Moscow Journals

Russia River Cruise- Moscow to St. Petersbugh

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A May 2006 trip to Moscow by Wasatch

Quote: There is much more to Russia than its two great cites, and a river cruise is a great way to see it all.

Kostroma

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Attraction

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Of the places we visited in Russia, Kostroma is where I would most like to return. Once the home of major Soviet military installations, Kostroma was closed to visitors until the 1990s, making it a place so secret that it wasn’t shown on Russian maps. Kostroma is an attractive small city on the Volga River. It is large enough (350,000) to have an interesting old town of classical buildings and old wooden houses, but small enough that the streets were not clogged with traffic. I used every possible moment to wander the streets.Be sure to get down to the waterfront for the view across the Volga. Our local guide said that her grandmother used to wade across the river in the summer, befor...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 13, 2008

MOSCOW- Russia’s showpiece capital

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Story/Tip

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Arrival at the Moscow airport after 17 hours of airplanes put us in bad mood, a 115-minute wait at passport control, unclear signs, and pushy mobs of Russians. When we finally reached the arrival hall, things began to pick up. As promised, a person holding a sign saying "MS Tolstoy" was waiting right at the door. Transfer was handled by a driver and an English speaking member of the crew. When we finally arrived at the ship, about 10:30pm, dinner was still being served in the dining room.Moscow’s 9 to 12 million people, depending on which source is right, live in a city covering nearly as large an area as los Angeles, 390 miles²  versus 450, making it an usually spacious city for ...Read More

The River Cruise Stops

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Story/Tip

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During the Soviet era, the expression Potemkin Village meant a misleading show piece making Russia lookbetter than it actually was. The Soviets were good at this, and Moscow and St. Petersburg are PotemkinVillages on the grand scale. The great advantage of a Russian river cruise is that it stops at some moretypical villages, towns, and cities which gave us a much better picture of Russian life than what is seen inthe two great cities.Places visited (in order):Moscow: Days 1-3 days, depending on when your plane arrivesDay 4 Uglich- a small village of great historical importanceDay 5 Kostroma- a noted monastery in a delightful classical style small...Read More

Aboard the MS Tolstoy

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Story/Tip

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This “Experince” review is specific to what we experienced on the MS Tolstoy. For a discussion of how to pick ariver ship cruise, see “Experience—How To Pick a River Cruise”First off, and this is very important, there are several reviews of the Tolstoy on the Internet. Ignore them. The ship changed owners and was completely remodeled for the 2006 season, and what we experienced inMay, 2006, was nothing like what those earlier travelers reported. It is misleading waste of time to evenread them. A couple examples: earlier passengers complained that breakfast was too skimpy. Now,breakfast is a buffet. Earlier reviews complained about the fairly typical Russian ship bat...Read More

St. Petersburg, Russia By Ship

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Story/Tip

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This Experiences review covers our cruise stop in St Petersburg. Moscow and ports in between are discussed in other entries.During the Soviet era, the expression Potemkin Village meant a misleading showpiece village makingRussia look better than it actually was. The Soviets were good at this, and Moscow and St. Petersburg arePotemkin Villages on the grand scale. The great advantage of a Russian river cruise is that it also stops at more typical villages, towns, and cities which gave us a much better picture of Russian life than what isseen in the great cities, but, the great cities, even if not the real Russia, were definitely worth the time allottedby the tour, if ...Read More

The Budget

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The brochure price for a river cruise is not as all inclusive as the brochure would lead you to believe. Besure to read ALL the fine print to learn what is not included in the “all-inclusive” price. Here is what wespent for two on top of the advertised price:Taxes & fees: $180Passports: $150-180 (depends if new or renewal) Russian Visas: $390Tips: The cruise company suggested $15 a day per person for the crew plus $6 a day per person for theCruise Director. Other sources said $5-6 for the crew per person, $2-3 for the Cruise Director. Localguides, $1-4, bus driver $1-4 (Hint for tipping: a 50 ruble bill is just about $2 in 2006).Souve...Read More

Restrooms

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Story/Tip

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The usual sources of tourist information have dire news about public restrooms in Russia. On the whole,we found the facilities better than we expected.Some charged a fee, 5 to 8 rubles (20-30¢). Many were free. All were clean, but many look shabby. They ranged from squat toilets* (fee, in the GUM Department Store on Red Square) to Austrian quality.**Be on the lookout for is the location of the toilet paper. It was quite common for there to be a single roll forthe entire restroom located outside the stalls. You have to tear off what you think you will use and take itinto the stalls with you. Error on the generous side. Remember to check– this is not a lesson you ...Read More
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Our biggest problems were before we got to Russia, in getting our airplane tickets. Screw up was piledupon screw up by both Orbitz and Lufthansa. At one point I counted 18 phone calls needed to get Orbitzto understand that their computer and Lufthansa’s computer did not have us on the same flights, andnobody was sure which one was correct. Our next trip was booked on Expedia.The government of Russia seems committed to discouraging tourism, and they do a good job of it:1] A visa will cost about $200 per person, done through a visa service for $60-80 extra fee. Theoretically,you can save the service fee by doing it yourself, but that’s a bad idea. You will have t...Read More
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Another Member’s journal titled “Capitalism in Russia” discusses some micro-economic trendsattributable to the introduction of capitalism in 1991. Here, I discuss the macro-economic impact ofcapitalism in Russia.There are three sources of information on the effects of capitalism on Russia in the post-Soviet era: 1]what we saw on our trip, 2] what we learned from the ship’s on board lectures on Russian life, and 3]statistics, including the extensive public opinion polling now going on in Russia. A recent article in Newsweek summed up the poll results: “Most Russians remember Russia in the1990s as a country of instability, lawlessness and banditry. They believ...Read More