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Author: grammyflo

Joined: 3/15/2010
Posts: 168
Trips Taken: 13
Traveler Since: 2002

February 27, 2012

Will there be an opportunity to hear Balalaika music? I see we have a Karelian Folk Music Show optional but we favor Balalaka music. 

Also what should we watch out for in the way of the Ballet experience. Quality?? I have seen Swan Lake in New York and dont want to see a ballet company 'in training'.  Is the theater a clue to its quality?  Thanks for any advice. Florence 

Author: trumpet

Joined: 6/13/2010
Posts: 3
Trips Taken: 4
Traveler Since: 2010

February 27, 2012

Thank you Pauline.  This is our 3rd GCT trip.  Last year we took the Danube through Eastern Europe.  The stackable dolls were everywhere and so was amber.  Held off buying dolls because I wanted to get them from Russia.  Thank you again.

Author: nancyf

Joined: 4/26/2010
Posts: 155
Trips Taken: 7
Countries Visited:

43 of the 50 United States, including Hawaii and Alaska, England , France , Italy , Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Africa (Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe. South Africa), Israel, Canada, the Carribbean, Peru, going to Egypt & Jordan in February 2011 ( canceled due to the unrest there, but I will take this trip later!), China, Russia, Kenya, Turkey, Greece, Malta, Sicily.

Traveler Since: 2007

February 27, 2012

I agree with Pauline on the shopping. The shop on the rivership had some beautiful, quality items, and I did most of my shopping there. So, if I were you, I wouldn't hesitate to buy there, and also not wait. They do not have an unlimited supply of every item. If you see something you like on the ship, get it, right then!! It may be gone later.

As for the ballet, I am not a connoiseur of ballet, so I do not know, but we went to see Swan Lake at the Imperial Theatre in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. I do not know if it was a "real" ballet troupe or just training, but I thought it was great. Just being in that theatre, experiencing that ballet, was such a magical experience. Just thinking "Here I am, in the Imperial Theatre, at the Hermitage, watching Swan Lake" was enough!! Those moments don't always come again.

The whole trip was wonderful!

Author: grammyflo

Joined: 3/15/2010
Posts: 168
Trips Taken: 13
Traveler Since: 2002

February 28, 2012

ok, I am going to insist you shopping mavens come with us because this is one trip I know I am going to blow the budget!!!! ;D LOL  My husband envisions me running down to the ship's gift shop and plowing thru everyone to buy up the place!!  (I have 3 daughters and 5 granddaughters who love to shop and will expect at least a scarf!!!)   My poor husband is losing more hair as I type!!

Yes, we will attend the ballet. It's the venue and being with our shipmates that count!!

I hope they have enough magnets of St. Basil's for my bridge club!  They always expect a token of our travels.

Keep the advice coming. I am jotting down everything and my play book is always with me. (I am one of those note takers.)

One thing my husband will absolutely NOT do is travel in the subways alone.  I hope our tour director will understand and be with us on the Metro!

 

 

Author: nancyf

Joined: 4/26/2010
Posts: 155
Trips Taken: 7
Countries Visited:

43 of the 50 United States, including Hawaii and Alaska, England , France , Italy , Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Africa (Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe. South Africa), Israel, Canada, the Carribbean, Peru, going to Egypt & Jordan in February 2011 ( canceled due to the unrest there, but I will take this trip later!), China, Russia, Kenya, Turkey, Greece, Malta, Sicily.

Traveler Since: 2007

February 28, 2012

Grammyflo-- I don't remember any magnets for sale on the ship, but there may have been...BUT they were always at the vendor stalls that were close to the ship when we went to the smaller towns and by the sites. I don't remember if there were some of St. Basil's, but probably. You mentioned something about the balaleika (sp?), and I know that I bought about 10 magnets (to bring back for friends) that were of 3 girls holding a balaleika, at a stall by Peterhof.....but I saw them other places as well.....

One thing that I bought on the ship that I just love is a music box that features St. Basil's, and it plays Moscow Nights. I bought one at the beginning of the trip, and then when I decided to buy a second one (for my granddaughter), they were all out, and it was too late to buy one somewhere else (the trip was ending)! So, "strike while the iron is hot", so to speak!! I told her that I would be enjoying it for a while, and then I would give it to her. My grandkids know that so much of what I buy for myself that I will eventually give to them. Of course, they have always gotten stuff from my travels, but they like what I have too (of course!!).

Author: jeswlloyd

Joined: 9/13/2011
Posts: 28
Trips Taken: 8
Traveler Since: 2009

February 28, 2012

This discussion thread has stirred some fond memories of our Russia Revealed trip in 2009.  We sailed on the Rossia from St Petersburg to Moscow.  Our cablin was on the lower level which was perfect for us - right down the hall from the coffee and hot chocolate and we passed the gift shop every night on the way to and from dinner.  We traveled with friends and each night we would peruse the gift shop - it seemed we found new treasures each time.  They really do have nice offerings at competitive prices.

For the shoppers going on this trip, my favorite purchase was a linen sweater that I bought at Goritsky.  On the way back to the ship there were stalls of vendors - at least one with linen sweaters.  I just stopped to observe others trying on sweaters, and, of course, could not resist trying on one myself.  Before I could ask, I was given a price I could not refuse.  I live in Dallas so I don't need a heavy cost for much of the winter.  This sweater has been perfect and held up nicely to cleaning.  Every time I wear it, I think of that fabulous trip.

Before we went, my husband and I would not have considered going out on our own in Russia.  However, by the time we traveled from St Petersburg to Moscow, we felt perfectly comfortable.  It is such a beautiful walk though  wooded park with birch trees to the subway station.  Fortunately, the subway station is at the end of the line so it is quite easy to get back.  We loved the Moscow subways.  We always found someone who helped us whether on the street, in the grocery, at a coffeee shop or on the subway.  I think they might have wanted to practice their English, but those were the special moments that we remember.  Of course, everyone has to travel at their own comfort level. 

I know you will find this a perfect birthday present.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 962
Trips Taken: 11
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

February 28, 2012

I had suggested not taking the ballet excursion, based on a previous experience in St. Petersburg when we were taken to a performance of Giselle.  It was very poor.  A lot of people who did take the excursion when I took the tour were disappointed.  It really depends on your expectations.  But don't miss the folk music performance.

Author: grammyflo

Joined: 3/15/2010
Posts: 168
Trips Taken: 13
Traveler Since: 2002

March 02, 2012

Think I read somewhere that the Rossia has 110 AND 220. 

Can this be true?  It would be a first.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 962
Trips Taken: 11
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

March 02, 2012

I remember two electrical outlets at the desk in my cabin, one for each.  I could charge my Kindle the night before the trip finished.

Author: grammyflo

Joined: 3/15/2010
Posts: 168
Trips Taken: 13
Traveler Since: 2002

March 07, 2012

Just saw on GCT Facebook that GCT is offering deck upgrades to anyone booking a trip July to September.  Dang, we booked too early.  We already booked a more expensive room on the advice of our Trip Counselor.  Where did I read about not booking too early!!!

O well, I am assured from this board that the Rossia is lovely either way.  Still excited about going.  You should see all the notes in my notepad on the shopping advice from you experienced shopping mavens!!!!

 

Author: debi

Joined: 1/25/2012
Posts: 18
Trips Taken: 5
Countries Visited:

I have been to Africa Tanzania Safari, I video taped it and watch it over and over and its just like being there. I went to Costa Rica and my video camera captures all the sights and sounds you can;t get with a picture. I loved it. I have been to Greece and England. Hawaii, Nevis, St Thomas, St Maarteen, Heart of India

Traveler Since: 2008

March 07, 2012

Grammyflo

I missed that by one week. I am going on the 23rd of June to Russia. Yeah so much for booking early I agree but like you said I see that it will be a great trip and looking forward to it. I just wish I knew others that were going on the same day.

Author: grammyflo

Joined: 3/15/2010
Posts: 168
Trips Taken: 13
Traveler Since: 2002

March 09, 2012

Debi, Grand Circle usually sends a passenger list with your final papers. I like to see who is going on the trip with us only for a general knowledge of States in which we lived, i.e. Florida etc. We like to meet a lot of different people aboard ship with all their great experiences with their travels. I must admit, however, singles are the most fun people, and we usually have fantastic meal partners.  

My husband and I are not cheerful breakfast people, so we usually find an empty table to grab a cup of strong coffee and hurry back to our room to wake up and turnback into our human forms !!. :D:D:D:D 

That's one thing we never worry about on these GCT trips, there are so many choices and two weeks to get to know our sailing mates!! 

 

 

 

Author: debi

Joined: 1/25/2012
Posts: 18
Trips Taken: 5
Countries Visited:

I have been to Africa Tanzania Safari, I video taped it and watch it over and over and its just like being there. I went to Costa Rica and my video camera captures all the sights and sounds you can;t get with a picture. I loved it. I have been to Greece and England. Hawaii, Nevis, St Thomas, St Maarteen, Heart of India

Traveler Since: 2008

March 09, 2012

grammyflo  I too look for those list to see where people are from. I love getting to know people from all over. This is my first GCT trip. I am single(and have a roomate) and have no problem mingling with everyone married or single. I know it will be a great trip from all the postings. I can not wait to see the shopping areas. I am with you on the coffee thing. I need my coffee as soon as I get up and try to get to it first things even thou I am not all a morning person but am willing to get up for a day of fun and adventure.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 962
Trips Taken: 11
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

March 09, 2012

Something for Trumpet.  Be careful when you buy amber and make sure it's from a quality shop.  Preferably, the gift shop on the ship.  There's a lot of plastic around selling as amber.  And don't expect to buy a ring or bracelet and expect to get it sized at home.  Amber is extremely flammable, and a reputable jeweler won't try to solder it.  The bracelet I purchased on the ship is really too large and I have to be careful that it doesn't slip off my wrist.  But I love it and wear it as much as I can.

Author: grammyflo

Joined: 3/15/2010
Posts: 168
Trips Taken: 13
Traveler Since: 2002

April 06, 2012

UPDATE:  GCT just mailed us instructions to go online to apply for our VISA to Russia.  We are using PVS Int'l as suggested.  We used them years ago for our trip to China and hope this works out as well.  We had our Visa pics taken at AAA today and now have copies on hand in case we ever get arrested here in Florida for a DUI and need a mug shot.  (that's how they came out).  We also had to apply for updated passports after 10 years of travelling, and these pictures were not stunning either.  Our children will fall on the floor laughing when they see these. (always good for our egos) :D

We went online to fill out the application  which was complicated but not!  People who are not experienced with the computer will indeed head for the wine cabinet.  

Another surprise, the fee went from $180 each to $210 each plus $25 for the fee to ship it back to us.  This trip better be worth it!!!

 

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 962
Trips Taken: 11
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

April 06, 2012

Speaking of the pictures  -   when we exited Russia at the airport in St. Petersburg, the woman at the desk looked down at my picture and then up at me, repeated that a few times, and then asked "this you?"  Very gratifying in a way, but not the place where I wanted my identification questioned. 

Every drivers license and every passport makes me look worse.  Both expire in two years, and I hate to think what the new ones will look like.

Author: surath

Joined: 5/15/2012
Posts: 12
Trips Taken: 3
Traveler Since: 2010

May 16, 2012

2 years ago, my husband and I took our first GCT cruise and loved every minute of it - cruising from Budapest to Prague. We are getting ready for our second trip, Russia Revealed, arriving in Moscow on June 29th. We both are very excitied and looking forward to the trip. Reading all your postings has really piqued our interest.

We have been reading everything we can get our hands on about Russia and its great history. We also look forward to the Tallinn/Helsinki extension. Both cities sound fascinating.

We do have one great concern - the much too narrow time window we have to change planes for Moscow. We fly Miami to DeGaulle, have to go through Passport Control there, and have exactly one (!) hour to make the Moscow flight. We have flown in and out of that huge airport numerous times the last several years, and every one has been some sort of a nightmare. 2 years ago the Passport Control took over 2 hours to accomplish. Neither GCT's air dept., or Air France seems the least bit concerned. We are!!!

Any comments??

Author: debi

Joined: 1/25/2012
Posts: 18
Trips Taken: 5
Countries Visited:

I have been to Africa Tanzania Safari, I video taped it and watch it over and over and its just like being there. I went to Costa Rica and my video camera captures all the sights and sounds you can;t get with a picture. I loved it. I have been to Greece and England. Hawaii, Nevis, St Thomas, St Maarteen, Heart of India

Traveler Since: 2008

May 16, 2012

surath

I am taking this trip from Tampa on June 23rd. I am taking the pre trip to Baltic Captals first then on to Moscow. My return trip is leaving Moscow to Paris and I had an hour lay over in Paris. I called GCT air department and told them I was concerned and they revised my itinerary so I have a 2 hour and 10 minute change in Paris. I think they could work something out but time is getting short so not sure if they would do it but call them again. I look forward to this trip and hope things work out for you.

Debbie

Author: grammyflo

Joined: 3/15/2010
Posts: 168
Trips Taken: 13
Traveler Since: 2002

July 03, 2012

Just received our passports back with Visa attached.  Assuming we are allowed to enter Russia with these horrible mug shots, I have a concern.

On page 3 of our Final Document Booklet, it states: "On arrival and departure you are responsible for carrying your own luggage to the motorcoach." 

This looms like a black cloud on my horizon. Walking down the gangplank with my wheeled duffle and wheeled carryon and out to the motor coach seems to me to be a daunting exercise.  Also, from the airport is the motorcoach parked 5 blocks away? 

Must I now go up to our clubhouse gym every day for upper body strengthening and weight lifting?

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 962
Trips Taken: 11
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

July 03, 2012

I seem to remember that we put our large suitcases out of our cabins either the night before the cruise was over or very early the next morning.  And then the crew members took them out to the various coaches for whatever time we'd be leaving.  The group I was with wasn't leaving the city until much later, but we had to be off the ship so that it could be cleaned for the next group of travelers.  Maybe, we had color-coded labels; I don't remember.  Anyway, they bused us to a parking lot near some churches and a nice big gift shop so we'd find things to do.

Boarding the ship, our large suitcases were taken to our cabins.  And before that at some point, our cabin numbers were put on a luggage tag with magic marker.

And we always have to wheel our own luggage from the airport terminal to the motor coach wherever we are, so that's no different.

Maybe, they mean your hand luggage.

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