This past June, we were fortunate enough to join an Oberlin College Alumni tour entitled “Waterways of Russia.” We spent nine nights on the VOLGA DREAM – a wonderful riverboat that held 100 people.
Beginning in St. Petersburg, the tour included the Hermitage Museum, the summer palace at Petrodvorets, and, in the evening, a ballet. Unfortunately, we missed our connection in Washington, D.C., due to bad weather, so we joined the tour on day two. Ah, the joys of present-day air travel!
Day two included Catherine the Great’s palace – including the Amber Room – and other historic sites in St. Petersburg. That evening we set sail for our favorite part of the trip: a leisurely float down rivers, across lakes and canals, past peaceful scenery and lovely, classic Russian architecture. And the birch trees – so many, mile after mile – were just beautiful. We sailed through a total of 17 canal locks – they were so interesting to go through and we appreciated the challenge engineering-wise of building them. Amazing!
[nggallery id = 44]
We stopped at Mandrogi, Kizhi Island (the wooden domes were incredible), Goritsy, Yaroslavl and Uglich, our favorite. Many of these cities were living laboratories, having suffered from war after war throughout history, followed by periods of prosperity, followed, in a few cases, by near destruction. It was wonderful to see the amount of restoration being done almost everywhere.
We ended the tour in Moscow, with a full day that included the Kremlin, a number of fabulous churches, and some very moving music performed by an a cappella choir—very special indeed.
We had great travel companions, outstanding food and good weather – a few sprinkles now and then, but mostly fine. We loved the “White Nights” – watching sunsets until almost midnight! We were also blessed to have a professor of Russian history on our boat, who lectured every day on some aspect of Russian history and our travels.
The trip home went perfectly. When we arrived back in Cleveland, George from South Franklin Circle was there to take us home again. We feel so lucky to be here, and appreciate how easy they make it for us to take advantage of such a wonderful trip.
Did you like this post? Read Part 4 of the Adventures in Retirement Series.