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Now confidently emerging after 70 years of communism, Russia is proudly returning to the extraordinary grandeur of its Tsarist era.

Our tour takes you to the best parts of both the present capital of Moscow and the glorious former Imperial capital of St Petersburg.

One thing's for sure.  At the end of this tour, you'll have a very different appreciation and understanding of the complexities that makes up Russia today, and in the past.

 
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Russia - Land of Imperial Splendor

 

 

This tour can be enjoyed by itself, or can be combined with any of our other touring offered before or after this tour.

You can add extra time in Moscow or elsewhere at the beginning and/or end in St Petersburg of your tour.

Total flexibility.  And total enjoyment.

Tour Dates

The tour commences when you arrive and are transferred to your hotel in Moscow on Sunday, ? May 2006 (dates to be confirmed).

If you're starting your travels in the US, you'll probably take an overnight flight on Saturday ? May (or sooner), to arrive into Moscow on Sunday ? September (or sooner).

If you have been on one of our British tours immediately before this, you can simply take a plane from London to Moscow on Sunday ? May.  It is only about a 3 hour flight.

The tour ends on Tuesday ? May when you will leave St Petersburg, probably to fly back home, or wherever else you then choose to travel.

If you're traveling immediately back to the US, you can arrange to take a flight any time that day.  You will probably arrive back in the US the same day, or perhaps your flight itinerary might require you to spend an overnight between connecting flights, in which case you'd arrive back on Wednesday ? September.

Tour Inclusions

  • Four nights of accommodation in a central Moscow hotel

  • First Class sleeper berth on the overnight train between Moscow and St Petersburg

  • Four nights of accommodation in a central St Petersburg hotel

  • Transfer from the airport in Moscow and to the airport in St Petersburg

  • Breakfasts every morning

  • Feature dinners in Moscow and St Petersburg

  • Extensive guided touring in both Moscow and St Petersburg

  • Optional theatre visits in Moscow and St Petersburg to the Bolshoi and/or the Mariinsky (Kirov) Opera and Ballet companies

In Moscow you will see

  • The Kremlin and the ancient cathedrals located in its grounds

  • Red Square

  • Lenin's Tomb (if open)

  • St Basil's Cathedral

  • Novodevichy Cemetery

  • Sparrow Hills, University of Moscow and views over the city and river

  • GUM, Manezhnaya Square Mall, and other shopping opportunities

  • Old Arbat

  • Tour of Moscow's ornate metro stations

  • Private tour of KGB museum

  • Tretyakov Art Gallery

  • Pushkin Fine Arts Museum

  • Sergiev Posad monastery

  • Moscow Circus

In St Petersburg you will see

  • Peter Paul Fortress and Church where the last Tsar is now buried

  • The Bronze Horseman

  • St Isaac's Cathedral

  • Church on the Spilled Blood

  • Cruiser Aurora

  • Souvenir Market and other shopping opportunities

  • Canal cruise by river boat

  • Hydrofoil ride to Petrodvoretz Palace, Fountains and Gardens

  • Catherine Palace in Pushkin and the Amber Room

  • Hermitage Museum

  • Russian Museum

  • Famous Imperial Lomonosov Porcelain Factory tour

  • Russian traditional Folk Music Show

Itinerary
 

Day 1 (Saturday) :  Leave the US

You should make your own arrangements to fly from the US to Moscow, departing on Saturday -- May - or earlier if you wish to spend extra time before the start of the main tour.

 

Day 2 (Sunday)  :  Welcome to Moscow

St Basil's Cathedral on Red Square.  We'll visit this tomorrow.

No matter what time your flight arrives into Moscow, and no matter which airport you arrive at, you'll be met by a private car and driver who will then drive you to your Moscow hotel where we'll be spending the next four nights.

If you are joining the tour from Britain, then you can simply fly from London to Moscow today.  It is about a 3 hour flight.

 

Day 3 (Monday) :  The Kremlin and nearby

Inside the Kremlin Walls are several lovely cathedrals.
 
Lenin's Tomb in Red Square.  21 January 2004 saw the 80th anniversary of his death.

Today we will start off with a tour around central Moscow's major sights, and then we'll concentrate on a walking tour around the Red Square and Kremlin area.

We'll visit the famous Kremlin, walking around the inside of its grounds, and visiting one of the ancient cathedrals inside.

Outside the Kremlin walls we'll see Lenin's Tomb and hopefully, if it is open, be able to go inside and see Lenin's preserved body.

We'll also have a chance to see fantastic St Basil's Cathedral on Red Square, and as an option, a tour of the Kremlin Armory, a staggering collection of wealth, with literally buckets of diamonds on display.

Close to the Kremlin is the famous GUM store (now a lovely mall) and also close by is the extraordinarily up-market Manezhnaya underground mall - complete with stores that wouldn't look out of place in our own swankiest malls.

We'll have a feature dinner this evening, giving everyone a chance to better meet their fellow tour members.

To break the ice, and for some fun, we'll be holding a 'Travel Insider' competition, with a suitable prize for the winner awarded at dinner.

 

Day 4 (Tuesday) :  Touring around Moscow

Krushchev's grave at Novodevichy.  The two different colors represent the good and bad aspects of his personality.
 
It took Alexander Ivanov 20 years to paint this picture - 'The Appearance of Christ to the People'.  It fills one wall of a room at the Tretyakov Gallery.  His sketches for the picture fill several more walls.
 
One of the elaborate metro stations - no wonder the Muscovites referred to them as 'Underground Palaces' when they first opened in 1935

Today we'll visit the Novodevichy Cemetery, where many of Russia's most famous people are buried.

A trip up to the Sparrow Hills, next to the massive 'Stalin skyscraper' that is the Moscow State University, will give us lovely views out over the Moscow river and city.

And, talking about lovely views, we'll then go to the Tretyakov Gallery, crammed full of exquisite paintings from Russian artists that are virtually unknown in the west.  My favorite Russian painter is Aivazovsky, let's see who you like the best.

This evening there will be a chance to visit some of Moscow's ornate and very beautiful Metro stations.

 

Day 5 (Wednesday) :  Moscow - The Sublime and the Ridiculous (you choose which is which!)

Old buildings, art stall and souvenir shops in the Arbat district.
 
The enormous new Christ the Savior Cathedral
 
The KGB headquarters on Lubyanka square.  If we're lucky, we might get to go inside.  If we're very lucky, we might be allowed to leave again, too!

You'll have a chance for some shopping in the Old Arbat today.

And, in a mix of 'the sublime and the ridiculous' we'll also visit the massive new church built after Russia's independence, and then go on to the Pushkin Fine Arts Museum, where incredible treasures from all around the world, including the gold from Troy, can be found.  The Pushkin Museum is also renowned for its collection of French impressionist paintings.

If time allows and if we can get clearance, we'll try to also include a private tour of the KGB's museum in their famous and feared Lubyanka headquarters.

 

Day 6 (Thursday) :  Moscow, overnight train to St Petersburg

A holy spring with miraculous healing powers at Sergiev Posad.
 
Moscow's famous circus will entertain you on our last night in that city.

An exciting and full day today.

This morning we travel out of Moscow, to the small town of Sergiev Posad, about two hours travel from the city center.  This is the home to Russia's holiest monastery, which we'll visit.  In the monastery is a holy spring - the water from it is supposed to have miraculous powers.  We'll ensure that you all have a chance to have a small sip of this water.

Later in the day, after returning to Moscow, we'll enjoy a performance at the world famous Moscow Circus.

Completing a full day of varied experiences today is an overnight train ride to St Petersburg.  This eight hour journey will be in two person private sleeping compartments in first class carriages.

Observing a Russian tradition, we'll have plenty of 'Soviet Champagne' to toast the journey's success.

 

Day 7 (Friday) :  Welcome to St Petersburg

The Bronze Horseman, in the background, part of the Admiralty buildings
 
The view looking over to the Mayoral office building, from the top of St Isaac's Cathedral.

You went to sleep in Moscow.  You'll wake up this morning in St Petersburg - a city that is like a living museum, where all around you are the most gorgeous buildings dating back 100 - 300 years.

We go first to our hotel for a chance to freshen up after our train journey, then we head into the city to start enjoying the sights of this fantastic city.

We'll see a varied mix of sites and sights, including the famous Bronze Horseman statue of Peter the Great, the Peter Paul Fortress where the last Tsar is now buried, and St Isaac's Cathedral.

 

Day 8 (Saturday) :  St Petersburg - The best Museum in the World?

The entrance to the massive Winter Palace, now known as the Hermitage Museum.
 
The Mariinsky Theatre, home of the Kirov Ballet and Opera - possibly the very finest ballet company in the world.  If you wish, we'll try and arrange tickets to a performance for you.

Today is our 'art' day.  In the morning, we go to the incredible Hermitage museum - possibly the finest museum in the world, with over 3 million items in its collection (they're not all on display and you won't see them all today!).

In the afternoon, you can choose whether you wish to stay on at the Hermitage or travel the short distance to another former royal palace, now in use as the Russian Museum - a treasure trove of Russian art.

 

Day 9 (Sunday) :  Touring in St Petersburg

A view from one of St Petersburg's many canals.
 
Matryoshka dolls, Palekh boxes, Soviet artifacts, and many other things for sale at the souvenir stalls
 
I have a set of this 'Cobalt Blue' china at home - we'll visit the factory that makes it, and, if you like this or any of their other hand painted designs, you can buy them from their factory shop

A varied day of St Petersburg experiences today.  We'll go for a boat cruise along the city's canals - St Petersburg is called, by some, 'the Venice of the North'.  We'll visit a church that looks similar to St Basil's in Moscow, but which is very much bigger, and then visit a nearby souvenir market.

If you're wanting something in particular as a souvenir of Russia, let us know, and we can advise you where the best shops and pricing can be found, and we'll help you with bargaining, too, if necessary.

Now for a special experience.  We'll go for a tour of the Lomonosov Imperial Porcelain Factory in one of the suburbs.

Here you'll see incredibly beautiful hand painted china, both historic pieces that had been made exclusively for the Tsars, and also modern designs that you can then consider buying at the factory outlet store.

 

Day 10 (Monday) :  St Petersburg - Extraordinary Palaces

Some of the amazing statues and fountains at Petrodvoretz
 
The Grand Cascade at Petrodvoretz
 
An example of the sumptuous interiors at both palaces

This morning we travel by high speed hydrofoil, to the Tsar's summer palace at Petrodvoretz.

This palace has been compared to Versailles, because both palaces have extensive fountains and gardens.

After we've spent some time at Petrodvoretz, we'll then travel to another nearby palace (there are palaces everywhere in and around St Petersburg, which was the Imperial Capital of Russia between 1703 and 1917).

This one, in the suburb of Pushkin, is the Catherine Palace, and features the recently restored Amber Room.

This evening we'll enjoy a Russian Folk Music Show at yet another palace.

 

Day 11 (Tuesday) :  Tour ends

Our group itinerary ends after breakfast at our hotel this morning.

If you're leaving today, we'll be pleased to provide a private transfer to St Petersburg's airport for you.

If you've chosen to stay longer in Russia, then we hope you enjoy the balance of your time in this great country.


Tour Cost

Estimated between $2000 - $2500 per person, share twin.

A single supplement of estimated $500-700 is available.  We will also help to match together singles if you'd like to share with a compatible fellow single traveler.

These prices reflect a 3% discount for cash/check.

A $250 per person non-refundable deposit is required to confirm your places on this tour.

You are responsible for arranging your travel between the US and Russia.

The Russian Consulates in the US charge approximately $100 to issue you a Russian visa - we can help you with this (see note below).

Why is Air Not Included?

You will save money and gain flexible convenience if you arrange your own air travel.  These days airlines seldom give discounts to groups, and sometimes even charge more, while also adding extra restrictions to the tickets!

You can choose whichever carrier has the best fare and the best schedules for you, and you can also choose a carrier that you wish to earn miles with.  You can even cash in miles and fly on frequent flier awards.

We'll be pleased to answer any questions you might have about arranging your air transportation, of course.

Optional Extras - Theatre Performances

It is difficult to predict exactly what will be presented at the various theatres in Moscow and St Petersburg - schedules regularly change completely!  And it is difficult to predict exactly what the cost of tickets will be as well.

But, by the time we get to each city, we'll know exactly what opportunities might exist to attend performances at world famous theatres such as the Bolshoi in Moscow and the Mariinsky in St Petersburg (hint - these days, the Mariinsky offers performances of a much higher artistic standard than the Bolshoi).

I'll be sure to be attending a performance or two myself, and if you want to enjoy some of the finest opera and ballet of anywhere in the world, I'll arrange tickets for you, too.

How to Extend or Vary this Tour

There are many ways you can extend or vary this tour.

You could spend more time in Moscow before the start of this tour, and/or, if you wish, more time in St Petersburg at the end of the tour.

During the tour, all of the day touring is of course optional and you can substitute your own activities if you prefer.

After your time in Russia, you can of course travel to anywhere else in Europe that you may wish to visit.

Truly, this tour gives you a great number of ways to add extra time and sightseeing.  And, if you have more questions, please don't hesitate to ask.  We're here to help ensure your experience is as good as possible.

Visa for Russia

Probably everyone will need a visa for Russia.  We will provide you with an official visa invitation and supporting paperwork to make it easy for you to be granted a single entry visa.

The Russian Embassy and Consulates charge a visa issuing fee (usually about $100 - this seems like a lot, but it is considerably less than the fee Russian people must pay for a US visa!); this fee depends on how much in advance of travel you request the visa.

We can expedite the visa process for you, at no cost, if you send your completed paperwork, passport, and payment to us.  We add a nominal $20 to cover the cost to get the applications hand carried to the Consulate, hand delivered back to us, and then sent by insured priority mail back to you.

Tour Terms and Conditions

Our standard terms and conditions apply to this tour.

In addition, please note these extra terms :

1.   The 45 day payment due date is considered to be (to be advised).

2.   Tour price is based on a ruble/US exchange rate in the wholesale range between 28.5 and 29.5, and a Euro/US exchange rate in the wholesale range between 1.16 and 1.26.  If the exchange rates vary outside of this rate prior to final payment being received, the tour price will be adjusted (either up or down) to reflect the change in the cost of tour components.  If the price of the tour increases by more than 5%, participants will be offered a no cost, no penalty opportunity to cancel and receive a full refund of all monies paid.

3.   Triple share rates may be available.  Ask for a quote if this is required.

4.   We suggest you try and limit yourself to one main suitcase and one smaller item per person, so as to ensure there are no problems getting your luggage onto the overnight train.

Provisional Request to Join Tour

Your Name, Age & Citizenship and smoking preference

 

Age                   Citizenship                  

Smoker? Yes    No

Name of Companion, Age, Citizenship and smoking preference

Age                   Citizenship

Smoker? Yes    No

Address

City, State, Zip

Phone (Day)

Phone (Night)

Email

 

Double or Twin Beds

Double   Twins   Don't Mind

Any special dietary needs

Any other special needs

Any other comments

 

As soon as this tour is 100% confirmed in all respects (ie within a few days), you will be asked to send in your $250 per person confirming deposit or to cancel your provisional request.

The Travel Insider is licensed by the State of Washington as a seller of travel - registration number 602 036 247.

 

Originally published 13 Dec 2005, last update 08 Jul 2017

 
 
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