Sunday, April 20, 2014

Helsinki to St. Petersburg Ferry

Getting a visa to visit Russia can be a pain in the arse, not to mention expensive.  However, certain ferries are able to offer visa-free entry to St. Petersburg.  From Helsinki, it's possible to visit St. Petersburg, without a visa for up to 72 hours.

Princess Maria at Helsinki West Port

The rules are pretty simple.  You have to leave in 72 hours and you can't leave St. Petersburg.  However, unlike cruise ship passengers on day trips, you are not required to have an official guide or anything.  The city is yours to explore.

Our cozy stateroom
We boarded the Princess Maria for a 6 pm departure.  After 14.5 hours we made it to Russia.

The cruise was pretty uneventful.  Well except for one little thing.  While we were waiting to board the ship, we were in queue with a bunch of Erasmus students.  I noticed that one of the girls had a Czech passport so I asked her where she was from.  Of course, she said Prague.  She couldn't understand how we live in Brno since we speak English.  I explained where we were from but that we now live in Brno.  "Brno must be like the end of the world for you" was the response we got.

For those who don't know, there is a serious rivalry in Czechland between Prague and Brno.  Praguers look down on Brno as being too country while Brno folk look at Praguers as snobs.

This little 20-something chica was shocked when I said that I much preferred Brno to Prauge.  The funny thing is that I'm sure she isn't even from Prague.  She's probably from some little village, over an hour from the capital, but just happens to study there.  I'm sure my friends at home will get a kick out of how I had to stick up for Brno.

Russian Entry-Exit Forms
Anyway...the rest of the trip was fine.  Everyone has to fill out an entry and exit form.  One half is given to the border guard when you enter Russia and you must keep the other half with you.  The second half is turned in when you depart.  Not having your exit form is a big No No.

Well, we're here.  Now it's time to get out explore St. Petersburg.

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