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Russian Winter Fest – "Maslenitsa"
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Russian Winter Fest – "Maslenitsa"

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Key Information:
Tour Duration: 7 day(s)
Group Size: 2 - 30 people
Destination(s): Russia  
Specialty Categories: Festival Tours   Cultural Journey  
Season: March
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: Yes
Minimum Per Person Price: 3649 US Dollar (USD)
Maximum Per Person Price: 3649 US Dollar (USD)

At the end of winter, a Pancake Week, also called a "cheese week," comes right before Lent. Christian historians say those were really "crazy" days in the past. People wore funny masks and costumes; sometimes men wore women’s clothing and vice versa. Such masquerades gave a start to a merry festival when good food and much wine were consumed. A big man of straw was burned as the final act of saying goodbye to the winter past.

"Feast fighting" was another fun event that helped to warm up the cold winter days. Tsars and Grand Princes found a lot of fun in feast fighting. The festival had its counterpart in Europe, North and South America and the Caribbean in Mardi Gras and Carnival celebrations. At present special performances are held during Pancake Week. Through the whole week people cook pancakes (blini) served with honey, caviar, fresh cream and butter. In Russia, Pancake Week is called Maslenitsa, which means "butter." Many different foods, including butter, may be eaten before Lent comes.

Tour Dates: March 4 - 10, 2011.

Tour highlights:
- Moscow, St. Petersburg, Vladimir and Suzdal city tours
- Kremlin & the Armory Museum in Moscow
- Cathedral of the Assumption and Golden Gates in Vladimir
- Kremlin & Cathedral of Transfiguration of the Savior in Suzdal
- Tour of Hermitage Museum
- Pavlovsk Palace
- Catherine’s Palace in Pushkin
- Peter and Paul Fortress.

Tour Itinerary:

Day 1: Arrive at Moscow International Airport. Meet awaiting tour escort and motor coach and continue to the hotel for check-in. Welcome cocktail and dinner at the hotel. Overnight in Moscow.

Day 2: Moscow. After breakfast, embark on a sightseeing tour of the city, including Red Square, which was originally known more prosaically as the tog or marketplace. The present name dates from the 17th century, meaning “beautiful”. Red Square is famous for its markets, fairs and religious festivals, as well as a famous place of execution. Here, rebels met their deaths beside the raised circular dais called the “Lobnoe Mesto,” from which state decrees were also read out. Independent lunch in the city downtown. See the former headquarters of the KGB, Moscow University and the Russian “White House”.

Take an afternoon tour of the Kremlin including a visit to the fascinating State Armory, the oldest museum in Russia. As its name implies, it contains many ancient weapons and armor, also a treasure-trove of gorgeous jewels, gold-encrusted icons, bejeweled royal scepters and exquisitely carved thrones. All of these lovely treasures eloquently tell the history of Imperial Russia. Dinner in a local restaurant. Enjoy an evening performance in the Bolshoi Theatre. Overnight in Moscow.

Day 3: Moscow - Vladimir - Suzdal. After breakfast, meet awaiting motor coach and drive to the Golden Ring of Russia, including Vladimir, an ancient Russian town on a tributary of the Volga. The city dates back to the 10th century and some of the highlights are the Golden Gates and the Byzantine Assumption Cathedral, among countless other treasures you will pass on your city tour. Transfer to Suzdal, located on the Golden Ring. Participate in “Russian fairy-tale festival” and Maslenitsa - the Winter Russian Fest before Lent. You will have a chance to taste Russian pancakes (“blini”), take part in traditional national games and go sledding. Maslenitsa is the best time to visit Vladimir and Suzdal, where great festivities are held. Traditional Russian dinner and overnight in the hotel.

Day 4: Suzdal - Moscow. After breakfast, sightseeing in Suzdal, the most beautiful and best-preserved town on the Golden Ring. Tour sights include the Kremlin of Suzdal and Assumption Cathedral. Enjoy entertainment in Suzdal, including games, troika (three-horse carriage) rides and Russian BBQ. Afternoon transfer to Moscow. Dinner in the restaurant. Overnight train to St. Petersburg (2-berth compartment).

Day 5: St. Petersburg. Breakfast snack on board the train. Upon arrival begin a city sightseeing tour including views of the Peter and Paul Cathedral designed by the famous architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli. It stands on the grounds of Peter and Paul Fortress in the oldest section of the city and contains the tombs of Russian rulers from Peter the Great through Alexander III. Check-in at the hotel. In the afternoon, visit the Hermitage Museum, one of the largest art and cultural museums in the world. This vast collection (about 65,000 items) includes some of history’s most important art. Dinner. Performance in the Mariinskiy Theatre. Overnight in St. Petersburg.

Day 6: St. Petersburg. After breakfast, travel outside St. Petersburg to the lovely city of Pushkin – formerly Tsarskoe Selo, the Tsar’s Village. Tour Catherine Palace, the beautiful Baroque-style building that was built by Empress Elizabeth and named for her mother, Catherine the First. The architect was Rastrelli, who also designed the Winter Palace, and the Hermitage Pavilion. Like many other royal residences, the palace sustained heavy damage during World War II, although most of it has been restored to its former glory. Enjoy once again a Russian troika ride. Afterward, continue to Pavlovsk’s Palace, the official summer residence of Catherine the Great’s son Paul. The palace contains an Egyptian vestibule, Italian, French and Greek halls, a throne room and picture galleries. Today is the Farewell Dinner, time to have a last shot of Russian vodka and bid farewell to your new friends. Overnight in St. Petersburg.

Day 7: St.Petersburg. After breakfast, transfer to St. Petersburg International Airport after your unforgettable journey through this fascinating land.

Airfare is not included in the tour price.

Price Includes:
– Two meals per day
– 6 nights deluxe-class hotel accommodation
– Comprehensive sightseeing
– English-speaking guides
– Ground transportation by first-class motor coach
– First-class overnight sleeper train from Moscow to St. Petersburg
– Performance in the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow
– Performance in the Mariinskiy Theatre in St. Petersburg
– Welcome cocktail
– Welcome and farewell dinners including Russian vodka and blini with caviar
– 2 troika rides
– Folk show.

Note: Single supplement is $ 1,340.

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