With my wife and two friends we are hoping to do a Baltic tour in the summer of 2014. We shall travel via Germany, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Kalinningrad, Poland, Germany. We do not speak any Russian and wonder if it would be advisable to avoid passing through Kalinningrad? We hope not but any advice would be appreciated;.
I would avoid it like plague.
About 8 yrs ago now I had the pleasure of traveling from PL to the City of Kaliningrad and nearby seaside town of Svetlogorsk by coach. To put it mildly, it was not a pleasant experience (although I would not say it was totally not worth it - it was an experience not to be forgotten). If you are thinking of visiting the City of K. (a Soviet era dump) you will not miss much by skipping it. The pace at which the traffic was filtered at the border crossing was needlessly and painfully slow - as if we were entering from enemy territory. Cars, lorries, coaches and their passengers were searched scrupulously. The border guards seemed disdainful and treated us more like suspects rather than tourists. It seemed they were looking for anything to use to help them solicit a bribe. For instance, they picked on my passport because it had been hand printed and issued overseas. They took it away 'to check' and held it what seemed like ages. Then they even went as far as (and this is not a joke) trying to convince me that I was not a citizen of the country whose passport I was a holder! Luckily, with my limited Russian, I did not take their crop, told them off and refused to give in to their intimidation. But because of that, the coach (nearly full) was held up for 2 hours! This is the sort of (Soviet style) things you may need to be getting ready for if you are thinking about driving there in your private camper. I would say that knowing basic Russian is highly advisable. I can only hope that things have improved over the years; perhaps someone will have had a more recent experience to share. But Russia being Russia, I would not bet my money on the pace of change there... ;-)
Good luck with your trip.