11-26 June 2014: Our trip to Russia

Farwell dinner on the Volga Dream
Farwell dinner on the Volga Dream

On December 22, 2013, Sharon and I had a 40th anniversary open house celebration, at which she told me my anniversary, holiday, and birthday presents would be a river cruise in Russia.  I accelerated my Russian studies, and in June, we  were off!

On the first day:

Wednesday 11-6-14

We flew from Cleveland to Chicago via United, and from Chicago to Frankfurt, and

store in Frankfurt Airport
store in Frankfurt Airport

Frankfurt to Petersberg via LuftHansa, arriving in the morning of:

Thursday 12-6-14

spa

Where we glided through customs, and were met by Svetlanya, of Gohagan travel.  She led us with our luggage onto a tour bus, and gave us a guided tour of the city to our hotel.  (I might note – as regular readers of this blog must know – that I have been learning Russian, and the Russian language signs everywhere were a sight to behold…)  We arrived at the start of Russia Day – a 4 day weekend.

We were introduced to the cruise through my alma mater: our Fellow Travellers were all university graduates, from all over the USA, and all but a few were retired.

Pre-Cruise

We did the pre cruise days in Petersberg: June 12-14.

Our Hotel in Petersberg was the Angleterre

anghot

our hotel
our hotel

 

That day, we had cocktails in the hotel bar, and supper at a nearby place.

meatbar

Outside the hotel, I found an old, familiar face – in general, the automobile population we observed in the cities was about the same as in the USA.

MISP

We had that supper with several new fellow-traveller friends:

our restaurant was on the top of this bldg
our restaurant was on the top of this bldg
our first dinner in Russia
our first dinner in Russia

Friday 13-6-14

Breakfast was at the hotel – very good!

svandi

With Svetlana, above.

Our tour for the day included:

Kazan Cathedral & Church of Our Savior of spilled blood, where Tsar Alexander 2nd was assassinated.

spilled blood
spilled blood

intofsb

Interior of church of spilled blood  – mosaic tiles form the art!

My iPhone image
My iPhone image

(Prior image is a painting)

cathedral interior
Kazan cathedral interior

Yusupov Palace, where Rasputin was killed.

yp1

Rasputin
Rasputin

(By his pictures, Rasputin would make Charlie Manson look like George Clooney..)

We took a river cruise, which gave us a number of different views.

rc3

rc1

part of the crew
part of the crew

Upon guide Eugenia’s great advice, we had dinner at the  Tsar restaurant

Tsar interior
Tsar interior
Sharon and I
Sharon and I
vodka menu
vodka menu

 

We took hotel transportation to the restaurant.  I spoke a little Russian, and the driver asked if I were born in USA. (My tutor should be happy!)

Saturday 14-6-14

We had breakfast in the hotel, then checked out – moving to our ship the Volga Dream.

Our guides Angelina and Svetlana
Our super guides Eugenia and Svetlana

We stopped for a scenic photo:

beautiful city
beautiful city

The Leningrad Museum is dedicated to those who withstood a 900 day siege in WWII.

historic
historic event

After lunch, we visited Paul’s Palace

pp

640px-Palace-p1030762

800px-Palace-p1030780

And then we went back to board our ship Volga Dream:

vd

Sunday 15-6-14

We visited the Hermitage:

herm5

state-hermitage-museum

herm3

And had lunch at Petergof (Wow)

gals

peterh

Peterhof-Palace

peterhof_palace_3

Our evening was a ballet at the Mikhailovsky theater

bt

our guides
our great guides keep watch on us

 

bti

(Theatre interior)

(I noted in a FaceBook post that I might have been on of the few Fathers to spend Father’s Day at the ballet!)

End of Pre-Cruise – we are joined by other Fellow Travellers.

Monday 16-6-14

Catherine’s palace and Amber Room

cp

Amber Room
Amber Room

amber_room

We visited Issacs cathedral (across from our hotel)

Issacs
Issacs

SPB_interieur1Izaakkathedraal

St_Isaac_Interior

 

And the Peter Paul Fortress

peter-paul-fortress-arial-shot

Tsars
Tsars buried here.
Fellow Travellers
Fellow Travellers (Bonnie)

We had a lovely guide – as knowledgeable as she is beautiful!

Maria
Maria

Meanwhile, back on board the Volga Dream, we had a Reception, Cocktails, and dinner.

Pianist in our lounge
Pianist in our lounge
reception in the lounge
reception in the lounge
Karen and Ken
Karen and Ken

Fellow Travellers

sharon and bonnie
sharon and bonnie

We sailed from Petersberg.

The service – both meals and administrative –  staff, and facilities aboard the Volga Dream were top tier, as was the food.

Tuesday 17-6-14

As we sailed along the lakes and rivers, we made stops at towns and cities along our way.  When there were several hours with no stop, we had lectures from Profs Angela Weck of Bradley, and Tim Scholl, of Oberlin, on Russian History and Culture.

I went on an engine room tour

with the engineer on duty
with the engineer on duty

(An interesting interlude occurred when I asked the engineer how large the motors (3) were.  Yulia translated, or tried.  I was using my terminology, such as cylinder capacity or displacement, which was greek (geek?) to her.  Eventually: 3 6 cylinder turbocharged CI motors of 20 litres capacity producing 550 HP each.)

We stopped at a river town called Mandrogi, which had a Vodka Museum

A sight more lovely than any cathedral
A sight more lovely than any cathedral!!!

and sampled the products

5 drinks - 25 gm
5 drinks – 25 gm

Sharon bought a winter coat at another store in the village.

village
village

We had lovely companions at dinner:

Sabrina and her Aunt Patricia
Sabrina and her Aunt Patricia

Volga Dream cruised the Svir River, on into Lake Onega, and

 Wednesday 18-6-14

We stopped at Kizhi Island, where we saw old wooden churches and houses.

tourists in tow
tourists in tow
old wooden church on KI
old wooden church on KI – no metal
room in old house
exterior of old house
room in old house
Main room in the old house

I practised Russian with the staff, and they were great in helping me!

Yulia worked with me the most on Russian
Chief Receptionist Alina worked with me the most on Russian
A super star
A super star – Yulia – cruise director
Russian tea service
Russian tea service demonstration
bonnie and all
bonnie with tour guide and hotel manager

 Thursday 19-6-14

We cruised to Goritsy.

cruising on a river
cruising on the Volga
view from our ship
view from our ship
in one of many locks
in one of many locks

 

Where we saw old houses in a small village

Goritsy7

P6080006

Not being the monastic type, I did not chose this option
Not being the monastic type, I did not chose this option!

Goritsy2

In a Russian Post Office
In a Russian Post Office
A local Market
A local Market –  booze more prevalent than fresh vegetables!

In the evening, we had a supper with Russian dress and vodka tasting.

my Russian article of clothing
my Russian article of clothing

 

traditional dress
traditional dress – Yulia
more folk apparel
more folk apparel
double rainbow
double rainbow (Not the vodka)
Finished in lounge
Finished the day  in lounge

inthebar

 

Friday 20-6-14

Sharon with Staff
Sharon with Staff
Angela and Meena
Prof Angela and Meena of Oberlin (left)

 

beauty on the left
beauty on my left

Yaroslavl

ahero

Fellow Traveler
Fellow Traveler

A Tribute to the Great Patriotic War.

gpwm

(When I said ‘Great Patriotic War’ to our guide, I had a friend for life.)

churiny

sec

Church of Saints Elijah and Tychen,

In a local Palace
In a local Palace

 

dancing with the staff
dancing with the staff

(N.B.:My instructor Anya at Avon Ballroom might have never expected I would use – in her native country – some of what she taught me!)

fits to a tee
fits to a tee
From Kendal at Oberlin
From Kendal at Oberlin

 

Saturday 21-6-14

We cruised to Uglich

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Saturday was the Farewell Diner

napkin
napkin

kkafd

wd

withc

lfwd

ssing

(The staff goes through a cycle of meeting new people, getting to know them, and then saying good bye..)

Sunday 22-6-14

We travelled fro the Volga to the Moscow River via the Moscow Canal.

Moscow Canal
Moscow Canal

Moscow

on the Moscow River
on the Moscow River
Near the city
Near the city

moscowa

Volga Dream docked in Moscow.

We followed our tour guide  through Central Moscow, including

Gum – a Mall (Russian’s invented shopping mall)

gum1

gum2

gum3

GUM reminded me of the Arcade in Cleveland: build at the same time (1893) and in a similar style…

Arcade - Cleverland
Arcade – Cleveland

St. Basils

with my iPhone
with my iPhone

We were to do a walk through Red Square early, but as it was 22 June, there was a celebration, and we had to delay – 22 June was the day Nazi Germany invaded USSR in WWII.

mewkm

With another old philosopher, above.

Armory Palace Museum

I would not associate ‘armory’ and ‘Fabrege’ , but in fact…

Kremlin Armoury
Kremlin Armoury

800px-Russian_regalia

640px-Moscow_Kremlin_Egg

The museum was filled with treasures: everything from carriages to crowns  to dresses.

Sharon with cracked bell - it never rang
Sharon with shattered bell: it never rang – too heavy to mount

 Red Square

We walked through this historic vista

Red Square
Red Square

1024px-RedSquare_(pixinn.net)

Lenin’s tomb was closed for the day, but we saw it and the burial wall from a distance.

Tomb
Tomb

lt1

Kremlin_wall_fragment_(cropped)

Here are buried such as Yuri Gagarin, Charles Ruthenberg, John Reed,  Sergei Korolev, and others.  (N.B.: Charles Ruthenberg (of Cleveland), John Reed, and Big Bill Haywood are the only Americans buried here.  Gagarin and Korolev are heroes of the space program.)

800px-Korolyev_kremlin_wall

Dinner on the Volga Dream

Prof Tim and Meena - Oberlin
Prof Tim and Meena – Oberlin
Larry and Nancy
Larry and Nancy
Fellow travelers
Fellow travellers Barbara and Margaret
dinner foursome
dinner foursome

 Monday 23-6-14

Monday, we departed Volga Dream, exchanging our room keys for our passports…

#402 on the VD
#402 on the VD
Yulia
Yulia
making certain all is well
making certain all is well
Thanks for the memories
Thanks for the memories

Post Cruise

We took part in the post cruise, which consisted – first day – of a tour of Moscow, and an excursion on the Metro.

Metro stations
Metro stations (subway, underground)

mimm

metro
metro

During Rush Hour, one must wait up to 40 seconds for a train.

Moscow Metro
Moscow Metro
'good luck' to rub nose...
‘good luck’ to rub nose…

 

We stopped into the famous Metropol Hotel – to use the toilets!

hotelm

 

station
Metropol Hotel

We visited the beautiful New Maidens Cemetery, where many famous Russians are buried.nmcem

Yeltsin
Yeltsin
A Ballerina
A Ballerina –Galina Ulanova
Khrushchev
Khrushchev

We were dropped at our Hotel

Our Hotel
Our Hotel – Marriot
view from our room
view from our room of side street

We had dinner with Bonnie, at a quaint Russian place.

dinner43

Then window shopped

shopping
shopping

shop

windowshopping

Our room in the Marriott Aurora was as nice as any I have ever had.

Tuesday 24-6-14

Our tour had two stops: the Tretyakov Gallery (all Russian), and the Bunker42 Cold War Museum

Our guide at the Tre
Our guide at the Tretyakov -Svetlana

tg

It was a great tour – examples:

615a305536aa6ef5f21193001d93d31c

497a3a371b2d97f3ed9b02908488c758

a4773425d7dc0cceb9596429b9e8349f

old Kremlin wall
old Kremlin wall

We next went to Bunker 42, which was a command and control center built in the 50’s about 60M under ground.

entrance to B42
entrance to B42
Svetlana hands off
Svetlana hands off to guide
A scene from Dr. Strangelove?
A scene from Dr. Strangelove?
Our cute guide with fission bomb
Our cute guide with fission bomb
4 Soviet era rockets. The one on the left launched both Sputnik and Gagarin
4 Soviet era rockets. The one on the left launched both Sputnik and Gagarin
we did a simulated retaliatory launch
we did a simulated retaliatory launch
post launch stimulation
post launch stimulation

Back at ground level:

Three cold war survivors
Three cold war survivors
The lovely Svetlana takes back over
The lovely Svetlana takes back over

(N.B.: I was very interested in this activity because the Sputnik launch launched me into a career of science, mathematics, and computers.)

Dinner at the Hotel:

arinourh

 

a corner of our room
a corner of our room

 

Wednesday 25-6-14

After breakfast, we checked out of the Marriott Moscow Aurora at 9:30 local (1:30 EDT), were transported by the tour to our airport, where we checked our bags, and went through security and passport control.  Flew Lufthansa to Munich,

ofd

and then Lufthansa from Munich to Washington Dulles.

part of our flight crew
part of our flight crew Munich-DC

Our United flight to Cleveland was delayed for about an hour, and when we arrived home, it was

Thursday 26-6-14

2 am in the morning – a very long day!

Back home - shade garden, and 1960 Mini
Back home – shade garden, and 1960 Mini

In Summary: Gohagan did a great job – so much was seamless and top tier.  The staff and crew of Volga Dream were top-notch as well.

My goals for the cruise were:

o to use and improve my Russian language skills- achieved.

o to assimilate some Russian history, mores, folkways, cusine and culture – exceeded.

o to meet new friends – achieved.

o to lose 1-3 kg of body mass -achieved.

o to ride the Moscow Metro -achieved.

o to see the grave of Charles Ruthenberg – from a distance…

o to see a ballet in Petersberg – achieved.

Bonus : the service and Russian language help I received from the bright, beautiful, thoughtful, considerate, patient, empathetic young women on the Volga Dream: especially  Alina, Yulia, and Olga…

Highlights:

How modern , cosmopolitan and thriving  Petersberg and Moscow are.

On Stalin from both our Bunker 42 guide and Professor Weck: at the ‘end of the day’, the country was much more advanced, modern,  and industrialized and in much better shape then we he took office – something neither George W. Bush or Ronald Reagan could truthfully claim.

Our final bus driver had been in the Crimea, and related people are happy there.

(N.B.: the use of ‘fellow travellers’ was indeed a double entendre!)

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4 thoughts on “11-26 June 2014: Our trip to Russia

    1. Thanks – took some things off the net where I did not have photos, or we were not allowed. You were in several I had, but I did not include because I did not think they were flattering…

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