A comprehensive, cultural, and history tour.


Detailed Itinerary
All itineraries subject to slight changes.
Please contact Baraka Journeys for most current itinerary

May 18-June 5, 2009

With Raisa Gareeva

Arrangements can be made for those who would like to spend the night in Frankfurt on the way over, or for those who would like to arrive in Moscow a day ahead of the group in order to be able to rest.

Day 1, Monday    

Depart USA for Russia, the largest country in the world and a treasure-chest of history.

Day 2, Tuesday

Evening  arrival (6:15 pm DME),  at the Domodedovo airport in Moscow the capital of Russia.  Transfer to the 3* Izmailovo Hotel for dinner and overnight.

Day 3, Wednesday

After breakfast at the hotel, a tour of the city (Part I) will include the Red Square, the 860-year old historic center where you can see the Lenin Mausoleum. On the Red Square you will also see St. Basil’s Cathedral built by Ivan the Terrible and the most striking of old Russian architecture, with its colorfully distinctive onion domes.  You will visit the 64-acre Kremlin (a city-within-a-city) with its fascinating array of medieval towers (the Bell Tower of Ivan the Great), medieval Cathedrals (the Assumption Cathedral, the Cathedral of the Annunciation and the cathedral of Archangel Michael) and palaces.  You’ll see the Palace of Facets, the oldest public building in Moscow, and the Grand Kremlin Palace; visit the Armoury Chamber and the Diamond Fund where you’ll see the spectacular coronation crowns, royal carriages, and famed Faberge Eggs.  After lunch in the city, begin the second part of the city tour that will include Novo-Devichiy Monastary, Vorobyevy Hills and other places of interest.  Following dinner in the city, transfer to the Izmailovo Hotel.

Day 4, Thursday

After breakfast at the hotel begin a trip to Kolomenskoe (duration 4 hrs) - a former royal estate situated several miles to the south-east of downtown Moscow.  The settlement was first mentioned in 1339.  Right now it is the state museum of wooden Russian architecture.  Lunch in a cafe on the estate grounds.  Return to Moscow.  Visit the Pushkin Museum and the Cathedral of Christ Savior.  Transfer to the hotel.  Optional evening event includes going to the Bolshoi Theatre or the Moscow circus.  (The tickets for these events are not included).  According to the preliminary schedule there will be the ballet “Raimonda” on that day at the Bolshoi Theatre.  Dinner and overnight at the Izmailovo Hotel.

Day 5, Friday

After breakfast you will have an excursion at the Stalin Bunker.  This will be followed by a visit to the magnificent Moscow underground (metro) after which you will be treated to a Ukrainian lunch.  In the afternoon enjoy the Tretyakov Art Gallery which has been described as “nothing short of spectacular” and contains the world’s best collection of Russian icons and other pre-revolutionary Russian art, particularly from the 18th century.  Later, walk in the Zamoskvorechye District of Moscow, a varied, intriguing area stretching south from the opposite side of the Kremlin, inside a big river loop.  Dinner in town will feature Uzbek cuisine and surely will cause you to recall many happy memories in Central Asia.  Transfer to the Izmailovo Hotel for overnight.

Day 6, Saturday

Breakfast at the hotel and checkout.  Today you begin your Golden Ring tour.  At approximately10:00 you will arrive in Sergiev Posad.  This Golden Ring city grew up in the 15th century around one of the greatest Russian monasteries, the Troitse-Sergieyeva (Trinity) Lauva established by St. Sergius of Radonezh. During the city tour you will see the Holy Trinity, St. Sergius Laura, the Trinity Cathedral-the main cathedral and to her churches of the monastery. After lunch at the restaurant “Konniy Dvor” in Sergieyev Posad, you will be driven to Vladimir (the road takes about 2.5 hrs).  Upon arrival, you will have a city tour.  Traditionally, the founding date of Vladimir has been acknowledged as 1108. Modern Vladimir is also a part of the Golden Ring of the ancient Russian cities and a significant tourist center.  The three chief monuments have been registered by UNESCO on the World Heritage List, and include the magnificent five-domed Assumption Cathedral; the warrior-shaped cathedral of St. Demetrius and the Golden Gate (originally a tower over the city's main gate). You will be shown all these sights.  Check-in in the hotel “Golden Ring” in Vladamir for dinner and overnight.

Day 7, Sunday

Breakfast at the hotel will be followed by a trip to Suzdal (approximately 40 km or 1 hour away).  Arrive in Suzdal at approximately 10:00 for a city tour.  The history of the town dates back to at least the year 1024.  For centuries it functioned as the capital of several Russian principalities and has many examples of early Russian architecture.  Some claim it is the most interesting of the Golden Ring cities.  Suzdal retains a rustic atmosphere.  You will not find any trace of Western chain shops or hotels here.  Livestock wandering the streets and elderly women washing clothes in the river are regular sights in Suzdal.  Lunch will be in the restaurant “Kupecheskiy”.   Return to Vladimir for free time for free activities.  Dinner and overnight at the Golden Ring Hotel.

Day 8, Monday

Breakfast at the hotel.  After check-out you will be driven 15 km (approximately 30 minutes) to Bogolyubovo which was once the residence of the Prince Andrei Bogolyubsky.  Russian Orthodox Christians believe that Bogolyubovo was founded on the spot where Andrei Bogolyubsky saw a miraculous vision of the Theotokos (Virgin Mary).  On that spot, the Church of the Intercession on the Nerl was built.  Depending on the weather conditions you may visit this church. The location of the church is unique, having been built at the intersection of two rivers and the territory around it is often flooded.  Lunch in a restaurant at Kirzhach – halfway to Moscow.  Transfer to Domodedovo airport for a short evening flight to Kazan. Arrive at the airport to check-in at 5:30 pm.  Departure at 7:45. Arrival in Kazan at 9:10.  Transfer to overnight at the “Grand Hotel Kazan”.

Day 9, Tuesday

After breakfast you will begin to know Kazan, the capital city of the Republic of Tatarstan, Russia, and one of Russia's largest cities with a population of 1.1 million.  Kazan is home to the descendants of the nomadic Turkic tribe that wreaked particular havoc in ancient Rus.  The Atmosphere of this intriguing autonomous republic is redolent of Central Asia.  Spires of many mosques dot the skyline.  Nationalism is strong here as evidenced by the bilingual signposts and the Tatar flag.  In 2005 the city celebrated 1000 years since its founding. Our friend Raisa and her family are originally from this area.  Kazan is a major industrial, commercial and cultural center, and remains the most important center of Tatar culture. Kazan lies at the confluence of the Volga and Kazanka Rivers in central European Russia.  The city tour will include Kremlyovkaya street, the University, Svobody Square, the park of the 1000 year anniversary of Kazan, downtown, Lake Kaban, and a panorama of Kazan.  You will have an excursion to the Kazan Kremlin, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.  Major monuments in the Kremlin are the 5-domed, 6-columned Annunciation Cathedral (1561-62) and the mysterious leaning Soyembika Tower, named after the last queen of Kazan and regarded as the city's most conspicuous landmark.  Lunch will be at a Tatar Delicatessen followed by a bus tour to Our Lady of Raif Monastery. On the way visit the All Religions Church.  Dinner in a Tatar village with a Folk Show.  Overnight at the “Grand Hotel Kazan”.

Day 10, Wednesday

After breakfast at the hotel transfer to the railway station for the 11:25 train to St. Petersburg.  Sit back and watch the passing countryside and have a pleasant dinner and overnight on the train. Duration 24 hrs.

Day 11, Thursday

11:00 a.m. arrival in St. Petersburg, “the Venice of the North”.  Enjoy a city-tour (approximately 2-1/2 to 3 hours) where you will see the wonderful ensembles of the Palace Square, St. Isaac’s Square, the Spilt of Vasiliivsky Island and other architectural masterpieces of the city.  At approximately 1:00 check-in at the attractive and centrally located hotel “15th Line”.  Time for rest followed by a late lunch in the restaurant “Kabanchik” (Georgian cuisine).

This afternoon you will visit the world famous Hermitage Museum and in the evening be treated to a Folk Performance in the Nikolaevsky Palace.  Dinner of Russian cuisine in the restaurant “Russian Club”.  Back to the Hotel 15th Line for overnight.

Day 12, Friday

After breakfast the day includes a drive of about 3 hours to Velikiy Novgorod, the foremost historic city of North-Western Russia.  The city lies along the Volkhov River just below its outflow from Lake Ilmen.  No other Russian or Ukrainian city can compete with Novgorod in the variety and age of its medieval monuments. The foremost among these is the St Sophia Cathedral, built between 1045 and 1050.  You will visit the he Novgorod Kremlin, traditionally known as the Detinets, which contains the oldest palace in Russia (the so-called Chamber of the Facets, 1433), which served as the main meeting hall of the archbishops; the oldest Russian bell tower (mid-15th century), and the oldest Russian clock tower (1673). There are now some fifty still-extant medieval and early modern churches scattered throughout the city and its environs.  Lunch at the restaurant “Detinetz” at the local Kremlin.  After lunch visit the Yuriev Monastery (one of the oldest in Russia, 1030) and the open-air museum of wooden architecture “Vitoslavlitsy”.  Return to St. Petersburg for dinner in a city restaurant and overnight at the Hotel 15th Line.

Day 13, Saturday

Breakfast at the hotel and check-out.  Transfer to Peterhof (Petrodvorets) – the so-called “Kingdom of Fountains” and rival of the Palace of Versailles.  Set in a 2,500 acre park dotted with fountains, see the Grand Cascade with the statue of Samson and the Lions.  Visit the Great Palace and the Lower Park and have lunch in the Peterhof restaurant.  Lunch will be in the restaurant “Orangery” in the park. (Excursion and lunch – approximately 5 hrs).  Return to St. Petersburg and transfer to the pier of the Ferry Terminal for the 4-night cruise “St. Petersburg – Mandrogi – Kizhy – Valaam – St. Peteresburg”.  Registration at the boat.  Departure at 19:00.  Dinner and #1 overnight on the boat "Belinsky".

Day 14, Sunday

1:00 p.m. arrival in Verhnie Mandrogi, where you will have a pleasant walking tour in this Russian village with lunch on the bank of river and a folk- performance.  Verhnie Mandrogi is a reconstruction of a real village; people who live there try to do this like their forefathers used to do.  The real village was burned during World War II and then in 1997 it was decided to made a tourist and historical center there.  You will really enjoy your stay there and feel the atmosphere of a Russian village.  You will have an opportunity to do some craft work there as well.  Part of the benefits from the tourist business in the village is spent on charity (it is spent on education of gifted children in the Lyceum in Pushkin – which you will see during your stay in St. Petersburg). 5:30 departure along the Svir river for Kizhi.  Dinner and #2 overnight on the boat.

Day 15, Monday

8:00 a.m. arrival on Kizhi Island where you will enjoy an excursion in the open-air monument of wooden architecture.  Kizhi Island is on Lake Onega in the Republic of Karelia (Medvezhyegorsky District), Russia.  The island is famous for its wonderful collection of wooden churches, chapels and houses.  According to the legend all of them were made only with a hammer without any nails.  During the 20th century, other masterpieces of the wooden architecture of the North-west of Russia were brought to the island.  The collection there is now about 90 different churches and houses.  Kizhi Island is one of the most highly enjoyed tourist destinations in Russia and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  12:00 p.m. departure for Valaam.  Dinner and #3 overnight on the boat.

Day 16, Tuesday

3:00 p.m. arrival at Valaam Island, the largest island in Lake Ladoga.  Enjoy a walking tour and excursion to the Valaam Monastery, an Orthodox monastery in Russian Karelia.  Most of the tourists that visit the island call it a “wonder-island” or a “fairy-island”.  It is famous not only for the unique monastery but also for the breathtaking nature.  Mostly the island is covered with coniferous trees. There are more than 480 plant species on the island; most of them having been cultivated by the monks of the monastery.  9:00 departure for St. Petersburg.  Dinner and #4 overnight on the boat.

Day 17 and 18 Wednesday and Thursday

7:00 a.m. arrival in St. Petersburg.  Breakfast at a city café after which you’ll take a bus trip to Pushkin, home of Russia’s last czar and named for Alexander Pushkin, Russia’s most famous poet.  Pushkin used to study in the Lyceum there. Visit the summer estate of the Romanov family, known for its gardens, the Grotto pavilion and the Chinese Pagoda.  Puskin Palace, first owned by Catherine I, Peter the Great’s wife, became a fashionable resort for the upper-classes in the nineteenth-century.  Visit the magnificent Catherine’s Palace, the heart of the estate, which is a baroque masterpiece and designed by the great Italian architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli.  Since the time of its original building, it has been gutted and substantially redesigned, appearing very modern today.  See the world renowned Amber Chamber and Parks.  Lunch in Pushkin.  After lunch we’ll visit Pavlovsk, only a short distance from Pushkin, with its beautiful park and marvelous palace.  The Pavlovsk Palace used to be the Royal estate at the end of the 18th century, and it was also the former residence of Catherine II’s son Paul I.  The Pavlovsky ensemble is one of the largest parks in Europe. It is a blend of Baroque and neo-classicism and often reminds visitors of Thomas Jefferson’s famous residence, Monticello.  The gardens are sumptuous—the Russian equivalent of Versailles. Small grottoes, pavilions, artificial ruins, miniature fortresses and peasant cottages surprise the unknowing visitor as they suddenly appear around the next bend (visit duration 7 hrs.)  In the late afternoon return to St. Petersburg and transfer to the hotel.  Enjoy dinner at the restaurant “Elki-Palki”, a simple 3-minute walk from the hotel.  Thursday enjoy another full day of activities in the glorious city of St. Petersburg and perhaps even a Chinese dinner!   Overnight at the Hotel 15th Line.

Day 19, Thursday

Breakfast and check-out at the hotel. Followed by a visit to the Peter-and Paul Fortress, Kazanski Cathedral and Choral Synagogue.   Lunch at the restaurant “Masha and Medvedi”.  Transfer to the airport for the flight to Moscow departing at 4:50.  Arrival in Moscow at 6:10. Transfer to the “Izmailovo” hotel for check-in, dinner and overnight

Day 20, Friday

Breakfast at the hotel. Check-out.  Transfer to the airport for departure home or begin Siberia Extension.


Day 21, Friday

After breakfast and check out from the hotel, transfer to "Mosfilm" Studios.  The excursion takes around 2 hours.  You will walk along the territory of the largest and the most advanced movie studios not only in Russia, but in Europe as well, become aware of its past, and will see its present through your own eyes.  After lunch in the city, transfer to Tsaritsyno-the State Museum-Reserve.  During the excursion there you will visit the Big Palace and will observe the territory of the park.  Tsaritsyno is the largest palatial ensemble in Russia – the residence of Catherine the Great constructed between 1775 and 1796 by the famous Russian architects Vasiliy Bazhenov and Matvey Kazakov in the romantic “gothic taste”.   It is a good way to observe and maybe even speak with locals, as they always filling the glorious gardens there.  Dinner at a city restaurant before the transfer to Sheremetyevo airport where you must check-in for the overnight flight from Moscow to Irkutsk departing at 22:05.

Day 22, Saturday

8:40 Arrival in Irkutsk. You will be met at the airport and driven about an hour to the town of Listvyanka on Baikal Lake. Breakfast on the way.  On the way visit the wooden St. Nikola church and the Nerpinary.  Check-in at the hotel “Baikal”. There will be time there for a shower, lunch and rest.  In the afternoon visit the Limnological Museum of the Limnological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences which studies the lakes and man-made reservoirs of Siberia and the Russian Far East, with particular focus on Lake Baikal.   Dinner and overnight at the hotel.

Day 23, Sunday

Breakfast at the hotel and after check-out transfer to the pier for an hour and a half boat trip on Baikal Lake.  Baikal is the largest and the deepest lake in the world and those who saw it say it is the most beautiful as well. Its purest water is considered to have a curative effect.  Later Drive to Irkutsk. On the way you’ll visit the museum of wooden architecture Taltsi.  Founded in 1969, the Taltsi museum is conveniently situated on the road to Lake Baikal.  Its 67-hectare territory is surrounded with a protected natural area. There are over 40 monuments of architectural heritage and 8,000 exhibits of high historical value. Two architectural-ethnographical areas - Russian and Buryat - show a large variety of housing and life of the Siberians.  Lunch in the cafe at Taltsi

Arrival in Irkutsk. Check-in at the hotel “Baikal” in Irkutsk.  After a rest you will be taken to the fascinating Volkonskih House. for a visit, explanation and concert program.  Transfer to the hotel for dinner and overnight.

Day 24, Monday

Breakfast at the hotel. Time for free activities followed by lunch at the unique restaurant “Lancelot”.  After lunch enjoy a city tour in Irkutsk which is a unique old city located on the intersection of the main trade roads betweeen Europe and Asia. It has always been a popular tourist destination mostly because of its location close to Baikal Lake.  When you first get to the center of the city you will be impressed with the unique architecture that combines historical traditional houses and modern buildings.  The center of the city is now considered an open-air museum.  The city is very quiet and romantic as you can still find wooden houses beautifully decorated with carved architraves.  Dinner in a city restaurant followed by a transfer to the Railway station to take an overnight train to Ulan-Ude. Departure at 20:35.

Day 25, Tuesday

Arrival in Ulan-Ude at 6:15 in the morning. Transfer to the lovely new hotel “Baikal Plaza” for an early check-in and rest and breakfast.  After breakfast enjoy city tour.  Until 1991, Ulan-Ude was city closed to foreigners. There are old merchants' mansions richly decorated with wood and stone carving in the historical center of Ulan-Ude, along the river banks which are exceptional examples of Russian classicism.  Included in the city tour will be a visit to the ethnographic museum which recalls the history of the peoples of the region, followed by lunch at the restaurant known as “Teatralnoe”.  After lunch will be an excursion to the main Russian Buddhist Temple Ivolginsky datsan located 23 km from Ulan Ude, near Verkhnyaya Ivolga village.  The datsan was opened in 1945 as the only Buddhist spiritual centre of USSR.  In the course of time the little "Khambin's sume" changed into the Monastic centre with a residence of Pandido Khambo lama, the leader of all Russian Lamas.

Return to Ulan-Ude  for dinner and a special music, dance and fashion show and overnight at the Baikal Plaza Hotel.

Day 26, Wednesday

At 6:30 transfer to the airport for a check-in at 7:30. Departure at 9:40 for Moscow for an arrival at the Domodedovo airport at 11:05 a.m. the same day.  Transfer to the hotel "Izmailovo" for check-in and lunch at a pleasant Armenian restaurant behind the hotel.  Visit the Vernissage which is a shopping area located very close to the hotel.  It is considered to be the largest exhibition & fair where anyone can find a variety of items of decorative and applied art, fine art and folk handicrafts as well.  Time for final packing.  Dinner and overnight at the hotel.

Day 27, Thursday

Early transfer (at 4 a.m.) to the airport for departure to US home destinations.

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