It is known as 'Baltic Russia', and even 'the amber region'. Kaliningrad, which was the last region to join the USSR in 1946, is 620 miles from Moscow. It is a remote area wedged between Poland and Lithuania that is cut off from the rest of Russia. This particular location has made it a forgotten area of Moscow, but there are still many interesting things for visitors to see and do. The city of Kaliningrad, in particular, has several interesting monuments, such as the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour and even the fortifications, which date back to the 19th century.
Surface area : 15125.0 km2
Population : 940000 inhabitants
Time difference : Kaliningrad is 3 hours ahead of the UK in winter. Therefore, when it is 7:00pm in London, it is 10:00pm in Kaliningrad.
The shops are usually open from 9:00am to 8:00pm Monday to Saturday and they sometimes close for lunch. Some grocery shops are open on Sundays.
There is a wide choice of souvenirs to bring back home, starting with the essential bottles of vodka, tins of caviar (ensure you take note of how to preserve them), matryoshkas (Russian dolls), ushankas (fur hats) and, for collectors, badges and medals bearing the effigy of Lenin, stamped with the red star or the hammer and sickle. As for luxury products, clothing, alcohol, cigarettes and perfume, the local markets are full of cheap counterfeits. Traditional handicrafts (varnished wooden boxes, china figurines, amber necklaces, embroidered scarves, icons, etc) and furs (fox, mink, etc) are safe buys, but exporting antiques is strictly forbidden.
Contrary to popular belief, Russian cuisine is particularly rich and varied. During the summer, it is possible to find all kinds of vegetables. As for meat, you will have a lot to choose from during your trip: pork and mutton are consumed the most, but beef is also easy to find.
Given the location of Kaliningrad, seafood is also a main ingredient in the dishes you will come across. It is always fresh and is eaten smoked or dried. Sturgeon and tuna are the most common.
Don't forget about caviar, a luxury product that is well-known around the world. It costs around £85 per 100 grams! Finally, vodka is consumed all over Russia and all during meals. It fills the supermarket shelves. Make sure you don't drink local homemade vodka, as it may have been made with strange ingredients. Instead choose factory-made brands, which are usually better quality.
Make sure you choose the best time to visit Kaliningrad depending on the climate. Winter is harsh and summer can be hot. Spring is the ideal time.
As an added precaution for all trips: take photocopies of your passport and ID photos with you. These will be very useful in the event that you lose these documents.