Bebe, Howie and Marilyn Abbott flew from Boston on Thursday evening, Sep 9 and arrived in Helsinki, Finland the following afternoon. We spent two+ days visiting Helsinki and getting our clocks rewound.
On Monday we were bussed along with 13 others to St. Petersburg, Russia where we were deposited on the river cruise ship m.s. Yesenin which would be our hotel for the next 12 days. There were two tour groups totaling 61 passengers on board.
On Tuesday we began our tour of St. Petersburg on bus and by foot. One of the most spectacular landmarks is the Church on the Spilt Blood.
On Wednesday we traveled to the Catherine Palace in Pushkin where we were greeted by the first of many bands playing the Star Spangled Banner or The Saints Come Marching In. The palace’s gilded interiors were overwhelming. Here is our host, Peter the Great.
The following day was spent at the incredible Peterhof on the Gulf of Finland where Peter created a Russian Versailles. Just look at the canal leading to the palace from the gulf and the fountains and statuary that met a visitors eye.
That evening we set sail from St. Petersburg on our way through rivers, lakes, canals and locks toward Moscow. During the night we traveled along the Neva River and across Lake Ladoga into the Svir River.
On Friday the Yesinin docked at Svir Stroy for a few hours. A walk through the village resulted in an invitation into a private home for blinis (small Russian pancakes), cookies and vodka.
From the Svir River we traveled north through the night on Lake Onega reaching Kizhi Island on Saturday, Sep 18. We explored the collection of wooden architecture under rainy skies.
It took the rest of the day and the following night to travel south on Onega to the Volga-Baltic Canal, pass through 6 locks into White Lake and dock at Goritsy. The major attraction there is the Monastery of St. Kirill.
From Goritsy we followed the Sheksna River into the Ribinsk Reservoir which is fed from the Volga. A side trip on the Volga took us to Yaroslavl, a small city east of Moscow. Our Monday visit included a music and dance performance that evening.
By Tuesday morning we had returned to the reservoir and continued along the Volga to Uglich. We were once again met at the pier by a group of musicians. Among the attractions at Uglich were the ornate domes of St. Dmitry on the Blood.
That evening the passengers and crew were treated to entertainment by the Yesinin Passenger Folk Orchestra, which was created under the guise of Russian language lessons earlier in the voyage.
The passengers included a large number of Aussies who were not to be ignored as they lead the audience in Waltzing Matilda.
Six locks and one day later we arrived at our berth on the Moscow Canal where our ship remained for the rest of the trip. Our introduction to Moscow took place on a tour bus stuck in a traffic jam. Wow – are Moscow drivers innovative.
Here are Bebe and Marilyn in front of St. Basil’s on our first of many visits to Red Square.
Here they are on the following day at one of the many museum-like subway stations in Moscow.
Our last day was spent exploring the Kremlin Cathedrals and Armoury. Here is one of 1000’s of treasures exhibited there. We finished the day at the Moscow Circus where a favorite of ours was the performing goats!