Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Taking My Grief To Russia

Leaving tomorrow for my trip to Russia with a good woman friend.  I'm not one of those folks who stay in touch when away so might not be any posts for a while.  I hope to come back on March 2nd miraculously changed for the better.  If not...will keep on trying to solve the riddle of living life to the fullest while full up with grief. 

If you are interested in following along - here is my itinerary.  I wish you all love and amazing and unexpected discoveries while I am gone.  xo


FEBRUARY 17 – MARCH 1, 2011

Arrive St. Petersburg, Russia

Welcome to Russia! Today you arrive in St. Petersburg. St. Petersburg remains Russia’s most European city. Founded by Peter the Great in 1703, it was built on an impressive scale with luxurious palaces, and grand boulevards in symmetric orderliness. Created on an island in the Neva River, the river splits the city into three sections. The southern side extends from the Winter Palace and the Admiralty with the Nevsky Prospect being its most famous thoroughfare. The northern side includes many fine buildings and a cluster of delta islands on whose southern end the city originally began. The eastern side stretches along the northern bank of the Neva River.

Dating from 1824, the Grand Hotel Europe on Nevsky Prospekt, is indisputably Russia’s pre-eminent hotel. The hotel is a relic of the Imperial past with its Baroque façade and art nouveau interiors making it a rare rich treat for its guests. A variety of restaurants range from the very finest in Russian cuisine to international gourmet cuisine.

This evening you have a dinner reservation at Noble Assembly Restaurant (this is a 5 minute walk from the hotel) Arts Square, Mikhailovskaya Ulitsa 2/9 Telephone : +7 812 956 7431

Noble Assembly Restaurant is situated in the historical building of the Grand Philharmonic Hall. The restaurant serves the best of authentic Russian cuisine such as Borsch and Solyanka. Immerse yourself in the aristocratic ambience of the 19th Century St. Petersburg, while enjoying the finest dining the city has to offer. The impeccable service will also add to your truly unforgettable dining and music experiences at the Grand Philharmonic Hall.

Grand Hotel Europe ( Faberge Suite)


St. Petersburg

Today travel with your private vehicle and guide to the Hermitage museum, it is situated in the lavishly decorated Winter Palace and occupies six magnificent buildings with three million pieces of artwork from the Stone Age to modern times. The main building and largest part of the museum is the rococo-style Winter Palace, residence of the Czars from 1762 to 1917. The museum was commissioned by Catherine the Great and she and her successors built the Hermitage collection in large part with purchases of the private collections of the Western European aristocracy and monarchy.

After lunch at leisure visit the Yusupov Palace, which belonged to Prince Felix Yusupov, who organized the assassination of the infamous Siberian monk Gregory Rasputin. Also visit the room where the assassination took place.

Next visit on of the city’s attractions the Imperial Opera Theatre called Mariinsky in honour of Maria Fedorovna, the wife of Emperor Alexander II. Built by architect Cavos in 1859-1860, it was inaugurated in 1860. Today the Mariinsky Theatre is one of the most beautiful in the world, famous for its renowned performers such as Marius Petipa, Matilda Kshesinskaya, Anna Pavlova, Rudolf Nyreev, Michael Barishnikov, Fyodor Shalyapin and others. The theatre has witnessed the triumphs of several generations of opera and ballet stars. You will visit the usually unseen areas of the theatre including backstage, wardrobe and the roof where the decorations are made before being transferred back to your hotel.

Tonight you have a dinner reservation at Demidov Restaurant. Fontanka River embankment, 14 Telephone: +7 812 272 9181.

The Demidov Restaurant is situated in one of the most beautiful places of old St. Petersburg in the Fontanka River embankment in front of the St. Michael’s Castle. Three halls of the restaurant boast the cosy and stylish interior. The antique porcelain working fireplace, the engravings with the views of old St. Petersburg make the classical interior of the White Hall unbelievably beautiful. Almost unique is the Russian Vaulted Hall with painted walls and the ceiling. Besides, there is a separate Oval Cabinet with the antique clock. The menu is based on the old Russian recipes in the best traditions of Russia of the time of Peter the Great. There are dishes that were served up to the famous Russian Princes, the Demidovs, the Sheremetievs, the Menshikovs.

In the evenings the Demidov Restaurant provides a Russian or Gipsy romance show or classical music. As well there is a theatrical fancy-dress show organized in the style of imperial palace festivals of the 18th century with such characters as Peter the Great and Catherine II.

Grand Hotel Europe B


St. Petersburg

Today travel with your private vehicle and guide outside the city to visit Tsarskoe Selo (renamed Pushkin in 1937 to commemorate the centenary of the famous Russian poet’s death). You may visit the summer palace, created for Catherine I, expanded and redesigned for Empress Elizabeth and remodeled again for Catherine the Great. The baroque Catherine Palace, whose exterior features golden domes and blue and white façade moldings, suffered extensive wartime damage, but is today a masterpiece of restoration thanks to the reinstatement of the world famous amber room that enhances the interior that gleams and glitters with mirrors, chandeliers and gilded wood carvings.

Afterwards travel to Pavlovsk. The Great Palace at Pavlovsk, a gift from Catherine the Great to her son Paul. Originally designed by Charles Cameron, it was partly redesigned at Paul’s request by several famous European architects including Quarenghi and Rossi. Although severely damaged in World War II, the palace has been beautifully and lavishly restored, and is set amidst delightful parkland which, when created, was the largest landscaped area in the world.

Enjoy a unique opportunity to participate in an Old Russian form of entertainment – riding on a Russian Troika. The harnessed of three horses take you for a ride on the big carriage painted in traditional Russian style. The fervent ring of the bells tied to a brindle, will be your accompanying music. Afterwards return to the city and visit Peter I Log cabin.

This evening at 6:15 p.m. drive to Mariinsky theatre for an evening ballet performance – Swan Lake beginning at 7:00 p.m. After the performance you will be transferred back to your hotel.

Grand Hotel Europe B


St. Petersburg / Moscow

Today at 10:45 a.m. you will be privately transferred to St. Petersburg airport to take your flight on Aeroflat airlines #842 to Moscow departing at 12:05 p.m. Moscow is the center of European Russia, but it is also the country’s historical, political, economical and spiritual center. Although officially founded in 1147, there is evidence of settlement since Neolithic times. The city has withstood numerous invasions, civil war, revolution, and even demotion as the country’s capital, yet it survived and remains the heart and soul of Russia. A city of contrasts, contemporary and Soviet-era architecture stands side by side with ancient monasteries, 19th century palaces and elegant buildings. Moscow has a rich collection of museums ranging in all topics of interest—from art to literary. The city’s repertoire of evening entertainment varies from theater and circus to concerts and ballet with programs changing almost nightly.

This evening at 5:00 p.m. you are picked up and transferred to Nickulin Circus evening performance (beginning at 6:00 p.m.) After the performance you will be transferred back to your hotel.

Le Royal Meridien National (room with Kremlin View)



This morning start your full day of sightseeing by touring the Red Square. Red Square is the focal point of the city, the square lies on the east wall of the Kremlin surrounded by a thick red fortress wall containing towers all at various intervals. Originally allotted for a market, the square itself appeared around the end of the 15th century when Ivan III ordered all wooden buildings in the vicinity of the Kremlin to be demolished to protect the Kremlin from fires. Next visit the St. Basil Cathedral, built in times of Ivan the Terrible. There is a legend around it that the Tsar ordered to strike all architects blind so they would never create anything as beautiful as this Cathedral.

After lunch at your leisure visit the State Armoury, the oldest museum in Russia, home to a collection of precious stones, masterpieces of 18th and 19th century jewelry, priceless artifacts dating as far back as the 14th century as well as an impressive collection of carriages from the best Russian and European masters, precious fabrics, and royal gala clothes. The Armoury is famous also for its fine collection of Faberge eggs.

Continue on to see the dazzling exhibition of the State Diamond Fund. Visit the Kremlin Territory, for centuries the Kremlin has been witness to many famous and tragic events in Russia’s past and it’s a treasure trove of Russian history. Visit two of the Kremlin’s cathedrals: Assumption, the place of coronations and the burial church of religious leaders, and Archangel, the royal burial church.

Tonight you have a dinner reservation at Godunov Restaurant (15 minute walk from the hotel) Theatre Square, 5 Telephone +7 495 698 4480. The restaurant is housed in the building that was once a part of Zaikonospasskiy Monastery, and is situated in front of the Bolshoi Theatre, close to Red Square and the Kremlin. The entrance to Godunov Restaurant represents a painted arch and its interior – the refectory chambers of the 17th century. In the restaurant there are oak tables covered with velvet table-cloths and heavy chairs with carved backs. Wall lamps are shaped as candlesticks with burning candles. The waiters wear traditional Russian dresses. The menu of the restaurant offers an extensive choice of dishes prepared according to old Russian recipes. It includes the famous Guriev porridge, various meat and fish delicacies, appetizers, vodka liqueurs, mushrooms and so forth. Russian folk groups and Gipsy shows are included.

Le Royal Meridien National


Moscow / Yekaterinburg

Today in the morning at 5:45 a.m. you will be privately transferred to the airport to take your Aeroflat airline #2053 to Yekaterinburg departing at 7:45 a.m.

Your sightseeing begins upon arrival as you drive around the city and visit the sites that are connected with the last days of the last Russian Emperor. Visit the place where the Ipatiev House was. Ipatiev House was a merchant’s house in Yekaterinburg where the former Emperor Nicholas II, his family and members of his household were executed following the Revolution. This house was demolished in July 1977. After 1991 the Church on the Blood was built on this very site. You can also visit the museum which is devoted to the las Romanovs and their execution.

After lunch at leisure travel outside the city with your private vehicle and guide. Visit the place where the family of the last Russian Emperor was found. Ganina Yama was a 9 foot deep pit in the Four Brothers mine near the village 15 km north from Yekaterinburg. On the night of July 17, 1918 the bodies of Tsar Nicholas II and his family (who had been murdered at the Ipatiev House then secretly transported to Ganina Yama and thrown into the pit. In 2004 on this site the Monastery of the Holy Tsarist Passion-Bearers was constracted. A tall cross marks the edge of the mine shaft, visible as a depression in the ground. Seven chapels were later constructed at the site, one for each member of the royal family.

Tonight your dinner reservation is at Troekurov Restaurant with your guide. Afterwards you are transferred to your hotel.

Hyatt Hotel (Deluxe Room) B


Yekaterinburg / Moscow

Today in the morning at approximately 11:00 a.m. you will be privately transferred to the airport for Aeroflat flight #2054 to Moscow departing at 1:10 p.m.

After lunch at your leisure continue to the Cold War Museum. After going down on a speed elevator to the dept of 65 meters, you will find yourself inside one of the most restricted military objects of Soviet Union. Your tour will lead you through the secret tunnels of the building and you will have an exclusive opportunity to get famaliar with soviet armament and communication facilities of the Cold War.

This evening you have a dinner reservation at Elki – Plaki.

After dinner you are transferred to the train station for your journey on Rossia #2 train to Irkutsk departing at 9:25 p.m.

Rossia Train (1st class, two berth compartment, one hot meal per person per day included) B


Rossia Train

Rossia Train (1st class, two berth compartment, one hot meal per person per day included)


Rossia Train / Irkutsk

Upon arrival at Irkutsk train station (6:16 a.m. local time) you will be met by your guide and driver and privately transferred to Listvyanka (about 40 miles) – a village on the edge of Lake Baikal, Shaman Rock and the St. Nicholas Church. Enjoy a dog sled ride today. Overnight in Listvyanka.

Anastasia (Room with a view of Lake Baikal) monday, february 28

Irkutsk / Moscow

Today early in the morning at 6:00 a.m. you will be privately transferred from Listvyanka to Irkutsk airport to take your flight to Moscow. Flight C-7 #777 departs at 9:15 a.m. Upon arrival into Moscow at 10:30 a.m. you will be met by your guide and driver and then privately transferred to Stalin’s Bunker. Stalin’s Bunker, a unique memorial of the Russian military history. Built secretly under the sport stadium in 1930 thebunker was made as a back-up command post of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief J.V. Stalin with the rooms for meetings and all necessary facilities. Today in the museum visitors can see Stalin’s private belongings of soldiers and officers – heroes of War, 1941 – 1945. In the museum you will meet ex-KGB agent and he we tell you all about cold War and how he worked for the KGB.

This evening your dinner reservation is at Yar Restaurant with your guide.



In the moring you can visit Lenin’s Tomb. Afterwards you will be privately transferred to the airport to take your International flight home.

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