THE HEART OF RUSSIA
September 2020

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THE HEART OF RUSSIA

But outside these two important centres, there is much to see without travelling too far. Not to be missed is Russia’s oldest city Veliky Novgorod, established by the Varangian Norsemen. This was where the concept of Rus and Russians first emerged. They consolidated their power from the 9th century and the following 600 years. The city’s prominence was ended by the Ivan IV from Moscow in 1477 when Novgorod was annexed. Here you will see on a smaller scale, what was to become the template for later grander capitals.

Out of Moscow, we visit some of the Golden Ring cities, Vladimir, Suzdal and Sergiev Posad, all important in the early history of Russia. Vladimir, named after its founder, was established in the early 12th Century and grew to become a fittingly beautiful political, cultural and spiritual centre. Vladimir’s heirs fought each other for their share and one result was Suzdal, a beautifully preserved Medieval capital of a principality, which today remains untouched by modern development and hence provides a delightful picture of its past. The third Golden Ring city to be visited is Sergiev Posad, the most important spiritual centre in Russia with its shrine to Russia’s Patron Saint, St Sergius.

Heading further east, travelling on one of the rail experiences of the tour, this time “high speed”, we come to the Volga region, and to Nizhny Novgorod, a centre that thrived on trade up and down this great river. In the 19th Century it was regarded as the third city after Moscow and St Petersburg, because of its mercantile focus.

Even further east we come to Kazan, capital of the Autonomous Republic of Tatarstan, reminding us of the constant battle of the Rus against waves of Turkic forces pouring west, and geographically where we are, just above the great central Asian States of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. So here the cultural landscape changes somewhat and we find mosques, but with cupolas. The city dates back to 1005 and was taken by Ivan The Terrible in 1552.

This tour is a great start to further exploration of this massive country, the Russian far east, for example places like Lake Baikal, Vladivostok and the Kamchatka Peninsula, all beckon.

YOUR TOUR LEADER: Evgenia Kosolapova is a local from St Petersburg and completed her tertiary education in that city, including Economics at the Pedagogical Hertzen University and Museum Studies at the Academy of Arts and Culture. In addition she has completed guide training courses at the Intourist School and Museum training at the Hermitage Museum. She has been working in the travel industry since 2004, including managing a tour company and working with several tour companies handling international travellers. She speaks German and English apart from her native Russian. She is looking forward to representing Alumni Travel on this tour and to meeting you when you arrive.

DETAILED ITINERARY

FRI 11 SEPT     ARRIVE ST PETERBURG

On arrival into St. Petersburg Airport we are met by our guide, and transferred to our hotel. Group welcome dinner tonight at a local restaurant. (Meals in flight,D)

SAT 12 SEPT     ST PETERBURG

Today we enjoy a city sightseeing tour including Nevsky Prospect, the Church of the Spilled Blood, the Admiralty, St. Isaac’s Cathedral, Palace Square and Winter Palace, Nevsky Convent and Smolny Cathedra. We will also visit the Peter and Paul Fortress and Peter and Paul Cathedral with the tombs of the czars from Peter the Great to Nicholas II (entrance). In the afternoon we visit the Hermitage Art Museum including a special visit to the Golden Treasure. (B)

SUN 13 SEPT     ST PETERBURG

This morning we take an excursion to Tsarskoe Selo (Pushkin) including a visit to Catherine`s Palace with the Amber Room. On our return to St Petersburg we enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure. (B,L)

MON 14 SEPT     ST PETERBURG

This morning we visit the Yusupov Palace museum on the Moika River including State Rooms, the Theatre and the Rasputin-Cellar. In the afternoon we take a visit to the Faberge Museum in the Shuvalov Palace, containing the world’s largest collection of works by Carl Fabergé including the iconic Easter Eggs. (B)

TUE 15 SEPT     ST PETERBURG

After breakfast today we visit the Dostoevsky Literary-Memorial Museum, his final home while living in St Petersburg (entrance) and where he wrote the Brothers Karamazov. The rest of the day is at leisure leisure. (B)

WED 16 SEPT     ST PETERBURG – VELIKY NOVGOROD

After breakfast we transfer to Veliky Novgorod, one of the most ancient cities of Russia (180 km). On arrival we enjoy a group lunch at a local restaurant. In the afternoon we take a city sightseeing tour including Kremlin (entrance), the Cathedral of St. Sophia and St. Georges Monastery. (B,L)

THU 17 SEPT     VELIKY NOVGOROD – STARAYA RUSSA – VELIKY NOVGOROD – MOSCOW

Today we take a full day excursion around Lake Ilmen and visit Staraya Russa including entry to the Dostoevsky Museum (his family home) and Brothers Karamazov Museum (the novel was set in this area). In the evening we transfer to the train station, and depart at 2120 hrs by overnight train to Moscow. (B,L)

FRI 18 SEPT     ARRIVE MOSCOW

We arrive into Moscow at 0515 hrs and transfer to our hotel. After breakfast we take a city sightseeing tour including Tverskaja Street, Red Square with Lenin Mausoleum and St. Basil`s Cathedral, Teatralnaya Square, Bolshoi Theatre, along the Moscow River to Sparrow Hills, Moscow State University, panoramic view, Victory Park. We return to the hotel to check in at 1400 hrs. The rest of the day is at leisure. (B)

SAT 19 SEPT     MOSCOW

This morning we visit the Kremlin including entry to both the Archangel Cathedral and Armoury. In the afternoon we visit the Tolstoy House Museum in the Khamovniki district. (B)

SUN 20 SEPT     MOSCOW

This morning we visit the Novodevichy Convent including a visit to the Cathedral and the Novodevichy Cemetery, the burial place of many prominent Russians. After lunch at a local restaurant we visit the Tretyakov Art Gallery. (B,L)

MON 21 SEPT     MOSCOW – SERGIEV POSAD – SUZDAL

Morning drive to Sergiev Posad (Zagorsk), a small Russian town 70 km north-east of Moscow. On arrival we visit the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius – the most important Russian monastery and the spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church. (St Sergius is Russia’s Patron Saint. The renaissance of the religious and political power of the Russian Orthodox Church, means that this is once more an important site for gaining an understanding of what Russia is as a nation. After lunch at a local restaurant we transfer to Suzdal. On arrival around 1700 hrs we check in to our hotel. (B,L)

TUE 22 SEPT     SUZDAL

Breakfast at the hotel, then we start on a Suzdal city sightseeing tour including visits to the Suzdal Kremlin (entrance), the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, visit to the Museum of Wooden Architecture (entrance), the St. Ethymius Monastery and the Cathedral of the Transfiguration. (B)

WED 23 SEPT     SUZDAL – VLADIMIR – NIZHNY NOVGOROD

After breakfast this morning we check out and drive to Vladimir, where we visit the Assumption Cathedral (entrance), St. Demetrius Cathedral (entrance) and the Golden Gates of Vladimir, ending at the railway station, where we depart on the high-speed train “Strizh” to Nizhny Novgorod, arriving mid-afternoon. Transfer to Hotel Courtyard Nizhny Novgorod City Center and check in. Afternoon at leisure. (B)

THU 24 SEPT     NIZHNY NOVGOROD – KAZAN

After breakfast this morning, we have a city tour, including the medieval fortress – the Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin (entrance), Church of Nativity of Most Holy Mother of God, Archangelsky Cathedral and a visit to the GAZ History Museum, a car museum situated in an industrial area with Stalinist-constructivist architecture. In the afternoon we visit the Maxim Gorky House-Apartment Museum (entrance). We cable car, and then have a walking tour on B. Pokrovskaya street. Tonight we have an early dinner at a local restaurant, before transferring to the train station to take our train to Kazan. (B)

FRI 25 SEPT     ARRIVE KAZAN

05.18 arrival in Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan,where we transfer to Hotel Park Inn Kazan for breakfast After breakfast we have a city tour including historic city centre, Old-Tatar settlement Marjani Mosque, Kaban Lake, Tatar Drama Theatre,and Bulak Canal. We also visit to the Kazan Kremlin (entrance), the unique Complex of Archeological, Historical and Architectural monuments included on the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage List. We also visit the Qol Sharif Mosque, the Annunciation Cathedral and the Tower of Soyembika, before checking into the hotel for the night. (B)

SAT 26 SEPT     KAZAN

After breakfast this morning we visit the Admiralteyskaya Quarter and the Raifa Monastery (entrance). The monastery is located on the bank of a beautiful lake and surrounded by virgin forests; it is one of the most beautiful sites in Tatarstan, with an intriguing history dating back to the 17th century and it is still a functioning monastery today. After lunch, we continue our touring, visiting Iske-Kazan (Old Kazan), a fascinating open-air museum located where the capital of the medieval Khanate of Kazan once stood. Visit the Iske-Kazan Museum dominated by a modern reconstruction of the large wooden fortress from time of the khanate and interactive theatrical show with the medieval ruler of the city, the Kazan Khan, and his entourage, giving an impression of the lives of the people of medieval Kazan (entrance), Return to the city. (B)

SUN 27 SEPT     KAZAN

After breakfast today we travel to Sviyazhsk, a scenic little town located an hour’s drive from Kazan at the confluence of the Volga and Sviyaga Rivers. It has served as a fortress and military base since the 16th century. We visit to the Holy Domitian Monastery of Sviyazhsk (entrance) and the Temple of St. Sergius of Radonezh (entrance) and enjoy the magnificent panoramic views of the town and the rivers, lunch en route, before arriving back in Kazan mid-afternoon. Free time. (B)

MON 28 SEPT     KAZAN – MOSCOW

After breakfast we transfer to the airport for our flight back to Moscow. On arrival we transfer to our hotel. The rest of the day is free for last minute shopping on Tverskaya Street, Tonight we gather for a farewell dinner at Restaurant “Old Tower”. (B,D)

TUE 29 SEPT     DEPART MOSCOW

Breakfast, transfer to the airport, departure flights home or onward. (B, Meals in flight)

GENERAL INFORMATION AND SPECIAL BOOKING CONDITIONS

TOUR PRICE:
Land only per person, twin share $7,585.00
Single Supplement $2,125.00

LAND ONLY TOUR PRICE INCLUDES:
• Twin-share accommodation in comfortable hotels with private facilities
• Transport in comfortable air conditioned coaches
• Transfers, touring and entry fees as per itinerary
• Twin share accommodation in comfortable hotels, with private facilities
• Breakfast daily and other meals as per itinerary (B – breakfast, L – lunch, D – dinner)
• English speaking local guides, and services of tour leader throughout the tour
• All group tipping and gratuities
• Tour booklet

LAND ONLY TOUR PRICE DOES NOT INCLUDE:
• International air travel from Sydney to Russia
• Applicable passenger airport taxes
• Airport to hotel transfers if not travelling on suggested flights
• Visa fees
• Travel Insurance
• Meals not listed in itinerary
• Drinks with meals, excluding tea and coffee at breakfast
• Items of personal nature (laundry, etc.)

AIRFARES:
Please contact Tony (tony@outandbouttravel.com.au) for the best fares available at the time of booking.

I’m Interested…How Do I Book?
Fill in the online Booking Form, read and agree with our Terms & Conditions, select your payment option for your deposit of $450.00 per person to Alumni Travel and Submit. Upon receipt of your Booking Form and deposit, you will receive a confirmation of your place in writing.

DEPOSIT AND FINAL PAYMENT:
The deposit is accepted as a first installment of the tour cost and will be fully refunded if the arrangements can not be confirmed or the tour is cancelled by Alumni Travel. Final payment for the tour needs to be received at least 60 days prior to tour departure. An invoice will be sent to you about a fortnight before the final payment becomes due.

CANCELLATION AND REFUNDS:
Any cancellation from the tour needs to be done in writing. The cancellation date will be taken from the day your written cancellation is received by Alumni Travel. Because of the tour cancellation charges imposed by our various suppliers, the following cancellation charges apply, per person:

Over 60 days $100.00 – Administration Fee
59 – 40 days 25% of tour cost
39 – 10 days 50% of tour cost
Within 10 days 100% of tour cost

If a difference occurs between these cancellation conditions and those imposed by our suppliers, then the conditions of the supplier shall apply. There is no refund before or after travel has commenced or for any unused portion of the tour, either in regard to the standard group arrangements or separate independent arrangements.

CREDIT CARD PAYMENTS:
Any payments by credit card will be subject to a 2% non-refundable Merchant Administration Fee.

TRAVEL INSURANCE:
It is standard policy with our company that all our international travellers have some type of international travel insurance, so that you are covered for any unforeseen circumstances that may arise. A comprehensive Insurance brochure is available from Alumni Travel. The insurance brochure contains the terms and conditions under which insurance cover will be offered to you.

ADDITIONAL TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS:
If you would like Alumni Travel to assist you with any additional arrangements pre or post tour, please contact our office for assistance at time of booking. All arrangements need to be finalised at least 30 days prior to your departure.

AMENDMENTS:
An administration fee of $30.00 per amendment will be charged for any changes made to any reservation within 30 days prior to your departure. Any additional charges imposed by our suppliers will also be payable.

PASSPORT AND VISAS:
It is the traveller’s responsibility to ensure that they possess the necessary travel documentation for the tour, such as a valid passport and any required visas. Your passport should be valid at least 6 months beyond the end of your journey and have two clear pages for each country to be visited in your journey.

FORCED CANCELLATION:
In the event that passenger numbers do not reach the minimum number of tour participants (10, excluding the tour leader) required for the tour, it may be necessary to either surcharge or cancel the tour. If such an event does occur, you will be notified at least 60 days prior to the tour departure.

TOUR PRICES:
Tour prices have been calculated on the basis of exchange rates and tariffs at time of print and are subject to change up until final payment has been received. Once final payment is received, no surcharges will apply. Should you decide to cancel your arrangements on the basis of a change in the tour price, normal cancellation charges will apply.

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