Author Topic: Your visits to St Petersburg, advices and pictures  (Read 24535 times)

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Offline Twobsbob

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Your visits to St Petersburg, advices and pictures
« on: April 29, 2008, 08:15:05 PM »
I will be visiting Russia this summer, and have been reading and searching the Internet seeking information about visiting the Romanov palaces (specifically Tsarkoye Selo, Pavlovsk and Peterhof).  The information is somewhat confusing.  In some places, one reads that the only way to gain access to the palaces is with a tour guide or a group.  Other places seem to indicate that all one needs is obtain a ticket at the ticket office and go in.

Would anyone who has visited these palaces recently be able to share their experience and provide some advice?

Thank you very much in advance.

Bob

Offline rgt9w

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Re: Your visits to St Petersburg, advices and pictures
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2008, 08:22:33 PM »
The only palace I had difficulty getting into without a guide was the Catherine Palace at Tsarskoye Selo. I was able to get into all of the other palaces (Alexander, Pavlovsk, Peterhof, Winter, etc.) without difficulty. I tried 3 times to get into the Catherine Palace without a guide without success...I finally broke down and obtained a guide in St. Petersburg and visited the Catherine Palace that way. The trouble with the Catherine Palace was there were so many tour groups that had traveled by bus or private guide so they were limiting individuals who just arrived inside the palace. Otherwise, the other palaces did not have large numbers of visitors when I was there and I was able to get in with relative ease.

Offline Robert_Hall

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Re: Your visits to St Petersburg, advices and pictures
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2008, 08:38:32 PM »
You are going to be there in high season, the most people, and yes,  probably easier to take a tour for Catherine Palace.  The lines are horrendous! I travel off-season, with a Russian freind and have never had a problem. Pavlosk is a bit off the beaten tract, so transport could be  troublesome. It is best if you have a guide, however, if you do not speak Rusiian, I  think.  The babushkas  do not generally speak English.
 Peterhof. well, you do not need a guide to  explore the beautiful park with the fountains,  but again,  the palace  would be easier with a guide.
The boat from St Petersburg to    Peterhof is a wonderful way to enter the park.                     
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Offline Ena

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Re: Your visits to St Petersburg, advices and pictures
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2008, 09:53:36 PM »
I plan on visiting the Catherine Palace in late November.  Do you think I would have a problem getting in without a guide?

Offline Robert_Hall

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Re: Your visits to St Petersburg, advices and pictures
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2008, 10:10:23 PM »
My first visit was in  December a few years back, and there was no problem, but I had my Russian friiend to look after me. There are Russian guides available at all the palaces, you just have to pay for them.
Life may not be the party we expected, but while we are here, might as well dance..

Do you want the truth, or my side of the story ?- Hank Ketchum.

Offline rgt9w

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Re: Your visits to St Petersburg, advices and pictures
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2008, 06:42:34 AM »
I agree with Robert. Try to visit Peterhof by arriving by water. You can catch the hydrofoil along the water front near the Winter Palace.

Offline Robert_Hall

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Re: Your visits to St Petersburg, advices and pictures
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2008, 11:11:27 AM »
Ena, remember the fountains will be turned off for the winter, one of the major attractions of Peterhof. Also the hydrofoil will not be running, as the Neva is most likely to be frozen. A big advantage is that the crowds will be a LOT thinner, except for the Hermitage. But that place is so vast it is not really a problem.  Even though I was there is Dec.-Jan. and it was cold, I was over-dressed! More for Siberia than  the city. Of course, the day after I left, they were hit by a blizzard!
Life may not be the party we expected, but while we are here, might as well dance..

Do you want the truth, or my side of the story ?- Hank Ketchum.

Offline Twobsbob

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Re: Your visits to St Petersburg, advices and pictures
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2008, 08:21:25 PM »
Thank you all for your replies, I appreciate it.

Since posting my question, I have arranged for a private tour of the Catherine and Alexander Palaces.  I figured I would treat myself to a good visit.  However, it is horrendously expensive (almost $500, including transportation to/from StP).  Since I am of limited means, I cannot afford a private tour for Pavlovsk and Peterhof.

It has been mentionned that Pavlovsk has less traffic, so may be easier of access without a guide.  Can anyone confirm?  Unfortunately, the link to the English version of the Palace's website doesn't work, so I can't get any information from that source (emails sent to the contact email address doesn't work either).  I believe there is train and bus service to Pavlovsk from StPetersburg, and that the trip is relatively easy.  Once there, do you think one can simply get a ticket and wander around the palace and the park?

Offline Robert_Hall

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Re: Your visits to St Petersburg, advices and pictures
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2008, 09:58:32 PM »
Yes, you can. And it is a beautiful place to just wander around in. The only problem is getting there. My friend  drove us, but I don't know if there is a direct link via bus or train.  It is well worth the effort, no matter how you get there. The park is not as elaborate as Peterhof,  much  more "naturall". Of course, it is all man made.   Sort of their version of Capability Brown. Gatchina, although not as spectacular, and farther afieild,  at least has a train station. I am sure your hotel can advise on how to get there.  Both are well worth the visit. If you have the time. Orranienbaum is another  "hidden treasure". The palace itself is still undergoing a restoration, but the park is  wonderful.  It is  out past  Peterhof though. In my opinion and experience, the only  place you really need a guide for is the Catherine Palace in high season.
Have a good time, no matter. I hope to be back in November.
Life may not be the party we expected, but while we are here, might as well dance..

Do you want the truth, or my side of the story ?- Hank Ketchum.

Offline Ena

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Re: Your visits to St Petersburg, advices and pictures
« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2008, 11:08:12 PM »
Ena, remember the fountains will be turned off for the winter, one of the major attractions of Peterhof. Also the hydrofoil will not be running, as the Neva is most likely to be frozen. A big advantage is that the crowds will be a LOT thinner, except for the Hermitage. But that place is so vast it is not really a problem.  Even though I was there is Dec.-Jan. and it was cold, I was over-dressed! More for Siberia than  the city. Of course, the day after I left, they were hit by a blizzard!
That's one of the drawbacks to visiting in November, aside from the cold.  I planned on public transport and the mini-buses for my transport anyway, though the hydrofoil would've been cool.  I wish I could see the fountains on, but that's the only time I'm able to visit.  Good thing I'm used to traveling during the off season.  For my sins, I guess!!  ;D 

Are the statues all covered up during the winter season?

Offline Robert_Hall

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Re: Your visits to St Petersburg, advices and pictures
« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2008, 01:17:27 AM »
Honestly, I do not remember that bit.  Maybe the gilded ones are. Rusiia is still magical at any time of the year.
Life may not be the party we expected, but while we are here, might as well dance..

Do you want the truth, or my side of the story ?- Hank Ketchum.

Offline Twobsbob

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Re: Your visits to St Petersburg, advices and pictures
« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2008, 04:58:41 PM »
Thank you so much Robert

Offline Robert_Hall

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Re: Your visits to St Petersburg, advices and pictures
« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2008, 05:14:32 PM »
You are very welcome. I have been to Russia 4 times and hope to  return again later this year. There is so much to see. My only regert is spending only one day in Moscow.  There is a lot to see there as well, and I had a wonderful time, just not enough to see all I wanted to. I sincerely hope you have an equally wonderful time in StP. An excellent guide book, in English, is Eyewitness.  I am hooked on them now.
Life may not be the party we expected, but while we are here, might as well dance..

Do you want the truth, or my side of the story ?- Hank Ketchum.

Offline Svetabel

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Re: Your visits to St Petersburg, advices and pictures
« Reply #13 on: May 28, 2008, 05:13:58 AM »
It has been mentionned that Pavlovsk has less traffic, so may be easier of access without a guide.  Can anyone confirm?  Unfortunately, the link to the English version of the Palace's website doesn't work, so I can't get any information from that source (emails sent to the contact email address doesn't work either).  I believe there is train and bus service to Pavlovsk from StPetersburg, and that the trip is relatively easy.  Once there, do you think one can simply get a ticket and wander around the palace and the park?

You are right that Pavlovsk usually has less traffic but it's not easier to have a tour around the palace without a guide. The wandering in the Gala rooms is ONLY with a guide, after the main excursion you can see by yourself some expositions on the upper floor of the palace.


Offline thedarkone

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Re: Your visits to St Petersburg, advices and pictures
« Reply #14 on: May 28, 2008, 10:16:46 AM »
I agree with Robert on the Eyewitness Travel guides.  Sometimes they can be slightly pricey, but they're great to look at and get a sense of what you're going to see. 

I have another question regarding all this palace business.  Some of the palaces/castles I encountered in Germany didn't allow me to film/photograph inside them.  Is that the case for these palaces?  I'm going to be in St. Petersburg from August to December this year, so it looks like I'll be able to go during off-season as well.  But since I'm going to be there for that long, I'm looking into going to as many palaces as I can.  The Yusupov, the Vladimir Palace, Anichkov, Kshensinskaya, the Mikhailovsky Castle, Yelagin, Marble Palace, Summer Palace--everything, really!