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Moscow Churches Volga Boating Scenery St Petersburg

2007 and 2011 - Allan and Debbie go to Russia

The land of forests, lakes, vodka, and ...

“Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, ... ”

This is how English announcements always start in this larger-than-life country with its different ideas, different attitudes and a very different way of life.

We knew all about Russia because we’d seen it on TV. Everywhere is grey (especially Red Square), and covered with snow. The shops are empty, the streets are deserted apart from a few official limousines and a handful of grim-faced fur-clad peasants, the ancient palaces are crumbling ruins and the few tourists have no freedom.

We were so wrong! Let us show you what we found during our two weeks in 2007 cruising from Moscow to St Petersburg, or on our return visit in 2011 cruising from St Petersburg to Astrakhan and Rostov-on-Don. Or if your interest is purely the boating aspect, you may prefer to start by reading  the boating page.


Russian Park


In Moscow they don’t really have spring or autumn. Two weeks beforehand, at the end of April, it had still been cold and snowy winter; now in mid May it was hot and sunny summer. What a delightful surprise: there were parks, trees, flowers, and birds singing just like any other city; and traffic jams worse than any we have seen (except in Cairo of course).


St Basils Cathedral


We saw churches galore, many with the most incredible decoration both inside and out, and we saw palaces whose opulence took your breath away, all of them packed with tourists.


Pushkin Palace


We relaxed as the ship sailed past the most beautiful scenery before crossing the two largest lakes in Europe. As we travelled further north, the sunsets got later and later, and ever more beautifully coloured.


Sunset on Lake Ladoga


And of course we sampled Russian fare: wonderful food – simple but beautifully cooked and very very tasty – plus of course Vodka, blinis, and caviar.


Vodka tasting with Caviar


We failed to learn more than a handful of Russian words; indeed we barely mastered more than half of the Cyrillic alphabet, although once we could translate the letters we did find that many words are similar to at least one of their English or European counterparts.

Finally we arrived in St Petersburg, a city that was built to be a tourist showcase


St Petersburg by night


St Petersburg is the cultural centre of Russia so we saw the Red Army choir, visited the ballet, and enjoyed the atmosphere of this bustling, prosperous city.


St Petersburg by day


We even managed to go on a canal boat trip; St Petersburg is sometimes called the “Venice of the North” and it was easy to see why.


St Petersburg from the River


Even though it was the start of the tourist season it was very busy everywhere, both with eager tourists and fashionably-dressed residents. Three days was far to short a time to see everything we wanted to, and this is one city we will definitely be returning to – probably in mid-winter when there are hardly any foreign tourists about and we can see its beauty at our own pace.

Meanwhile I hope you enjoy all the pictures on these pages. As you look at them, see if you can solve this little puzzle. Why is this little squirrel, one of many to be found at Peterhof Palace, particularly Beautiful? (If you can't work it out, here's a hint).



On the map of Russia, our thousand mile journey looks utterly insignificant. Russia is so vast, we will have to find a way to return and explore more of it. One day …


Footnote: we DID go back. In 2011 we had an absolutely amazing cruise from St Petersburg to Astrakhan and Rostov-on-Don. Read all about it....


Moscow Churches Volga Boating Scenery St Petersburg
Go to Allan's Page 2007 Cruise Holidays Home Page 2011 cruise Go to Deb's Page




All pictures on this site are © Allan Jones unless otherwise stated

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