Day 1: Arrival. Welcome to Russia! Your driver will be waiting for you at the airport arrivals gate, you will see him holding a sign with your name. He will take you to the port for ship embarkation. There is no special program for this evening. You will have a chance to relax after your flight, to enjoy the dinner on board and to meet your fellow travelers for this extraordinary adventure across Russia.
Day 2: St. Petersburg. St. Petersburg is Russia's cultural and historical treasure, one of the world's most beautiful cities, and one of its top ten tourist destinations according to "The Forbes Traveler." It is known as the Venice of North thanks to its numerous canals and hundreds of bridges. It is sometimes called Russia's Versailles thanks to dozens of opulent palaces and royal estates. It can be rightly called a living museum - so many of its buildings are part of Russia's history. We will show you the key landmarks and monuments in the city. You will then visit Peter and Paul Fortress with the burial place of the Russian Emperors located on the Neva River. You will visit one the world famous museum Hermitage.
Day 3: Mandrogi. At first glance Mandrogi is just a small village deep in the northern woods. It has no architectural wonders, gigantic castles or ancient churches. Mandrogi, however, is the ideal place to explore and discover a very unique style and architecture. For centuries this region was occupied by the Northern Tribes which brought with them Scandinavian traditions. Surrounded by the serenity of beautiful landscapes we will have a traditional Russian picnic called Shashlik. This succulent meal has Middle Eastern roots, but has been slightly modified; beef is replaced with pork and meat is marinated for one night.
Tip: Bring a little bit of cash when you step ashore so you can buy a few hand-made souvenirs like authentic Russian matreshka dolls.
Day 4: Sailing. The Volga is often mentioned in Russian literature. In ancient times this river was used as a trade route by the Vikings who travelled to Greece. It was along this route that the first Russian settlements appeared. Today, more than half the population of Russia lives along this ancient trade route. You will have a great entertainment program while sailing: Russian tea party, Blini tasting, Concerts of folklore and classical music, Russian dancing and singing classes, Crash course on Russian language.
Day 5: Goritsy. Goritsy stands on the banks of the Volga River where it falls into the White Lake. Goritsy is the home to the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery which was built in 1397. This quaint place is most famous for being a safe haven for many noble families during the “Times of Trouble” as they took refuge here from the Polish armies. The monastery continued to exist until early 20th century when the Bolsheviks shut it down and turned it into a museum. In 1998 some of the buildings were returned to the Orthodox Church, while some buildings continue to function as a museum to this day. We will visit the monastery of St. Cyril-on-the-White-Lake and a museum of icons.
Day 6: Yaroslavl. Everyone has heard of Kiev and Novgorod, these cities are still famous today. Historically these cities were the largest in Eastern Europe. Yaroslavl was comparable to their size and celebrity, but this was before it was completely annihilated (again, by the Mongols). They saw it as the center of power in Russia and raided it every few years to prevent it from recovering. By these day's standards it is rather provincial, but there is still much to see. We will visit the Transfiguration Monastery and Church of Elijah the Prophet, the local food market and the Art Gallery at the Former Governor’s House.
Day 7: Plyos. The small town is 63 km southeast of Kostroma on the Volga. It was founded in 1409 by Great Prince Vasilii I Dimitriovich as a fortress to help protect the approaches to Kostroma from the Tatars. On the right bank of the Volga atop an already high bluff they built the usual earthen ramparts behind deepened ditches and topped with wooden stockade and towers. Now the town is famous for its serene scenic beauty and its reputation as an artists haven. This is due largely to the renown of Isaak Levitan, the landscape painter who recorded local scenes. The town was also the home of the famous Russian basso, Chalyapin. Free day in Plyos.
Day 8: Nizhniy Novgorod. Nizhny Novgorod was one of the newly founded towns that escaped Mongol devastation on account of its insignificance. The city, similarly to Moscow and Tver, attracted refugees from other cities pillaged by the Mongols and expanded rapidly during the period of the "Mongol yoke" that lasted for a little over 100 years. Moscovy incorporated the city in 1392 and soon thereafter the Tatars of Kazan burnt it down (1408). It took over one century to construct an enormous redbrick castle here which was soon of use when the Tatars tried to burn it again in 1520 and 1536. Today, just like 500 years ago, Nizhniy is one of the main commercial centers of Russia. You will have a city tour by bus around the most remarkable sights of the town. Visit inside of the Nizhniy Novgorod Kremlin (fortress).
Day 9: Kazan. Kazan was the capital of Tatars, the allies of Mongols. Ivan the Terrible conquered Kazan in 1552 and forced its Muslim ruler to convert to Christianity. Ivan remodeled Kazan's castle to the Russian style and built St. Basil's Cathedral on the Red Square of Moscow in the celebration of his victory. It is interesting that St. Basil's domes, all nine of them, correspond to the number of days that the siege of Kazan lasted. You will have bus city tour. You will visit local fortress.
Day 10: Ulianovsk. In 1924, the city of Simbirsk was renamed Ulyanovsk in honor of Vladimir Ulyanov, better known as Lenin, who was born in Simbirsk in 1870. In Ulyanovsk you can find corners, which have remained from ancient Simbirsk, narrow streets and low roofs of old buildings. But they don't form the appearance of present-day Ulyanovsk - large modern city, big industrial and culture center of the Middle Volga Region. You will have bus city tour. You will visit museum of Lenin.
Day 11: Samara. Samara has long been Russia's diplomatic and economic link to the East. The growing bread trade in 19th-20th centuries turned this city into an important economic center in Russia. In World War II many of military factories were moved to Samara. The soviet leaders were even planning to move Russia's capital here had Moscow fallen to the German hands. Today, Samara is the third largest metropolitan area in Russia after Moscow and St. Petersburg and an important industrial center. You will have bus city tour.
Day 12: Saratov. Saratov was the northernmost colony of Greek Empire. In 512 BC it was completely annihilated by Persia. One millennium later, Ivan the Terrible established a colony on the ruins of the ancient city. Saratov used to have a large population of Germans, who migrated here during 19th century. When World War II erupted, they were relocated to Siberia and Kazakhstan. During the Cold War Saratov became the center of military aircraft production and not surprisingly, Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, trained here. You will have bus city tour.
Day 13: Volgograd. Volgograd (former Stalingrad) is famous for the battle that unfolded here during the World War II. German forces attempted to cut off the Russian armies and their industrial production from their fuel supplies. To that end, they needed to take Stalingrad, situated on the western bank of the Volga River. Hitler sent his best armies and generals, including famous marshal Von Paulus to command the siege. The Battle of Stalingrad lasted for almost one year. The heroic defense of the city enabled the Russian army to prepare a counter attack and to surround the invading forces. This was a serious loss from which Hitler forces were never able to fully recover. This was not the victory for the allies yet, but it was in Stalingrad that the tide of war turned against the Germans. Volgograd has a giant memorial Rodina Mat (Motherland) commemorating those who fought and died here. You explore the city by bus and visit the infamous Mamayev Mound.
Day 14: Sailing. You will have a free day while sailing with a great choice of entertainment programs on the ship.
Day 15: Astrahkhan. Astrakhan is located where the mighty the Volga meets the Caspian Sea, on the trade route from India to Persia. Astrakhan was the capital of Khazaria and then of the Golden Horde (the Mongols). Moscow took Astrakhan in 1556 and has ruled it ever since. As Russia's gate to the Orient, this city features a unique mixture of East and West. You will visit Kremlin grounds of the city on a bus city tour.
Day 16: Sailing. Today you will return to Volgograd. It is your free day. You will be offered optional tour to Rossoshniki - Military Cemetery.
Day 18: Sailing. The Volga is often mentioned in Russian literature. In ancient times this river was used as a trade route by the Vikings who travelled to Greece. It was along this route that the first Russian settlements appeared. Today, more than half the population of Russia lives along this ancient trade route. You will have a great entertainment program while sailing.
Day 19: Rostov-on-Don. Rostov-on-Don was founded on December 15, 1749, as a customs house was set up on the Temerik (a tributary of the Don) to control the trade with Turkey. Rostov's favorable geographical position on the crossing of trade routes promoted the rapid economic development of the city. The Don River that the city is named for is a major shipping lane connecting southwestern Russia with regions to the north. You will have a walking tour around the town. During the walking tour you will get to visit Cossaks museum. After the walking tour you will continue to explore the city by bus.
Day 20: Departure. Your voyage is coming to an end. It is time to say goodbye to this beautiful country, the crew and your fellow passengers. It is time to pack up and to go home bringing unforgettable memories with you. Your airport transfer is arranged.
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Europe Russia Local Culture Cultural Journey Boating and Sailing
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