Alexander Palace Forum

Discussions about the Alexander Palace => The Alexander Palace => Topic started by: Elizabeth on December 30, 2004, 10:44:51 AM

Title: Trip to Alexander Palace? [2005]
Post by: Elizabeth on December 30, 2004, 10:44:51 AM
Might be "jumping the gun" here, but does anyone know of any trips (that is, within the next year) to the AP?  Bob -- is there any possibility those of us on the boards can get something organized?   :D
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: BobAtchison on December 30, 2004, 11:18:47 AM
We have talked about doing a trip to Tsarskoe Selo and REALLY seeing things - the problem is the price - how many people could afford it - Exeter International does these things but a trip is not cheap.  I'd really like to get people's comments on this - we can do a trip if there is enough interest.

Last year we thought about doing a trip to Livadia but it was expensive...

Bob
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: chintz22 on December 30, 2004, 11:44:16 AM
Let me say I would definitely go on a trip sponsored by AP and/or Bob--in fact, that's a big dream of mine!  

As a way to mitigate the cost factor could some advance notice be given so people could save up?  A payment plan?  Just thoughts.  

Best,

Sarah
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Elizabeth on December 30, 2004, 11:55:25 AM
Oh, I'm sure the cost is VERY prohibitive, but if we had a year (or even two) advanced notice, than that might be an option.   :P

Also, there are a number of Orthodox Churches in the United States that regularly organize trips to Russia, esp. the Orthodox Church of America (www.oca.org).  Maybe something could be "incorporated" with one of them.   :D
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: elisa_1872 on December 30, 2004, 03:32:13 PM
Many thanks Elizabeth for this great question! This is really a wonderful suggestion. There were trips by Gilbert's Royal Books i think in the past, which seemed to offer specialist Romanov tours, but i haven't heard of any being done now for a while. It would be a wonderful opportunity for people who share the same interest to get together at the Palace, especially as it would take in the details for the real enthusiasts.. It would be great also if there could be such a trip to the Crimea as well, because mostly i find that unless you take a specialist tour, you get frustratingly little time in such places to explore all the calls on your interest. In many Petersburg holidays, the trips have been combined by most travel companies with either other Baltic states, or there are only a few days in the city itself. I've always wondered how one can get to Tsarskoe Selo with this problem, but with this kind of proposed trip, im sure it would be an answer for so many people!  :D
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on December 30, 2004, 03:58:10 PM
To be honest, a trip to Russia doesn't have to be that expensive, as long as no one is expecting anything too luxurious and plans well. The most expensive part is usually the hotel, but it is possible to get rates that are very reasonable, especially with group rates and if each room is shared by two or three people. The hotel rates are not any more than anywhere else, depending on where you end up staying. The food is relatively cheap as is transportation, and there is no need to hire a translator or guide if someone in the group speaks Russian and knows the city a little. The city is very easy to get around in, I think most members would know exactly where they want to go and what they want to see, it is just a matter of mapping it out. If someone does that in advance, it can be done very efficiently. I went to St Petersburg twice already from the States, and both times the trip cost me just about $2K, which included airfare, hotel, food, entrance to museums, tickets to see a couple of shows and even souvenirs. The first time I stayed about 10 days, three people shared a suite which cut down on the hotel some. The second time was about a week but it was part of a larger tour I took. Don't go by Exeter's prices, they are pretty exorbitant. You can do it for about 1/3 or 1/4 of their cost very easily. Both times I went during the high season, May and June, which is during the "white nights" - the best time to go there. We didn't stay in a fleabag hotel , it was a pretty decent place, comparable to a pretty good motel in the States. You just have to know what you are doing when booking everything   ;). Since I have done it a couple times now, I know some ins and outs.  ;D
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: BobAtchison on December 30, 2004, 04:02:43 PM
There are a couple of trips we could do -

One, would be to just go to Tsarskoe Selo, stay in one place and exhaust everything we want to see in 8 days.

Two, would be to go to Petersburg for a week and then to Moscow to Martha and Mary and spend 4 or five days there.

Three, we could go to Livadia for 8 days and really see the Crimean palaces.

Four, we could go to Moscow and Yekaterinburg.

Five we could go to Petersburg, Moscow, Tobolsk and Yekaterinburg - that's what be did a few years ago.

Any comments or suggestions?

Bob
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on December 30, 2004, 04:06:14 PM
Quote
...a flight from the States or Canada would make it more expensive, of course.


Depending on the airline, how far in advance you book, the time of year, and where in the States you are coming from, a r/t flight to St Petersburg from JFK in  NYC can cost anywhere from $450 to approximately $1,500. I think I paid about $800 in May and June (high season), but I booked about 4 months in advance. The visa costs another $150-180. The longer you plan the cheaper deals you can get.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on December 30, 2004, 04:08:16 PM
Quote
There are a couple of trips we could do -

One, would be to just go to Tsarskoe Selo, stay in one place and exhaust everything we want to see in 8 days.

Two, would be to go to Petersburg for a week and then to Moscow to Martha and Mary and spend 4 or five days there.

Three, we could go to Livadia for 8 days and really see the Crimean palaces.

Four, we could go to Moscow and Yekaterinburg.

Five we could go to Petersburg, Moscow, Tobolsk and Yekaterinburg - that's what be did a few years ago.

Any comments or suggestions?

Bob


I would love to see both Tobolsk and Ekaterinberg (in the summer of course  ;)) and also the Crimea.  
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: BobAtchison on December 30, 2004, 04:17:31 PM
I went to Yekaterinburg in 1998 to see the remains with 12 other people.  It was amazing.  We started in Petersburg, went to Moscow saw garf, Martha and Mary) took the train from Moscow to Yekaterinburg (amazing long but interesting) and flew back on Lufthansa.

We could stay at the convent in Yekaterinburg (the same one that brought eggs and milk to the family).  The hotel there was very spartan and not cheap.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: BobAtchison on December 30, 2004, 04:33:19 PM
We had people from Spain, Australia, the UK, on our last trip - that isn't a problem.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on December 30, 2004, 04:40:10 PM
It can be done in the same way as group tours do it, such as Globus: everyone meets at the hotel in the city of destination. It is not very difficult to arrange at all. People who may be coming from the same country/area can plan to book on the same flight perhaps, others can just meet up later.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on December 30, 2004, 04:46:30 PM
Quote
Bob: I am glad to hear that! However, I think that people who would sign in for such a trip need to realize that they would have to book their own flights and might have to fly alone to the airport of destination. For some people that won't be a problem at all, but I suspect that some others may be reluctant to do that, especially if they don't speak Russian.  


I think that through most hotels you can arrange a cab to pick up the guests at the a/port for about 20USD, so it's no problem for those who don't speak the language. When I went on a group tour to Russia earlier this year, this is how it was done, and no one in the group really spoke Russian. The cab driver has a sign with your name, he knows where to take you, and once at the hotel, the front desk people speak English when you check in and then you meet up with the group. This is done all the time there, so it shouldn't really be an issue...
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Robert_Hall on December 30, 2004, 04:59:59 PM
Quick--I have paid for an airport transger...do I tip the driver ? If so, how much ?
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on December 30, 2004, 05:07:27 PM
Quote
Quick--I have paid for an airport transger...do I tip the driver ? If so, how much ?


Hi Robert,

You should tip the driver, but since airport transfers for foreigners generally are at extremely inflated prices for Russia ( I would say about 3 to 4 times more than you would pay if you were a local and called a cab from the a/port, I would give him about $1-2. This is a very good sum by Russian standards.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Robert_Hall on December 30, 2004, 05:08:29 PM
Well, I am far from inexperienced traveler, but I just need to join the others at the hotel and need to know IF I should tip a prepaid transfer. Got in a syticky situation before when I had done the same, told NOT to then had the feeling that the driver expected something..Russia being different and all....
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on December 30, 2004, 05:12:52 PM
Quote
You're right that it's easy to get a cab transfer. But a totally inexperienced traveller can get easily frightened when he or she gets into a situation as I and my friend got into at Saint Petersburg Airport in June 1992. It was utter chaos and it took us ages to get our suitcases. :-/ The transfer to the hotel was the easy part. :D
But no one should stay at home because of such a thing!!
Yes, Helen, this is true, the Russian a/ports tend to be very chaotic, not to mention all kinds of solicitations going on by licensed and unlicensed cab drivers. But the best thing to do is to bravely walk past them while looking for your own driver  ;). On my first trip to St Pete, our suitcases for some reason ended up at another a/port (I still have no idea how this happened) and we had to take a cab there to retrieve them. So yes, all kinds of unpleasant things can happen there, luckily all works out in the end (just remember - don;t pack anthing you can't live without in the luggage you hand in). But when you walk into that Alexander Park gate and see the AP in front of you, it all becomes worth it  :).
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Robert_Hall on December 30, 2004, 05:14:12 PM
Thanks,Helen. That is really what I needed to know. I expected the overcharging from the begining. But when one pays outrageous prices for a book---what difference does a cab ride  make?
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on December 30, 2004, 05:15:07 PM
Quote
Well, I am far from inexperienced traveler, but I just need to join the others at the hotel and need to know IF I should tip a prepaid transfer. Got in a syticky situation before when I had done the same, told NOT to then had the feeling that the driver expected something..Russia being different and all....

Robert, they will always expect something when they see a foreigner, whether it is appropriate or not, that doesn't mean you have to do it. Use your judgment, but as I mentioned, if you tip, you don't need to go overboard...
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Sunny on December 30, 2004, 06:37:30 PM
This thread is the stuff of dreams, that I'm sure we will make a reality.  :)

Sunny
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on December 30, 2004, 06:43:01 PM
Quote
This thread is the stuff of dreams, that I'm sure we will make a reality.  :)

Sunny


No not dreams at all, very possible  :D
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: BobAtchison on December 31, 2004, 09:24:35 AM
I think 10-15 would make it - any more than that would be too many I think - I think/hope Antonio will come, Tsaria, others - we would need transport to get us around and a good guide who knows the palaces and locations - we have several of those already.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Robert_Hall on December 31, 2004, 09:47:39 AM
Depending on how things go on my visit in 2 weeks time, I would probably be quite interested in a more extensive visit in much better weather !
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on December 31, 2004, 10:02:09 AM
Quote
Bob: If this trip would be planned well in advance, it cannot be much of a problem to get a group of ten together. After all, this discussion board has over a thousand members.


I agree, Helen, 10-15 people will not be a problem to get together from this forum. Are you thinking some time next summer (2006)?
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Val289 on December 31, 2004, 10:16:26 AM
What a wonderful thread!  I know that if time, finances,  and circumstances will allow me to go, I would certainly love to do this :)  I think this trip would be especially helpful and wonderful to inexperienced foreign travelers, such as myself.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Robert_Hall on December 31, 2004, 10:34:09 AM
I do not know what you have in mind here, but the last time I checked out a "Romanov Exclusive" tour of St.P  and the other palaces it rang up to around $5,000 for 2 weeks, all inclusive from the US. [this included private tours]
Obviously I did not join that time, but I know a couple of folks tthat did and  they had different reactions to the experience.
Is this the range you are thinking of ?
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on December 31, 2004, 10:40:24 AM
Quote
I do not know what you have in mind here, but the last time I checked out a "Romanov Exclusive" tour of St.P  and the other palaces it rang up to around $5,000 for 2 weeks, all inclusive from the US. [this included private tours]
Obviously I did not join that time, but I know a couple of folks tthat did and  they had different reactions to the experience.
Is this the range you are thinking of ?


It sounds a little too steep, but it must depend on the accomodations and the time of year. I believe it can be done a lot cheaper... I think that it can be kept under $3K, but it just all depends I guess. Robert, what do you mean by "mixed reactions"? Did some like and some didn't? And if so, what didn't they like?
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: chintz22 on December 31, 2004, 11:04:44 AM
I get excited just reading this thread!  Of course, I would love to go to all the places mentioned but St. Petersburg, Moscow, The Crimea and Ekaterinburg would be my top choices (I've always wanted to visit Darmstadt too, but that's another thread!).  

The level of accomodation means less to me than the chance to see these wonderful places with Bob, Antonio and the other amazing experts on this board.  I visited Russia as a student in 1988 on a bare bones budget non-Romanov centered trip and loved every minute of it.  The train ride from St. Petersburg (Leningrad then) to Moscow was especially wonderful--staying up late, playing cards and drinking endless cups of sweet tea gave me some of my best travel memories.  

I'll stay tuned to this thread and send in my deposit as soon as the trip is set up!  

Best to all,

Sarah
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Robert_Hall on December 31, 2004, 11:10:29 AM
Exactly, Helen. One had a "dream of a lifetime" the other was so sick of the Romanovs and their palaces he put his entire collection up for sale. It was a rather intense and very full schedule.  A couple of people in the group also became ill- but I think that could happen anywhere.
This was...maybe 8 years ago. I do recal the hotel, meals and transportation around was superior as well.  I wanted to join, but did not have the time.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on December 31, 2004, 11:17:00 AM
Quote
I get excited just reading this thread!  Of course, I would love to go to all the places mentioned but St. Petersburg, Moscow, The Crimea and Ekaterinburg would be my top choices (I've always wanted to visit Darmstadt too, but that's another thread!).  

The level of accomodation means less to me than the chance to see these wonderful places with Bob, Antonio and the other amazing experts on this board.  I visited Russia as a student in 1988 on a bare bones budget non-Romanov centered trip and loved every minute of it.  The train ride from St. Petersburg (Leningrad then) to Moscow was especially wonderful--staying up late, playing cards and drinking endless cups of sweet tea gave me some of my best travel memories.  

I'll stay tuned to this thread and send in my deposit as soon as the trip is set up!  

Best to all,

Sarah


Hi Sarah,

I agree with your idea of what's important here, and although I would want to be reasonably comfortable on this trip, the other experiences are what counts most. I don't think one would need to spend an enormous sum of money to get the most out of this trip and still be comfortable, especially since the cost of everything in Russia is a lot lower than in the west, we are talking about 4-5 times less, and I am being conservative. It is a matter of "you will be charged as much as you are willing to spend" ;). Being a student, I am not really able to shell out more than say, $2-2.5 for a trip like this, and having done this before, I know that it is possible to do it for this sum and even less. You just have to play your cards right and plan well  :) .
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on December 31, 2004, 11:24:35 AM
Quote
Exactly, Helen. One had a "dream of a lifetime" the other was so sick of the Romanovs and their palaces he put his entire collection up for sale. It was a rather intense and very full schedule.  A couple of people in the group also became ill- but I think that could happen anywhere.
This was...maybe 8 years ago. I do recal the hotel, meals and transportation around was superior as well.  I wanted to join, but did not have the time.


I suppose that with a large or medium size group, you cannot ever please everyone the same way. This is why it is important that most group members have the same agenda, which I think may be easier to achieve with the members here. Most are pretty avid Romanov fans who will not get tired of the Romanov related places after seeing many of them for two weeks. Plus, going into it, most people here will know exactly what this trip will be about. Of course if I spend 5 grand, I would have very high expectations and would be upset if they weren't met in the end. So it may also be a matter of how much you invest in it for many people.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Robert_Hall on December 31, 2004, 11:29:04 AM
Yes, that was the idea behind the group I am talking about- 12 people all avid "romanovphiles". I guess  it just just tested the limits...One comment I remeber avidly- "all those ruined palaces begin to look alike after the 15th one! "
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on December 31, 2004, 11:43:56 AM
Quote
Yes, that was the idea behind the group I am talking about- 12 people all avid "romanovphiles". I guess  it just just tested the limits...One comment I remeber avidly- "all those ruined palaces begin to look alike after the 15th one! "


That's how most people on my group tour around the Golden Ring last May felt about all the monastaries we visited, they all looked the same after a while. Everyone started to say that they never want to go into another RO church as long as they lived! I guess the key is to keep things focused and not overdo anything, balance it so that there is just enough but not too much of one thing. Of course the idea of "enough" and "too much" is different for different people.    :)
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Robert_Hall on December 31, 2004, 12:05:59 PM
I did say that this was a rather "upscale" group tour.  There are more costly ones, as well as less expensive.  The idea being "you get what you pay for".  I would imagine an audience with the dead would be an extra cost option.
Anyway, seems between 3-5 thousand  is the range ??
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Forum Admin on December 31, 2004, 12:08:46 PM
Just to remind our European readers. The Euro is now at an all time high against the US$, almost $1.40, so European travel is more expensive for us.   Also, air fare to St. Petersburg is expensive, but even more so for readers in the Western US, probably 50% higher than departure from New York. Bob will speak to Greg Tepper at Exeter, and get some ballpark ideas, once people decide what kind of travel trip they want. Bear in mind that its a long way from Petersburg to Ekaterinburg!

Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: chintz22 on December 31, 2004, 12:13:11 PM
Hi All,

I think setting expectations is half the battle--I like the way Rick Steves outlines his tours for instance http://tours.ricksteves.com/tours05/unique.cfm

Another thing I like about Rick Steves is one of his tour group mottos; No Grumps!  The person who said "all those ruined palaces begin to look alike after the 15th one! " would qualify as a grump in my book.  I know there are plenty of them on tours, but it never fails to amaze me--why do these people bother going on the trip?  I can't imagine having that attitude in Russia!  

I agree with Robert when he said a group of Romanovphiles would be best.  I was just excitedly enthusing to a friend about this thread "Can you imagine, visiting the room where the Empress helped Lili Dehn make her bed during the revolution?  Staying at the monastery that sent supplies to the Imperial Family!" and I saw her eyes glaze over and that familiar quizzical expression form.  It would be wonderful to travel with people who shared that excitement and I wouldn't have to try to explain my interest.

Best,

Sarah
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on December 31, 2004, 12:20:03 PM
Quote
Bob will speak to Greg Tepper at Exeter, and get some ballpark ideas, once people decide what kind of travel trip they want.


FA,

I am not sure if Exeter would be the appropriate source to quote a price for this type of a trip. I have been familiar with this organization for a couple of years now and I think their prices are most exorbitant out of all the travel services I came across that organize travel to Russia, although I am sure that the accomodations they provide are pretty luxurious. I think most of us here are thinking more along the lines of "Globus" - type accomodations and prices, comfortable but not luxurious accomodations at reasonable prices...  :)
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on December 31, 2004, 12:30:41 PM
Quote
 I was just excitedly enthusing to a friend about this thread "Can you imagine, visiting the room where the Empress helped Lili Dehn make her bed during the revolution?  Staying at the monastery that sent supplies to the Imperial Family!" and I saw her eyes glaze over and that familiar quizzical expression form.  It would be wonderful to travel with people who shared that excitement and I wouldn't have to try to explain my interest.

I think you said it very well, Sarah. This is why I would much rather go on this kind of a tour with members of this forum rather than my own friends or family who have no appreciation for this whatsoever and would probably end up complaining through most of the trip about how boring and same everything is, or want to do something totally different from what I would want to do!  ::)

I just took a look at Rick Stevens tours website, he doesn't offer any tours to Russia, I guess you just meant we should try to imitate his style in the way he organizes and conducts his tours?
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on December 31, 2004, 12:37:51 PM
Quote
Also, air fare to St. Petersburg is expensive
It's not that bad actually if you book in advance, although not as cheap as flying r/t to and from Moscow. I think I paid a little less than $700 r/t from NYC in May, but my ticket was flying into Moscow, then flying out of St Pete with a connection in Moscow, which is generally more expensive than getting into and flying out of the same city. I used Aeroflot (yes I was brave ;)), other airlines are somewhat more expensive but not that much more, maybe another $150. Again, I think it depends on when you book. Perhaps a travel agency can get group rates that are a little cheaper, I don't know how that works... Another option would be to fly into Moscow and take an overnight train into St Pete which would be cheaper too and kind of fun I think. There are several options like that.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: chintz22 on December 31, 2004, 12:48:37 PM
Hi Helen,

Yes, the steves site was just for the way he explains his tours--alas he doesn't go to Russia!

Best,

Sarah
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: BobAtchison on December 31, 2004, 01:38:00 PM
Okay - let's see what we can do - when should we do it?  September?  Just Petersburg?

One problem I have run into before is that some people who THINK they are really into the Romanovs change there mind when you have to hike 2 miles on the Siberian taiga to get to the mine shaft.  They also change their mind when they see us all climbing all over overgrown spots like the Tsar's Train Station and start asking 'when can we go back to the Hermitage'!

I don't think that would be a problem with anyone who's active in the forum but it has happened before.

The greatest number I ever took to Russia was 150 senior citizens - that was a tough trip.  There were lots of complaints about the food and rooms.  I was glad when it was over.

Bob
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: BobAtchison on December 31, 2004, 06:47:55 PM
BTW the taiga was incredibily beautiful.  There were widely spaced old birch trees, a carpet of grass that looked like it had just been cut, wild flowers and mushrooms everywhere.  The silvery leaves were flashing in the light breeze.  Above a blue sky - incredibly clear and bright blue.  I am sorry Alix never saw it.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: chintz22 on December 31, 2004, 08:46:43 PM
Hi Bob,

This trip appeals to me no matter where we go, but I'd like to put in a vote for Tobolsk and Ekaterinburg in addition to St. Petersburg.  St. Petersburg and Moscow are relatively tourist friendly, but there is little or no chance that I would ever be able to get to Tobolsk and Ekaterinburg on my own.  To be able to visit the church that was built on the Ipatiev House site and visit the resting place of the family until their discovery in the 90s would be incredible.  I know folks have different levels of mobility but I would be willing to happily hike to any sight you'd care to show me!

Also, I know it is early in the planning stage but is there any possibility that Penny Wilson or Greg King could accompany us?

Best,

Sarah
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Elizabeth on December 31, 2004, 09:51:52 PM
Wow!  I didn't realize that this topic would get such a great response.  When do we leave?   ;)

Seriously, in answer to Bob's earlier post, I would have to place a vote for Tsarskoe Selo/Petersburg (could that include Pavlovsk & Peterhof since they're nearby?).  

If Moscow and the Crimea are options, that would be great too, but I would think something would have to be "left out" (due to the distances involved), and that would mean not being able to go to Tobolsk & Ekaterinburg.  (Unless we go North/South/East/West/South -- Petersburg/Moscow/Tobolsk/Ekat/Crimea -- and then fly back to the US out of the Crimea.  

I would definitely love to go to Tobolsk and Ekaterinburg, but what are the logistics of getting there and, I guess, the most affordable for all of us (i.e., plane or train?).  I never pictured Tobolsk as having either of these, but then, of course, I haven't followed anything about the city since the spring of 1917.   And I wouldn't have ANY problem hiking over the Russian tiaga -- in fact, you might have a hard time of pulling me away from there.   ;)

Regarding facilities:  I'm not really into anything fancy (as long as it has a mattress and running water).  Bob, I know you mentioned something earlier about a monastery, and I've stayed in them in the US -- and had friends stay in them overseas -- in the past.  You don't get "room service" OR an opulent lobby, but the TLC that is given out vastly exceeds anything from a five-star hotel, in my humble opinion.  

As far as "meeting" somewhere (I think that was in an earlier post), wouldn't a major international airport in the USA be best -- i.e., Chicago/NYC/Atlanta -- that would take us directly over there together (and, if it had a layover in Europe, then pick up any others there)?  

Also, would it be cheaper to fly into, say, Finland, and take the train over the border into Petersburg than flying into Russia itself (just an idea)?

Bob, are you in touch with Suzanne Massie at all?  I've seen that her name periodically appears on trips from one of the travel agencies that I used to receive info. from (but VERY expensive).  Not so much her being our guide -- YOU would be our greatest font of info. -- but for some travel/price ideas.

I can also touch base with my priest's father-in-law (can you tell I'm Orthodox).  Fr. John and his wife came back from Russia a few months ago, and I could see what their travel arrangements were (they are elderly so it was not a lengthy trip).  Among their other stops, they visited the Ss. Martha & Mary Convent in Moscow (yes, that's ANOTHER place I would like to visit).  

Saving my pennies as I type . ..

E--  
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Robert_Hall on January 01, 2005, 06:42:46 AM
Cost is not the only consideration for a trip such as that! Time involved would be  a HUGE factor, if it were to be comfortable and as well as informative and enjoyable.  My understanding of domestic air travel in Russia is that it can be  "adventurous".  Also "if it's Tuesday,this must be Belgium" type of tours are  not much fun at all.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Robert_Hall on January 01, 2005, 09:38:48 AM
Bob, as you are aware, I will be in St.P.for a brief visit in 2 weeks time.  However,as a pretty experienced traveler myself, I would sugest, for an initial exploration for Romanov afficianados, a 2 week visit to  the city of Emperor Peter.  Leaving the other desired destinations for further trips. We all must realize that the distances are great, so it is not just a matter of  "hop a bus and we are in Livadia".
Your mention of the hikes to certain sites is an important reminder that this could involve much more effort than a comfortable walk through palace rooms and gardens !
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: chintz22 on January 01, 2005, 11:23:06 AM
Hi All,

I hope I wasn't misunderstood--I realize that the distances are great and cost rises because of it, and I would be thrilled to go to St. Petersburg alone with this group.  However, I've wanted to go to Tobolsk and Ekaterinburg too and going with Bob would be the best way to see these places in my mind.  

I'm looking forward to hearing what Bob finds out from whatever tour company he contacts--Happy New Year to Everyone!

Best,

Sarah
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 01, 2005, 11:34:07 AM
Maybe two or three different trips can be planned, in  time, that will cover St P and Moscow, Siberia and the Crimea as separate destinations? Moscow and St P can be done in one trip, maybe the first one, then maybe some time later the other two can be planned. Depending on time of year, Siberia can be done in the summer and the Crimea in the fall or spring would be ok. I think this is probably the only way this can work without spreading everyone's time too thin as not too many people can get away from home for a month or even three weeks! I think about two weeks for each destination would work very nicely and if planned efficiently, a lot can be covered during that time. IMO, between Moscow and St P, more time would be needed in St P due to larger selection of interest, about 4-5 days in Moscow would probably do it, while in St P you need definitely more than a week.
I am not sure how much time would be needed in Siberia, between Ekat-bg and Tobolsk, but two weeks seem plenty.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Dominic_Albanese on January 03, 2005, 07:44:07 AM
Quote
Bob, as you are aware, I will be in St.P.for a brief visit in 2 weeks time.  However,as a pretty experienced traveler myself, I would sugest, for an initial exploration for Romanov afficianados, a 2 week visit to  the city of Emperor Peter.  Leaving the other desired destinations for further trips. We all must realize that the distances are great, so it is not just a matter of  "hop a bus and we are in Livadia".
Your mention of the hikes to certain sites is an important reminder that this could involve much more effort than a comfortable walk through palace rooms and gardens !


I am a completely inexperienced traveler - so consider this comment in that context...

Wouldn't it make more sense to focus on a specific area and see as much Romanov related 'stuff' as possible instead of doing a broader trip that requires travel around the country?

A trip to the St. Petersburg area a different trip to Moscow and the regions around it and a different trip to Ekatinburg region (I'm assuming these would happen over multiple years).  That way we would 'absorb' all that we can around the family (hopefully multiple generations of the family) in a specific area.

I think I am endorsing what Robert said - maybe not.

I guess the other thing is - and this will be challenging - is that cost is relevant - what some people think is extravagent isn't to someone else whose had time to save - a level of convience is also important I'd bet.

Bob - my suggestion - plan a trip, in a general geographical area that is mid priced, highly educational, and an adventure and see who amongst us bites!

Would it be possible to post rough details and costs for the 3 different trips outlined above and see who votes for what?

Again - there are alot of more experienced travelers on here than me so if folks disagree with this approach please chime in!

best,
dca
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: BobAtchison on January 03, 2005, 09:32:33 AM
Dominic:
That's excellent advice and we're moving ahead on something focused on Tsarskoe Selo - maybe this fall.  We're thinking 8 days in September, keeping it small, 12-18 perhaps.  A forum member is working on identifying our options from the standpoint of where we might stay.

Bob
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 03, 2005, 10:40:01 AM
Quote
Dominic:
That's excellent advice and we're moving ahead on something focused on Tsarskoe Selo - maybe this fall.  We're thinking 8 days in September, keeping it small, 12-18 perhaps.  A forum member is working on identifying our options from the standpoint of where we might stay.

Bob
 Bob, keep in mind that many people who may want to go are in school so September may not work for them... I guess it depends on when their semester starts. I know that mine starts the first week of September and it may be the case with others too.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: BobAtchison on January 03, 2005, 10:46:58 AM
We were thinking of the switchover date for lower airfares - I am not sure when it is.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Laura Mabee on January 03, 2005, 10:58:14 AM

Oh MY!
I hope I am not too late for this thread! I would do ANYTHING to come along! I have never traveled before and I would love to make this my first trip!
I don't care about price, I will save everything I make to come along. About people, whining and stuff on the trip, don't worry about me, I'll be good ^_^
Can I still be included?

OH
Quote
 Bob, keep in mind that many people who may want to go are in school so September may not work for them... I guess it depends on when their semester starts. I know that mine starts the first week of September and it may be the case with others too.


This would be my only problem, since I would start school in Sept.  :-[ :'(
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 03, 2005, 11:09:34 AM
Quote
We were thinking of the switchover date for lower airfares - I am not sure when it is.

Bob, I know that sometimes you can still get good airfare rates for the high season if you book in advance... The best time to go to St Pete is definitely in June, the white nights are quite an experience and worth paying a little more for, IMO! A lot more is going on during that time too. From what I understand, the hotel rates don't change with seasons, unless I was given the wrong info. One of the good hotels to look into would be Moskovskaya, the one at the end of Nevsky Pr across from A. Nevsky Lavra. Even though it is not exactly in the center of the city, it is very conveniently located, right next to a metro station and it takes only a few minutes to get places by subway. I never stayed there, but from what I understand from others, the place is nice and because it is not in the center, the prices are reasonable and it is a good value for the money. I believe that you can also negotiate for group rates...
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: anna on January 03, 2005, 01:27:12 PM
Quote

I am a completely inexperienced traveler - so consider this comment in that context...

Wouldn't it make more sense to focus on a specific area and see as much Romanov related 'stuff' as possible instead of doing a broader trip that requires travel around the country?

A trip to the St. Petersburg area a different trip to Moscow and the regions around it and a different trip to Ekatinburg region (I'm assuming these would happen over multiple years).  That way we would 'absorb' all that we can around the family (hopefully multiple generations of the family) in a specific area.

I think I am endorsing what Robert said - maybe not.

I guess the other thing is - and this will be challenging - is that cost is relevant - what some people think is extravagent isn't to someone else whose had time to save - a level of convience is also important I'd bet.

Bob - my suggestion - plan a trip, in a general geographical area that is mid priced, highly educational, and an adventure and see who amongst us bites!

Would it be possible to post rough details and costs for the 3 different trips outlined above and see who votes for what?

Again - there are alot of more experienced travelers on here than me so if folks disagree with this approach please chime in!

best,
dca



Dominic,

I totally agree with you, better stay a few days on one place and absorb all, for example St. Petersburg area, than to hop around the country and get some impressions.

Btw I hope I'm not too late reacting, I would love to come. September sounds wonderful to me, regarding temperature, traveling can be very tiredly. I'm used to it--made some trips through inhospitable parts of Morocco by car-- but for some people it can be difficult.

Bob, I know I run ahead of things, but is there going to be a meeting point for travellers from the US and those who live in Europe?

Anna
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Yoyo on January 03, 2005, 04:54:49 PM
If I might add my two cents. I would definitely love to go with the AP, and especially with such an expert guide as Bob. I don't think I would be able to go this September. But would it be possible to go again in 2006? ;D. I would be coming from pretty far, so when I am thinking of paying a huge amount to get somewhere, I prefer to stay longer (3 weeks at least). I would prefer St Pete (including TS), and Siberia. I have been to Moscow, and did not find much of the Romanovs there. But I'll be willing to go once again, the Kremlin was especially fascinating. As to the means of transportation, I think the train is the best.  I took the Transsiberian last summer; 3 and 1/2 days straight in the train was tough but it was such an experience, I have no regrets. Besides, I think you get from Moscow to Ekaterineburg in 24 hours. To go from St Pete to Moscow we took a midnight train and arrived by 8 in the morning. Keep hotel and food decent but simple and it's financially pretty manageable, especially if enough time is given to save.

Yoyo
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: londo954 on January 03, 2005, 10:49:30 PM
I too would also be interested I could spend the whole time at Tsarskoe Selo alone !!!
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Dasha on January 03, 2005, 11:18:37 PM
Count me in  ;D.  Of course the final decission will depend on the cost and the time of the trip, but so far I'm considering going.  The experience of something like this would be very memorable indeed.        
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: BobAtchison on January 03, 2005, 11:44:15 PM
So maybe we should go to Petersburg/Tsarskoe this year and do another trip the following year to Yekaterinburg for July 16-17?  They would be VERY glad to see us there but there probably isn't enough time to do it for this year and I can't afford two trips in one year.  Thoughts?
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Lanie on January 04, 2005, 12:33:47 AM
Depending on how much it is I'd totally try to go as long as it is during May, June, July or August considering I've got school ending 18 May and beginning 17 August...
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Dasha on January 04, 2005, 01:25:02 AM
Sounds good Bob.  I would second Lanie on doing the trip during that time due to school scheduling and such.  
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: anna on January 04, 2005, 05:54:51 AM
Quote
So maybe we should go to Petersburg/Tsarskoe this year and do another trip the following year to Yekaterinburg for July 16-17?  They would be VERY glad to see us there but there probebly isn't enough time to do it for this year and I can't afford two trips in one year.  Thoughts?


I think this is the perfect solution.

Petersburg/Tsarskoe and Yekateringburg in one trip is maybe too much. I don't think I can handle this emotionally and my purse too (LOL)

Anna
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: chintz22 on January 04, 2005, 08:39:30 AM
Hi All,

Bob, I think your proposal of Petersburg/Tsarskoe this year and Yekaterinburg for July 16-17 2006 is wonderful (especially the date of the latter trip).  I am really looking forward to getting to see things in depth--when I went to Russia in '88 we only spent 2 hours at the Hermitage, which was criminal, and I wasn't able to see the Alexander Palace at all.  

As far as scheduling, I am free anytime but would prefer August (or as late as we can schedule to fit with the academic calendar) to provide time to save funds.  

I couldn't help looking at airfares yesterday--I'd better start now to gear myself up for a 12-14 hour flight schedule!  So looking forward to meeting some of the folks I feel like I already know from lurking on the board too.  Many thanks for arranging all this for us, I hope it works out.

Best,

Sarah
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 04, 2005, 09:48:48 AM
Quote
So maybe we should go to Petersburg/Tsarskoe this year and do another trip the following year to Yekaterinburg for July 16-17?  


Yes, that's what I meant when I said the best way would be to do two or three different trips at separate times...
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Laura Mabee on January 04, 2005, 10:03:06 AM
Quote
So maybe we should go to Petersburg/Tsarskoe this year and do another trip the following year to Yekaterinburg for July 16-17?  They would be VERY glad to see us there but there probebly isn't enough time to do it for this year and I can't afford two trips in one year.  Thoughts?


This is an awesome idea! Sign me up!
I can't think of a better time or place  :)
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 04, 2005, 10:10:30 AM
I think it's a great idea to go to Yekaterinberg during July 16-17th, I assume they hold some sort of a memorial at the site of the Ipatiev house during that time?
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: BobAtchison on January 04, 2005, 10:39:11 AM
Yes they do and quite impressive.  It's amazing to see the sky at night at that time of year in Yekaterinburg  - we were there for an outdoor service on the anniversary.  You could see how they planned the murder for the darkest hours of the night - being so far north it gets dark late and the sun comes up early that time of year.

There were the northern lights dancing in the sky above the city at the hour of the murder - it was quite eerie - like heaven was reaching down somehow.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 04, 2005, 10:52:57 AM
Quote
Yes they do and quite impressive.  It's amazing to see the sky at night at that time of year in Yekaterinburg  - we were there for an outdoor service on the anniversary.  You could see how they planned the murder for the darkest hours of the night - being so far north it gets dark late and the sun comes up early that time of year.

There were the northern lights dancing in the sky above the city at the hour of the murder - it was quite eerie - like heaven was reaching down somehow.


This sounds like it would be a great trip!
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Robert_Hall on January 04, 2005, 10:59:20 AM
I will go along with a springtime visit to StP, depending on how this current one goes. But Eburg in summer heat, maybe not ?
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 04, 2005, 11:14:36 AM
Quote
But Eburg in summer heat, maybe not ?

I also heard it gets pretty hot in Siberia in the summer, but I can't imagine it coming anywhere close to the humidity in NYC in July or August!  :o  Realistically, how hot does it get around that time there? Is the climate sort of similar to Alaska?
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: BobAtchison on January 04, 2005, 11:21:39 AM
Yekaterinburg isn't that hot in the summer - the Imperial Family complained about the heat but it wasn't that hot - they were in closed rooms and in layers of clothes that weren't that clean - it must have felt much hotter.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Elizabeth on January 04, 2005, 03:02:21 PM
I would LOVE to go to TS/St. Pete (esp. since I started this thread), but going in September is an awfully quick "turnaround" time to get things going.  For those of us in school, that would require taking off class for the first few weeks.  For those of us that work full-time (in addition to school!), it would require us requesting the time off NOW (which means having an exact date).  

I could definitely afford  it-- and do something like this NEXT year, but only 9 months away is pushing it.  

Sorry! :-[
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 04, 2005, 03:07:48 PM
How about New Year's 2006 in St Petersburg and TS? May be a little on the chilly side, but fun  ;).
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Laura Mabee on January 06, 2005, 09:57:16 PM
So...  ;D
Do we have an offical plan then? Ekaturinburg on '06?
Do we have a number count on who wants to come?
I could try and work out the details if people would like, just to get the ball rolling, and to see an estimate $$

:)
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 06, 2005, 10:01:41 PM
I think Bob is supposed to get back here with the approximate numbers and we'll take it from there. But a few people can do the pricing, to see what everyone comes up with. Mid- July of 2006 in Yekaterinburg sounds awesome.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Sarai on January 07, 2005, 08:24:42 AM
Quote
There were trips by Gilbert's Royal Books i think in the past, which seemed to offer specialist Romanov tours, but i haven't heard of any being done now for a while.


Gilbert's Royal Books is planning a tour to Russia this fall. There are no details so far, as it only says on their website that the tour will explore the leisure and summer retreats of the Romanovs in St. Petersburg and the Crimea. You can see this here:
http://www.angelfire.com/pa/ImperialRussian/new.html

As for myself, I would certainly love to take a Romanov tour, but I probably couldn't do it in the near future due to costs and other factors. I would love to see all of the pictures from such trips posted here, though! As far as preferences go, I would definitely vote for going to visit the St. Petersburg area first. I would be most interested of course in the Alexander Palace and also Peterhof. The second destination I would like for a future trip would be to the Crimea.

Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: BobAtchison on January 07, 2005, 09:32:44 AM
We are working on a trip to Tsarskoe for late summer - it will probably take two weeks to have details from Russia - so hold tight!

We will definitely also be on for Yekaterinburg next summer for the anniversary.

Finally, we are looking at a trip to Livadia and the Crimea but don't have when decided.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: chintz22 on January 07, 2005, 05:50:07 PM
Hi All,

Hooray!  All three locales, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg  and Livadia, are on the docket!  So exciting!

Best,

Sarah
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Laura Mabee on January 08, 2005, 11:49:22 AM
Quote
I think Bob is supposed to get back here with the approximate numbers and we'll take it from there. But a few people can do the pricing, to see what everyone comes up with. Mid- July of 2006 in Yekaterinburg sounds awesome.



Awesome! I am so excited about this!!! Thanks for letting me know!

Quote
We are working on a trip to Tsarskoe for late summer - it will probably take two weeks to have details from Russia - so hold tight!

We will definitely also be on for Yekaterinburg next summer for the anniversary.

Finally, we are looking at a trip to Livadia and the Crimea but don't have when decided.



WOO! All those awesome places! I wish I had enough to go to all of them!! *tear*  :'(
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: LisaDavidson on January 08, 2005, 08:27:19 PM
August is one of the few good times for me to travel every year, as our business is slow and the girls out of school, which also frees me up.

I am wondering if the Yekaterinburg trip could be combined with Tobolsk?
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 08, 2005, 08:34:06 PM
Quote
I am wondering if the Yekaterinburg trip could be combined with Tobolsk?


How far apart are they (by train)? I think that's a good idea. Is the governor's house still intact in Tobolsk or was it also destroyed? I hope they didn't destroy that too! It would be very interesting to see it since the IF lived there even longer than at the Ipatiev house....
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: BobAtchison on January 10, 2005, 06:55:42 PM
Okay we have found out some great news.  We are proposing a 7 night 8 day trip to Tsarskoe Selo.  We'd book out a complete hostel with our own housekeeper and Russian cook.  We'd have breakfast and dinner together as well as a picnic or two prepared by our own GREAT Russian cook.  The cook would publish our menus in advance and introduce us to wonderful Russian treats.  The breakfasts would be full American/British style. The housekeeper would clean our rooms/flats everyday and keep it spick and span.  We'd plan on going into Petersburg for a theater presentation and a special dinner somewhere.  We'd have our own private mini-buses and two translators.  The private buses mean we will be able to go everywhere we want - even to those out-of-the-way places we want to see.

It looks like the cost per person sharing would be around $175 - $200 per day.  You'd have to get your own visas and transfers from the airport. Your airfare is on your own too. The hostel is next to the train station so it's easy access into Peterburg.

The price is great because it includes most of your meals as well.  The hostel has private flats with two bedrooms.  It's a hotel for foreign students and we  are finding out more about it.

We are thinking about August 27- September 3 or September 3-10.

So what do you think of this idea?  We can only take 20 people max so email me if you want to hold a spot.  It's no obligation and we don't want any money from anyone yet.  This will just help us get the number of people who want to go more firm.

Bob

Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Lanie on January 10, 2005, 07:03:23 PM
I could afford it I think (airfare is an issue but I know of some student websites that offer cheap airfare!) but I'm in school from August 18th I believe so I can't go. :(
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Robert_Hall on January 10, 2005, 07:45:22 PM
I should be back in England in    Sept. so the latter date would suiit me. Just  the "village" though? Pavlosk, Gatchina, Petersburg, etc. in a week ?
Saying that..sure, I am interested.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: chintz22 on January 10, 2005, 07:51:24 PM
Hi Bob,

Great news!  Count me in, I could do either date.

Best,

Sarah
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 10, 2005, 07:54:15 PM
Bob, you probably wouldn't need to hire translators if any of the members who end up going can speak Russian. Or are the translators also going to act as the tour guides? I was also wondering if "share" means share the whole flat with the two bedrooms, or share one room in the flat?
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Dasha on January 10, 2005, 11:09:25 PM
Bob, please count me in.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Lanie on January 10, 2005, 11:30:27 PM
I've been looking at airfare and it's quite ridiculous. $1300+ from Los Angeles, even a red eye and these are on student airfare sites!!  Anyone know any better ideas for airfare searching (since my parents seem okay with it as long as I pay the money for STAYING and being there, they'll cover airfare)?
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: nerdycool on January 11, 2005, 01:41:07 AM
Lanie, I did some searching and what I found was pretty much what you found. I was thinking that if you flew to New York or Boston first, then went from there, it'd be cheaper, but it wasn't. It ended up being the same basically because if flying out of LA to St. P, you stop in NY anyway. Anyway, looking at all the other prices, paying around $1,300 roundtrip sounds like a steal to me (even though it's waaay out of my price range).

Here are the 3 searches I did with the two cheapest rates of each:

www.expedia.com: LA - St.P
(1) $1,247.15 through Aeroflot-Russian International Airlines
(2) 1,307.55 through Air France

www.priceline.com: LA - St.P
(1) $1,272 (RT) + taxes through Aeroflot-RIA
(2) $1,332 (RT) + taxes through Air France.

www.travelocity.com: LA - St.P
(1) $1,307 (RT) + taxes through Air France
(2) $1,366 (RT) + taxes through Aeroflot-RIA

I used the Aug. 27 - Sept. 3 dates.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: ChristineM on January 11, 2005, 06:56:25 AM
Helen

It is the railway station in Tsarskoe Selo (Pushkin).   I have no idea where you plan travelling from, but unless it is Scandinavia or Europe, it will be impossible to avoid flying.  Railfares, though cheaper, you have to remember to write into your budget the cost of meals.

I must say, it is a dream of mine to travel from the UK to St Petersburg by rail, but time is the factor - about six days travelling there and back.   I must admit that, on balance, I would choose to spend that time in Tsarskoe Selo.

tsaria
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: BobAtchison on January 11, 2005, 08:50:34 AM
We are getting more details on these accommodations.  I understand the flats are two bedroom.  Each bedroom can be occupied by one person or two persons.  If you want to be one to a bedroom there is an additional change (it isn't that much).  If you want a flat to yourself there would be an additonal charge.  There also may be single rooms at the hostel - we are checking.

There is also the possibility of us renting a whole villa for ourselves but it not in the center of Tsarskoe Selo.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 11, 2005, 09:25:34 AM
Yes, these airfares sounds a bit ridiculouos. I know that last year I paid around $700 for NYC-Moscow-StP-NYC. Just from and to StP, without Moscow, was even cheaper at the time, around $600, because it didn't involve another city. From and to Moscow was really cheap, you could get a r/t for about $400-450. Also, I went at the end of May which is generally more expensive because of the "white nights" season. I am not sure why it's so much more expensive this year and at this time because theoretically September is already the end of the season and is generally cheaper...   ???  Sometimes going through a travel agent may be cheaper than the internet, if you can find a travel agency that deals with these destinations a lot. I know one in NYC, if anyone is interested, I can post their contact info. They also do Russian invitations and visas. I've used them twice and they are very relaible. This is another thing that everyone has to remember, there is also a fee for the visa which can be close to $200, and it takes several weeks to arrange (you'll need to take passport photos, Fedex your passport to the agency, etc). I can give everyone the details about the visa too, if anyone is interested....
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 11, 2005, 09:31:27 AM
Quote
Bob,

A hostel next to the train station? Which railway are you referring to?
I may be able to get from door to door by rail quite easily, and will consider a railway journey as an alternative to an air trip.


Helen,  I don't think that there is an international train that goes directly to Tsarskoe Selo, this is a local train that comes in from the city (StP). So you would have to get to StP first and then take a train from there to TS which is about 45-50 minutes or so... But many people take the train from Helsinki to StP, if you can get to Helsinki first. Probably there are other European cities where you can take a direct train from...
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Michelle on January 11, 2005, 11:08:29 AM
Oh my goodness, I would LOVE to come on this trip!  Especially to Tsarskoe Selo!!!!!!!!! :o :o :o :o  Alas, I don't really think I can.  I begin college at around August 30 this summer, and college is really expensive for my parents to pay my tuition AND help me out with a trip to Russia.  :'(  And I really don't even think they'd let me go anyway.  Being protective and all, and worried about terrorists there.  

Come to think of it, is this trip going to be all that safe?
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: LisaDavidson on January 11, 2005, 12:21:36 PM
I am sure the trip will be safe. I couldn't go the last time Bob went, so I must go this time.

We'll need to keep an eye out for airfare bargains!
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Janet_W. on January 11, 2005, 01:29:44 PM
First Thought: Dang, I won't be able to go . . . this time.  :'(

Second Thought: What a fabulous time those of you who can go will have!   :D

Third Thought: I was in St. P, Kiev, Yalta and Moscow on a 14 day tour in 1991. It was absolutely one of the most memorable experiences of my life, and I'm thrilled for anyone who can do the same.   ;)

Fourth Thought: Michelle mentions the issue of safety. And yes, that was one of my concerns as well. That's why I chose to go on tour, with knowledgeble people who had been there many times before.  And of course people visiting foreign lands should always be cautious, etc. . . . but, if you allowed your fears to control your life, you'd probably never even go out your front door each morning! Risk is a part of living, and this is a well-calculated risk that is very much worth taking.  You'll be together, with leaders who have visited many times before, and believe me, Russia is ever eager for the American tourist dollar and therefore wants to maintain a reputation of safety. So by all means, if you can afford the cost and time, go . . . and then report back to the rest of us about your fantastic adventures!  :-*

Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: chintz22 on January 11, 2005, 01:54:01 PM
Hi All,

I just put these two tentative trip dates into my calendar and realized if we went 9/3-9/10 that would be over labor day weekend for those of us in the U.S.  As I said, I could do either time, but if I had to pick I guess I'd go for 9/3-9/10 so I'd save a vacation day.  

Best,

Sarah
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 11, 2005, 03:55:53 PM
Quote

Come to think of it, is this trip going to be all that safe?


It's as safe as pretty much anywhere else you may go.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Georgiy on January 11, 2005, 04:55:24 PM
How I would love to go! It would be weird meeting all of you though! You know how you get images or ideas of what people must be like, and when you meet them they are nothing like you imagined! (In my experience usually much better than my imagination!)
It would be such an amazing experience to visit Tsarskoe Selo, and all those other places we know from books and photos, and better still, to share the experience with people to whom it would mean so much more to than most ordinary tourists (you know, the 'Oh, another palace? How long till we can go to McDonald's?' crowd.....)
I would really like to go to Ekaterinburg.....I'll be getting married this year, so I think, sadly :'(, I can't come this time. Still my wife to be is from Moscow, so no doubt, I will get there some day. She like myself greatly venerates the IF as saints, and so I think for both of us, visiting Ekaterinburg would be something very special.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 11, 2005, 05:21:56 PM
Quote
You know how you get images or ideas of what people must be like, and when you meet them they are nothing like you imagined!

 
Georgiy, you can get an idea of what some of us look like on the "Forum Members" thread  :).
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: M_Breheny on January 11, 2005, 05:32:52 PM
Your planned trip to St. Petersburg, etc. sounds great.  If I had not already made plans for a trip to Russia this summer, I definitely would go with your group.  On the other hand, I am interested in the trip to Yekaterinburg in 2006, or a trip to the Crimea.  

My husband and I, along with two friends, are going to Russia on June 29.  We will spend five days in St. Petersburg (where I plan to make arrangements to get to T.S. and the Alexander Palace), before boarding a riverboat that will sail down the Volga and eventually end up at Moscow.  Finally,we will fly to Kiev for three days.  We will be gone for a little over 2 1/2 weeks.  Although this sounds like a rather elaborate trip, it will only cost about $4,000 each, including extra excursion side-trips (not that $4,000 is a paltry sum, but it could be worse).  

This will be my second trip to Russia.  Returning has been a dream of mine for years.  Again, let me say that I would love to go to Yekaterinburg in 2006.  

Mary

Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Dandywell on January 11, 2005, 05:44:46 PM
I would love to go to Russia! But, being a poor 16 yr old girl, I have no money, lack of permission, and I don't hardly know any of you. I've been looking into airfare, though. Last summer I went to Thailand, and the trip altogether cost $1400, including flight, hotel for ten days, and food. Of course, this is Russia, that was Thailand, two different worlds, but I can't imagine a trip to Russia being much different if you go to the "right places", and keep it pretty simple.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: otmafan on January 11, 2005, 08:27:05 PM
Well, Bob, I wish I could go. It seems the trip would be a lot of fun. But I am already going to France and Mexico this year and I don't think I can afford another.  :(

Hope those who are going have fun!!!!!  :)
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Mike on January 12, 2005, 10:52:58 AM
A word from one who wouldn't go  :'( but is updated on travel options to SPb:

There're flights to Riga and Tallinn from London and other European destinations for less than $200 return, sometimes just $120. From either Riga or Tallinn, there is an overnight train to SPb, reasonably comfortable and safe. It arrives at the same Vitebsky Station as commuter trains to Pushkin. And a few hours in either of these nice old cities won't hurt.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: ashanti01 on January 12, 2005, 03:18:23 PM
I for one would love to go!!!
If the trip was planned for a year maybe two at the most in advance, I'm very sure I could save more than enough to money for the expenses.
I guess its really a matter of how much you want something.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Dandywell on January 12, 2005, 04:32:34 PM
I could probably go, too, if it was a couple years out. Maybe there will be another trip in a couple of years, anyway.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Silja on January 12, 2005, 04:38:19 PM
Hello Bob,

I might be interested too.
Would the $175-200 a day include admissions as well?
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: pers on January 13, 2005, 08:46:36 AM
Is there any possibility of us doing it in June/July or between middle to end December this year?  I have twice been there.  Stayed at the St. Petersburg Hotel opposite the Cruiser Aurora.  Decent service. :)
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Natalia on January 13, 2005, 09:08:46 AM
a trip would be nice, but im sure i cant afford it  :'(
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: ChristineM on January 14, 2005, 05:40:17 AM
Natalia

I notice this was your first posting and it is a pity you feel you cannot afford to visit the Alexander Palace this year, but hopefully there will be other years.  

Let me assure you the next best thing to actually being there is to read and contribute to this excellent Forum.  

Welcome

tsaria
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Alice on January 14, 2005, 06:33:05 AM
I'm very interested in this trip. Count me in! I'll check this thread regularly for updates . . . I go back to Australia from Japan in March, so anytime after that is good.  ;D
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Natalia on January 14, 2005, 09:34:18 AM
hey tsaria

im sure theyll be other years...the problem is that im 19, no money for that trip and i live in colombia lol..so hopefully one day.... :)

byee
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: TsarinasPrincess on January 14, 2005, 12:25:06 PM
What a truly wonderful idea!! I've been trying to recruit some friends who may have some interest in a trip like this, but it would mean so much more to go with people who are interested in Romanov history.

As long as the price is reasonable, I would definitely be interested in going.  The big factor, besides funds, would be when the trip would be.

Susan
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Merrique on January 15, 2005, 07:51:04 AM
I too would be very interested in going on this trip.As long as I can come up with the needed funds in time.Having Bob on this trip as our guide would be heaven on earth to me.
I look forward to more details so I can see what I can do about coming along. :D

The timing of this trip during the week of the 10th of Sept. would be perfect for me,it would be a nice little birthday present to myself.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Olga on January 15, 2005, 07:48:56 PM
Alas, I shall not be able to go this year, as it is my final year of highschool. But 2006 may be an option, as I may be taking a year off. I would love to go to Siberia.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: moonlight_tsarina on January 15, 2005, 10:10:53 PM
Do you mean Bob that a bunch of the members of this website forum would be going?  :o
That's so cool, but I bet like you said it would cost [glb]a ton [/glb]of [glb]$$$[/glb].
Do you know how much circa per person?

-Annie


P.s-
About how much is admission to the Catherine or Alexander Palaces? I know they need money for upkeep, but they should be treated like the People's landmarks, not some sort of circus attraction!!!!! >:(
lol, sorry, just venting! ::)
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Agneschen on January 16, 2005, 11:46:27 AM
Oh dear what a wonderful idea !!! I would simply love to go ! The only question being the cost (I have already planned holidays in Austria & Italy for the summer) of course as well as when exactly the trip would take place. Keep updated.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 16, 2005, 12:16:45 PM
Quote
Do you know how much circa per person?

-Annie

P.s-
About how much is admission to the Catherine or Alexander Palaces?

 Annie, Bob posted an approximate quote per person on the previous page with some other details, it's something between $175-$200 per day per person (share), which includes many meals, transportation and a translator, but does not include airfare or admissions to places or some meals.

If I remember correctly, the admission price to Catherine Palace is around $15-$20 for foreigners and about $3-4 for locals...

P.S. Alexander Palace is cheaper, I think it was around $10...
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Greta on January 17, 2005, 05:47:58 AM
Hi all,

What a fantastic website and fantastic bunch of people - and what a great idea!!  8 :o

I'm from Australia but broke at the moment  :-/ (I presume the above prices are in $US?) - but would love to go to Siberia in 2006.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Laura Mabee on January 17, 2005, 01:22:58 PM
 :'(
I would so much love to go to the Summer trip you guys have planed. I even sat down for 4 days trying to figure out how I could manage it. Unfortunatly, as many of us know how it is to be a starving student. I would LOVE to go to in '06 to Ekaterinburg with everyone. I know come hell or highwater I will make it there. I hope everyone take pictures of the group doing stuff! I know I will think of you guys when you are there!
*tear*
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 17, 2005, 01:27:53 PM
Quote
Unfortunatly, as many of us know how it is to be a starving student.  
 
Alas!   :(  :-[ :'(  
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Yoyo on January 17, 2005, 07:24:44 PM
It's a pity there are no green smileys, because that's how I feel about everybody who is able to go on this trip :-[.  But I will be willing (and saving) to go next year to Siberia. Does anyone else think it should inlude a stop in SP and TS too?
Yoyo
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 17, 2005, 07:38:54 PM
Quote
 Does anyone else think it should inlude a stop in SP and TS too?

Yoyo, that would be great, but unfortunately Siberia is nowhere near SP and TS  :(. It's like stopping off in Las Vegas while in New York  ;D
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Dashkova on January 17, 2005, 07:42:41 PM
Why would Siberia be included on this tour?

Ekaterinburg is nearly a thousand miles WEST of Siberia!
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 17, 2005, 07:50:29 PM
I think Yoyo meant Tobolsk.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Dashkova on January 17, 2005, 08:38:56 PM
I don't see where "yoyo" posted anything about Tobolsk, but that city isn't really considered "Siberia", and is closely associated with the state of Ural.  It's only about 700 km north of Ekaterinburg.

I was just in Petersburg last spring and spent time at the AP.  But group tours are very tiresome and annoying, in my view and to my experience, and the best and most fulfilling visit is to go with scholars or family.

Anyone who has not before participated in a group tour, do yourself (and everyone else on the tour) a favor and think it through and decide what type of visit is best for you.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 17, 2005, 09:10:16 PM
I also thought that Tobolsk was considered Siberia while Yekaterinburg was the Urals.

Yes, Dashkova is right about group tours, you have to be kind of flexible and easygoing and be prepared to put up with other people's "habits". Even the most easygoing people may lose their cool on those  ;). I went on a group tour of Russia last spring too, and because everyone sort of had his or her own agenda, things tended to get "tense" at times.

But there are also benefits to going with a group. It tends to be safer, you have everything planned for you, you are with people who have the same interests, etc, etc. I think in this case it may be good because this group has a very similar agenda...

I would love to go with scholars or friends/family as Dashkova suggests but unfortunately I don't know anyone (other than people on this forum) who is interested in this stuff as much as I am and would be willing to do much of the same things!
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Dashkova on January 17, 2005, 09:38:21 PM
For some reason, I thought I would be fine on a group tour...before I went on one, anyway. All my traveling abroad has been either completely on my own  or with family/friends, but just because I travelled didn't mean I would "get" the group thing.

I didn't like the itinerary thing, rushing around.  I already knew a great deal about the places we visited and heard the same material repeated endlessly by tour guides who were of course geared for the typical tourist.  In fact, and I know this can't help but happen from time to time, we had some tour guides who made mistakes that I considered pretty major.  My Russian advisor/professor bit her tongue endlessly over this.

And...I swear this is true, if you are visiting a place that is very near and dear to your heart for whatever reason, you WILL resent the rushing around and will feel very frustrated and even angry and wish with all your might to be left utterly alone so you can absorb and cherish the moments.  If it's a place that doesn't matter as much to you, it's not such a big deal. If it does, look out.

I also thought that since I had traveled and lived so much on the cheap, and had lived abroad extensively, I could and would be laid back about everything.  And I know that up until I became utterly exhausted (this happens very easily on group tours) I was fine.  Of course, my family doctor gave me a prescription for a mild tranquilizer before I left.  I shrugged when he gave it to me and figured, sure, just in case.

The bottle was empty (though, admittedly, I shared) before we got to St. Petersburg, after having been in Moscow for almost two weeks (which, as a Moscow lover over Petersburg, was too bad, because they would have come in very handy in the latter city).  The tablets were regarded as gold by a number of us on the tour.  I'm not one to take any sort of drug, but I was very thankful this time around.

Yes, group tours are that intense.  By the end we were all pretty much at each others throats, and we all started as friends and colleagues.  Even to this day a number of friendships within the group are not the same.

I am only posting this info for anyone who does decide to go on a group tour.  I truly believe being aware ahead of time could have helped enormously.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Robert_Hall on January 18, 2005, 05:11:45 AM
I have just returned from a 4 day visit to St.P. and found it a wonderful experience. The winter weather was not nearly as bad as I had expected and rather than a tour group [which I do dislike] I had a private guide/escort/translator.
I found the city  not as cheap as Bulgaria but less costly than London or even San Francisco !.
I have every intention of returning and the sooner the better as far as I am concerned !!
Cheers,
Robert
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: ChristineM on January 18, 2005, 12:19:22 PM
I have never been on a group tour in my life.   Indeed I have never had any desire to go on a group tour.   I am not into 'group' activities,  full stop.

Dashkova, I think you may find a number of people who subscribe to this Forum come into the same category as myself.   But there is one major difference - this is a trip to the Alexander Palace and Tsarskoe Selo with Bob Atchison - not an opportunity which arises every day (or year).

I visit and stay in Tsarskoe Selo regularly, sometimes for protracted period of times.    I know the place well, I do work at, occasionly for,  the Catherine Palace, feel part of the community of the Feodorovsky Sobor and have many friends there.   However,  the prospect of visiting with Bob makes me readily alter my opinion of 'group activities'.

To feel part of that continuity from Anatoly Michailovich (and others, less known, but equally committed who sadly are  no longer with us) through Bob and combine that with Bob's knowledge, enthusiasm and commitment is justification alone in wishing to be part of this proposed trip.

The most important thing for those who are in the fortunate position to contemplate the visit, is not to lose sight of the reason why we have volunteered to be there.   If, in the event, they do not like it - if I don't like it - there is nothing to stop them or myself from opting out and doing my own thing.   I am a grown up.

Finally, none of this (including me sitting at a laptop endeavouring to make a posting to a Forum which is visited by, and brings information, entertainment and friendship to thousands) would be reading, learning, debating the subjects under the title 'Alexander Palace Time Machine' without the passion and hard work, personal sacrifice and commitment of Bob Atchison.

tsaria



 
 
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Madal on January 18, 2005, 02:10:44 PM
Thanks Bob for organizing so wonderful trip!!!
I would like to go but I think I can't aford it... :'(

Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: chintz22 on January 18, 2005, 03:07:23 PM
Well said tsaria!  

Best,

Sarah
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Dashkova on January 18, 2005, 05:36:00 PM
Quote
I have never been on a group tour in my life.   Indeed I have never had any desire to go on a group tour.   I am not into 'group' activities,  full stop.

Dashkova, I think you may find a number of people who subscribe to this Forum come into the same category as myself.   But there is one major difference - this is a trip to the Alexander Palace and Tsarskoe Selo with Bob Atchison - not an opportunity which arises every day (or year).

I visit and stay in Tsarskoe Selo regularly, sometimes for protracted period of times.    I know the place well, I do work at, occasionly for,  the Catherine Palace, feel part of the community of the Feodorovsky Sobor and have many friends there.   However,  the prospect of visiting with Bob makes me readily alter my opinion of 'group activities'.

To feel part of that continuity from Anatoly Michailovich (and others, less known, but equally committed who sadly are  no longer with us) through Bob and combine that with Bob's knowledge, enthusiasm and commitment is justification alone in wishing to be part of this proposed trip.

The most important thing for those who are in the fortunate position to contemplate the visit, is not to lose sight of the reason why we have volunteered to be there.   If, in the event, they do not like it - if I don't like it - there is nothing to stop them or myself from opting out and doing my own thing.   I am a grown up.

Finally, none of this (including me sitting at a laptop endeavouring to make a posting to a Forum which is visited by, and brings information, entertainment and friendship to thousands) would be reading, learning, debating the subjects under the title 'Alexander Palace Time Machine' without the passion and hard work, personal sacrifice and commitment of Bob Atchison.

tsaria



  
  


You have no reason to take my comments personally, on your own behalf or others. Of *course* this site would not exist without Mr. Atchison, and I don't think anyone is ungrateful for his huge efforts, but I don't see where that has anything to do with the concept of group tours.

I have been on only one group tour in my life.  All other travel has been independent.  My group was led by Russian cultural and history experts whom I have known for several years on a professional and to some degree, personal, level.  I have nothing but complete respect for both of them.

But group tours, no matter who leads them, in my view, completely and totally suck.  That is my opinion based on my own experience alone. It has NOTHING whatsoever to do with how I perceive this website and its creator.  There is no question in my mind that the ultimate group tour of the region and building in question would be led by Mr. Atchison.  For me, and if many others are honest with themselves, it is still a group tour, no matter who leads it. N&A themselves could lead it and I still wouldn't be interested -- if it was a *group* involved.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: ChristineM on January 19, 2005, 05:46:20 AM
Dashkova

How interesting to read of your experiences.   It is thoughtful of you warn fellow posters of the perils of subscribing to a group tour such as Mr Atchison is very kindly spending time and effort putting together for members of this Forum.    

Everyone will pay attention to all you say, and certainly, those who plan to participate, will not be infected by your negativism.

Go ahead - as usual, have the last word.

tsaria
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Dashkova on January 19, 2005, 08:08:02 AM
Quote
Dashkova

How interesting to read of your experiences.   It is thoughtful of you warn fellow posters of the perils of subscribing to a group tour such as Mr Atchison is very kindly spending time and effort putting together for members of this Forum.    

Everyone will pay attention to all you say, and certainly, those who plan to participate, will not be infected by your negativism.

Go ahead - as usual, have the last word.

tsaria


Perhaps you should enroll in a course dealing with reading comprehension, since you have now twice completely misinterpreted every word I have written in this thread.

For others reading who are able to comprehend simple English and those who don't have a hobby of reading into posts things that *ARE NOT THERE*, my final comments on the matter:
The reason it is wise to discuss the negative possibilities (no, in all likelihoods) of group tours is that there is no reason for everyone going along to wind up miserable.  

IF you are on any group tour and you discover you made a mistake, of course you can go home.  It is usually at additional, personal expense.  Most unhappy group tourists continue to tag along, becoming more and more miserable.  This rubs off on other members of the group, some of whom are *also* miserable but haven't talked about it.

Look at it this way, people who are more willing and able to adapt and people who actually like being part of a group deserve to have a great experience.  People who *don't* like group tours shouldn't pay money to be miserable (and make others miserable). My suspicion is that there are a good many people who fall somewhere in the middle.

And so *every* thinking individual capable of reasoning considering  a group tour should think long and hard, get *very* introspective and honest with oneself, and talk with other people who have done a similar tour.  This is only way to be fair to oneself and all other potential participants, not to mention the group leader(s).

In my own case, the scholars that led the tour told me towards the end that every time a tour was completed (and they don't do them often) they have had to reevaluate what type of people should go along. They overwhelmingly voted for small groups (as in, around 6) who have similar interests and are allowed a *large* amount of free time to pursue their own specific interests on their own or with one other person. Any other scenario always turns into a nightmare, because PEOPLE are involved (and each one is different, and being on foreign soil, physically tired, etc, brings out the most *delightful* worst qualities) and even strongly felt, shared interests are no help.

Anyone who has a problem with this type of helpful honesty and careful forethought is not only in deep denial, but will likely have the worst kind of reality check on tour.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Forum Admin on January 19, 2005, 09:52:09 AM
Bob has lead several similar tours before. Yes, some people do not like the "organized" scheduled regimen of such a tour. The problem when dealing with groups is simply this, either everyone just goes off and does their own thing all day OR you give up that flexibility and allow a set schedule. One either accepts that before hand or not. On Bob's tours, no one is forced to go anywhere or do anything they don't want to. You don't want to go to place X that afternoon as scheduled, fine, don't go. Hire a cab and do what you will. Dashkova just seems to be the "type" of personality that does not get along well with a fixed daily regimen, if you are that type of personality, then a group tour is not for you. I have done both group tours and independant travel. Both have advantages and disadvantages. My best advice is this, once you have paid your money, you might as well make the best of it instead of allowing yourself to be miserable. You have the choice to try to enjoy the tour or have it ruined, but that choice is YOURS and is not inflicted on you by anyone else.

I think both sides of the issue have been presented and we can move forward with the discussion.

FA
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Forum Admin on January 19, 2005, 10:52:00 AM
Well, I think a list of "musts" would be most useful for Bob to plan the trip as well, if everyone agrees on certain places to go, then Bob can arrange things accordingly.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: LisaDavidson on January 19, 2005, 11:37:11 PM
Okay, I'll bite. Here is what I would like to see in the City of Peter:

1. Winter Palace/Hermitage
2. Fortress of Peter and Paul
3. Church of the Savior (the one built after AII assassinated?)
4. The Bronze Horseman
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Robert_Hall on January 20, 2005, 10:39:23 AM
Like Dashkova, I too am adverse to group tours. Having said that, I am going on one to China this Springtime- there really was no realistic alternative. I know plenty of people who have done so independantly [Chines as well as Westerners] had came back miserable if not actually very ill.
However, my recent visit to St.P. was semi-independant in that I had a private guide. Actaually, he acted more of a translator as I pretty much had the histories down long before. We got along very well, became friends, and I met some really nice folks because of him. I have seen Liss's  "top 4' now so would have others on my list- however the Hermitage is so vast that one visit can never be considered a "been there, done that" experience. I would in such a case do simply as Bob mentioned- bow out of a particular activity and meet my new friends for some other adventure.
Also, I have just noticed- well I just returned home so I do not know howq long this has been announced, that ANOTHER Romanov tour is being organized for the same time period, with St.P. and the Crimea as a focus.
AND, I have the Suzanne Massie catalogue to look through as well- but THAT is not of much interest I think- for me.
So many choices....
Cheers,
Robert
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 20, 2005, 12:06:36 PM
Quote
... however the Hermitage is so vast that one visit can never be considered a "been there, done that" experience.
 In order to cover even a small portion of the Hermitage, it would take many many days! The best thing to do is to figure out exactly what you would most want to see there and just try to see that. To try to cover too much in a limited amount of time can be very frustrating. I would recommend seeing the clock that one of Catherine the Great's lovers gave her (I think it was Potemkin). It is very interesting to see, especially if you catch it at noon (if I remember correctly) when it becomes animated.

But what I said above actually applies to St Petersburg in general - there is so much to see and do that you always feel like you haven't seen nearly as much as you would like to. I can confidently say that even if you go there for a full month, you can't cover even a fraction.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 20, 2005, 12:14:46 PM
Quote
3. Church of the Savior (the one built after AII assassinated?)
Lisa, do you mean "Cathedral on the Spilt Blood?" or is this another memorial cathedral for A II's assasination?
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Janet_W. on January 20, 2005, 12:43:43 PM
Agreed Helen, regarding the Hermitage and St. P in general.

We were in St. P four days and received a wonderful overview of the city, but of course my real preference--if I had the bucks and time!--would be to stay there for about a month.

Since most of us can't do that, a tour is by all means a wonderful alternative, especially when led by someone as knowledgeable as Bob.

What I remember of our tour to the Hermitage--aside from being let in ahead of others, which I found embarrassing  :-/ but which our guide explained was both necessary and typical--was the vastness of it all, the beautiful Malachite Room, the room the Kerensky faction was occupying when the October revolution began, the spacious theater, the countless galleries with incredible works of art (my favorite being the famous dancers by Matisse) and looking out on the vast square where the tragedy of January 22, 1905 took place.

BTW, be sure to wear comfortable shoes . . . those floors would be great for rollerskating, but are hard on the metatarsals!  ;)
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 20, 2005, 01:00:11 PM
One of my favorite pieces at the Hermitage is 'The Breakfast' by Velázquez...  

(http://img83.exs.cx/img83/5228/breakfast4ct.png)

There are so many worthwhile works of art to see that it is so upsetting to go there and then have to leave so soon!

What was also embarrassing was that at the entrance to the Hermitage a live band would break out into Star Spangled Banner when they saw a herd of Americans filing inside! They did this in the hopes of getting  some $$$ of course  ::)
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: chintz22 on January 20, 2005, 01:36:50 PM
Hi All,

A canvas I loved in the Hermitage was Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt.  Usually I'm not overly fond of that artist, but this painting was so moving.  I'd recommend seeking it out.

Best,

Sarah

(http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v625/chintz22/e3_3_1_4d_dutch_art.jpg)
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 20, 2005, 01:43:03 PM
Quote
Hi All,

A canvas I loved in the Hermitage was Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt.  


Sarah, I saw this one there too! Our guide even pointed out the one female and one male hand of the father! It's a wonderful painting.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 20, 2005, 02:57:27 PM
The clock that I mentioned before is called  The Peacock Clock. I made a mistake, it is every Wednesday at 5pm that the clock is wound. Here is some info about the clock and where it can be found, it is truly magnificent and worth while to see!

(http://img117.exs.cx/img117/36/thepeacockclock2ba.png)

The Peacock Clock is located in the Pavilion Hall (Room 204) is a must see. This magnificent gilded clock with automata, was made by a celebrated English clockmaker in the 18th century. The "clock" is a peacock on a gilded tree branch (completed with gilded leaves), an owl in a cage, and a rooster.
     Each Wednesday at 5:00 pm, the Peacock Clock is wound up. The gilded peacock spreads its tail, the "feathers" raise upright, and the whole bird rotates around, while the owl bobs in his cage, opening and closing his eyes. This is truly wonderful to see, but crowds line up, so get there early to get a place close to the peacock. (While you're waiting, you can admire the marble floors and chandeliers in the Pavilion Room.)
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Dashkova on January 20, 2005, 08:31:15 PM
Other potential "don't miss" outings:

Russian Museum
Canal cruise
Evening at the Mariinsky

I'm more of a Moscow person (and Ekaterinburg, for that matter), but those are three St.P "excursions" I really enjoyed.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 20, 2005, 08:37:37 PM
Quote

Other potential "don't miss" outings:

Russian Museum
Canal cruise
Evening at the Mariinsky


Yes, absolutely!
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Arleen on January 22, 2005, 03:24:04 PM
One place I would love to see in St. Petersburg is the Yussoupov's palace on the Moika.....that is IF I were going.  I would give anything to be able to go but am unable, so it hurts to see some of you"all bickering over silly things.....
..Arleen
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on January 22, 2005, 03:29:24 PM
Quote
One place I would love to see in St. Petersburg is the Yussoupov's palace on the Moika.....


Arleen, I had the opportunity to visit the Yussupov Moika Palace and it was really interesting! I was a little bit dissapointed with the set-up in the basement, the cheesy wax figures and such (I would do it very differently if it were up to me), but it was still really neat to visit such an infamous spot. One thing about the Moika palace, it was kept intact since the revolution, unlike many other mansions and palaces, so most things are original!
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: John_Tano on January 22, 2005, 04:32:13 PM
I’ve never been on a group tour before. However if something was planed where as  we see x today, y tomorrow and so on  I could agree to something like that.

Fact is and speaking purely for my self it’s more of a history tour/lesson than anything else. After spending time here and reading about 50% of all the threads and posting I think it would be exciting to group with people in this forums, for the simple reason we all have the same thing in common. Along with a willingness to learn more than we know already. With that said. Going with someone such as bob who has been there  times before and of us all holds a great deal of information it would be a wonderful thing to be able to pick his brain (meant in a good way)  I would jump at the chance in a heart beat.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Arleen on January 22, 2005, 04:47:23 PM
Helen I know exactly what you mean.  The cheezy stuff is everywhere and what they have apparently done with the AP is a sin.  But I have always had this quirky thing going where I focus on something that is REAL and origional and all of a sudden I am transported back to the time when it all took place.  The cheezy stuff doesn't even register then. (I've done this many times at our Civil War battlefields, another great love of mine)
To me to be able to go to St. Petersburg, etc. with Bob would be the ULTIMATE!  It is Bob that makes it all so special.
..Arleen
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: felix on January 25, 2005, 12:16:37 PM
Is there anything firm about this  trip ? How many more people need to sign up ?  Could  Oranienbaum be a part of it ? Thanks F.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Robert_Hall on January 25, 2005, 03:12:57 PM
As soon as we have some dates, I may co-ordinate my return to St.P. in Sept. I am definitely going back, but whether or not I join the group is another matter.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: felix on February 02, 2005, 12:21:13 PM
Has anyone taken Aeroflot? They hace flights fron N.Y. to St.P. starting at $ 827. Thats not too bad.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Dashkova on February 02, 2005, 12:41:34 PM
We regularly catch flights out of Dulles in D.C. on Aeroflot straight through to Moscow for less than $600.  Once there, flights are pretty cheap to anywhere else in the country.  Train is even cheaper and a fascinating cultural experience.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on February 02, 2005, 02:20:12 PM
Quote
Has anyone taken Aeroflot? They hace flights fron N.Y. to St.P. starting at $ 827. Thats not too bad.


I have taken Aeroflot a couple of times. The international one was ok, if you don't count long delays in the outbound flights (happened both times). The domestic one leaves a lot to be desired. They had live flies buzzing around the cabin (I kid you not, it happened every time). But if it is only a flight that's less than an hour, I guess it's ok. I would prefer taking a different airline but not if it is a lot more expensive...
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Robert_Hall on February 02, 2005, 02:42:42 PM
I was tempted to try Aeroflot, just for the experience. But BA had a great fare [from London] plus I got the miles.
{I remeber all those 60's Aeroflot ads in Soviet Life..so camp now]
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on February 02, 2005, 02:45:16 PM
Quote
I was tempted to try Aeroflot, just for the experience. But BA had a great fare [from London] plus I got the miles.
  I would imagine that the fare would be very reasonable from London on any airline...
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Robert_Hall on February 02, 2005, 03:13:00 PM
There's the rub- not many airlines fly from London Heathrow to St.P. non-stop.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Helen_Azar on February 02, 2005, 03:15:06 PM
Quote
There's the rub- not many airlines fly from London Heathrow to St.P. non-stop.


Yeah, I guess more to Moscow...
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Silja on February 04, 2005, 12:47:26 PM
Quote

I have taken Aeroflot a couple of times. The international one was ok, if you don't count long delays in the outbound flights (happened both times). The domestic one leaves a lot to be desired. They had live flies buzzing around the cabin


Quite agree. The international flights are okay, but I'd rather not board a domestic one. And it's not the flies that would bother me. I'd rather be uneasy about the maintenance . . .
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: NAAOTMA on February 17, 2005, 11:55:22 AM
Regarding the Dream Trip List:
 Yelagin Palace
 The Anitchov Palace
 Faberge Building
 Xenia and Sandro's Palace on the Moika
 Olga's (Oldenburg) Palace
 Ella and Serge's Palace
 
  Peterhof (including the Cottage and as much in the Park as possible)
  Gatchina
  Pavlovsk
 
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: nigbil on February 19, 2005, 02:26:14 AM
I've just come back from 3 days in St.P flying Air France from Paris (I think its a daily flight) - was €250 return.

One of the things I found expensive there was entrance fees to museums/palaces etc. Ironically, I did not have to pay at the Winter P/Hermitage as its free the first Thursday of every month. Most sights have a free entrance day but thats more pot luck than careful planning.

If Bob Aitchison was organising a summer tour I'd definately go! The advantage of going in the Winter is that there are far less tourists but, for obvious reasons, rather harder to get a feel for topography. I'd like to go next time in the summer but shudder at joining 700 other buses in the parking lot at the Catherine Palace - if you've ever been to Versailles you will know what I mean.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: andrea on February 21, 2005, 08:44:11 AM
Hi Bob,

Any idea when you might have more information on the trip?

Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: moonlight_tsarina on February 27, 2005, 01:33:22 PM
Man, I have this rock feeling in my stomach because I know I can't go.  :'( :'(
If the trip was in summer, that would solve one obstacle but the others: My age and my weekly allowance of $5 isn't going to get me far!! :(
But it's cool that I think Bob mentioned some people did it last year and they wwent to a lot of places.
This  would be cool(like explained on the first page)
Petersburg
Moscow
Tobolsk
Yekaterinburg
then the Crimea.
It would be cool if we took the same route the Romanovs did when they went from the AP to Tobolsk.
::)dreaming.................... :-[
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: felix on March 15, 2005, 03:42:43 PM
Is the trip not going to happen?
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: chintz22 on March 16, 2005, 07:00:10 PM
Hi All,

I'd like to know the status of this trip as well; we are starting to make our travel plans for the year and if the trip is on I'll save the money.  Can someone please give us an update?

Thanks,

Sarah
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: welshman on April 20, 2005, 02:04:34 PM
 :)Hello Everyone. I have been checking up. The cheapest return flight to St. Petersburg from Birmingham England, is £ 305. Hope this is of some use. Best Wishes..William.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: lexi4 on April 21, 2005, 09:40:27 PM
This would be such a great trip! I would love to go.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Robert_Hall on May 13, 2005, 06:37:25 AM
I have just returned from 3 weeks in China and am  starting to plan my return to UK/St.P in Sept. Would like to co-ordinate that with an AP group tour. Is this still a possibility ?
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: felix on May 15, 2005, 03:18:31 PM
Robert, no one has ever heard about this  trip in months, people have asked, and no one responded!  Thats pretty sad. Vacations need to be planned.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Robert_Hall on May 15, 2005, 04:53:38 PM
Know what you mean. I am planning my return  for the last week in Sept. Would be nice if this co-ordinated, but no big deal if not.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: felix on May 15, 2005, 05:04:59 PM
Robert,let me know when your back,maybe we can go, I'am not bad to travel with.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Robert_Hall on May 15, 2005, 05:09:14 PM
I just got back from China, should stay home for a little bit. But sure, would be fun to have company.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Lanie on May 15, 2005, 07:24:42 PM
If there ends up a tour next summer I'm game.  My parents said they'd send me somewhere to celebrate my acceptance into whatever university I end up going to.  Haha.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Elizabeth on May 18, 2005, 10:47:43 AM
I'm wondering if this trip is "on" and when as well (since I started the thread back in December -- sorry, I know everyone - including me - has been busy!). ;D

If we're looking at the summer of 2006 (or even 2007), that's more feasible than THIS summer (since summer "officially begins" on June 21).  

Bob -- if it's a type of thing that you want someone to do research and make the arrangements (and a lot of people look like they've done that already), I'd be happy to throw my name into the mix.  

Elizabeth (with a "z")
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: hikaru on May 19, 2005, 09:42:23 AM
I could meet with Robert Felix and Lanie in St. Petersburg with great pleasure.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: hikaru on May 19, 2005, 09:43:46 AM
If you want, I could arrange the visas and hotel through the travel company of my friend. She had account in U.S.
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: ChristineM on May 21, 2005, 06:00:32 AM
I have been helping Bob arrange the visit to the Alexander Palace.  

Due to a sequence of unforeseen circumstances, the proposed date of September 2005 is not possible.  

Please regard the visit to the Alexander Palace as postponed rather than cancelled.   We will post on this thread just as soon as alternative plans can be made.

Thank you.

tsaria
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Alixz on August 19, 2005, 10:44:20 AM
Please count me in!

If I had time to plan for next year (2006) or the year after, I would make an concerted effort to go.

My dream?

St Petersburg
Tsarskoe Selo
Peterhof

As I mentioned in another thread, money would be a problem, but I did look into just this trip for my husband and myself earlier this year.  So many of the packages included "night club crawling" and visits to Catherdrals which did not interest my husband or me.
I was put off by sites that advertised meeting Russian women (but I guess that's something that just goes on).
When I do get to visit, I want to be able to walk slowly and emerse myself in the city and the atmosphere.  I want to try to "touch" that which is now gone and "picture" the past.
It always seemed to me that the past was lived in black and white, because color film had not yet been invented and we have nothing to show us the brightness that must have been.
To be able to see, in person, the colors of the palaces and the exhibits of clothing and houshold items would be a little piece of heaven.

Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Holly on August 21, 2005, 01:44:24 PM
This would be an amazing trip to take. To see all of the places that you have been seeing in pictures forever in real life! And being around people who share your interests. I would like to take this kind of trip, but unfortunatley, I am only fourteen and I doubt my parents would pay this much. All I can do is wait until I'm older and wish the others fortunate enough a good trip and bring back lots and lots of pictures! ;D
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: amelia on September 27, 2005, 04:14:07 PM
I am not sure if this is the right place for this information.

I just received two books that I ordered from Gilbertroyalbooks, and he informed me that he is planning a trip, next year in September, to St. Petersburgh, Moscow and Yekaterinburgh.

Amelia
Title: Re: Trip to Alexander Palace?
Post by: Eurohistory on October 07, 2005, 07:31:08 PM
Quote
We have talked about doing a trip to Tsarskoe Selo and REALLY seeing things - the problem is the price - how many people could afford it - Exeter International does these things but a trip is not cheap.  I'd really like to get people's comments on this - we can do a trip if there is enough interest.

Last year we thought about doing a trip to Livadia but it was expensive...

Bob


Eurohistory is taking another tour to St. Petersburg next September 2006 at the time of the reburial of the Dowager Empress.  We will count with the support while there of two well-known Russian royalty authors and experts and will focus on visiting as many Romanov-related sites as possible in the 9 days we will be in and around St. Petersburg, along with having daily lectures on topics pertaining to the imperial family.

Arturo Beeche