What was the itinerary like ...
This cruise offered passengers a taste of both rural and urban Russia. In the cities we explored St. Petersburg's iconic landmarks like the Hermitage, the Peter and Paul Fortress and the wonderful golden opulence of Catherine's Palace.
Seeing the colors and architectural intricacies of the Church in Spilt Blood took my breath away. This building contains 7500 square metres of mosaics -that's more than any other church in the world.
We saw Moscow's Red Square, the Kremlin and Russian Orthodox churches that can only be described as 'extraordinary works of art.' We rode the chandelier-lit subways with locals, mingled with families at the famous Russian circus, enjoyed an evening at the ballet and spent one morning tracing the history of Jewish life in Moscow. Most activities were included in the cruise fees while some were optional choices for passengers to consider. P.S. There was always time allotted for shopping and clean bathroom stops every couple of hours.
After our ship left St. Petersburg we sailed via rivers, locks and lakes to the Volga River and Moscow. Along the way we made daily stops at remote villages such as Svir Stroi and Goritsky where we enjoyed once in a life time experiences. I enjoyed tea, conversation and piroshki (Russian pastries) in a grandmother's tiny peasant dwelling; I won't soon forget that 86 year old hostess with a twinkle in her eye. She told me all about her younger husband and how the two of them met.
On Kizhi Island my camera and I were awed by the Church of the Transfiguration with its 22 timbered onion domes. Oh my goodness it was gorgeous.
Another day our village visit coincided with a weekly local market and tables piled high with Russian furs. In yet another, the Captain of our ship took everybody on a fishing expedition and the kitchen staff fried our catch up for our dinner.
There were always surprises and incredible photo opportunities along the way. Even if we were just floating by something special, we were advised via the public address system of the 'Kodak Moment of the Day' complete with a description of what we were seeing. My favorite had to be the poignant flooded belfry of Kalyazin standing proudly in the water even as its decay continued.