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Russian Far East[edit]

I'm planning to visit Russian Far East. The consulate is asking that for tourist visa, I will have to arrange tourist voucher and tourist confirmation (in Russian language) of acceptance from a Russian travel agency, registered with the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I wonder who can arrange all that. I hold Pakistani passport and UAE residence permit. Asked by: Saqib (talk) 18:30, 5 February 2015 (UTC)

Saqib, usually everything is managed by a local (local for you) travel agency against the payment of a fee. If you want save money, take into account to spend time. In the past I've done it for India and it was quite painful... PS I'll be soon in Russia for the 3rd time, but on the other side, otherwise we could have met ;-) --Andyrom75 (talk) 20:06, 7 February 2015 (UTC)
Andy: Today I contacted a local travel agency and they said they'll charge some US$ 500 for tourist visa/ per applicant. 500$ include visa fee (150$) for urgent process but excluding accommodation charges etc. I never used services of a travel agency before when it comes to getting visas but I think this time there's no other option. And this tourist voucher thing is really weird. Anyways, I've yet to make final plan whether I should apply for visa or not but curious to know when you have plans to be in Russia and for how muny days? --Saqib (talk) 20:28, 7 February 2015 (UTC)
Take into account that the urgent process is not mandatory, but more expensive. Come to IRC. --Andyrom75 (talk) 22:11, 7 February 2015 (UTC)
I guess there are people more knowledgeable than me but in Europe it costs about Eur 100 (plus visa itself). There are many online agencies doing it, last time (10 years ago) I just searched online.--Ymblanter (talk) 19:03, 26 February 2015 (UTC)

Rio de Janeiro Carnaval[edit]

Having seen the Helsinki Samba Carnaval many times, I've started wondering whether I should actually go and see the original Rio de Janeiro Carnaval some day. This is still mostly hypothetical at the moment, because the flights between Helsinki and Rio de Janeiro alone are near the top of my budget. But assuming I ever go there:

  • Is photography allowed at the carnaval?
  • Where exactly does it take place? On the streets like the Helsinki carnaval or in a designated area?
  • Do I have to pay for it?
  • I am assuming the carnaval takes place during the night, unlike the Helsinki carnaval which takes place during the day. Are there daytime events too?

And generally, is Rio de Janeiro a safe place to visit during the carnaval time in the first place?

Asked by: JIP (talk) 20:16, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

I've never been to Rio, so I can't answer most of your questions, but Commons has a category for "Carnival of Rio de Janeiro", so it's certainly clear that photos can be taken. Ikan Kekek (talk) 20:21, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
Yes, photography is definitely allowed at all the outdoor events.
The main parades are actually a competition between the various samba schools, held at the "Sambadrome" (Sambadrome Marquês de Sapucaí). The parades begin the Saturday leading into Carnaval week and run nightly from 8PM until dawn, with winners announced on Ash Wednesday, and a parade with the 5 winners the following Saturday. Tickets start at R$10 and run all the way up to R$500 for the box or covered VIP seats. It is also possible to buy a costume yourself and join a parade as a dancer.
In addition to the official parades, there are scores of free block parties throughout the city and suburbs, where loads of people grab improvised percussion instruments and join sound trucks or drum groups in circling through the neighborhood. There are often some free concerts by famous musicians on the beach at Copacabana as well.
Off the streets, there are also the Carnival Balls, indoor dance parties with live music, often from samba school or renowned frevo artists, with extravagant lighting and costumes. The most famous balls include the Rio Scala Gay Costume Ball and the Magic Ball at the Copacabana Palace. I'm not 100% sure of the ticket prices these days, but I imagine they average around R$30 or so.
Hope this helps! Texugo (talk) 21:19, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
Thank you. After reading this and the article Rio de Janeiro I don't think I'll be going there anytime soon, although a samba carnaval held for several weeks intrigues me. The ticket prices are no problem. R$10 is petty cash and even R$500 isn't impossible. The fact that the main parades are at nighttime is a problem. My main interest in seeing the carnaval in the first place is to photograph it, and photography is much more difficult at night when there is no natural lighting. Your reply didn't exactly specify whether there are daytime events with samba dancers too. But my main concern is safety. After reading the "Stay safe" section in Rio de Janeiro I felt like if I were to go, I would be at constant risk of mugging just about everywhere. I assume the carnaval is in the centre of the city, which should be less dangerous than the favelas, which the article warned me never ever to visit alone. I have no interest in visiting them. But even the centre sounds extremely dangerous, particularly at nighttime. I'm quite sure plenty of foreign tourists have visited Rio just to see the carnaval though. Is it safe? What should I take into account?
Anyway, the Rio carnaval for 2015 should be already over, and the flights alone would take up almost my entire budget. If I ever go, it will take a couple of years at least. JIP (talk) 20:48, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
Lighting along the Sambadrome is comparable to stadium lighting, if that gives you an idea. I don't imagine it to be that difficult to photograph, though to get good shots you would probably want to go for the box seats. The sambadrome is indeed near the center, but as I mentioned, the block parties and balls are spread throughout the city. And yes, loads and loads and loads of foreign tourists go there to see Carnaval. By and large, if you stay with the crowds (which isn't hard during Carnaval), pickpocketing would usually be much more of a concern than actual mugging, though I don't know how much equipment you are talking about carrying around. Texugo (talk) 17:36, 24 February 2015 (UTC)
All the photography equipment I would be bringing along is a DSLR camera, two lenses and an external flash. It all fits into a Löwepro camera bag smaller than a children's school backpack. I would leave my actual luggage at my hotel, wherever that might be. Are there hotels to recommend near the Sambadrome?
I could try to avoid pickpocketing by wearing some sort of vest or light jacket and putting my wallet and phone in an inside pocket, but the camera bag would still be hanging off my shoulder. Or should I take the phone at all with me? Do Finnish mobile phone operators even work in Brazil?
At night time, the Carnaval at the Sambadrome itself would be the only reason to be outside my hotel at all. At day time, I'd like to see some block parties and balls near the centre, or just explore Rio in general, in safe areas. But if the parades take place nightly from 8 PM to dawn, it would mean I wouldn't get any sleep during the night. I can manage an entire night without sleep here and there, but two weeks of sleepless nights in a row could well prove fatal. And I wouldn't want to sleep during the day, as that would mean I would miss seeing Rio at day time, and might also have health issues.
Anyway, assuming I ever muster up enough money and time to visit Rio, I would go there just for the Carnaval. Is it safe to travel there alone, assuming I never venture out of the centre? JIP (talk) 19:01, 24 February 2015 (UTC)
There are a few hotels downtown, but most of the most popular and safest places to stay are nearer to the beach in the South Zone (Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon, etc.) or West Zone (Barra da Tijuca). I personally wouldn't recommend staying downtown. Also, I think you misunderstood a bit: the parades run from Saturday to Wednesday, with a follow-up winners' parade the next Saturday. It's not two weeks as you commented. And I doubt there are many who actually go there and stay all night for nights in a row. When I went, I just went for one evening from about 9PM to 1AM or so. I wouldn't expect you'd want to be there all night every night. Texugo (talk) 19:13, 24 February 2015 (UTC)
OK, thanks. If I ever go, I would probably try to see most of the parades, but not necessarily all. 1 AM sounds like a good time to get back to my hotel and sleep, I've done it many times both here in Finland and elsewhere in Europe. I figure that would mean I would miss out in seeing all of the parade, but I would see the most of it. Is this correct? JIP (talk) 19:29, 24 February 2015 (UTC)
I suppose if you did that, you'd see a over half of the parades. Keep in mind, too, that some of the samba schools are more famous/impressive than others, generally the ones which are in the "Special Group" (including Salgueiro, Mangueira, Beija-Flor, Imperatriz, Unidos da Tijuca and a few others). These groups usually parade at least twice, once on Sat or Sun and again on Mon or Tues, so you might want to schedule as to whether you want to see these twice or save your time. You can see, for an example, the 2015 schedule here.. Texugo (talk) 20:15, 24 February 2015 (UTC)

Samba carnavals[edit]

Regarding my above question about the Rio carnaval, are there other famous samba carnavals besides the famous Rio carnaval and the Helsinki carnaval? I know there are carnavals all over Europe and possibly North America too, but these two seem to be the only ones focused on samba dancers. I'd prefer the event to be at daytime, outdoors, and free of charge or with not very much charge. And of course photography should be allowed. Asked by: JIP (talk) 21:03, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

Other famous Carnivals in Brazil are found in Salvador, Olinda, São Paulo, and Ouro Preto. Outside of Brazil, some of the most famous ones are the w:Carnival of Venice in Italy, Mardi Gras in New Orleans, w:Haitian Carnival in Haiti, and the w:Trinidad and Tobago Carnival. There are plenty of others as well though, including ones in Paris and Nice, Finland, Denmark, Germany, Colombia, and lots of other places. I don't know and don't have time to research details for all of them, but you might want to have a look through the Wikipedia articles linked from w:Category:Carnivals_by_country. Texugo (talk) 19:49, 26 February 2015 (UTC)

What are my options for travelling from the French Alps to the Austrian Alps?[edit]

Hi. I am looking to travel next week from the French Alps (Bourg St. Maurice nearest train station) to Austrian Alps (Bregenz is the nearest Town) and was hoping to get some suggestions? Things to take into account - I would like a relatively efficient journey (not too much chopping & changing, and not too expensive as its a return journey within a few days) and I will be taking ski kit with me, so if using flights I would have to check baggage, which means added cost. If anyone can help with any suggestions, whether that be flights or train journey, I'd be grateful! Many thanks! If you know roughly how much the journey would cost that would be great too... Asked by: 12:29, 26 February 2015 (UTC)