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Russia!

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Key Information:
Tour Duration: 16 day(s)
Group Size: 20 - 30 people
Destination(s): Russia  
Specialty Categories: Sightseeing   Museum Tours  
Season: July
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: No
Minimum Per Person Price: 3700 US Dollar (USD)
Maximum Per Person Price: 4500 US Dollar (USD)

This 15-day trip to Russia covers not only the standard sights of St. Petersburg and Moscow, but a number of out-of-the-way places not typically found in tourist itineraries. It is designed for people of any age interested in Russian culture – no expertise is required.

The featured “Dostoevsky places” include the town of Staraya Russa that provided the model for the setting of The Brothers Karamazov, as well as the “Raskolnikov tour” based on Crime and Punishment and a visit to Dostoevsky’s apartment in St. Petersburg. We will visit places associated with Tolstoy and Pushkin in both the countryside and major cities.

Other cultural sites include museums featuring icons, traditional and modernist art (such as the Picasso collection in the Hermitage or the Mayakovsky artifacts in the Mayakovsky Museum), an outdoor museum of medieval Russian architecture, and a number of monasteries and churches.

The tour will be organized and led by Father Ilya Gotlinsky, an experienced tour guide educated in both Russia and the United States, assisted by Sally Pratt, Professor of Slavic Languages & Literatures at the University of Southern California.

Tour Itinerary:

Day 1: Group gathers at the airport, departure for Russia.

Day 2: Arrival to St. Petersburg. Transfer to the Hotel. Rest time. Based on the time of arrival – optional evening tour of the city.

Days 3-5: St. Petersburg and area. In the course of next three days we will explore the glorious city of St. Petersburg. Here we will visit the State Hermitage, one of the largest museums of the World, the State Russian Museum, which houses the most comprehensive collection of Russian Art; Cathedrals of St. Isaac and our Lady of Kazan; we will see Alexander Nevsky Monastery with “Necropolis of Artists” on the grounds of the cemetery, where many famous Russian artists, writers and actors are buried.

We certainly will visit the Church of the "Savior of the Spilt Blood," or Holy Resurrection Cathedral with interior completely covered by mosaics. Our stay in St. Petersburg will include special visit to the memorial apartment of Alexander Pushkin and a tour of Dostoevsky’s St. Petersburg that will take us to places in the city mentioned in Dostoevsky’s novel Crime and Punishment.

Before leaving St. Petersburg area for Pskov region, we will stop in the town of Pushkin, historically known as Tsarskoe Selo (Tsar's village). This is the location of one of the summer residences of the Romanov dynasty with the splendid Catherine Summer Palace. Built in the second half of the 18th century, it represents the glory of Russia's "Golden Age."

Days 6 - 7: Pskov region. In the Ancient city of Pskov we will visit the Pskov Kremlin (kremlin is a general term used to described the strongly fortified central part of a medieval Russian city) with its Holy Trinity Cathedral, ancient Monastery of Pechori (Pskov Cave Monastery), that was founded at the entrance of the system of natural underground tunnels that at one time served as channels of an underground river. And we will continue the Pushkin theme with visits to the complex that includes Pushkin’s family estate which was used as a stage for events depicted in Pushkin’s novel in verse, Evgenii Onegin.

Days 8 - 9: Novgorod region. Novgorod is one of the oldest and prettiest of all Russian Medieval cities. It offers countless sites for exploration. Among them are: the Cathedral of St. Sophia is one of the most remarkable historic structures in this part of Russia, the Market Square, the central point of the medieval city’s commerce, and a number of churches in close proximity that serve as a tribute to the piety of Novgorod’s tradesmen.

Splendid Museum of Medieval Russian Art and Vitoslavitsi, the museum of wooden architecture that has the finest collection of the wooden architecture of the Russian North, including wooden churches, peasants’ and merchants’ houses, barns and wells. Very special feature of our tour is visit to Staraya Russa, a little town immortalized by Dostoevsky in his final novel “The Brothers Karamazov”.

Days 10 - 11: Tver Region. Over next couple of days we will follow the historical road from St. Petersburg to Moscow. Along the way we will stop to explore the historical city of Torzhok. It is at an inn in the city of Torzhok that the one of the main characters in Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Pierre Bezukhov, begins to solve the existential problems that are tormenting him. We also will visit little known but important town of Staritsa, mentioned in the chronicles since the 13 century. The Mighty Volga has its origins nearby -- and what looks like a rather small stream develops into the largest river in Europe a few hundred miles downstream.

Days 12 - 15: Moscow Region. In addition to Moscow where we will visit famous Kremlin, Tretyakov gallery, Christ the Savior Cathedral, and many other sites, we will explore the Holy Trinity Lavra, historically the most important ecclesiastical and political center of all Russia and Abramtsevo, an estate where key figures in the Slavophile movement gathered and artistic colony in the 19th century.

The estate of Leo Tolstoy, Yasnaya Polyana is on our itinerary as well. It is located south of Moscow, near the city of Tula. It was here that Tolstoy was born, spent most of his childhood, and was buried -- and wrote the novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina. The estate was turned into museum in 1921 and has functioned as such ever since, except during the German occupation during World War II.

Day 16: Departure back home.

Notes:
Airfare is not included in the tour price.

Price Includes:
- Accommodations in a mix of 3 and 4 star hotels along the way. All rooms with full private amenities.
- Most of the meals: two or three meals daily
- Private bus transportation
- All admissions to the scheduled museums
- Professional tour guides
- An English-speaking guide/escort during the entire tour.

Price Excludes:
- Personal health/accident insurance
- Airfare
- Transportation to and from the airport in Russia if traveling separately from the group
- Fee for Russian visa
- Private transfers, additional optional tours and tickets to unscheduled show/concerts or museums.
- Some newly introduced fees that may occur in certain places such as monasteries or churches, though these are likely to be small
- Tips to bus drivers and tour guides (Minimal suggested amount per person is $2 per day for bus drivers and the same for local tour guides).

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