Wandering Lizard

An online magazine with information related to attractions, lodging, dining,
and travel resources in selected areas of the Western United States

Foreign Travel

Moscow - St. Petersburg

Russia

We flew into Moscow's Domodedovo International Airport on a Saturday afternoon and were met by a friendly Viking River Cruise guide after arriving an hour late and spending a miserable hour and a half getting through immigration. The Russian officials were not the problem - there just were not enough of them or perhaps too many of us. It took still another hour and a half by bus to get from the airport to our ship, the M.S. Lomonosov. We arrived during rush hour and Moscow's traffic is just as horrible as back home, but it was good to get off of the airplane, the bus was comfortable, and the Russian driver navigated through the tangle of vehicles as expeditiously and safely as possible. We had flown non-stop from San Francisco squished into economy seats and were exhausted. After settling into our cabin we had a very good dinner and went to bed early. All through the trip we found the food on board the ship to be uniformly excellent and there was plenty of it. (Most importantly for us, we also found that very good coffee was available from six o'clock every morning.) Service was also excellent and all of the key people aboard the ship spoke English. The ship has cabins on three decks, two restaurants, a reading room and two lounges with bar facilities. The cabins were not spacious, but the beds were comfortable and the large windows made for a bright and cheerful ambiance. The bathrooms were small, but functional, and the hot water never gave out.

Russia

Our first sight seeing experiences were in and around Moscow. We spent two days in the city and, on another day, made a trip to a nearby town. The first day, after breakfast, the roughly 140 passengers divided ourselves among five buses - each with a dedicated guide and driver and drove through the city. Once again traffic was horrendous, but we were new to Russia and there was plenty to see. We ate a good box lunch on board the bus and spent an hour or so in Red Square. The high point of that day was definitely Saint Basil, but it was also very interesting to see the GUM Department Store, Lenin's Tomb, and the walls of the Kremlin. We went back to the ship for dinner, and after dinner returned to the heart of the city for an absolutely magnificent classical concert in the Tretiakov Gallery. Classical music and Russian folk songs played on traditional Russian musical instruments by an orchestra that put their heart and soul into the music. Before getting back on the buses to return to the ship we were treated to an extemporaneous fire eating display by a large group of bongo playing young people. The next day we took an optional tour to a famous monastery in the town of Zagorsk. The monastery was fascinating. An adequate lunch was taken in a local eatery that advertised in English that it was a genuine Russian restaurant. The following morning we visited the Kremlin which was another high point of the Moscow visit. The grounds of the Kremlin are absolutely beautiful and the churches, museums (particularly the Armory) and government buildings are magnificent.


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