Baltic Experience Trip Notes

Travel to Baltic Europe and visit Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Germany on an adventure tour from Helsinki to Berlin via Tallinn, Vilnius and Warsaw.

    • 15
    • BMSE
    • Total price tool tip
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    • Explorer
    • Original
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There is a later version of this trip also available for travel from Jan 1, 2015 to Dec 31, 2015. View later Baltic Experience.
Print Version
Last Modified: 08 Oct 2014
Baltic Experience
Trip code: BMSE
Validity: 01 Jan 2014 to 31 Dec 2014
Experience the diverse delights of the Baltic states on this adventurous journey. Hidden treasures await as we traverse from the medieval spires of Tallinn, to the funky bars of Riga and on to the Baroque-styled quirks of Vilnius. Visit colourful markets and be immersed in art and architecture; trek through some of Lithuania's most beautiful landscapes. Discover the rich history and fascinating customs of this region as we explore from Helsinki to Berlin.
Table of Contents
StyleDeparture taxEmergency contact
ThemesGroup sizeEmergency funds
MapYour fellow travellersVisas
ItinerarySingle travellersIssues on your trip
Also available to purchaseAccommodationWhat to take
We also recommendMeals introductionHealth
Itinerary disclaimerMealsSafety
Culture shock rating TransportTravel insurance
Physical ratingGroup leaderResponsible Travel
Included activitiesJoining point descriptionA couple of rules
Optional activitiesJoining point instructionsThe Intrepid Foundation
Money ExchangeArrival complicationsCarbon offset
Spending moneyFinish point descriptionFeedback
TippingFinish point instructions
Style
Original
  • Original trips are classic Intrepid adventures. With a mix of included activities and free time, they offer plenty of opportunities to explore at your own pace and take part in activities that really get beneath the skin of a destination. While the occasional meal may be included, you'll have the freedom to seek out your own culinary adventures. Accommodation is generally budget or tourist class (2-3 star), but you're as likely to find yourself as a guest of a local family as staying in a hotel or camping. Transport will vary as well. Depending on the destination and the itinerary you could find yourself travelling on anything from a camel to a train or a private safari vehicle. It's all part of the adventure! Original travellers have a desire to make the most of their travel time and really get to know a place, its people and cultures.
Themes
Explorer
Map
Baltic Experience
Itinerary
Day 1 Helsinki
Welcome to Finland!
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1.
You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting; please check with the hotel reception where and when it will take place, or check the reception notice boards. If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive at the hotel by early evening, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
Surrounded by the sea, Helsinki is a modern European city that offers an endless array of options. Throughout its 450-year history, Helsinki has often been the buffer between the East and West. The hallmarks of history can be seen everywhere, from the magnificent Suomenlinna Sea Fortress to the cutting-edge architecture of the 21st century.
For those who arrive early, we recommend purchasing the Helsinki Card - an economical way to travel on Helsinki City Transport (HKL) services as well as free admission to the main Helsinki sights and nearly 50 museums (EUR36 for 24 hours, EUR46 for 48 hours).
As there are no included activities here, we recommend you arrive a few days early to enjoy the sights of the Finnish capital. Make time to see the highlights such as the Senate Square, the Russian Orthodox Church, Kaisaniemi Park, the National Theatre and Helsinki Railway Station. You can take a local ferry out to the islands and the imposing Suomenlinna Sea Fortress - a World Heritage-listed site.
Optional Activities
  • Helsinki Ateneum Art Museum - EUR8
  • Cathedral - Free
  • City Museum - Free
  • Design Museum - EUR8
  • Museum Mannerheim - EUR10
  • Helsinki Museum of Cultures - EUR5
  • Museum Seurasaari - EUR8
  • National Museum of Finland - EUR8
  • Suomenlinna Sea Fortress - EUR6
Accommodation
Hotel Arthur or similar (1 nt)
Days 2-3 Tallinn
Catch a ferry across the Gulf of Finland to the Estonian capital of Tallinn (approx 3 hrs).
With its steep red roofs, spires, pastel-coloured buildings and new restaurants and bars, Estonia's capital is a real treat to explore. Seeing the vibrant streets of Tallinn now, it's difficult to fathom that Soviet occupation only ended 19 years ago.
Start our time here with a short walk through the city centre to get oriented.
You have a free day here and and an exploration of the Old Town is a must. You'll see the last remaining gothic town hall in northern Europe, Old Thomas; the Räapteek which has housed a pharmacy since the 15th century; and St Olaf Church, a major landmark of Tallinn.
You can head towards Upper Tallinn, home to the noble families, to see the amazing views of Lower Tallinn and the medieval spires of the town walls. The 13th-century Toompea Castle, where the Estonian Parliament sits, and the 19th-century Alexander Nevsky Cathedral are some of the main attractions of Upper Tallinn. Alternatively, you could go to Pirita to chill out at Tallinn's most popular beach.
Included Activities
  • Orientation Walk
Optional Activities
  • Estonian History Museum - EUR3
  • Kadriorg Palace - EUR5
  • Old Town Audioguide - EUR13
  • Peter the Great Museum - EUR2
  • City Bike Tour - EUR16
  • City Museum - EUR4
  • Kiek in de Kok Tower (Tower Museum) - EUR4
  • TV Tower - EUR7
Accommodation
Hotel Braavo or similar (2 nts)
Days 4-5 Riga
Cross the border by local bus and travel to Riga (approx 5.5 hrs).
Latvia's capital rests on the Daugava River and is a living museum of architectural eras. Riga is particularly famous for its art nouveau heritage, with many fine examples dotted around town.
Take a walk around town to see some of the sights such as the Doma Cathedral, St Peter's Basilica, House of Blackheads, the Swedish Gate, Mentzendorff's House, Riga Castle, The Great Guild & Small Guild and the Cat House.
The Museum of Occupation gives a very thorough and fascinating insight into the hardships suffered by Latvians during its occupation by, first, the Germans and, later, the Soviets. It's highly recommended.
The Old Town in Riga is just as charming as the one in Tallinn, with St Peter's Church as its centrepiece. You can catch the elevator to the top for fine views of the Old Town and its surroundings.
Visit the Latvian Open Air Ethnographical Museum.
You might want to head to Riga's colourful Central Market, which dates back to 1201, to pick up supplies for a picnic.
Included Activities
  • Riga Orientation Walk
Optional Activities
  • Latvian Photography Museum - LVL2
  • Mentzendorff's House - LVL1
  • History Museum - LVL3
  • Riga Museum of Pharmacy - LVL3
  • National Art Museum - LVL2
  • Riverboat Cruise - LVL5
  • St Peter's Tower - LVL4
  • The Museum of Occupation of Latvia - Free
Accommodation
Hotel Tia or similar (2 nts)
Days 6-7 Curonian Spit
Set off by bus to the former Prussian capital of Klaipeda.
Formerly known as Memel, Klaipeda used to be a member of the Hanseatic League and is the gateway to the Curonian Spit - a long, narrow sand dune peninsula separating the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea.
Take a trip to explore the unique World Heritage-listed Curonian Spit National Park - a real Baltic beach experience.
For the more energetic there's the option to ride a bike along the shores.
Included Activities
  • Day trip on the Curonian Spit
Optional Activities
  • Bike Hire - LTL30
Accommodation
Litinterp Klaipeda Guesthouse or similar (2 nts)
Days 8-9 Vilnius
Continue by bus or train to Vilnius (approx 4 hrs).
Lithuania's capital has at different times been occupied by Sweden, Poland, France and Russia, each leaving its mark in some way on this lovely city. Vilnius offers a different picture of the Baltics than Riga and Tallinn, but it's every bit as interesting. Its lovely parks and gardens offer a break from historic monuments.
Your leader will show you the highlights of the city on a walk that covers Cathedral Square and the famous chapel of Saint Kazimieras, Gediminas Tower and the Gates of Dawn, one of the original gates giving access to the city.
Take a trip to Trakai (approx 40 mins by bus), the former capital of Lithuania. It's situated on lakes with two castles dating from the 14th century, which were built to defend the capital from German knights. Trakai has a small population of Karaim people who were brought here in the 14th century and who still hold their traditional Jewish services in the Kinessa, built in 1812.
Included Activities
  • Orientation Walk
Optional Activities
  • Higher Castle Museum - LTL5
  • KGB Museum - LTL6
  • KGB Museum Tour - LTL40
  • National Museum - LTL5
  • Trakai day trip - LTL16
Accommodation
Litinterp Vilnius Guesthouse TWN BB- no longer in use (LTL) (2 nts)
Days 10-11 Aukstaitija National Park
Travel by local train to Aukstaitija ('Owk-sty-chee-ah') National Park (approx 2 hrs).
This is a land of lakes, waterways, hills and woods. One of the most delightful national parks in the Baltic States, Aukstaitija has 126 lakes.
Transfer to the charming village of Ginuciai.
Take a canoe ride (weather permitting) through the lakes to a viewpoint with a wishing tree. Then transfer back to our accommodation - the whole journey takes about 3 hours.
You'll have a free day to visit some of the local attractions such as nearby villages that date from the 14th century, traditional wooden houses and farmsteads. The 19th-century Ginuciai Watermill operated till 1968 and is another point of interest. Or you can hike to some glorious lookouts, do some fishing, enjoy a sauna, swim in the lake or just relax.
Included Activities
  • Guided canoe trip
Optional Activities
  • Sauna - LTL10
Accommodation
Aukstaitija Guesthouse or similar (2 nts)
Days 12-13 Warsaw
Make the long journey by train to Warsaw (approx 12 hrs, unfortunately there's no faster way)
Warsaw is Poland's large, bustling capital. It's remarkable to see the achievements of the Polish people who rebuilt their city from mere rubble at the end of World War II. The city folk are lovers of culture and art, as well as entertainment. There are numerous theatrical and musical venues including the prestigious National Opera, the Chamber Opera and the National Theatre.
Visit the Uprising Museum. Opened on the 60th anniversary of the Uprising, this museum recounts the events which saw the people of Warsaw fighting against the Nazi occupation. The museum is a moving tribute to those who fought and died for independence.
Included Activities
  • Uprising Museum
Optional Activities
  • Palace of Science and Culture Observation Deck - PLN20
  • Pawiak Prison Memorial - Free
  • Warsaw Ethnographic Museum - PLN8
  • Jewish Cemetery - PLN4
  • Warsaw Katyn Museum - Free
  • Marie Curie Museum - PLN11
  • National Museum - PLN15
  • Warsaw Natural History Museum - Free
  • Royal Castle - PLN22
Accommodation
Hit Hotel or similar (2 nts)
Days 14-15 Berlin
Travel by train to Berlin, the heart of modern Germany (approx 6 hrs).
Berlin is a vivacious city where fast-paced modern development is overlaid on a history familiar to everyone. Surviving pre-World War I attractions include the Schloss Charlottenburg, the Prussian Queen's Summer Palace, and the Prussian Victory Column. The Tiergarten, Berlin's largest green space with 23 kilometres of pathways, is also home to the world famous Berlin Zoo.
There are countless unique memorials and sites holding significance in Berlin's more recent history, all designed to provoke thought as well as commemorate, such as the Jewish Memorial, the empty shelves of Bebelplatz or the confronting Topography of Terror. The Reichstag holds a special and symbolic meaning, outside its role once again as the home of Parliament, and the great glass dome that today crowns the building offers sweeping views over Berlin. At the very heart of Berlin stands the Brandenburg Gate, once a symbol of a divided city, and the crumbling remnants of the Berlin Wall that can still be seen.
Don't miss out on Berlin's up-beat nightlife. Consider spending an evening celebrating life as the locals do - at a bar, lounge, nightclub or embracing some live music.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
Optional Activities
  • Museum pass, 3 day ticket - EUR19
  • Bike tour - EUR20
  • Jewish Museum - EUR5
  • National History Museum - EUR6
  • Pergamon Museum - EUR13
  • River sightseeing tour - EUR16
  • Walking tour - EUR30
  • Berlin Zoo and Aquarium - EUR20
  • Berliner Dom - EUR7
  • Berlin TV Tower - EUR12
  • Checkpoint Charlie Museum - EUR12
  • German History Museum - EUR8
  • Kulturforum Potsdamer Platz - EUR8
  • Reichstag - Free
  • Schloss Charlottenburg - EUR15
Accommodation
Hotel & Hostel Friedrichshain or similar (1 nt)
Also available to purchase
For many of our trips we have other services or experiences that are also available to purchase to extend your trip or to make your holiday a little easier. Below is a list of other travel products you can purchase in conjunction with this trip.
  • Baltic Experience (BMSE) - Single Supplement (BMSE)
  • Baltic Experience - Single Supplement (BMSE)
We also recommend
If this trip is not quite right for you, cast your eye over these alternatives:
  • Oslo to Berlin (BMSCC)
  • Scandinavia Explorer (BMSH)
Itinerary disclaimer
Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
Culture shock rating

At times local life here will be familiar to that of back home, and at times very different. Services are available most of the time, English may not be the native language, and there may be some cultural differences.
Physical rating

Some easy physical activities included in your trip. No physical preparation is required to make the most of the journey.
Included activities
Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
Optional activities
A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination.
Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
Money Exchange
The Euro (EUR) is the official currency in the following destinations: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain. All other European countries still have their own national currencies.
The most convenient and cheapest way to acquire money is via an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) or Bancomat as they are often referred to. Check with your bank in advance concerning the suitability of your account / card overseas and any international fees that will be applied.
You can obtain local currencies easily at airports and major train stations, but be sure to bring some extra emergency cash in a major currency that can be exchanged if the ATMs are not functioning.
When leaving home don't forget your PIN and make sure you know the telephone number for cancelling your card if it is stolen. Keep this in a safe place.
Credit cards are not always accepted in stores and restaurants. While travelling we recommend you carry some cash to pay for restaurant bills and other services. Change can be difficult to obtain so throughout the day, try to gain as many small denominations as you can.
You might be advised to take some of your money as travellers' cheques from a major financial institute. Travellers' cheques have security advantages, however please be aware that the exchange rates may not be favourable and that it is difficult to change Travellers' cheques in most countries. Be particularly aware that after hours money exchanges and hotel receptions carry high commissions- sometimes up to 20%.
For money safety we recommend that you carry your cash and credit cards in a secure money belt or pouch concealed under your clothes.
The local currency in Latvia is the LAT (LVL).
The local currency in Lithuania is the Lithuanian Litas, plural Litai (LTL).
The local currency in Poland is the Polish Zloty (PLN).
Spending money
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
Tipping
If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations.
The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - round your bill up to the nearest €1. More up-market restaurants we suggest 10% to 15% of your bill.
Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour leader. We suggest €2-€3 per day for local guides.
Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group, however we suggest €1-€2 per day for drivers.
Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline €2-€4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
In total, we recommend you budget approx €5-€10 per day of your trip to cover tipping.
Over the years we have found that many of our travellers find the need for tipping to be both tiresome and embarrassing, especially if they don't have the correct small change. To overcome this, we have established a tipping kitty system. At your group meeting, your tour leader may discuss the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your tour leader pays the tips while keeping a running record of all monies spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members.
Departure tax
All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
Group size
Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit: www.intrepidtravel.com/meetup
Single travellers
Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
A single supplement is available on this trip, please ask your booking agent for more information.
Accommodation
Hotel Braavo or similar (2 nts), Litinterp Klaipeda Guesthouse or similar (2 nts), Litinterp Vilnius Guesthouse TWN BB- no longer in use (LTL) (2 nts), Aukstaitija Guesthouse or similar (2 nts), Hotel Tia or similar (2 nts), Hit Hotel or similar (2 nts), Hotel & Hostel Friedrichshain or similar (1 nt), Hotel Arthur or similar (1 nt)
The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.
If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
Your accommodation may not always have private en suite facilities or air-conditioning. European hotels generally don't provide kettles or fridges.
Meals introduction
While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
Meals
7 Breakfasts, 1 Lunch, 2 Dinners
Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
EUR 400.00
Vegetarians might find the menu selection less varied than they would see at home. Vegetarianism is not as common in this region and generally the choices are basic, involving vegetables and fried cheese. Vegans will find it even more challenging. Vegetarians might choose to supplement meals with supplies bought from home, e.g. protein bars, dried fruits and so on.
There are some basic breakfasts included on this trip which may simply include bread/toast or pastries, butter, jam, coffee/tea/juice (or similar.)
Transport
Bus, Train, Ferry, Minibus, Metro, Tram, Canoe
TRANSPORT IN EUROPE:
Half the fun of travel is the travelling itself, that's why we like to travel the local way – whether that means mingling with commuters on a train in Spain, cycling past a historic chateau in France, or encountering the world's most extravagant public transport system on the Moscow Metro. In Europe, you are guaranteed to travel by genuine local public transport wherever possible, which puts you right in the centre of the action.
Group leader
All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.
Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
Joining point description
Hotel Arthur is located close to the railway station in the heart of Helsinki. The main sights, shopping district and theatres are just walking distance away. The recently refurbished rooms are cosy and brightly coloured. All rooms have private shower/toilet, telephone, colour tv, and hair dryer - some also have a minibar.
Please note that we have been informed by our hotel that they do not have long-term luggage storage facilities. If you arrive early on day 1 of your trip, the hotel will store luggage until check-in time.
Also, if you choose to arrange additional accommodation at this location you may be required to change rooms for the nights which are not included as part of your Intrepid itinerary.
Tel: +358 (0)9 173 441
Internet: www.hotelarthur.fi
Joining point instructions
Hotel Arthur is located 2 blocks east of the railway station in the centre of Helsinki, right next to the Kaisaniemi Park.
If you have booked a private arrival transfer through Intrepid (where available) then the driver should be holding a sign with your name in the arrivals hall. Should you be unable to find your driver, please call the following number: +358 92 51 533 61.
If you are coming from the Vantaa Airport, take public bus No. 615 to 'railway square' (Rautatientori) and walk to our hotel. The bus journey takes 35 minutes and departs every 20 minutes on weekdays, every 30 minutes on weekends.
From the station, take Vilhonkatu Street which leads off the top left corner of the square with the railway station behind you. You will come to a metro station at the corner of Vilhonkatu and Kaisaniemenkatu, turn left again and head towards the Kaisaniemi Park, our hotel is located on the next corner. From the train station to the hotel it is approximately a 5 minute walk.
Alternatively, you can take a taxi direct to the hotel - the cost is approximately EUR30, or EUR20 per person if more then one person.
Pre booked arrival transfer from the airport:
If you have pre booked an arrival transfer, the driver will be waiting for you in the arrivals hall, holding a board with your name on.
Travelling from St Petersburg or Moscow:
Fares: Moscow to Helsinki costs about EUR100 one-way per person in 2nd class (4-berth sleepers) or EUR140 in 1st class (2-berth sleepers). If you're over 60, the fare is EUR80 in 4-berth, EUR115 in 2-berth.
St Petersburg to Helsinki costs EUR60 one-way in 2nd class, EUR90 in 1st class. If you're over 60, the fare is 50 euros 2nd class, EUR80 1st class.
How to book: If you are on an Intrepid trip in Russia, your leader can organise tickets through our agent in Moscow and St Petersburg and you can pay directly to our agent. Or you can buy tickets online: http://www.waytorussia.net/Services/TrainTickets.html or at the train station.
There are daily and overnight trains.
Alternatively you can catch the bus. Daily buses cost approx USD35-50 and take 7 hours. Savavto buses (Russian) ticket office & buses depart from St Petersburg, Pulkovskaya Hotel, Pobedy square (p loschad). Metro: Moskovskaya.
Please be aware that those prices are approx. numbers and can change without notice.
Arrival complications
EUROPE:
We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
If you have pre-booked an airport transfer (where available) please follow the instructions under the "Joining point instructions" in order to find our driver. Should you have any problems locating your driver, please call the number for our transfer company which can be found below. Should you continue to experience any difficulties, please call the emergency number for our local operations team which is available on the 'Emergency Contact' section of these trip notes.
No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.
Helsinki
If you have any issues locating your driver please contact +49 30 6610127 or hotel beds on +34 660 409 789
Finish point description
Hotel and Hostel Friedrichshain is situated around a peaceful courtyard, all rooms have private bathrooms & tv.
Finish point instructions
If you are making your own way to the airport the hotel will be able to help book you an airport shuttle or taxi. Please ask at reception.
Pre booked departure transfer to Berlin Tegel Airport and Berlin Schönefeld Airport:
If you have pre booked a departure transfer, you will be collected from your hotel 2.5 hours prior to your flight.
Please reconfirm your departure transfers with your tour leader.
In case of flight cancellations, changes or if you not find the driver please contact to the emergency phone numbers: +49 30 6610127 or Hotelbeds: +34 660409789.
Emergency contact
In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Intrepid's Europe Office can be reached on Tel: +49 (0) 8677 918 66 57. For further contact details please use the following page:
Emergency funds
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
Visas
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
EUROPEAN COUNTRIES ON THIS TRIP (EXCLUDING RUSSIA, UKRAINE, TURKEY):
Australia: No - Not required
Belgium: No - Not required
Canada: No - Not required
Germany: No - Not required
Ireland: No - Not required
Netherlands: No - Not required
New Zealand: No - Not required
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: No - Not required
UK: No - Not required
USA: No - Not required
Crossing borders:
With the so called "Schengen Agreement" there are no border controls any more. However in special situations passports may be checked. There are no passport stamps issued.
Issues on your trip
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
What to take
EUROPE:
On this trip, you must pack as lightly as possible because you will be expected to carry your own bag and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we strongly recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps to accommodate the cobbled streets, uneven surfaces, stairs and steps you are lightly to encounter while carrying your luggage. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
TRAVELLING ON LOCAL TRANSPORT:
It's important that your bags can be locked, as on local transport it may be necessary to store your luggage separately (and unattended) from the group. The smaller your bag the better for you and other passengers, for when it comes to travelling on local buses and trains it's often only the smaller bags that will fit into the storage areas. If your bag does not fit in these areas then often the only place to put it is on your bed or seat. To ensure maximum comfort, try to pack small and light.
Where Intrepid covers the cost of luggage storage for included day trips, we allow for one bag/backpack only, so it's advisable that you travel lightly and keep luggage to a limit of one item (plus your day pack). Extra luggage storage will be at your own expense.
CLOTHING & CLIMATE:
The climate in this region is extremely varied. From October until May you can expect temperatures close to and below zero, while from June until September temperatures can reach well above 30 C. For departures October to May you'll need to bring a warm windproof jacket, scarf, gloves, warm hat and waterproof footwear. On all other departures it can still get quite cool at night especially when in the countryside, so we recommend that you bring a warm jacket or fleece.
WATER BOTTLE:
Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day.
Cold tap water is generally safe and good to drink so you can avoid the purchase of bottled water by refilling from the tap. It may be better to boil water before use in some areas, please check with your group leader.
IMAGES FROM HOME:
During our trip there will be many opportunities for you to meet and talk with locals. One way to start any conversation is with pictures. We recommend that you bring some photos / postcards of your family, home, city or country where you live, animals peculiar to your country etc.
Health
All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
Safety
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
FIRE PRECAUTIONS:
Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:
Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
BIKE HELMETS:
Please note that helmets are not always provided for sightseeing on bicycles.
PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
BALCONIES:
Some hotel balconies don't meet UK standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm.
SEAT BELTS:
Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide seat belts.
Travel insurance
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
Responsible Travel
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
We recommend that you dress respectfully especially when in and around religious sites. This means clothing that covers your shoulders and knees for both men and women.
A couple of rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
The Intrepid Foundation
Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
Carbon offset
Carbon Offset C02-e 184.00 kgs per pax.
Feedback
After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.
Remember that once you’ve left your feedback you’ll automatically be entered into our monthly draw for a US$500 (or equivalent in your local currency) travel voucher.