After some lurking, I decided to contribute something.
I returned from Russia in September. At the time, the rouble was 60 to the £1. Visa and Visa invitation was £120. Easyjet Fares £120 ret.
I found punting in Moscow and St Petersburg to be problematic and frustrating. If you don't speak Russian or at least read Cyrillic, just getting around is confusing, let alone punting. Maps of the Moscow Metro have dual (Cyrillic and Latin) lettering, but within the Metro itself, there is only Cyrillic signage. A few people speak good English, some just a few words, and of course, some speak none at all. I speak no Russian.
I took a tablet computer with the intention of downloading a GPS app to navigate, but the map of Moscow wouldn't work without a Wifi connection. WiFi, even in Cafes such as McDonalds, where they advertise free WiFi, is patchy or non-existent. The other thing to remember is that most establishments (mini hotels, massage places, etc) are in large apartment blocks, where the flats are accessed via a gate from the street, through a courtyard, with several gated and buzzered blocks. The flat itself may be privately owned, but the building is owned by someone else, So, although the flats/hotels are quite clean inside, the outside of the building, the lifts, stairwell may be very decrepit, and not have seen any paint for decades. As I understand it, they also can't fix any signs to the outside of the building, so there may only be a buzzer / intercom, and they buzz you in.(if you can find the right one)
I used a couple of websites to find "WGs" but whether they say they speak English or not, I could not understand the directions, www.dosug.co.uk/en/d/part/1
Even if I could have understood the directions, I could not read the maps. I resorted to asking taxi drivers to phone the massage places, get the address and take me there, After having one taxi driver wanting to charge me around £20 for a 100 yard journey, I decided to find the places myself, however long it took. Didn't manage to find any genuine WGs in Moscow, didn't see any street-walkers.
Managed to find a couple of massage places (If you do go, don't bother with "Edem Club" it's just one cynical, tired and skinny 45 year old, and skinny woman, NOT the "babe-fest" portrayed on the website, and it took me all day to find it. www.edem-club.ru/english/uslugi
In all of these massage places, they say, up front "NO SEX" and they mean it ! If you get a competent girl, she will give you some nude B2B, then flip you over, bit more B2B, then do a sort of reverse cow-girl, so you can see her brown eye winking at you, then put your bare todger between her pussy lips and make you come like that, (BUT, no fingering of the pussy is allowed.) If you get a good one, its great
. A "very happy ending".
If you get a less competent girl, she will think, "Ah well, he can't see what I'm doing, anyway", and wank you between her leg and hand. Or maybe, only with her hands. The price was about 2000 roubles at the time.(about £30 ?)
When you are fed up of Moscow, you can get an overnight train to St Petersburg. It cost me £35 there and £50 back. Maybe a hangover of some ex-Soviet red-tape or maybe modern security measures but, for inter city
travel, you need to present your passport both when buying the ticket, AND when travelling.
St Petersburg is more manageable, simpler Metro System. On Nevskiy Prospect, the main street, there are several places that advertise massage openly, and touts to give you cards for them. It's the same, NO SEX ! a very happy ending only. The girls I saw were fair 6', 7's and 8's. I did manage to find one genuine working girls flat, where the directions to the flat were fairly simple, they spoke passable English , got to the flat OK, there were three girls, picked one, Service OK, nothing to write home about.
In short, if you go to Russia for punting or sightseeing, learn Russian or take a phone or computer that will do offline
translation, with offline
GPS, Be prepared for their different way of giving addresses. Be patient, and take two or three pairs of good walking shoes, you'll need them.