Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Driving by private car from St. Petersburg to Tallinn, Estonia

Driving by private car from St. Petersburg to Tallinn, Estonia
Driving by private car from St. Petersburg to Tallinn, Estonia

This post is about driving by car from St. Petersburg to Tallinn, Estonia.

So yesterday, I decided not to join some friends on their marathon trip to Tallinn from St. Petersburg via a combination of trains, ferries and lots of waiting in Helsinki.

Driving by private car from St. Petersburg to Tallinn, Estonia is basically a whole day affair because they reached Estonia near midnight. This is a normal route, by the way, to get to Estonia from St. Petersburg, but I am really more of a door-to-door traveler and I avoid trains as much as possible as I always travel with 30 kgs of luggage and I so dislike inconveniences.

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TAKING THE TRAIN TO ST. PETERSBURG
FROM MOSCOW


The only exception was the other day when I took the Sapsan high speed train from Moscow to St. Petersburg. This is the better option than flying so I had to do it. However, I arranged to do it the Travelife way with my hotel, the Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow

They booked a limousine to take me to the station in leisurely fashion, and then arranged for the driver to park the car and take my bags straight to my train carriage.  This is the kind of service that keeps me staying in the best hotels in any city.

As the driver was in a fancy suit, they let him through at Moscow station with my luggage with no problems.

HOW TO GET TO ESTONIA 
FROM ST. PETERSBURG



Anyway, back to driving by private car from St. Petersburg to Tallinn, Estonia.

Just to compare prices, as this transfer was not cheap, I decided to ask several local travel agencies in St. Petersburg how much a similar transfer would cost. Most of them had never heard of a tourist hiring a private car to go to Tallinn.

They thought I was crazy, and yet here I am in Estonia, living a #Travelife, after a pretty nice afternoon of driving.

Several of them said: "Why don't you take the train? Or the bus? Or the ferry?"

But I was persistent in my search for a limo and a driver willing to take me to Estonia as I was not dragging heavy suitcases anywhere. Fortunately I found one.

The trip takes five hours if you're lucky, and more if the border guards are slow, as you must pass two border controls after all -- Russia and Estonia.

LUCKY WITH EVERYTHING.
INCLUDING LIMOUSINES AND DRIVERS.



Fortunately, I found a wonderful driver with a pretty swish Audi who was willing to do the heavy paperwork required to go across the borders as Estonia is part of Schengen and Russia is, well, Russia.

This was an 800 kilometer roundtrip drive for him, from St. Petersburg to Estonia and back, and he needed the right papers for the car and for himself to enter Estonia. And I'm forever grateful to him for taking on this tough job and doing it so professionally.

It wasn't a cheap service, but convenience and comfort never are, when you are traveling. For great transfers practically anywhere in the world, please book with Blacklane. They've never let me down yet.

SIDE TRIP TO ST. PETERSBURG AIRPORT

At the Hotel Astoria in St. Petersburg, living a #Travelife...

To complicate matters, a friend from Moscow who had come all the way from Moscow on a very nice spur-of-the-moment decision to show me the sights of Petersburg had been trying all morning to check in for his flight that same afternoon.

He was planning to return to Moscow, you see, as soon as I drove out of St. Petersburg.

This being Russia -- the check-in website wasn't working and he was dangerously late for his flight check-in. A quick check of Google maps showed traffic around where we were as well. I was quite sure by then that he would miss his flight to Moscow and I certainly felt guilty about this, especially as he'd traveled a very long distance just to see me in Petersburg.

LUCK IS ALWAYS ON MY SIDE

This is the Russian border.
You exit here and drive a few minutes to the Estonian border.

But I'm always unbelievably lucky in my Travelife. No kidding.

Just exactly then, when we were looking at Google Maps giving us crazy times like 90 minutes to the airport by car, my driver for Estonia texted saying he was at the hotel an hour early. Oh my goodness.

I sweet-talked the nice driver into dropping my friend off at St. Petersburg airport before heading to Estonia, even if it wasn't exactly on the way.

LUCK WAS ON OUR SIDE.
AS ALWAYS.

Thankfully, the driver was a very kind man and he was also an expert driver. He literally zoomed through the backstreets of St. Petersburg so that we saw no traffic whatsoever, and we made it to the airport in good time.

The driver and I actually had lots of interesting conversations on that long trip yesterday, as well. After we'd left the airport, he'd also told me: "The trip to Tallinn can take seven hours if the border processings are slow. Get ready."

Seven hours by the way is about the same time as the train, but then you have to get to the train station as well, so the actual trip from Petersburg to Estonia is more like ten hours. 

NO TRAFFIC ON THE BORDERS



As luck would have it, no traffic in the borders although the guards on both sides were quite surprised to see an Asian girl with five passports stuck together being driven across to Estonia in a limousine with computers and a host of communication gadgets in the passenger back of the car.

Lots of questions, but friendly ones, mostly out of curiosity. And it was quite an experience going through the borders, especially as there are so few  real borders left on land, so I was really happy I did this.

STOPPING AT THE DUTY FREE

We even had time to stop at the duty free which reportedly sells the cheapest Russian and Estonian liquor in this part of the world. I bought a bottle of Estonian liquor to get rid of my last roubles but lacked the last seven rubles to pay for it.

Just as I was reaching for my credit card to pay for the seven roubles, my driver actually paid for it instead. #lucky 

A BEAUTIFUL DRIVE 
IN THE FALL TO TALLINN



The drive from Petersburg Airport to Tallinn was beautiful, full of vast forests in fall colors. It was amazing, and my driver even had a playlist of nice songs to enjoy the drive with.

And sooner than expected, we were in Tallinn, pulling up to one of the Tallin's best hotels, where the bellhops took over handling my 30 kg luggage and all my other bags.



I checked in, got changed for dinner, and made well in time to a dinner with friends at one of Tallinn's fanciest restaurants, with a trio playing mostly Tchaikovsky in the background. It was a beautiful mix of good food and wonderful music.

CAVIAR AND BORSCHT IN TALLINN



I had more caviar and Russian borscht last night as I was still in a Russian state of mind.

I left my heart in Russia for now, but I'm also excited to explore more of Tallinn, a city I visited a very long time ago but never forgot.



Then it's on to Istanbul to celebrate my birthday -- one of several birthday celebrations, as I'm celebrating in Istanbul, Manila, Singapore and Tokyo -- at one of the world's most beautiful hotels, with a couple of amazing dinners and a day out on a private yacht with champagne and all as we cruise the Bosphorus, as always living a #Travelife. ;)

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3 comments:

  1. It was pleasure to drive with you, Christine! Feel free to call me any time when you are in St. Petersburg!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for the great experience and for your amazing efforts! I will definitely recommend your expert service to friends traveling to St. Petersburg! Best regards always, Christine Cunanan

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  2. It was pleasure to drive with you Christine! Feel free to call me any time when you are in St.Petersburg!

    ReplyDelete