In Russia, Travel somethings You!
February 23, 2013 10:39 AM   Subscribe

We're thinking of travelling to Tula for our honeymoon. How hard is it to travel in Russia these days, if you're not going to a usual travel destination?

We're interested in the accordion and samovar factories there, and probably we'd like to see some of the Suzdal area monasteries.

I used to speak Russian at a university level- I was never completely fluent- but now only know rudimentary phrases. I can get my point across to someone but generally can't understand their responses. My fiance only speaks and reads English. We're both white, which is helpful. (I hate to say it, but it's true).

I visited St Petersburg (Leningrad) in 1990 for several months, when it was still Soviet, and I didn't think twice about travelling back then. In 1997 I stayed several months in St. Petersburg and it was scary thuglife gangsta. The last time I was there for 10 days in 2003, it seemed far less wild west but I stayed with a Russian friend and I didn't hazard any long journeys by myself. Each time I've visited the changes have been exponential. The current proliferation of dash cams makes me think it's far more dangerous to navigate if you don't know when to pay a bribe or whom to stay out of the way of.

On this trip, I was thinking we'd start in St. Petersburg to see my friend, go to Novgorod for a day, just because I have fond memories of it :) and then head south to Tula and Suzdal.

Any suggestions? How hard is it to travel these days? How hard is it to deal with papers/militzia/bribes, especially if your Russian sucks?

Any suggestions for a travel agency in the San Francisco Bay Area that I can use? Last time I found that having a Russian dealing with the consulate and visa papers was invaluable.

Any and all suggestions very welcome.
posted by small_ruminant to Travel & Transportation around Tula, Russia (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'd shoot an e-mail to the guy from EnglishRussia.
posted by snsranch at 4:10 PM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

That's very adventurous of you. I'd never do it and I was born there (well Ukraine, but who's counting). I am however somewhat risk averse so I'm no baseline.

I would suggest you see if you can get a driver/translator there. See if your friend can arrange something there for you. I'd cost you a bit more money, but provide some peace of mind.
posted by pyro979 at 6:45 PM on February 23, 2013

Best answer: How hard is it to travel these days? How hard is it to deal with papers/militzia/bribes, especially if your Russian sucks?

I was last there in 2009. Travel wasn't difficult, especially not in the Moscow-Petersburg areas. Tula isn't far from Moscow, and is connected by train. I would advice against driving.

Policemen did often check papers, but generally not for white people. Keep your passport with you at all times, and you should be fine as far as police checks go. I don't really trust Russian hotels for safeguarding valuables anyway. If you are going as a tourist, just do the touristy things and that should keep you out of harm's way.
posted by vidur at 11:46 AM on February 24, 2013

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