Are you one of those ardent travelers who have been intrigued with Russia long enough and can’t wait any longer to unravel its enigmatic charm? Well then we say it’s time to plan your trip to the land of ballet, circus, Vodka and more. Even more so because Indians are much loved in this amazing land of cultural and geographical diversities. In fact, the generation of the mid-forties and beyond recognize and admire the famous Raj Kapoor and can hum a couple of oldies. (Remember Mera Naam Joker and the Russian connection?) There are few things (tips, really) to keep in mind before embarking on this fascinating journey that will not only help you plan your trip efficiently but also add to the experience. Although a fairly straightforward process, procuring visa for Russia can take up to 20 days, so be sure to apply well in advance. One must have an ‘invitation’ to be eligible for applying for a Tourist Visa to Russia. This invitation is nothing but an original document as a proof of your accommodation booked at a hotel. Do keep in mind that a photocopied or email version of the same will be no good. You can obtain this invitation from your hotel by paying a small fee of about 20 to 30 Euros. Courier charges will have to be borne by you.
There is a rule in Russia where in all foreign nationals entering the country have to register at the foreign office. Most hotels, at the time of check in, will keep your passport overnight for verification purposes and will return it the next morning. The hotels will also handover a registration slip which should be retained for the entire journey till you exit the country.
Laying all cards on the table, Russia is an expensive destination including hotel accommodation. In Moscow, specifically, distances within the city are vast so it makes sense to stay at a hotel with a good location (within good proximity to major attractions, airport and other places of interest). It is better (and worth) spending money on a hotel located ideally than to travel long distances. Some of the hotels also serve an elaborate vegetarian buffet, specifically Indian vegetarian food. In addition to the hotels, vegetarian food is easily available elsewhere too. There are few Indian restaurants in Moscow and St. Petersburg where vegetarian food is readily available. Other restaurants serving European cuisine also have vegetarian options on their menus.