosts. Nothing like being in a sauna bollock naked in front of everyone while a Russian grandpa beats you with sticks/branches. The food they served was very Russian and certainly an acquired taste.

You're unlikely to be stopped and harrassed by the police so don't worry what one person said above. Very few police speak English, though there'll definitely be someone who does at Red Square and in the centre of SPB.
TBH I found Russia to be, generally, very safe. Normal precautions should be taken as if you were walking around London or New York, but nothing crazy. The sleeper trains are very safe as each carriage has its own conductor who will lock the doors either side and keep an eye on what's going on. I have heard of snatch gangs looking for tourists cameras and bags in the tourist centres, but you get than in Rome and Barcelona as well.
 

subria

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Probably the most interesting rail trip I did when I was I visited back in 2015 was to head out to the Air Force Museum at Monino, assuming you have an interest in aeroplanes of course. Local train that does take a while, but does give you a chance to people watch (and the vendors who come through the trains trying to sell everything and anything).

We followed the guide - and got there in the end and was well worth it.

We'd also travelled up to St Petersburg on the High Speed line - pretty much as you'd expect, and came back on the overnight sleeper
 

TravelDream

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Probably the most interesting rail trip I did when I was I visited back in 2015 was to head out to the Air Force Museum at Monino, assuming you have an interest in aeroplanes of course. Local train that does take a while, but does give you a chance to people watch (and the vendors who come through the trains trying to sell everything and anything).

We followed the guide - and got there in the end and was well worth it.

We'd also travelled up to St Petersburg on the High Speed line - pretty much as you'd expect, and came back on the overnight sleeper

It is a pretty interesting place I agree. Though I do like aviation museums.
Not too bad from central Moscow and it can be done in less than two hours door to door from Red Square as it were.
You don't really get that many sellers on the elektrichka (elektrichka is a suburban commuter train) nowadays. You'll possibly see one or two and a few gyspy children or buskers. Certainly not what that website describes though.
Don't worry about visiting the ticket desk either. All major stations have machines in English where you can buy tickets with a card. I had a quick look and Monino also has one you can see on Google Maps. https://www.google.com/maps/@55.842...4!1sbddCQ6mT54Xu0j0egDIuUA!2e0!7i13312!8i6656
 

peteb

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The Golden Ring towns about an hour and a half from Moscow have lovely orthodox churches with blue and gold domes, and well worth day trip from Moscow. Sergiyev Posad aka Zagorsk is my favourite, fastest train about 55 minutes.
 

route101

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Avoid travelling alone, some British tourists have been stopped and harassed by police in the last couple of years in Moscow and St Peter.
It's a great experience with so many extraordinary sights.
I got stopped in St Petersburg as the street where my hostel was had a police corden at both ends, due to a festival. The police officer wanted proof of where I was staying and had a look at my visa/passport.
 

subria

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It is a pretty interesting place I agree. Though I do like aviation museums.
Not too bad from central Moscow and it can be done in less than two hours door to door from Red Square as it were.
You don't really get that many sellers on the elektrichka (elektrichka is a suburban commuter train) nowadays. You'll possibly see one or two and a few gyspy children or buskers. Certainly not what that website describes though.
Don't worry about visiting the ticket desk either. All major stations have machines in English where you can buy tickets with a card. I had a quick look and Monino also has one you can see on Google Maps. https://www.google.com/maps/@55.842...4!1sbddCQ6mT54Xu0j0egDIuUA!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

Well that certainly would make things a bit easier, but less chance of being able to test one's Russian.

Did find that offline google translate worked quite well for Russian, but spend a little bit of time trying to learn Cyrillic is quite rewarding. Once you can read the Cyrillic and read it out, then all starts to make more sense as the spoken language is closer to the latin.
ресторан vs restaurant is said much the same, just with the different alphabet.

Wouldn't surprise me that the multitude of sellers is gone now as they crack down on the informal economy. I couldn't understand them at all, but still quite entertaining to watch.
 

TravelDream

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Well that certainly would make things a bit easier, but less chance of being able to test one's Russian.

Did find that offline google translate worked quite well for Russian, but spend a little bit of time trying to learn Cyrillic is quite rewarding. Once you can read the Cyrillic and read it out, then all starts to make more sense as the spoken language is closer to the latin.
ресторан vs restaurant is said much the same, just with the different alphabet.

Wouldn't surprise me that the multitude of sellers is gone now as they crack down on the informal economy. I couldn't understand them at all, but still quite entertaining to watch.

A bit of an effort to learn Cyrillic if you're just going for a short break. I spent a fair bit of time there as I was working there on and off for a project for a while. It was far more useful in that scenario a long with learning the basics.

Google Translate does work pretty well even offline. For anyone going looking for someone who speaks English, younger women are by far the most likely to speak it in my experience. I was told by a Russian friend that learning languages is considered something quite feminine. I actually went to the philology department (what they call language learning) of a university and, basically, about 99% of the students and staff were female.

You still get sellers, but not really on trains. You do get a lot of old grannies outside suburban train and metro stations selling stuff. Usually homemade foods like pickled vegetables. I think the police might move them on in the centre but let them be further out. They have to. Many elderly live, quite literally, hand to mouth. The retirement age for women is 55 and the state pension (from memory) is about 10,000 roubles a month. That's less than £100 and there are many restaurants in Moscow and SPB where you can very easily spend that on a nice meal and a few drinks.

At times I hated working there (missed friends and family and can't do the darkness or coldness of winter), but gosh I really do miss it. Really need to think about heading back soon. Hopefully next year.

The Golden Ring towns about an hour and a half from Moscow have lovely orthodox churches with blue and gold domes, and well worth day trip from Moscow. Sergiyev Posad aka Zagorsk is my favourite, fastest train about 55 minutes.

I know this is a rail forum, but to visit, it would be SO much easier to do so by car or tour bus. Vladimir and Suzdal are supposedly the best two and are the only ones I've been to. Vladimir has a direct train link with Moscow, but it's a fair sized city with attractions spread out. Suzdal is tiny in comparison and walkable, but has no rail connection.
I need to keep Sergiyev Posad in mind for a future visit.
 

superalbs

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A bit of an effort to learn Cyrillic if you're just going for a short break. I spent a fair bit of time there as I was working there on and off for a project for a while. It was far more useful in that scenario a long with learning the basics.
I managed to pick up cyrillic on my first day in Ukraine, tied with a few minutes over lunch the week before. Not perfect, but after a bit of fumbling, I could understand. :D

Not long after, I had a perfect understanding of the alphabet, and can read it nearly as fast as latin (with struggles on the 'stranger' letter combinations).

Guess it depends on how well you can pick up stuff like that!
 
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