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Europe » Russia » Northwest » Saint Petersburg September 12th 2014

The day started sadly. David had not been able to join the tour as his mother had taken a turn for the worse. Jill had come on the tour by herself but she left first thing in the morning to go back to Israel in the event that her mother-in-law passed away and was flown from the USA to Israel for burial. And on a happier note, after breakfast we got on the bus and wished Penina a happy birthday in the usual Trekkers way - with a song of course. Penina very kindly gave out goody bags, party bags with all sorts of sweets, bubbles and balloons. This was whilst driving to the hovercraft pier as we were to take the hydrofoil to the Peterhof Palace. We had a half hour wait for the hovercraft ... read more
this Bus is a Hydrofoil craft !
the Splendor of Peterhof
girls and guides

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Saint Petersburg September 11th 2014

Today Natasha was well enough to be our guide as scheduled. She arrived at the hotel to take us on a very good tour of what, to my mind, is one of the most impressive museums in the world - The Hermitage. The coach took us to St Isaac's square and we walked along the river via Senate Square to see a statue of Peter the Great on a horse with a snake sneaking up the rear of the horse. This square is famous because in 1825 there was an uprising called the Decembrists uprising. This was a secret society that wanted to reform the monarchy and have a constitutional monarchy. In 1825 Alexander I died in mysterious circumstances. His brother Nicholas I succeeded him. It was thought that this was an opportune moment for the ... read more
the opulent Hermitage museum
Peacock Clock in the Hermitage
our guide Natasha shows paintings by Renoir and Degas

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Saint Petersburg September 10th 2014

Up at the crack of dawn and down to breakfast at 6:15am as we had to leave to get to Moscow airport for our 10am plane to St Petersburg. We arrived with plenty of time to spare. I needed to go to the loo which was a long walk from the check-in desks and then down a staircase and finally the ladies' queue. What had been an urgency soon turned into an emergency. But I made it! We checked in last amongst our group. But as there were still some waiting ahead of us I didn't really hold up anyone. There was a shortage of seats in the departure area, once we had gone through security. So a large number of our group commandeered a few tables in the cafe. We tried to find a couple ... read more
St Petersburg architecture is much more varied and stylish than Moscow
Rostral column by the waterfront
Catherine the Great and friends

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Moscow September 9th 2014

Our tour day started at 9am and Don and I got to the meeting point 10 minutes early! Miracles do happen. We began at the Moscow Memorial Square. This is a square of various memorials dedicated to those who died in various wars. The first memorial was dedicated to the 7 million civilians who died in WWII. In total 27 million died. The newest memorial, just one month old was the memorial to those who died in WWI. This is similar to the memorial in Tiananmen Square in that it shows working peasants and townsfolk as well as soldiers. Compare with the photo in Day 20 (30 July) of our HK + NZ + China blog. We passed the flower clock made up of 15,000 flowers until we came to the WWII official memorial. The obelisk ... read more
WW-II memorial Obelisk 150m high
Holocaust memorial of human degradation
Holocaust memorial Tombstone

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Moscow September 8th 2014

We went down to breakfast bright and chirpy after a very long sleep to be met with 10 bleary eyed co-travellers who got in at midnight. We made up our sandwiches and got into the bus for our first excursion of the day. We were supposed to leave at 9am but Don and I were late so we started at 9:09. When our local guide Svetlana welcomed everyone onto the bus she announced today is our guide Michael's birthday. So we all sang Happy Birthday (both styles including Israeli, plus the Russian language of the global version) and we learned his age is like mine and Don's. Our first stop was the Armoury Museum in the grounds of the Kremlin. Kremlin means 'fortress' and indeed this is a well protected zone. It was originally built as ... read more
Bell Tower in Cathedral Square
200 ton Tsar Bell
St Basil's Cathedral

Europe » Russia » Centre September 7th 2014

I got up in the morning without a clear idea where exactly to go. The previous evening, I read about several towns and fell asleep still unsure of what to do. However, after lying in the bed for about ten minutes I got up with the firm idea to visit Zaraisk. I decided to go there because it had a Kremlin and was nearer that other towns on my list. I would perhaps not know about this town, but very long ago I came across a Russian website with a list of one hundred best places. The bus departed from Vykhino bus station where I had been previously, so I knew where to go to buy tickets. The bus came 10 minutes before departure and arrived in Zaraisk rather quickly, about half an hour before the ... read more
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Monument to Soldiers
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Europe » Russia » Northwest » Moscow September 7th 2014

Sunday 2:15am and we got into the car. I (Lesley) managed to get an hour's sleep, but Don none since his shabbat shluf. En route to Ben Gurion we saw tens of ambulances and several fire trucks and we followed them to the airport. Oh oh does that mean the airport will be closed! We had already had three mini catastrophes at home. Thursday the tumble dryer died. Then a glass lampshade fell off the lights over the table, and knocked over a glass of water too, but amazingly nothing broke! Friday, Don lost a crown and couldn't get hold of the dentist. Our friends Ellie and Steve contacted us 10 days ago and asked if we wanted to join their holiday group, The Trekkers, on a Jewish experience to Moscow and St Petersburg. We thought ... read more
guide Svetlana leads us into Red Square
inside the GUM marketplace
The Choral Synagogue

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Lake Baikal September 7th 2014

I was "two days ago" in a pub (somewhere in baikal region) with Donovan drinking beer. We had fun and maked jokes about us trip. Donovan was travelling on his bycicle i was on a hitchhiking tour. Actually we had the same destination from east to the west in Siberia.. The day after he started his trip on his bicycle.. And 2 days later i also started my trip to the west.. After 230 km far from Baikal i ended up somewhere.. I was waiting for a car who could take me to my destination. And what I saw??? I could not believe it?? After 2 days i saw Donovan coming closer to me riding... read more

Europe » Russia » Centre » Rostov September 6th 2014

I made a failed attempt at visiting Rostov several weeks ago and this time got up quite early to be able to catch the train in good time. The only bad thing about this was impossibility to have breakfast at the hotel (I departed at 6.30, the meal began at 7 in the morning). Nevertheless, I felt quite good in the train and enjoyed its fast ride without any stops, the train did not even seem to decelerate anywhere. Its final destination was Yaroslavl, and the duration of stop at Rostov was one minute. The majority of people went to Yaroslavl. During the train journey, I read Gerald Durrell’s “The Whispering Land” – an inspiring story of author’s adventures in Argentina in quest of animals, containing colourful, witty descriptions of nature, animal behaviour, and the locals. ... read more
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Europe » Russia » Centre » Suzdal August 29th 2014

Suzdal 220 kms east of Moscow 25 August 2014 We decided to see a bit more of Russia as we had a day up out sleeve so we had read about Suzdal, a very historic town which had an impressive Kremlin. Once out of Moscow city limits, on the M7, our speed was averaging 90kph. There was one section of substantial road works which took us down to 10kph for 3.5 kms but other than having to slow down for towns, all went well. We arrived in Suzdal at about 3.00pm and first stopped at the Monastery...which was closed! We asked an English-speaking Russian where the Kremlin was and once we knew what we were looking for, it was easy to find just by looking along the skyline as it was near the Cathedral of Nativity ... read more
Bell donated by Ivan the Terrible in 1552 to Suzdal east of Moscow (1)
Building attached to Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin in Suzdal east of Moscow (3)
Building attached to Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin in Suzdal east of Moscow (4)




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