There is this hunk of Russia that is not connected to the rest of that huge country. It’s called Kaliningrad and it’s pasted in between Poland and Lithuania right on the Baltic Sea.
You have to fly over two or three countries to get to Moscow. It’s got about a half a million people, mostly Russians with a few Belarusians and Ukrainians thrown in for good measure.
Besides the naval advantage of a warm(ish) water port, there is the beach.
It wasn’t always like that. It used to be Königsberg when it was the capital of East Prussia. Before that it belonged to the Teutonic Knights. Yeah, that’s right, I said, the Teutonic Knights!.
In 1945, the Russians grabbed it from Germany and after the war, the Germans living there made a hasty exit. The Soviets made it part of their union. It was an ice-free port with access to the Baltic Sea. No wonder the Russians held on to it when other states were declaring independence.
But as the Soviet system fell apart, Kaliningrad lost the benefits of the Soviet military presence and their export business fell off causing real economic problems in the 1990’s. In 1996, the Russians granted special economic status to Kaliningrad and things got better.
World economic troubles, in 2008, brought layoffs and trouble for Putin-appointed governor Georgi Boos as thousands rallied in 2010 against rising costs and taxes. The governor was replaced and some tax increases cancelled. But Kaliningrad people are still not happy with the awkward relationship to their surrounding EU neighbors.
Do I Need a Visa?
Do I need a visa for Kaliningrad? Da! It’s Russia! The question is do I need a double-entry visa or a single. If you plan to go to other parts of Russia by land, a double-entry visa is required. But if you travel by air on domestic flights between Kaliningrad and Moscow or St. Petersburg then it can be done if you hold a single-entry visa.
Special Kaliningrad visa: If you are only visiting Kaliningrad (and not the rest of Russia), you may be able to obtain a special Kaliningrad visa if you fulfill all of the following conditions:
- your stay in Kaliningrad is a maximum of 3 days
- you are a citizen of a Schengen member state, the UK or Japan
- you enter and exit Kaliningrad from the border check points of Bagrationovsk, Mamonovo and/or Khrabrovo Airport
The old Teutonic Knights headquarters is a bit run down, but they have some newer accommodations.
There is an interesting beach area. You see the map below? Notice the thin lines out in the ocean. These contain beach areas on The Strand.
So you have these great beaches and Russian women.
Summer warms to around a mild 68 to 77 F. Autumn temps are from 50 to 60 F. Kaliningrad winter is very mild compared to Moscow with temps from 40 F dipping down to 10 F.
Take along an umbrella, because the weather is a bit unpredictable and windy at times. And being so close to the Baltic sea adds to the humidity.