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May 11th!?

19 Feb 2008 Stoney asked

Stoney
Hello. I am going on this awesome-looking tour on May 11th. Anyone else?
  • 15 Mar 2008 Stoney said

    Stoney

    Hello, Jennifer. I’m flying with SAS from Stockholm Arlanda back to London. My travel agent (STA Travel) found a good deal for me. About $100 USD. Not too bad.

    Yup. Canada 4 USA 1. That’s about the ration last trip I took. Well, about 12-15 Canadians and 7 Americans. I don’t mind. More variety that way. Smiler<!--graemlin::)-->

    And there will be Aussies, don’t you worry. Those guys are crazy but awesome!

    As far as flight arrival details, I’m actually arriving into Riga by bus. I’m flying from Oslo to Vilnius on May 11th, then taking a bus in the morning to Riga. So, I have no clue when I will be in, but we should all plan on grabbing some dinner somewhere near the hotel that first night. Sound good?

    And I’m traveling all around too, but just in Europe. I have a rail pass and plan to enjoy it. I’ll tell you about all the places when we all meet up. Take too long here! Smiler<!--graemlin::)-->

  • 16 Mar 2008 Mel said

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    I everyone. I get in to Moscow at ~1:25 in the afternoon. Anyone else? For leaving Stockholm I have to catch a flight that leaves at 8AM.. that’s the sucky part, but I’m flying with Luftanza/Air Canada for the whole thing.

  • 18 Mar 2008 Stoney said

    Stoney

    Ouch 8AM is brutal. I’m happy to be flying out at 11 AM. Go me. Smiler<!--graemlin::)-->

  • 20 Mar 2008 Nick said

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    i fly out of london at 7am or so, but i get into Riga nice and early the day of the tour, around 11am, so i will explore a bit before we all meet up. i just saw a travel show about Riga last night on tv. apparently it has great architecture and a great nightlife, too bad our tour starts on a monday….
    for those of you that have not done Contikis before, we have a meet and great the first night around 6 or 7 to get to know the driver, tour manager, and tour mates, and we give the tour manager our insurance info, etc.
    then we eat at the hotel, and then the more ‘adventurous’ types go out for a drink or 5.
    usually the first night and the last night are the big party nights.
    since this tour technically has 2 start dates, we will probably have a second meet and great for the moscow starters, so some of us will be lucky enough to have 2 crazy nights at the beginning of the tour!

  • 22 Mar 2008 Mel said

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    I’m glad somebody’s mentioned how the first day works… thanks Nick. I haven’t done a tour before so I’m a bit nervous to travel so far all on my own.
    Are there any Canadians who have already gotten their Russian visa yet? If so, how did you go about it? Did you use a company like Visa Connections to get it or do it on your own? I’m in the midst of getting the Russian invitation from Contiki so haven’t gotten to the actual getting of the visa yet…

  • 23 Mar 2008 Stoney said

    Stoney

    Well, I’m not a Canadian, but I used ZVS. www.zvs.com If all else fails, give them a looksie. It worked just fine for me and I have my visa (and I was sweating it too). I’m leaving tomorrow for my Eurotrip, so I’ll see all of you guys in May in Riga or Moscow! Happy Trails!

  • 23 Mar 2008 Nick said

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    happy easter to all!!
    for the visa, you will get an invite from your travel agent and/or a contiki rep. you have to fill out the form with your personal details, and then email it back to yor agent or the contiki rep, and they email you another couple of forms that you have to mail to the Russian consulate in Toronto (for those of us who live in Ontario). you will also need a passport sized foto. i used Visa Connection before, but they are not needed in this case. i have not mailed away my visa app yet, but i will shortly. it takes 14 days to get your visa. read all the instructions, they are quite detailed.
    Stoney, be sure to write to us on the forum to tell us about your trip!!

  • 4 Apr 2008 Peita said

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    Hey all! I’m doing the May 12 ex Riga to Stockholm as well! I arrive in Riga at about 8pm on the 11th, after a lovely 40 hours in transit from Sydney, Australia! That aside, can’t wait! Bit worried about the weather, but other than that, very excited! I was actually scheduled for May 25th but the tour got cancelled – again (this is the 3rd time I’ve booked this trip, so finger’s crossed it’s lucky!). Look forward to meeting you all!

  • 4 Apr 2008 Dempsey said

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    Hi Peita, Im doing this trip also. I am coming all the way from Melbourne Australia, so I can sympathise Smiler<!--graemlin::)-->

    How did you go getting your visa from the Embassy in Sydney?

  • 5 Apr 2008 Peita said

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    Hi Explorer1092529! The first visa I got from the Embassy was fine. This is the third time I’ve booked the trip, the first two were cancelled, so I’m waiting on a new letter for a new visa! It’s really simple, just fill in the application form, it’s only one page, and mail it in with the bank cheque and wait… and wait… and wait. It’s 12 working days, they only work Mon-Thurs and even if they process your visa in two days (which they did mine) you have to wait the full 12 days to get it back!!! It sounds painful, but it’s not to bad – I’m just impatient!!! How are you getting to Riga? I’m flying Qantas to London, then have to fly Air Lingus (Irish National Airline) to Riga via Dublin.

  • 5 Apr 2008 Dempsey said

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    Hey Peita, I am paying $110 for a seven day processing for my visa, just because I have left it so late…typical of me.

    I am getting to Riga via London where I am staying for a few weeks beforehand, flying Ryanair. I am landing at around 10am in Riga, so I will just loiter around the city square for a few hours I guess…I really should plan this a bit better :P

  • 6 Apr 2008 Stoney said

    Stoney

    Hello everyone! I am in Europe right now, and it looks like we are getting more people for this trip! I am sooo excited! I am in Berlin currentlz, but am going to Prague tomorrow. It has been crazy but awesome at the same time. I cant wait to tell zou guys all about it, if you want to know that is.

    Have fun all!

  • 7 Apr 2008 Simon said

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    Hi everyone! I will be on the tour starting in Moscow and ending in Stockholm. I may stay one additional night in Stockholm and then going to Oslo. I live in Canada, Quebec City. My first Contiki trip but I’ve been in Europe few times. I’m glad to see there are people from all around the world and some from Canada on that tour!

    Mel, which airline are you flying with from Toronto and when do you arrive in Moscow? I will leave the 14th also. I don’t like the schedule from Montreal so it might be easier from Toronto and not a big deal for me to get there.
    Simon_pel@hotmail.com

  • 10 Apr 2008 Explorer1085525 said

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    Hey guys,

    Sounds like everybody is getting excited about the trip! Me too! But quick question, how easy is it getting the Russian Tourist Visa? I got my documents from Contiki yesterday and apparently one of the requirements if that you need a valid 10-year passport!?! Canadian passports are only valid for 5 years!! Just wondering if these requiremetns are strictly adhered to. I need to submit my application soon and don’t want to be rejected or have it delayed as the trip is coming up soon.

    Thanks,
    Jennifer

  • 10 Apr 2008 Nick said

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    stoney, can’t wait to hear about your other travels!
    Simon, bienvenue!
    Jennifer, most countries require that your passport must be valid for at least 6 months AFTER you are supposed to leave that country. russia should be no different. so as long as your passport is ok until december of this year, you should be cool. i don’t remember seeing anything written about a 10 year passport.
    as for the Visa requirement, regular speed processing takes 14 calendar days to get the Visa from the russian consulate after they receive it. i mailed my paperwork out using next day service with canada post for $9, and with the tracking # i confirmed they already got it. what i also did was pay for the same type of envelope for the consulate to return my documents and Visa and folded up that empty envelope and stuck it inside my outgoing envelope. the consulate will NOT pay for shipping!!

  • 10 Apr 2008 Marlo said

    Marlo

    Hello everyone! I’m Marlo (female) from Calgary Alberta (Canada) and am also doing this tour. I’m on Contiki’s Eastern Road tour first then am flying from Berlin to Riga to catch this one. I arrive in Riga on May 9…a few days early. I’ve heard it has quite the nightlife so I’ve booked a room at the Skybar until Contiki’s accomodations kick in. Is anyone else going to Riga early?

  • 11 Apr 2008 Explorer1085525 said

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    Thanks for the advice Nick.

    One last thing, how much money are you bringing with you? And what type of currency? Do you think it’s safe to bring British pounds and/or American dollars and exchange there? I guess we’ll also need Swedish and Finnish money too along the way.

  • 11 Apr 2008 Nick said

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    hey marlo! i heard calgary got some snow leat night…..
    i did eastern roads last year. you will love it!!!!
    jennifer, for money, i usually bring a little US Cash, some euros, and then just hit ATM machines along the way. the format of this tour will be similar to the eastern roads tour i did, so every time you cross a border, there is a currency exchange right there. the easiest currencies to change are euro, pound and US $.
    to all the Canucks out there, don’t bring canadian $, no one wants it! and i don’t recommend travellers cheques…..really old school, hard to cash. and travellers cheques in canadian funds…..GOOD LUCK with that!
    my bank charges $3 fee every time i pull cash in another country, but i prefer that than travelling with loads of quid. i just have to guard my ATM card with my life. your own cities should have exchange places, but on any “special or uncommon currencies”, you will get a terrible rate. they, or your local bank, will be more fair with euros, USD or pounds

  • 12 Apr 2008 Mel said

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    Jennifer, for money, my plan is that I’m taking some cash (about enough for a few days at a time) and then a visa card. In order to keep money safe from pick pocketers, one of my travel agents said that when she went on a contiki last year, she sewed a small pouch to the inside of her bra to keep most cash and then had what she needed for the day in her purse/money belt or where you want it for easy access.
    I’ve checked wiht Visa already too. They are accepted in Russia, Finland and Sweden. Although warned about the small towns that might not accept it as readily.
    Is anyone else doing anything like this?
    Oh and is anyone packing their bathing suit? Debating whether or not I should bring it…

  • 13 Apr 2008 Peita said

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    Hey! Considering the average temperature at that time of year is between 11 and 19 degrees celcius I’m skipping the bathing suit!!! In regards to currency, if you look up the hotels on the itinerary on the list some of them even have exchange terminals at them! Particularly the larger ones in Russia. BUT it looks like most of the restaurants and clubs/bars in Russia in particularly don’t accept credit card at all. I get hit with a $3 international transaction fee as well, but I think that’s the safer bet, as well as carrying some Euro’s or $USD for an emergency as Latvia, Russia and Estonia accept them for payment/currency but the exchange rate is aweful! I’ll probably start with some L’s and Roubles and then add to it in Russia and change it out when we cross to Finland. There are some really compact money belts that I’ve found on Ebay. Looks like you are wearing a normal belt with your jeans or pants so if anyone’s looking at that option, that’s what I’m going with.

    On a totally different note… I know the itinerary has an optional ballet in St. Pete’s, but is anyone on this tour an actual ballet fan? I’m planning on going to the Bolshoi in Moscow on the 16th for the Gala Ballet if anyone wants to join me!

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