After years of dreaming about Russia and falling in love with it (thanks to Hitman video game). Since, my college days I wanted to go to Russia, ride the Trans-Siberian all the way from Petersburg to Vladivostok.
It was November 2019, and I was thinking to take my first abroad trip and I thought why not Russia? I decided to go in Feb, 2020, I just wanted to go to Russia in Winters. I know some attractions are to be seen in Summers but it was worth it. And things were set in motion. I knew I will go solo and plan all by myself (I just don’t like packages).
2. Saint Petersburg
The two most well-known cities of Russia.
I planned to spend 3 nights in each city and take train from Moscow to Petersburg for one night.
Feb 15 – Feb 18: Moscow
Feb 18: Night train from Moscow to Petersburg
Feb 19 - Feb 22: Petersburg
I tried to buy train ticket online from https://pass.rzd.ru/ but payment didn’t go through. You can easily buy ticket at Kurskiy station in Moscow.
Before going, download offline google maps for Moscow and Petersburg, metro map for both the cities and google translate (very few, and I mean it, people speak English there).
First hurdle was getting Visa. Russian Tourist Visa is not hard to get but you need an invitation letter from your hotel, travel agency or individual inviting you to visit them.
I had booked my hostel already from booking.com. But they didn’t provide the invitation letter.
I got my invitation letter from https://russia.support/. I had to send my hotel confirmations to them. It was fast and easy, and they sent the letter on by email under 2 hours. The cost was Rs 1768
After getting the invitation letter, head to https://visa.kdmid.ru/ and fill the form for visa appointment.
Either you can go to Russian consulate or Russian Visa Center (they charge a bit extra but offer extra services also like courier delivery of passport). As I live in Bangalore and had to go to Chennai for visa processing, I chose Russian Visa Center, for the courier delivery as it was not possible for me to go again to get the passport.
1. Rs 2130 was visa fee.
2. Rs 1830 was charged as center fee (If you choose Consulate option, you can save this amount)
3. Rs 500: Courier fee
I got my visa in a week.
Then started the process of searching flights and finding the best one.
I was already flying to Delhi (my hometown) so booked from Delhi.
I found Delhi to Moscow flight via Almaty which was in my budget.
Note: Kazakhstan transit visa is not required. There is only one terminal at Almaty, and you can just go to transit lounge and wait there for your connecting flight.
My return was from Saint Petersburg to Delhi via Almaty.
1. Delhi to Moscow: Rs 16463
2. Saint Petersburg to Delhi: Rs 16510