Never Been To Russia? See It Through Our Eyes! The Most Comprehensive Tour You'll Ever Find!

Tripoto
25th Apr 2018
Photo of Never Been To Russia? See It Through Our Eyes!
The Most Comprehensive Tour You'll Ever Find! by Barkha Arora

Severely bitten by the travel bug, me and my equally nomad husband, decided to travel to an offbeat location -- Russia, in the summer of 2018. We opted for a group tour and incorporated certain other places we wanted to visit in the leisure days. We started off our journey from New Delhi, as most direct flights for Aeroflot Airlines (Major Russian Airlines operating from India) are on Delhi- Moscow route.

The Flight

The Aeroflot Airlines are pretty good when it comes to price, food and comfort. The flight had a standard leg space, a screen in front with access to movies in various languages, and a wide food menu with options for Asian vegetarian meals as well. After gorging on the welcome drink, food and the dessert, we took some nap and woke up totally energized and excited to begin our holiday. We landed in Moscow six hours after the take off from New Delhi. After the immigration checks at the airport, we proceeded to the domestic terminal to board a flight to St Petersburg as this was our first destination.

Day 1- Arrival at St Petersburg and Neva River Cruise

Arrival at St Petersburg

The weather was surprisingly cold and wet. When we came out of the Pulkovo Airport, it was raining and chilly, with temperature around 5- 6 degrees Celsius. Enroute to the hotel from bus, we saw the country side, and trees signifying the arrival of a beautiful spring. We seemed to be in a completely different era all together. We saw some important state buildings and had a glimpse of the famous Mariinsky Theatre from the main road.

After an hour drive from the airport, we reached our hotel, Park inn by Radisson Pribaltiyskaya. It is a beautiful property close to city centre.

Reception of Park inn by Radisson Pribaltiyskaya

Photo of St Petersburg, Russia by Barkha Arora
Photo of St Petersburg, Russia by Barkha Arora

Neva River Cruise

After the check in formalities, we got ready for the Neva River cruise. We boarded the bus that took us to one of the departure jetties. The comfortable sightseeing boat had two decks, one upper which was open to enjoy the site of the famous royal palaces on the banks and one lower deck, which was covered, for shelter in case of rain. The weather can be extremely unpredictable in St Petersburg, and in a very short span of our stay there, we had witnessed rain, chilly winds and beautiful sunshine. It is said that there are only 68 days of sunshine in St. Petersburg in an year and we were lucky to witness one of those beautiful days.

The cruise moved from one end of the city taking us through the connected channel of canals and gliding beneath some of the city’s beautiful bridges. It was enchanting to see the panoramic view of the entire city from the middle of the river, the royal palaces and the beautiful churches standing tall in pride for 200 years since they were established. Passing along the famous Peter and Paul Fortress, the beautiful Summer Gardens, with its marble statues and St Isaac’s Cathedral, the massive Russian Orthodox church topped by a gleaming gold dome, we heard stories about the history of the Neva, and St Petersburg’s founder, Peter the Great from the guide sitting on the lower deck.

Metal Bridge over the Neva River

Photo of Never Been To Russia? See It Through Our Eyes!
The Most Comprehensive Tour You'll Ever Find! by Barkha Arora
Photo of Never Been To Russia? See It Through Our Eyes!
The Most Comprehensive Tour You'll Ever Find! by Barkha Arora
Photo of Never Been To Russia? See It Through Our Eyes!
The Most Comprehensive Tour You'll Ever Find! by Barkha Arora

After two hours of mesmerising views, we de-boarded at the original jetty point and moved for dinner at Jai Hind, a popular Indian restaurant chain in Russia, located at Vladimirskiy ave 19. The restaurant had warm interiors and amazing Indian food. After the sumptuous meal, we went back to hotel for a comforting night stay.

Day 2

Day 2 – St Petersburg City Tour, Hermitage Palace Tour, and Church of Savior on Spilled Blood

We witnessed the start of white nights in St Petersburg, with the Sun setting in too late and rising too early in the morning. We woke up to a beautiful day and gorged on American buffet breakfast at the hotel. Post that, we boarded the bus for an excursion through city of St Petersburg.

City Tour

We stopped by a huge ice breaker at the bank of the Neva River imported from Great Britain in the 16th Century. In the extreme winters witnessed by Russia, the Neva River freezes and icebreakers are required to keep the waterway open. We then stopped by the Imperial Academy of Arts and the beautiful Rostral Columns alongside the bank of the Neva. The square of the Rostral Column gave a panoramic view of the famous Hermitage palace at the backdrop. Few of the royal palaces, originally made by Peter the Great, for his family members, have been converted to state buildings, libraries, universities and museums. The city palaces were asked to be painted in bright colors since Russia is plagued by extreme winters and the low exposure to sunlight increased depression among Russians. Despite the cold temperatures ( 5 to 6 degrees centigrade for an Indian), there were a lot of people on the roads who were visibly enjoying the most beautiful days of the Russian calendar.

The Ice Breaker imported from Great Britain

Photo of St Petersburg, Russia by Barkha Arora

The Imperial Academy of Arts, St Petersburg

Photo of St Petersburg, Russia by Barkha Arora

Rostral Column alongside the bank of the Neva

Photo of St Petersburg, Russia by Barkha Arora

The panoramic backdrop view of the Hermitage Palace

Photo of St Petersburg, Russia by Barkha Arora

We stopped by a local gift shop to collect souvenirs for our family and friends. The shop was built on the ground floor of one of these palaces and had beautiful collection of Matryoshka dolls. These dolls have traditional importance and they readily represent Russia on a world level. The craft shop also had captivating collection of sets of chess, it being the national game of Russia.

The local gift shop

Photo of Never Been To Russia? See It Through Our Eyes!
The Most Comprehensive Tour You'll Ever Find! by Barkha Arora

A beautiful collection of Matryoshka dolls

Photo of Never Been To Russia? See It Through Our Eyes!
The Most Comprehensive Tour You'll Ever Find! by Barkha Arora

A wooden crafted chess set

Photo of Never Been To Russia? See It Through Our Eyes!
The Most Comprehensive Tour You'll Ever Find! by Barkha Arora

We then headed directly to Nevsky Prospekt, the heart of St. Petersburg. It is the main avenue on which majority of the city’s shopping and nightlife are located. We could not get enough of the beautiful buildings and churches in/around that area. We strolled on the main street, merrily taking pictures and absorbing the European architecture of the city.

Nevsky Prospekt with tour friends

Photo of Never Been To Russia? See It Through Our Eyes!
The Most Comprehensive Tour You'll Ever Find! by Barkha Arora

A state building on Nevsky Prospekt

Photo of Never Been To Russia? See It Through Our Eyes!
The Most Comprehensive Tour You'll Ever Find! by Barkha Arora

The Nevsky Prospekt led us to the famous Palace Square, the central city square of St Petersburg and of former Russian empire. St Petersburg was the former capital of Russia, before the capital was shifted to Moscow. The Palace Square has Hermitage Place on one side and the majestic Winter Palace on the other. At the center of the square stands the Alexander Column, the tallest granite column in the world.

The Alexander Column, Palace Square

Photo of Never Been To Russia? See It Through Our Eyes!
The Most Comprehensive Tour You'll Ever Find! by Barkha Arora

Hermitage Palace

We took a complete tour of the State Hermitage Museum, one of the top activities to be done when in St. Petersburg and a regular activity scheduled for fixed timings each day. You can purchase the tickets in advance or on the same day from the ticket office. A tour guide is assigned to you and takes you to the magical world of State Museum.

The royal exteriors of the Hermitage Palace

Photo of Never Been To Russia? See It Through Our Eyes!
The Most Comprehensive Tour You'll Ever Find! by Barkha Arora

The entrance of the Hermitage State Museum

Photo of Never Been To Russia? See It Through Our Eyes!
The Most Comprehensive Tour You'll Ever Find! by Barkha Arora

The interiors of the museum are majestic, one can simply run out of words when describing its beauty. Its difficult to describe the emotional impact of being in presence of world’s most incredible art works, be it paintings, pottery or sculptures. An avid painter myself, I cannot describe the ecstasy seeing two original works of Leonardo Da Vinci in front of me. It was just like a dream come true. Pictures and words can never do justice to the beauty of this place.

The Madonna and the Child by Leonardo Da Vinci

Photo of Never Been To Russia? See It Through Our Eyes!
The Most Comprehensive Tour You'll Ever Find! by Barkha Arora

There is a huge range of exhibits, including works from world-famous artists such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Rembrandt, Michelangelo and Canaletto. The war gallery of 1812 had many portraits of the distinguished military commanders and among those a few portraits were empty canvases. On asking why these were empty, we were told that by the time the artist could make the portrait, the commanders were martyred.

The War Gallery of 1812

Photo of Never Been To Russia? See It Through Our Eyes!
The Most Comprehensive Tour You'll Ever Find! by Barkha Arora

The Jordan Hall Staircase, hall built out of white marble and adorned with gold embellishments; the Small Throne room, built with a vaulted ceiling; the War Gallery of 1812; the Chapel; the Pavilion Hall, adorned with 28 glittering chandeliers, the Peacock Clock, a large automaton featuring three gilded life-sized mechanical birds along with other woodland creatures and insects; Leonardo Da Vinci hall and the large Italian Skylight Hall are the highlights of the museum. A mummified skeleton kept in a glass casket takes you to a different world.

The Jordan Staircase

Photo of Never Been To Russia? See It Through Our Eyes!
The Most Comprehensive Tour You'll Ever Find! by Barkha Arora

The Jordan Staircase

Photo of Never Been To Russia? See It Through Our Eyes!
The Most Comprehensive Tour You'll Ever Find! by Barkha Arora

The Small Throne Room

Photo of Never Been To Russia? See It Through Our Eyes!
The Most Comprehensive Tour You'll Ever Find! by Barkha Arora

The Largest Vase in the world

Photo of Never Been To Russia? See It Through Our Eyes!
The Most Comprehensive Tour You'll Ever Find! by Barkha Arora

We also got a chance to see the dress rehearsal of the Victory Day Parade outside the Hermitage Palace by the Russian Army, a sheer delight indeed.

Rehearsal of Victory Day Parade at Palace Square

Photo of Never Been To Russia? See It Through Our Eyes!
The Most Comprehensive Tour You'll Ever Find! by Barkha Arora

The tour felt as if we were transported to a different era, the experience which was emotionally fulfilling. After the tour ended, we collected our belongings from the cloakrooms and walked down to one of the most beautiful churches in the world.

The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood

Just a kilometer or so away from the Hermitage palace, The Church of the Savior stands exquisite and beautiful. We bought tickets from the counter outside the Church and swiftly went inside to see the marvel.

Outside the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood

Photo of Never Been To Russia? See It Through Our Eyes!
The Most Comprehensive Tour You'll Ever Find! by Barkha Arora

Outside the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood

Photo of Never Been To Russia? See It Through Our Eyes!
The Most Comprehensive Tour You'll Ever Find! by Barkha Arora

The interior decor is breathtakingly beautiful, adorned with murals and paintings of Russian Orthodox beliefs. The interiors were so beautiful that we could not decide where to take the photographs. The stunning architecture outside and the spectacular interiors make this a must visit in the city. The pictures would be able to do more justice to describe this cathedral.

Photo of Never Been To Russia? See It Through Our Eyes!
The Most Comprehensive Tour You'll Ever Find! by Barkha Arora
Photo of Never Been To Russia? See It Through Our Eyes!
The Most Comprehensive Tour You'll Ever Find! by Barkha Arora

The beautiful murals on the dome

Photo of Never Been To Russia? See It Through Our Eyes!
The Most Comprehensive Tour You'll Ever Find! by Barkha Arora
Photo of Never Been To Russia? See It Through Our Eyes!
The Most Comprehensive Tour You'll Ever Find! by Barkha Arora
Photo of Never Been To Russia? See It Through Our Eyes!
The Most Comprehensive Tour You'll Ever Find! by Barkha Arora
Photo of Never Been To Russia? See It Through Our Eyes!
The Most Comprehensive Tour You'll Ever Find! by Barkha Arora

The day ended with a dinner at Jai Hind and a subsequent stay at the hotel.

Day 3

Day 3 – Day at Leisure and travel to Moscow

After an extremely busy day before, we woke up late and post breakfast went to a local supermarket nearby to buy fruits and refreshments.

After checking out of the hotel, we started off to the Moskovsky railway station for a Sapsan Bullet train ride to Moscow. The station was too crowded, but it was beautiful. It was too crowded at the platform and we really struggled our way inside the train.

Photo of Moscow, Russia by Barkha Arora

Moskovsky Railway Station, St Petersburg

Photo of Moscow, Russia by Barkha Arora

The train was moving at a very high speed, but we could hardly feel it inside. Through the glass windows, we could see the spectacular outskirts of the city and the mesmerizing landscapes in between the two cities.

Sapsan Bullet Train from St Petersburg to Moscow

Photo of Never Been To Russia? See It Through Our Eyes!
The Most Comprehensive Tour You'll Ever Find! by Barkha Arora
Photo of Never Been To Russia? See It Through Our Eyes!
The Most Comprehensive Tour You'll Ever Find! by Barkha Arora

After a fun filled journey of more than four hours, we reached Moscow, and to our delight, it was prettier and much livelier than St. Petersburg. An hour drive again, we checked into The Azimuth Hotels, our home for three more nights in Russia.

A dinner at Jai Hind (another branch in the hotel premises itself) and a super comforting stay at the hotel followed.

Day 4

Day 4 - Gorky Central Park, Moscow City Tour, Metro Tour and Great Moscow State Circus

Gorky Central Park

Post breakfast at the hotel, we started off to Gorky Central Park of Culture and Leisure. It is one of the two most beautiful parks in Moscow, the other being the Victory Park. One can choose between either of the two. It had a beautiful musical fountain and a small lake too within the premises. It’s a great place to relax and unwind and witness the lush greens of the spring. We strolled around the park and relaxed in the serene environment it had to offer. After spending around two hours there, we went back to the hotel to catch some lunch.

Photo of Moscow, Russia by Barkha Arora
Photo of Moscow, Russia by Barkha Arora
Photo of Moscow, Russia by Barkha Arora
Photo of Moscow, Russia by Barkha Arora

Moscow City Tour

Post lunch, we boarded the bus which took us on a city tour of Moscow.

Our first stop was at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, a Russian Orthodox Church on the banks of Moskva river. It was again one of the most spectacular churches we have ever been to. The exteriors of the church were stunning, and so were the interiors. There was no entry fee for the church. A magnificent structure, it is a must visit for anyone interested in Russian Culture. Just at the backside of the Church was an amazing metal bridge over the Moskva river. The bridge gave a breathtakingly impressive view of the city, the cathedrals, the Kremlin and the soothingly flowing river beneath.

Cathedral of Christ the Savior

Photo of Never Been To Russia? See It Through Our Eyes!
The Most Comprehensive Tour You'll Ever Find! by Barkha Arora

Bridge over Moskva River

Photo of Never Been To Russia? See It Through Our Eyes!
The Most Comprehensive Tour You'll Ever Find! by Barkha Arora

Panoramic view from the bridge

Photo of Never Been To Russia? See It Through Our Eyes!
The Most Comprehensive Tour You'll Ever Find! by Barkha Arora

The next stop was at the Moscow State University, which is again a spectacular masterpiece when it comes to architecture. This is the main university wing of the seven universities across the state, known as the Seven Sisters.

Moscow State University

Photo of Never Been To Russia? See It Through Our Eyes!
The Most Comprehensive Tour You'll Ever Find! by Barkha Arora

Just opposite to the university main gate, is an observation deck which offers a panoramic view of Moscow. The place is called the Sparrow hills and is the highest point of the city. It is one of the few observations decks where one can enjoy the impressive view of all the Seven Sisters.

Sparrow Hills Observation Deck

Photo of Never Been To Russia? See It Through Our Eyes!
The Most Comprehensive Tour You'll Ever Find! by Barkha Arora

Panoramic view from Sparrow Hills

Photo of Never Been To Russia? See It Through Our Eyes!
The Most Comprehensive Tour You'll Ever Find! by Barkha Arora

Cruising through the marvels of the city, we finally reached one of the most famous places on the Earth, the Red Square. The feeling experienced when being present there can never be described in words. The first sight of the most famous symbol of Russia, The St Basil’s Cathedral was emotionally gratifying. The more we saw it, the more we wanted to see it again. There is something about the cathedral, so magical that we were drawn by it. But we had to leave very quickly since we were to take a Metro Tour.

Moscow Metro Tour

We started off the tour from one of the most famous metro stations, the Revolution Square. The underground metro stations are no less royal when it comes to architecture. Though extremely busy, a lot of people bustling in and out of the stations, we managed to capture its intricate works in pictures. It was a fascinating experience, the metro trains were painted with colorful murals and art. The escalators were very steep and very long too. The tour lasted around 1 hour. We hopped many stations and the spectacular ones included Komsomolskaya, one of the fanciest subways; Novoslobodskaya Station, the one with Beautiful painted glass panels and Kiyevskaya Metro Station, one with mosaics and panels. The tag for these metro stations as the most beautiful ones in the world, does every bit of justice!

Revolution Square Metro Station

Photo of Never Been To Russia? See It Through Our Eyes!
The Most Comprehensive Tour You'll Ever Find! by Barkha Arora

Komsomolskaya Metro Station

Photo of Never Been To Russia? See It Through Our Eyes!
The Most Comprehensive Tour You'll Ever Find! by Barkha Arora

Komsomolskaya Metro Station

Photo of Never Been To Russia? See It Through Our Eyes!
The Most Comprehensive Tour You'll Ever Find! by Barkha Arora

Novoslobodskaya Metro Station

Photo of Never Been To Russia? See It Through Our Eyes!
The Most Comprehensive Tour You'll Ever Find! by Barkha Arora

Kiyevskaya Metro Station

Photo of Never Been To Russia? See It Through Our Eyes!
The Most Comprehensive Tour You'll Ever Find! by Barkha Arora

The Great Moscow Circus

We got down at the last metro station near to the Great Moscow Circus. Moscow is world famous for the circus and when there, it’s one of the must visits. Our tickets were arranged in advance from the agent. We had never witnessed something so amazingly breathtakingly spectacular than this ever before. It was certainly one of the best evenings we ever had in our lives. Such extraordinary act, such beautiful performances. We could not stop ourselves from saying “Wow”, “Amazing”, and “Oh my God”! Except for one thing that the circus included performances by trained animals, for whom we felt bad, the other acts were outstanding. The two-hour show was indeed a visual treat!

Photo of Never Been To Russia? See It Through Our Eyes!
The Most Comprehensive Tour You'll Ever Find! by Barkha Arora
Photo of Never Been To Russia? See It Through Our Eyes!
The Most Comprehensive Tour You'll Ever Find! by Barkha Arora
Day 5

Day 5 – The Red Square and The Bolshoi Theatre

The Red Square

Post breakfast, we headed to the famous Red Square again to see its marvels and capture them in our eyes forever. Red square has GUM mall, St. Basil’s Cathedral, the Kremlin, Lenin’s Mausoleum, and the Kazan Cathedral. It is usually a crowded place and even busier on weekends. We strolled around the area for quite a time and then decided to visit the GUM mall. It would not be wrong to say that the mall is a visual treat, it is so beautiful that one cannot stop uttering ‘Wow’! Though shopping there might be expensive, there are some amazing food outlets and delicious ice cream stalls to gorge on.

St. Basil's Cathedral

Photo of Moscow, Russia by Barkha Arora

The GUM, Moscow

Photo of Moscow, Russia by Barkha Arora

The Kazan Cathedral

Photo of Moscow, Russia by Barkha Arora

After loitering around for a while, we went to see the Kazan Cathedral, which is considered one of the most important churches in Moscow. Since it’s a Russian Orthodox church, one is supposed to cover their heads while visiting it.

Bolshoi Theatre

We then proceeded to another marvel, the highlight, the show stopper of the trip: The Bolshoi Theatre, which has been the symbol of Russia for hundreds of years now. You can check out more details of the Bolshoi experience on the link below:

https://www.tripoto.com/trip/the-bolshoi-theatre-a-must-visit-in-moscow-5b3e3cf312218

Day 6

Day 6 – The Kremlin Tour and Departure

The next day began with splendid sunshine and we started off with a tour of the Kremlin.

Standing strong and tall as a fortress in its glory for nearly a century, the Kremlin has been the symbol of Russia in all these years. Huge walls, lush green gardens, palaces which are now official buildings, the world’s largest bell, the Tsar bell, beyond beautiful cathedrals (Assumption Cathedral and Annunciation Cathedral) , and a huge clock tower is amongst the marvels we witnessed when in Kremlin.

We had to wait in queues to get inside the Kremlin and we were frisked at the entrance for security reasons. We had a tour guide explaining us the remarkable history of this fortress while we wandered through the interiors of this beautiful marvel. Through this we came to know the importance of the Kremlin – which is now the official working place of the President, Vladimir Putin. The tour lasted around 2 -3 hours, and we thoroughly enjoyed the same.

The Tsar Bell

Photo of Moscow, Russia by Barkha Arora

The Annunciation Cathedral

Photo of Moscow, Russia by Barkha Arora
Photo of Moscow, Russia by Barkha Arora
Photo of Moscow, Russia by Barkha Arora

After a resplendent tour to Kremlin, we came back to hotel to have our lunch and jet off to airport for departure. And we had an extra bag at the end of this amazing trip, a bag full of splendid memories!

Hotels we stayed in:

St Petersburg : Park inn by Radisson Pribaltiyskaya, 14 Korablestoiteley Street, LEN, Saint Petersburg, Russia, 199226

Moscow: Azimuth Moscow Olympic Hotel, Olimpiyskiy Prospekt, 18/1, Moskva, Russia, 129110

Tips when travelling to Russia:

1)Traffic in Russia can be notorious, so when planning to reach a place in time, keep some time extra in hand as the roads can be too congested.

2)Keep the local currency handy. You might need it in places where payment by card won’t be feasible.

3)You can easily travel through the city using Uber but keep cash in handy to pay the drivers as payment by card option isn’t preferable.

4)Learn a few words in Cyrillic alphabet, it will help you in a long way. And few words of courtesy are always welcome.

5)Don’t buy anything from the street vendors as they might trick you and rob you while conversing.

6)You might have heard of petty crimes in most popular cities in the world, and Moscow and St Petersburg are no different. Be careful with your belongings when sightseeing.

7)The weather can be extremely unpredictable in St Petersburg, better to travel with extra layers of clothing and an umbrella too.

8)Carry scarfs to cover your head while visiting the famous Russian Orthodox Cathedrals.

9)Take a new Russian SIM card from the airport itself as soon as you land there. You will need that for calling and internet services.

Liked our experience? Like and share it with your friends. For any queries, drop us an email at traveljunkie118@gmail.com.

**All images are subject to Copyright.

2 Comment(s)
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Great details. Really helpful. May I know which tour group you opted in and what was the per head charge by them?
Fri 02 22 19, 03:47 · Reply (1) · Report
I chose a group tour from makemytrip and per head cost was nearly 82000 INR for aforementioned time!
Sat 02 23 19, 02:54 · Report
Really great description highlighting all the details and specialties. Will be helpful while planning my trip to Russia
Fri 07 27 18, 21:44 · Reply (1) · Report
Thank you so much! <3
Fri 07 27 18, 21:45 · Report