Highlights of Russia & the Baltics

Trip Code: WBSRC

Why we love it

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.

Is this trip right for me?

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.

Important information

1. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement excludes Day 2,14,15 (Guesthouse), Day 4 (Sleeper Train) and Days 16,17 (Homestay) where you will be in shared accommodation and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
2. Please provide your full name exactly as per passport at the time of booking (including any middle names listed on your passport) for train tickets. Fees may apply for amendments to details within 35 days of departure, and in some cases you will be required to cover the cost of issuing new tickets.
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)
• Date of Birth
• 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.

What to bring/pack

What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking, we recommend you pack as lightly as possible and make sure that you are able to carry and lift your own luggage, and walk with it for short distances or up or down a flight of stairs. Our travellers usually find the smaller their luggage is, the more they enjoy the trip not having to worry about carrying heavy bags! Aim to keep your main luggage under 15kg.

Many travellers carry their luggage in a compact smaller suitcase or backpack with wheels. We recommend your bag has carry straps or handles so it is easy to lift and carry for the times you are unable to wheel it (ie. on rough surfaces or up steps).

If you are taking overnight trains, or primarily using public transport then the smaller your luggage the easier it will be to store under or above bunks. Large suitcases may not be able to be taken on board. A lockable bag or small padlock for your bag will be useful especially when travelling on public transportation as well.

You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water, camera, and jacket etc. when you’re exploring during the day.

Below we have listed the essentials for this trip:, https://www.intrepidtravel.com/packing-list, WATER BOTTLE
Please bring your own water bottle to refill along the way. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please use the water dispensers which are provided on some of our vehicles and at some of our accommodation. Your leader will advise whether tap water is safe to drink in your destination, if it is you can simply refill with tap water. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day., 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., 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., 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.

Physical rating

 
2

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.

Joining your group

Moscow Arbat House Hotel Отель Арбат Хаус, 13 Skatetrniy Pereulok Скатертный переулок, дом 13, Metro station Arbatskaya м. Арбатская, Moscow, RUSSIAN FEDERATION, 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

Joining instructions

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

Finishing your trip

Panorama Hotel, Sodu g. 14, Vilnius, 03211, LITHUANIA, Phone: +370 5 2338822, Fax: +370 5 2338832

Meals & dietary information

Breakfasts included: 17

Lunches included: 1

Dinners included: 3

While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. If you have dietary requirements and/or food allergies, please let your booking agent know prior to departure.

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).

Climate & seasonal information

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
International Womens Day: 8 Mar
Spring & Labour Day: 1 May
Spring & Labour Day Holiday: 2 May
Victory Day: 9 May
Russia Day: 12 Jun
Russia Day holiday: 13 Jun
Unity Day: 4 Nov

In case of emergency

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. Please do be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is completed, so informing us while still travelling will give us the opportunity to resolve the issue in real-time.

For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/

In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local office on the number below:

Intrepid's Local Operator: +49 8677 9186 657

Intrepid’s Local Operator: +7 918 6151572

Accommodations

The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline only and may change. On some occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our preferred accommodation. In these cases, we will use a similar standard of accommodation.

Throughout the trip, we request that our properties prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However, this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination or on some trips, have use of shared day rooms until all rooms are available.

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.

Transportation

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 local train, watching the scenery roll by from the window of a long distance bus, arriving on a high speed train in the city centre of your next destination, or navigating each city's public transport system. In Europe, you are guaranteed to travel by genuine local public transport wherever possible, which puts you right in the centre of the action.


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