Day 1: Moscow. Included transfer from Moscow airport to hotel. Welcome dinner.
Day 2: Moscow. Spend a full day touring Russia’s vibrant capital city, including Red Square and the Kremlin. Early evening transfer to Leningradski station to join our private sleeping car train that will be our home for the next 12 days. The train will be hauled out of Moscow by Europe’s largest operating steam locomotive, GWT’s P36.0032, Russia’s most modern express steam locomotive design (a 4-8-4 design of 1954). Welcome reception and introduction to the train staff in the bar car, followed by dinner, as we depart north towards St. Petersburg and the Arctic Circle. Note: there will not be many hours of darkness in the next two weeks, as this is the time of year called “White Nights.”
Day 3: St. Petersburg. After breakfast we alight in Pavlovsk and visit Catherine’s Summer Palace in Pushkin, including a visit to the Amber Room. Lunch at the Podvorye Restaurant after which we continue to St. Petersburg hauled by Russia’s oldest working steam locomotive, Ov. 324 built in 1905. Afternoon tour of the city before rejoining the main train for dinner as we head southwest out of the city.
Day 4: Pskov and Novgorod. In the morning we tour Pskov with its ancient and well-restored city center. Located near the Estonian and Latvian borders, it was in Pskov’s train station that Tzar Nicholas II signed his abdication in March 1917. We continue to Novgorod, one of the oldest towns in Russia with it’s five-domed cathedral. Dinner on board as we head back north toward the Arctic Circle.
Day 5: Kizhi Island and Petrozavodsk. This morning we arrive Petrozavodsk where we board a hydrofoil to Kizhi Island on Lake Onega to view the world-famous, 22-domed wooden cathedral. On our return we will tour the pleasant lakeside resort of Petrozavodsk before rejoining our train for lunch and continuing our journey north.
Day 6: Arctic Circle. Overnight we have traveled to the end of the Sofporog branch line. We spend a pleasant morning steaming back to the main line at Louki, where our P36 will be waiting to take us to the Arctic Circle. Arrival after lunch. This afternoon we will enter the Kola peninsula, and will arrive Murmansk around midnight.
Day 7: Nikel and Murmansk. Early morning arrival at Nikel, on the border with Norway. The station is close to the Nikel smelting plant, which in part has caused the devastation to the surrounding countryside that will be evident for the 20 miles before our arrival. Nikel is an eerie place but one of the highlights of our previous tours. We retrace our steps to Luostari where we may take the branch north to Pechenga, the world’s most northerly passenger railway station (if the line is open to passenger traffic. On previous trips we have not been allowed to Pechenga as it passes through a highly sensitive military area). If we are unable to go to Pechenga, we will tour Murmansk in the afternoon.
Day 8: Kem. After breakfast in Kem we take a small boat to Solovetsky Monastery on Solovetsky Island in the White Sea. The island is famous for its "Special Purpose Camp" set up by Stalin and is the location used as the basis for Solzhenitsyn Gulag Archipelago.
Day 9: Archangel. Morning tour of Archangel, a Russian Port on the White Sea. This afternoon we continue along the branch line to Kapagory, arriving late evening on the longest day of the year. Option to spend the day in Archangel, staying in a hotel overnight and rejoining the train in the morning (at about $200 additional cost.) This would allow more time to explore this famous site of the Polar Bear Expedition of WWI.
Day 10: Archangel. Mid-morning we pass through Archangel and spend a relaxing day on the train heading south.
Day 11: Vologda. Mid-morning arrival in Vologda, a pleasant city on the Vologda River. We will visit the beautifully restored Kremlin and the adjacent Saint Sophia’s Cathedral and Bell tower. Back on board, we continue south.
Day 12: Uglich. After lunch we arrive in Uglich on the Volga River and spend the afternoon in this pleasant town viewing the architecture, with some buildings dating back to the 14th century. Uglich is also home of the Library of Russian Vodka. This is an interactive library and visitor participation is encouraged! A farewell train dinner will be served.
Day 13: St. Petersburg-Moscow. Our final morning on the train has us speeding down the St. Petersburg-Moscow main line with a light lunch served before arriving Leopardskin station. Free time before a farewell dinner. Overnight in five-star hotel.
Day 14: Moscow. Breakfast in the hotel followed by airport transfers.
Accommodation on the Train:
- Heritage Class: Heritage class carriages have nine compartments. Toilet facilities are located at the end of each carriage. Heritage class compartments have two lower beds that convert to couches for daytime use. A purpose-built shower car is included for Heritage Class passengers.
- Silver Class: Silver Class cars have six compartments each. Features include DVD/CD player, audio system, individual air conditioning, recessed lighting and wardrobe. The Silver Class shower occupies the same space as the sink and toilet; to take a shower, the passenger draws a curtain around him- or herself. Each compartment is 60 square feet.
- Gold Class: Gold Class compartments are the most luxurious and spacious on the train. Amenities are similar to the Silver Class compartments, but the Gold Class cabins are larger. Gold Class carriages have only five compartments per car, each with en-suite facilities.
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