Day 01 Wednesday Departure from the USA
Departure on your flight to Moscow.
Day 02 Thursday Moscow
Welcome to Moscow! Upon arrival, you will be met by your guide and transferred to your hotel in the very heart of Moscow. En route, enjoy a brief orientation to this grand Russian capital. Later, embark on a panoramic tour of this majestic city, including the world-renowned Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow State University and the magnificent vista over the Vorobiev Hills. Dinner. Hotel.
Day 03 Friday Moscow
This morning, you will visit the Kremlin, whose foundation in the 12th century heralded the birth of the great city of Moscow. You will also stand in the classic Red Square, with its spectacular, onion-domed Cathedral of St. Basil, and drop in for a visit at the bustling GUM Mall (Russia’s biggest). Lunch is served during the tour. Later, experience the Novodevichy Monastery, where women from the Royal Family took the veil (often after other, more wordly prospects had dwindled), and in whose cemetery the writers Gogol and Chekhov lie buried. You will also visit the House-Museum of Maxime Gorky, one of Russia’s pre-eminent social critics, as well as the Chekhov House/Museum, where the sensitive Anton Chekhov lived during his most fruitful artistic period – over 100 of his exquisite short-stories were written within those walls. Dinner. Hotel.
Day 04 Saturday Moscow – Peredelkino – Moscow
Today will feature an unforgettable visit to the Estate/Museum of Boris Pasternak, world-renowned author of Dr. Zhivago, located in the countryside village of Peredelkino, where many writers (including Isaac Babel) had their dachas, or country estates. Enjoy Lunch at a local restaurant. Return to Moscow for a visit to the Tretyakov Art Gallery. This teeming museum houses the world’s largest collection of Russian art, boasting more than 50,000 priceless items. Dinner. Hotel.
Day 5 Sunday Moscow – Yasnaya Polyana – Moscow
This exciting day will take you to Yasnaya Polyana, where the great Leo Tolstoy and his wife Sonya kept a magnificent dacha. After arriving by train, tour the historic reconstructed Railway Station and enjoy the “Tolstoy Railway” presentation, followed by Lunch in a local café. Afterwards, visit the estate-museum, enjoying an authentic Russian tea-party at the “Samovar” (“samovars” are glorious urns with spouts, traditionally used for heating and serving; tea is drunk from glasses, often with golden handles). You will also experience a charming horse-and-carriage ride along the estate (time to imagine being Anna Karenina – though perhaps with a brighter fortune). Return to Moscow with thoughts of Old Russia and its premiere novelist. Hotel.
Day 06 Monday Moscow – St. Petersburg
This morning, enjoy a cultural walking tour, stopping by the houses of prominent Russian writer, artists and composers. There will also be time for shopping on the Arbat, Moscow’s chicest street. Lunch will be served during the tour. Afterwards, board a train bound for the glorious city of St. Petersburg. Upon arrival in this elegant, French-inspired city, transfer to your hotel to rest and refresh. Hotel.
Day 07 Tuesday St. Petersburg
Enjoy a full day of sightseeing in this romantic city. See St. Basil’s Island and the Peter and Paul Fortress, resting place of the Czars. Walk along the Summer Gardens, originally the summer residence of Peter the Great. Stop by the famous statue of Peter the Great, St. Isaac’s Cathedral, Nevsky Prospekt and the awe-inspiring Church of the Spilled Blood. Lunch. Later, visit the world-renowned Hermitage Museum. This collection, begun by Catherine the Great, includes over two and a half million works, including those of Da Vinci, Titian, Raphael, and Rembrandt, as well as the French Impressionists. In the evening, enjoy a dreamy canal cruise on the Moika River. You will pass under many scenic bridges and sail past grand, pastel-colored French architectural facades. Hotel.
Day 08 Wednesday St. Petersburg
Today, embark by coach to Tsarskoye Selo, where you will see the 18th century Baroque-style Catherine’s Palace, the largest royal summer residence. Enjoy the exquisite Cameron Gallery, designed for Catherine the Great’s special dinner parties, and stroll the French and English gardens. Lunch is at a local restaurant. Later, proceed to the Pushkin Lyceum Museum, where you will learn about Russia’s quintessential Romantic poet. After returning to St. Petersburg, visit the Nabokov Museum, dedicated to the multilingual genius – later an émigré to the U.S. – who wrote, among other things, the controversial novel Lolita. Hotel.
Day 9 Thursday St. Petersburg
What would Russian literature be without the dark, complex soul of Dostoyevsky? Today, embark on a tour which follows this author’s most famous novels and their heroes. You will also visit the fascinating, well-preserved Dostoyevsky Apartment Museum and Literary Exposition. Next, stroll along the Moika embankment to Yusupov Palace, once privately owned by one of Russia’s richest aristocrats. See the grand reception and private halls of the Yusupovs. Later, descend to the ground floor dining room, and stand on the very site where the charismatic Gregor Rasputin – intimate confidant (and some say lover) of the Czarina Alexandra – was assassinated in 1916 by aristocratic plotters, with young Prince Yusupov at the head. Farewell dinner in a local restaurant. Hotel.
Day 10 Friday St. Petersburg – USA
Transfer to the airport for your return flight to the USA.