Although I haven’t traveled to Russia myself, I love hearing stories from Alan and others about the time they’ve spent in this fascinating country.
In a previous journal entry, I shared a special discovery made by Grand Circle associate Cynthia Barnes during her travels to Russia. After realizing that her Program Director shared several of her same interests, Cynthia broke down many of her preconceived notions about Russia.
Like Cynthia, many Grand Circle travelers have also enjoyed mingling with the locals and learning about the everyday lives of a culture different from their own. In doing so, these travelers were able to break down their own predetermined ideas and opinions. Here, Cecilia B., Nancy M., and Anne S. share their favorite memories from their trips, along with their special encounters with the Russian people …
I had a wonderful connection with a lady named Olga during our Home-Hosted Dinner in Russia while traveling with Grand Circle. Olga offered us a bottle of Russian wine to taste and my fellow travelers were hesitant to try it. I could see the disappointment in Olga’s eyes, so I offered to drink it with her. And so we did … and had a fantastic time—so much so that we were late going to the corner of her street, where the rest of the group was waiting on the bus!
This happened five years ago and we have since become best friends, continuing to write to each other to this day. (I still remember my headache the next day, but it was worth it!)
6-time traveler & Vacation Ambassador
Our Russia Revealed trip was awesome! I encourage anyone who has the chance to take it to do so: you won’t be disappointed. My husband, Gerrit, and I have been to St. Petersburg twice in the past 14 years—and what a difference!
The Russians are a very friendly people, and were very eager to speak with us. One of the highlights was when a group of St. Petersburg college students came aboard our ship to talk with us. They are the future of Russia—and the world—and what a great group of young people they were.
This trip was so nice because we didn’t have to check in and out of hotels, since we were on the M/S Tikhi Don the whole time … and the Tikhi Don is a fantastic ship. The staff was great and made us feel welcome the entire time. The Captain was always visible and would wave us off on our adventures each morning. And best of all, he was there to wave goodbye at 4 am the morning we left!
The villages along our route were very charming. I especially enjoyed Kizhi Island with the wooden structures made without nails. And what can you say about St. Petersburg? It is truly the jewel in Russia’s crown. The city has been cleaned up since we were there in 2002, and I was able to see the Amber Room in Catherine’s Palace, which had not been restored when we were there before. It is truly amazing!
For any Grand Circle traveler thinking about taking this trip, I urge you to do so. I learned so much from the people we met and spoke with, and their feelings toward the U.S. I hope that those of us who travel with Grand Circle will be ambassadors for our country and show the world that we care about the world and its people. I am very glad that we took this trip.
9-time traveler & Vacation Ambassador
Once again, Grand Circle outdid itself! My Russia Revealed trip was everything I had hoped for and more. Many of us have preconceived ideas about Russia, and they are probably wrong—just like some of mine were. I was expecting the country to be a bit cold and old-fashioned, but instead, it’s just bustling and growing into a fast and modern country.
This is a warm, wonderful country with lots of friendly people who want to know as much about us as we do them. The people were outgoing and spoke freely of past and present conditions, politics, and any subject you brought up.
The sights were something to behold—both in the beauty of landscapes and buildings, and not to mention the fabulous history of the country. We were in awe at some of the famous places like Peterhof, the Hermitage Museum, Catherine’s Palace, Red Square, and the Kremlin. The National Russian Dance Show is a must and not to be missed, along with the optional tours to the ballet and circus.
The M/S Tikhi Don was just great, with wonderful food and a super crew from the Captain to the waiters. We were lucky to have professional musicians aboard who played wonderful music for us and were truly a talented group.
We had a wonderful Program Director, Anna Pankova, who made sure we were all taken care of. She was a real treat and her expertise and knowledge seemed endless. She had a great sense of humor and we appreciated all of her hard work. It was a lovely surprise to get a card from her upon my return.
I would encourage folks to take this trip because of all of the time spent aboard instead of hotels. It was so nice not to have the hassle of unpacking and packing again.
I hope that someday I get a chance to visit Russia again.