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Author nfmungard
#1 | Posted: 1 May 2016 15:15 
Planning my trip to Russia this week. I will fly to Moscow, do the city and the surroundings and then head to St Petersburg via Novgorod.

I am a bit lost about the tentative list of Russia, though. Maybe someone can make sense of it and comment on the inscription chances. I focussed on sites close to my travels.

* Pskov
* Uglich (near Yaroslawl)
* Astrakhan

* Rostov (near Yaroslawl)

* Pskov

* Astrakhan

Tsar's Country Estate Izmaylovo
* Moscow

* Moscow

* It seems a bit weird that the same site would be listed twice, once a single entity, once a group.
* I don't quite get why you would submit Uglich and Rostov, both from the same area.
* I seem to recall from the future lists, that both Pskov and Rostov are planning to be inscribed soon. The Russian Kremlin submission was referred.
* The two Moscow sites don't seem to be going anywhere.

Author barabanov
#2 | Posted: 2 May 2016 15:06 
But why did you include Astrakhan? It's something like 1400 km from Moscow (but it was included in the last file with kremlins).
There are not big chances that Russian Kremlins are going to be included soon, because from previous attempt it was clear that this nomination was not prepared well, several sites are double counted, many good kremlins were not included, etc. In theory they have some chances as a distinct defensive city construction class, but not as they were presented.
I didn't heard that something is moving around two Moscow sites, and frankly speaking they don't have proper quality.
Interesting: what is your planning schedule? Are you going to cover all Moscow sites, plus Vladimir, Suzdal, Sergiev Posad, Yaroslavl (or maybe even Ferapontov monastery, which is highly recommended)? Will you take car? It's going to be quite tough trip, but very interesting, just let me know if you need some helpful info and advice.
Of the sites you listed only Pskov is in my opinion is very interesting and more or less the same level as Novgorod.

Author nfmungard
#3 | Posted: 3 May 2016 04:43 
Thanks for the feedback and the offer to help. Don't judge me for my itinerary ;)

Wednesday/Thursday: 2 a.m. Arrival in Moscow.
Thursday: Transfer to Yaroslawl, Sightseeing.
Friday: Rostow and Yaroslawl
Saturday: Back to Moscow. Sightseeing.
Sunday: Moscow Sightseeing.
Monday: End of 2nd World War Victory Parade. Moscow Sightseeing.
Tuesday: Day trip Vladimir*. Due to the connection I will skip on Suzdal.
Wednesday: Day trip Sergijew Possad*
Thursday: Morning train to St Petersburg. Sightseeing.
Friday: Day Trip Novgorod.
Saturday: St Petersburg
Sunday: St Petersburg
Monday: St Petersburg and flight home.

But why did you include Astrakhan?

I just wanted to show that the list contains plenty of duplicates.


Seems too far off for my schedule.

Of the sites you listed only Pskov is in my opinion is very interesting and more or less the same level as Novgorod.

Hmn. I could squeeze it in by taking a night train to Pskov on Wednesday from Moscow. Then taking a bus to Novgorod. And arriving at St. Petersburg Friday night. This would, though, cut my time in St Petersburg down to 2,5 days...

Author barabanov
#4 | Posted: 3 May 2016 17:27 | Edited by: barabanov 
Concerning Moscow - I recommend to buy tickets on-line in advance, they re running out fast. Note that on 7 and 9 May it's closed.
Armoury Chamber (many items from Germany!!) and Cathedral Square are must sees. Plan to be at Cathedral Square at 12:00 - there is guard change procession.
Another must - is Diamond Fund. It belong to different authority and is not acessible on-line. You could buy tickets there at Alexandrovsky Garden. Diamond Fund is open from 10 till 13 and from 14 till 17:20; entry each 20 minutes.
Also note that Lenin mausoleum is only open from 10 till 13 (closed on Monday and Friday).
I probably agree that for the first time, its better concentrate on St Peterburg and some neighbouring cities like Peterhof (there are around 6-7 detour places around SP).
The only suggestion: you could consider going directly from Moscow to Novgorod first (there is convenient night train departing at 22:05), full day in Novgorod and then by bus/traing to SP in the evening - to have comfortably several days in SP in a row.

Author barabanov
#5 | Posted: 3 May 2016 17:39 
Recommended restaurants: Cafe Puskin (legendary, but a bit upper price segment); Odessa Mama and Korchma Taras Bulba - excellent Ukranian and Russian cousine; Stolovaya 57 (in GUM - soviet style canteen); Vatrushka. For fun you could go to what is considered to be best German pub with own brewed beer - Paulaner Brauhaus. Huge variety of Georgian, Uzbek, Chinese, Italian restaurants (we even have North Korean one!!!)

Author meltwaterfalls
#6 | Posted: 4 May 2016 11:55 
Thanks for those recommendations barabanov, it is always good to get some local knowledge.

Out of interest how much time would you recommend for a trip that covered:
Seeing the best of Moscow for a first time visitor (including the three WHS)

Plus additional trips to Vladimir and/or Suzdal, Sergiev Posad, Yaroslavl?

Author Jarek Pokr
#7 | Posted: 4 May 2016 14:47 
Why do you want to skip Suzdal ? It is one of the lovliest places in Russia. Not only the listed sites but a lot of other churches, monasteries, old buildings. Certainly it is the place not to miss in Russia!

Author nfmungard
#8 | Posted: 5 May 2016 03:08 
Jarek Pokr:
Why do you want to skip Suzdal

I figured it to be too difficult to do on a day trip from Moscow. But based on your recommendation I will take an early train on Sunday to Vladimir and try to see both.

Paulaner Brauhaus

Not all Germans are Bavarians. Specifally not Northern ones. Just saying.

The only suggestion: you could consider going directly from Moscow to Novgorod first

I actually made up my mind to go to Pskow with a SD Wednesday night and then to Novgorod with a bus at 15:00h. From there I will take a bus around lunch time on Friday, so I arrive late afternoon in St Petersburg. 2.5 days should be fine for my must sees. More than the average Cruise Tourist gets ;)

Author barabanov
#9 | Posted: 5 May 2016 14:44 
If you would be able to rent a car for 3-4 days, it would drastically increase your flexibility. For example, in order to avoid frustration of Moscow traffic completely, you first tick off the points in Moscow by metro/taxi/foot. Then you take aeroexpress to Sheremetyevo and take car there. I checked for curiosity: VW Polo 1.6 is something like 110 euro for 3 days (unlimited mileage). And you only cover with the car outside Moscow sites. The superclassic and very interesting route would be: Vladimir - Bogolubovo - church on Nerl (by foot) - Suzdal - Yaroslavl - Rostov - Pereslavl - Sergiev Posad. After that car return to airport, and then further program to SP. Pluses of car: cheaper, more flexible, more comfortable, more coverage. Only one minus: you could imagine the quality of Russian roads, plus it would take some time to adjust to local driving style. But really nothing difficult.

Author nfmungard
#10 | Posted: 17 May 2016 07:27 
Back from Russia. Thanks for all the tips. Below what I ended up doing. And some comments.

04.05. Wed: Flight to Moscow. Arrival after midnight.
05.05. Thu: Transfer to Yaroslawl (train)
06.05. Fri: Yaroslawl, Rostov (train)
07.05. Sat: Sergiev Possad (bus from Rostov), Moscow (train)
08.05. Sun: Moscow. Kolomenskoye, Novodevichy Convent, Subway Stations, Pushkin.
09.05. Mon: Moscow Victory Day. Central Moscow, VDNKh.
10.05. Tue: Suzdal, Vladimir (day trip by train)
11.05. Wed: Moscow. Kremlin, Armoury, Tretyakov. Sleeper train to Pskov.
12.05. Thursday: Pskov, Novgorod (bus 15:10h).
13.05. Friday: Novgorod, St. Petersburg (bus).
14.05. Saturday: Eremitage
15.05. Sunday: Peterhof, Kronstadt
16.06. Monday: Flight home.

General travel recommendations:
* Learn to decipher cyrillic letters. Otherwise you will be lost. Sole exception would be St Petersburg.
* Don't expect any signs in English. Specifically, all explanations given in museums will be in Russian.
* Don't expect any one to speak basic English. Russians are very nice and communicative, but this helps only so much if you don't have a common language. As such, I wouldn't go on a long trip in Russia.
* Buy your train tickets as early as possible. It's a huge hassle as they copy your password etc. Once I arrived one hour early to the train station and still managed to nearly miss my train. So doing it all in one go comes highly recommended.
* Expect to get lost in the metro at first. It takes a while to get used to them. Also, bear in mind that when you change from one line to another you may have to walk quite a few meters. If you are limited in movement or have a lot of luggage this may be a huge obstacle.
* The sleeper trains (2nd class) were surprisingly nice.
* Get used to buying 6 tickets for a single site. There are rarely simple combo tickets.

Feedback on Itinerary:
* Arrival in Moscow: As I arrived late, I stayed in a hotel near the airport. Looking back I should just have taken a hotel in the city. I didn't save any time and the next day was spent in transfer.
* Yaroslawl: You can do this on a day trip; I wouldn't though. I found Yaroslawl very pleasant and enjoyed staying over night. It's also cheaper than Moscow and you get to see the Volga. To me this was a very good starting point for Russia.
* Rostov: I liked the Kremlin a lot. You should also hike down the lake to the monastery.
* Sergiev Possad: The busses from Yaroslawl/Rostov run through town. There is a locker in the bus station for your luggage.
* Kolomenskoye, Novodevichy Convent: Easy pickings. Both can be done in a day. More time is spent commuting than on site.
* Victory Day: You cannot see the actual military parade unless you are willing to dish out serious money for a hotel room near the track. Also, all public buildings will be closed. However, for one day Moscow is devoid of cars and you get to see Russians celebrating. So that was nice.
* Moscow: I would visit on a weekend. The subways were far more crowded during work days. You can do all the WHS in two (full) days including a few of the art museums.
* Vladimir/Suzdal: Can be done on a day trip from Moscow, I did. I went at 9:00h (arrival at 11:45) and returned at 20:00h. If you go, go to Suzdal. Prettiest place I have seen while in Russia. There are regular busses (every 30-45min) from the bus station opposite the train station. You should also try to see the church on the Nerl. Again, there are regular busses running from Vladimir. When you get to Bogolyubovo you have to cross the railway tracks at the rail way station. Of all three cities, I found Vladimir the least interesting.
* Kreml: I came on a Wednesday and had no issue getting in. The online reservation looked kind of tricky to me.
* Pskov: Similar to Novgorod. If you are travelling between Estonia and Russia this is an easy visit. I am not sure if I would recommend making the detour. If you go you have to visit the Mirozhsky Monastery to see the murals.
* Novgorod: Apart from the walls there are very few remnants of the hanseatic trading town or of medieval history.
* St Petersburg: Massive. Plan a day for the Eremitage (I went 6h!). Same applies to most palaces. As I grew a bit tired of palaces I also went to Kronstadt.

Tentative sites:
* Rostov: Too many Kremlins, too many orthodox churches, too many sites on the Golden Ring. Still a very nice, unique place and I would favor inscription.
* Pskow: Too many Kremlins, too many orthodox churches, too similar to Novgorod. Not sure.

World class sites:
* St Petersburg
* Moscow Kremlin

Best churches:
* Suzdal - Monastery of Saint Euthymius
* Pskov - Mirozhsky Monastery for the murals

Least impressive:
* Kolomenskoye
* Novodevichy Convent

Possible future candidates (the usual)
* Moscow (Russian?) Metro Stations: Love for details. Continuation of Tsarist style. Still nice metro stations given their age.
* Communist Architecture: In Russia these buildings make sense and not all of them are terrible. I actually liked quite a few.
* Medieval Russia: I was expecting this from Novgorod, but only the walls are left. Something like Tallinn, only situated in Russia.
* Russian Industrialization: They went to super power in 30 years. I would argue some sites should be inscribed.
* Peasant Russia: Traditional Russian peasant villages with wood houses etc.

Author elsslots
#11 | Posted: 18 May 2016 08:19 
Back from Russia.

Sounds like a good trip! We expect some reviews too of course... (especially Suzdal would be nice, noone has been there in the past 5 years)

You tackled quite a few sites & moved around by public transport, would you say it was rushed to do this programme in 12/13 days?

Don't expect any one to speak basic English.

Maybe a stupid question, but did you also try German on them?

Author nfmungard
#12 | Posted: 18 May 2016 10:08 | Edited by: nfmungard 
Sounds like a good trip! We expect some reviews too of course... (especially Suzdal would be nice, noone has been there in the past 5 years)

Yes... I need to review quite a few sites, also some tentative ones from Italy...

You tackled quite a few sites & moved around by public transport, would you say it was rushed to do this programme in 12/13 days?

Disclaimer: I do not subscribe to slow travel. I also don't spend my days in cafes. And it may actually happen that my days are more packed on a vacation than during work. Somehow, I find that relaxing. ;) With that being said, I didn't feel rushed. I feel that 1 site a day is manageable.

I also feel most sites got the time they deserved and required. Only exception would be St Petersburg where I could have easily spend another couple of days. There was also the trip to Uglich from Yaroslawl I was eyeing but that was just too much of a detour, so I skipped it.

Most time I travel the greatest rush is due to me being dependent on public transport. But in Russia I found good solutions for most tracks I wanted to do. Finally, being able to take the night train to Pskov (or Novgorod) really simplified my life.

Maybe a stupid question, but did you also try German on them?

Never occurred to me, so I didn't.

Author meltwaterfalls
#13 | Posted: 18 May 2016 12:36 
Thanks for this, I've enjoyed seeing your updates on Instagram.

Mrs Meltwaterfalls has been looking at Moscow for quite a while so this info is really useful to have to hand.

Author nfmungard
#14 | Posted: 14 Aug 2016 16:11 | Edited by: nfmungard 
(especially Suzdal would be nice, noone has been there in the past 5 years)

finally gotten around to it :D

Author elsslots
#15 | Posted: 10 Jan 2017 22:30 | Edited by: elsslots 
Remarkable article today: "President of Russia Vladimir Putin and Strategy of the State Cultural Policy until 2030 set a task to be in the top 5 World Heritage Sites."

Russia is now in 9th place, the Top 10 countries being:
1. Italy 51
2. China 50
3. Spain 45
4. France 42
5. Germany 41
6. India 35
7. Mexico 34
8. United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 30
9. Russian Federation 26
10. United States of America 23

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