Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Travel&Dining > TravelBuzz
Reload this Page >

Why not drive in Eastern Europe, Russia, Baltics, etc...

Why not drive in Eastern Europe, Russia, Baltics, etc...

Old Jan 7, 09, 5:01 pm
  #16  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: ATL, BHM, DUB, County Wexford
Programs: DL DM, AA ExPlt, Diamond HH & HY
Posts: 3,110
I was wondering if there would be a ferry from Helsinki to Stockholm and that would save a lot of time and would possibily allow me to rent a car in Helsinki and return there.

As far as Oslo, the main attraction is to see some Viking history maybe find a viking museum with a viking boat in it. My three sons are avid historians as well as their parents.

Decided to land in Kiev instead of Moscow so that if their is a political climate change that affects travel or any visa issues we can just re-route clockwise to Helsinki instead of counterclockwise through Russia to Stockholm.
EasternTraveler is offline  
Old Jan 7, 09, 5:18 pm
  #17  
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: BWI
Posts: 29
Originally Posted by bcmatt View Post
... I've never known or met anybody visiting Russia or Ukraine who has hired a car in 15 years travelling there. Westerners do drive there, but only expats I've know living there (and then the minority of expats).
I rented a car in Ukraine in 2006. The experience wasn't anywhere near the western standards, and the Ukraine-built Tavria was almost dead, but it could be done. And, strangely enough, it was cheap too!
My rental car:

The rental company:
http://hozplast.stel.sebastopol.ua/prokat/english.htm
genka is offline  
Old Jan 7, 09, 8:01 pm
  #18  
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Portland
Programs: Onepass Platinum
Posts: 236
I can't speak for the other countries, but only for Russia. First, renting a car is a pretty much an unheard of novelty outside of Moscow and perhaps St. Petersburg. It's just not a business that is popular or profitable. Even though my girlfriend lives in a city of 1 million + plus people (OVB) and speaks fluent English, I had to get look up the word in a English-Russian dictionary for her to explain the whole concept of rental cars. She'd never heard of such a thing. Next, you have the roads, which are in pretty poor shape...everywhere. Following that is the aforementioned fact that everything is in Cyrillic. If you speak/read fluent Russian, this would be less of a problem for you. Then you have to deal with the other drivers. A good example of the average Russian driver is the man who took me to Tolmachevo on my last depature. 90+ mph in his Lada that was held together by duct tape, weaving in and out of cars in downtown Novosibirsk, dodging people at intersections trying to cross on foot. Finally, you have the cops. Many are on the take and will not hesitate to find any way possible to get money out of you.

Still not enough to dissuade you? Someone will surely rent you one if you look hard enough. Good luck!
Medic1 is offline  
Old Jan 7, 09, 8:01 pm
  #19  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Canada
Programs: UA*1K, BA Silver, Accor Plat, Marriott Gold, Carlson Gold, Hilton Gold
Posts: 20,902
Originally Posted by EasternTraveler View Post
I was wondering if there would be a ferry from Helsinki to Stockholm and that would save a lot of time and would possibily allow me to rent a car in Helsinki and return there.
I took that ferry in 2002, a wonderful ride, plenty of entertainment and a great buffet, the scandinavians reffered to it as the "love boat".
rankourabu is offline  
Old Jan 8, 09, 1:56 am
  #20  
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Finland
Programs: *S(SK EBS), Marriott Platinum Elite
Posts: 131
Hi,

there are a few alternatives when planning to take the ferry between Finland and Sweden.

You can take the ferry from either Turku or Helsinki to Stockholm. The same companies serves both these routes. The difference is that between HKI and STHML it takes 17 hours, and between TKU and STHLM it takes around 11 hours.

Check these links for more information:

http://www.vikingline.fi/index.asp?lang=en - VIKINGLINE

http://www.tallinksilja.com/en/ - SILJALINE

Siljaline is the more expensive of the two and has a bit nicer ferrys. Vikingline can offer you some very nice deals. Regardless of which company you choose, avoid travelling on friday, saturday and sunday evenings since the prices will be substantially higher then due to people taking cruises.

There is one boat departing per day from Helsinki in the afternoon.
There are two boats departing per day from Turku, one in the morning and one in the evening. Taking the day trip from Turku is very cheap.

As said above, you will not be bored on these boats as there is plenty of food/entertainment etc. But if you choose to go on a weekend, please note that there is A LOT of partying people!

Driving in Sweden, Finland, Denmark or Norway is a breeze. Nice roads, not too much traffic etc. Distances are not too long either. You can easilly drive from Stockholm to Oslo/Copenhagen in less then 8 hours.

Please note that when you drive to Copenhagen, if you have a car, you can either take the boat from Helsingborg(Sweden) to Helsingor(Denmark) OR you can use the bridge between Malmö (sweden) and Copenhagen. Of course you do not need a car to use these services. But to use the bridge, you will then need to take a train which will stop at Copenhagen airport.

I have done a LOT of travelling in this region since I live here, I have also used the ferries a LOT of times, so feel free to ask me questions if you want.

Also note that there are ferries from Estonia/Riga to Stockholm as well. And if you want to drive all the way to Poland, you can take a boat from there to Ystad/Trelleborg in Sweden. Or continue to Germany, or Denmark of course. It all depends on what you want to do. But as others said, I would try to then rent cars per country rather then do cross border rentals. It works OK in Scandinavia for sure, but will cost you quite a bit. If you decide to do so, aim for the larger cities.

As for Oslo, there is a Viking museum with a famous ship http://www.norway.com/directories/d_company.asp?id=671

Sorry for the long and unstructured post
Gunner is offline  
Old Jan 8, 09, 3:02 am
  #21  
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: eastern Europe
Posts: 2,933
Originally Posted by Palal View Post
What visa reqts?

Moldova & Belarus? Just go through Ukraine.

I wouldn't drive in big cities -- not worth the hassle, too much gridlock. If you don't have a good grasp of cyrillic alphabet, you won't be able to read road signs.
Moldova dropped its visa requirements. Belarus is still a pain in that department, however, even on a transit where you do not stop off in the country.
Carolinian is offline  
Old Jan 8, 09, 3:14 am
  #22  
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: eastern Europe
Posts: 2,933
Originally Posted by Swanhunter View Post
The traffic police alone would be the big disincentive for me to drive in Russia.

Baltics and Poland/Czeck/Slovakia/Slovenia/Croatia wouldn't worry me, Romania and Bulgaria more marginal.
I have rented cars in the Czech Republic with Czech plates and never had a problem with the traffic police, but the one time I crossed the border with a car with German plates, it was like a magnet for the traffic police and I was stopped repeatedly. I guess Driving While German is an offense there. The good thing is that once they saw my US passport, I did not get a ticket for anything and in some cases not even a reason why they had stopped me in the first place.

There was a report in the news in Romania recently of a trafic cop who had been arrested for shaking down motorists for cash. He had never held a job outside the police force, but had assets in cash and property of over a million and a half euros.

As to Bulgaria, when I have driven there, I found the condition of the roads a biggger problem than the traffic police, although the more major roads were in better condition.
Carolinian is offline  
Old Jan 8, 09, 3:18 am
  #23  
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: eastern Europe
Posts: 2,933
Originally Posted by EasternTraveler View Post
I was wondering if there would be a ferry from Helsinki to Stockholm and that would save a lot of time and would possibily allow me to rent a car in Helsinki and return there.

As far as Oslo, the main attraction is to see some Viking history maybe find a viking museum with a viking boat in it. My three sons are avid historians as well as their parents.

Decided to land in Kiev instead of Moscow so that if their is a political climate change that affects travel or any visa issues we can just re-route clockwise to Helsinki instead of counterclockwise through Russia to Stockholm.
For travel between Moscow and St. Petersburg, I would suggest an overnight rail trip on the Red Arrow, leaving Moscow in the late evening and arriving in St. Petersburg about breakfast time - very efficient. If you are traveling alone, I would buy both places in a 2-person first class compartment. The last time I took that trip, we had a party of 3, so we bought all 4 places in a 4-person 2nd class compartment so we would be together and without any one outside of our group in the compartment.
Carolinian is offline  
Old Jan 8, 09, 5:27 am
  #24  
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: BRU, SIN, PEK
Programs: SQ TPP, LH SEN
Posts: 3,165
Originally Posted by EasternTraveler View Post
I was wondering if there would be a ferry from Helsinki to Stockholm and that would save a lot of time and would possibily allow me to rent a car in Helsinki and return there.

As far as Oslo, the main attraction is to see some Viking history maybe find a viking museum with a viking boat in it. My three sons are avid historians as well as their parents.
I didn't spend enough time in Oslo to check out museums, but Stockholm has a great museum of a viking ship that sank within minutes of launch, and was only found, raised and restored in the 1960s. Look up the Vasa Museet - it's right by the water along with other museums, and a real gem.
fimo is offline  
Old Jan 8, 09, 5:38 am
  #25  
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 161
Driving in Kiev has the "advantage" of disturbingly corrupt police giving you a free pass to drive like a maniac for about twenty US dollars.

Knew a guy who was traveling in Kiev (Russian-born buddy, lives in US) get stopped for speeding or something. He's also been drinking.

He palmed a $20 to the cops and not only did they let him go, but they actually got on the radio and let the other cops in the area know that license plate number whatever was "good to go". He proceeded to just drive around like an absolute maniac for the rest of the night and was left alone.

Not telling this story to say I approve of this, just putting that out there.
thebkguy is offline  
Old Jan 8, 09, 5:46 am
  #26  
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 540
Originally Posted by Swanhunter View Post
Baltics and Poland/Czeck/Slovakia/Slovenia/Croatia wouldn't worry me, Romania and Bulgaria more marginal.
I haven't driven in Slovenia, Croatia or Bulgaria yet (will be doing Slovenia and Croatia soon), but Poland/Czech/Slovakia did not bother me either.

As for whether a car can be driven in other countries etc, when we rented a car in Prague and went driving to various countries, I recall that the rental vehicle had some restrictions on which countries it could be taken into.

Romania - I wouldn't want to drive in Bucharest, because of other drivers. I've had far too many near-collisions (albeit minor) in taxis. Road conditions are poor too.
AusEuroFlyer is offline  
Old Jan 8, 09, 10:16 am
  #27  
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: somewhere between Europe and Africa, from SFO
Programs: A3*G, EY Silver
Posts: 7,745
Wirelessly posted (Opera/9.51 Beta (Microsoft Windows; PPC; Opera Mobi/1718; U; en))

Originally Posted by Medic1
I can't speak for the other countries, but only for Russia. First, renting a car is a pretty much an unheard of novelty outside of Moscow and perhaps St. Petersburg. It's just not a business that is popular or profitable. Even though my girlfriend lives in a city of 1 million + plus people (OVB) and speaks fluent English, I had to get look up the word in a English-Russian dictionary for her to explain the whole concept of rental cars. She'd never heard of such a thing. Next, you have the roads, which are in pretty poor shape...everywhere. Following that is the aforementioned fact that everything is in Cyrillic. If you speak/read fluent Russian, this would be less of a problem for you. Then you have to deal with the other drivers. A good example of the average Russian driver is the man who took me to Tolmachevo on my last depature. 90+ mph in his Lada that was held together by duct tape, weaving in and out of cars in downtown Novosibirsk, dodging people at intersections trying to cross on foot. Finally, you have the cops. Many are on the take and will not hesitate to find any way possible to get money out of you.

Still not enough to dissuade you? Someone will surely rent you one if you look hard enough. Good luck!
Your GF doesnt know rental cars?

Has she seen "impossible adventures of italians in russia?" its a classic from the 70s that she must've seen. Even in the Soviet era during Khruschev there was such a concept for a few years. It ended because people rented cars and swiped good parts for bad parts due to part shortages
Palal is offline  
Old Jan 8, 09, 10:21 am
  #28  
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: somewhere between Europe and Africa, from SFO
Programs: A3*G, EY Silver
Posts: 7,745
Wirelessly posted (Opera/9.51 Beta (Microsoft Windows; PPC; Opera Mobi/1718; U; en))

Originally Posted by Carolinian
Originally Posted by Palal View Post
What visa reqts?

Moldova & Belarus? Just go through Ukraine.

I wouldn't drive in big cities -- not worth the hassle, too much gridlock. If you don't have a good grasp of cyrillic alphabet, you won't be able to read road signs.
Moldova dropped its visa requirements. Belarus is still a pain in that department, however, even on a transit where you do not stop off in the country.
Yea... i checked travel.state.gov and it appears to be the case. Good info to know.
Palal is offline  
Old Jan 8, 09, 2:32 pm
  #29  
hco
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: BKK
Programs: OZ *G
Posts: 457
Originally Posted by fimo View Post
I didn't spend enough time in Oslo to check out museums, but Stockholm has a great museum of a viking ship that sank within minutes of launch, and was only found, raised and restored in the 1960s. Look up the Vasa Museet - it's right by the water along with other museums, and a real gem.
Sorry dude, but that's not a viking ship! It sank in the year of 1628. The period of the Vikings were around 790-1100. But it's kind of cool and still worth the visit! Info in english: http://www.vasamuseet.se/InEnglish/about.aspx
hco is offline  
Old Jan 8, 09, 2:53 pm
  #30  
hco
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: BKK
Programs: OZ *G
Posts: 457
Originally Posted by EasternTraveler View Post
Tallinn-Riga / train or car
Riga-Vilnius / train or car
Vilnius-Tallinn / train or car
Helsinki-Stockholm / car or airline
Stockholm-Oslo / car
Oslo-Copenhagen / car
All of it sounds like a great trip!

As opushomes says, there's no train connection Tallin-Riga. The only train between Baltic capitals (at least in 2006/2007) is the Vilnius-Riga line (three times a week). But there are great bus connections between all three Baltic capitals, I visited them all in one week in the spring of 2007.

Riga, being the biggest one, has a more cosmopolitan feeling, but I liked Vilnius the best. Very relaxed atmosphere - and no ferry tourists (for obvious reasons)! Didn't spend very much time in Tallin, since my travel partners had already been there. We took the ferry from Tallin to Stockholm. It's good.

For travelling between Helsinki and Stockholm, I agree with Gunner - you should really consider the ferry! He's already given you the URL:s you need. Go on a weekday for cheap fares, or on the weekend to meet the party crowd and get to know Scandinavian drinking culture! Just as (or more interesting) then the Vasa ship.

For Stockholm-Oslo, Oslo-Copenhagen (or Stockholm-Copenhagen), check out the train as well (www.sj.se). Depends on if you just want to get there, and see country pass you by outside, or if you want to make a lot of stops for smaller cities (in which, of course, you'll take the car!).

PM me if you need any further help or special tips for Sweden.
hco is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: