Blogs from Russia, Europe


Europe » Russia » Northwest » Saint Petersburg May 13th 2019

Gary and Barbera did not have a tour booked today and so it was just Dave and me who headed on out to brave the passport control desks. We left early this time to try to avoid the queues but were scuppered when no lines had been opened....not to be detered, we hung around for a few minutes and, no suprise, were interrogated about what we were doing off the ship so early lol. They did however allow us to go through and we waited outside in the docks for everyone else to join the coach. Only 16 people on total on our tour and what a tour it was....a real gem. We walked around a traditional food and sweet market and had time to buy whatever took our fancy. Marzipan was first mass produced in ... read more

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Saint Petersburg May 12th 2019

New laws recently inacted in Russia and highlighted in our paperwork before we disembarked. 1) NO waving of rainbow flags 2) NO Conspicious displays of same sex affection 3) NO Pride Parades Punishment includes jail and or expulsion from the country.... You get the idea of how forward thinking and inclusive Russia is.... These were just a few of the rules highlighted to us in the Princess Patter before we disembarked for St Petersburg Russia. We have spent the last two days here and this blog will cover both days. Firstly, I love Russia, St Petersburg and the incredible architecture from the opulant churches in the city centre to the stalin-esq stone buildings which lined the streets on our coach journey to see those churches. These stone buildings are actually high rise flats, grey and dank ... read more

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Irkutsk April 23rd 2019

The Trans-Siberian Express Distance: 5,772 miles Duration: More than six days (I took about 14 days) I saw this article, and it brought back some memories. The longest rail journey in the world (and url= getting longer) is the stuff of legend—a train ride that starts in Moscow and ends, more than six days later, in Vladivostok. Over the course of the journey, the train crosses time zone after time zone and the landscape changes constantly, from the Ural Mountains to Lake Baikal and all the steppes one could want in between. Trains depart every two days. I did the trip "backwards", in other wo... read more
Trans Siberian hallway
Smoked omul is delicious
Lake Baikal

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Saint Petersburg January 9th 2019

Most of you know we have downsized our lives, moved back to my hometown area, and tried to minimize our lives in many ways. This process of simplifying has made our lives better in many ways. One, is less drama, and two, is fewer obligations and expenses. Along the way, we have benefitted from many suggestions, many of which center on getting rid of things. ... read more
Go solo if nobody else wants to go.

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Saint Petersburg December 21st 2018

On a Baltic cruise, prepare to sample a delightful diversity of cultures and history and bask in the rich natural beauty of the region. You'll enter a tapestry of stories which include the lore of the Vikings, the Hanseatic League, Peter the Great, and Catherine the Great. Discover the lands of Hans Christian Andersen and Alfred Nobel. Cruise highlights can include ports of call in Helsinki, Finland; St. Petersburg, Russia; Tallinn, Estonia; Stockholm, Sweden; Copenhagen, Denmark; and the breaktaking fjord country of Norway. Visitors to Helsinki, Finland can revel in its cosmopolitan flair as well as its historical past. Finnish cultural touchstones include the Senaatintori, or Senate Square; Temppeliaukion, the Church of the Rock; the Helsinki Cathedral, Tuomiokirkko; Ateneum Art Museum, and the National Museum; the medieval Hame Castle; and the sea fortress of Soumenlinna, built ... read more

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Irkutsk November 22nd 2018

Just be thankful you were not on this flight: From George Steer of TIME magazine: Passengers aboard Air France Flight AF116 to Shanghai were left stranded in Siberia for three days after their plane was forced to make an emergency landing and a replacement plane suffered a technical issue. “The crew of AF116 on a Boeing 777 from Paris to Shanghai decided to divert to Irkutsk in Russia after an acrid smell and light smoke appeared on board,” the French carrier told wire service Agence France-Presse. The plane landed safely, with no one on board hurt. When engineers realized the plane could not be fixed quickly enough, a second Boeing was dispatched by Air France from Paris to pick up the stranded passengers. It arrived the next day without a hitch – the passengers having spent ... read more
Get me home!!!!
Stuck in Irkutsk
How about the train instead?

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Krasnoyarsk October 22nd 2018

Our first taste of early winter on the south shore of Baikal was a real awakening. Following days of rain at lake level the mountains were covered in snow just above us. We think of ourselves as rather cold-hardy people and we have saddled up for some pretty bad weather over the years, but we still felt a sense of urgency to get rolling and not stop. Back in Chita, when we bought our return tickets to the States, we chose Krasnoyarsk as our departure city thinking that we would take a leisurely pace in the fall and make a few stops. We also knew from experience that the highway to and through Novosibirsk would be very busy, making Krasnoyarsk a fitting place to stop. But the winter in the Baikal region started to press ... read more

Europe » Russia October 3rd 2018

Ok, so I'm leaving tomorrow. There was a last minute flight change. NO stress at all. Was texted at 3:00am from the airlines saying my flight from Chicago to Helsinki was cancelled. No big deal, right?!?! Well, luckily the flight was automatically re-routed through London. Now flying Knoxville to Chicago to London to Moscow. So I'm getting there an hour later, no problem considering I thought the whole trip might be cancelled. Minor freak out. The upside being I don't have to deal with the Helsinki airport until my flight home. Heathrow will be much easier to negotiate on my flight to Moscow. Yay for English. I have all of my tours scheduled, so I'm getting to see pretty much what I wanted to see. All booked online. One minor snafu where I schedule St. Isaacs ... read more

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Moscow September 22nd 2018

St. Petersburg is the cultural capital of Russia. What gems it holds for its people and for us visitors! This tour has crammed in so many activities, museums, palaces, magnificent royal residences that I will definitely look to travel with Trafalgar again. To name only a few: we've been to the Hermitage, St. Isaac's Cathedral, summer and winter residences, everywhere that is listed as a highlight or as a must-see. On our last morning in St. Petersburg, before boarding the high speed train to Moscow, we took a boat cruise on the canals to get another perspective on the "Venice of the North." One very funny thing that happened while we were cruising was as our boat was ready to pass under one of the many canal bridges we saw a man standing in the middle ... read more

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Saint Petersburg September 19th 2018

This is our third and final night in St. Petersburg. Our days have been chockfull of activities, our tour trying to cram as much in our three days here as possible. Monday night I slept for four hours straight, and that turned out to be it, my third night in a row without adequate sleep. So on Tuesday I lasted until mid-afternoon, and then had the very unusual (for me) experience of feeling tired. This is a relatively unique occurrence for me, but without enough sleep for several nights even exciting days in a foreign country can feel heavy at times. And on Tuesday we had hardly any down time at all to catch our breath, which is actually the way I prefer to travel. Tuesday morning we visited the Hermitage, Peter the Great's (and other ... read more

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