This year for the summer holidays we decide to move in time.
We usually always rely on solutions last minute, but this time we opt for an early booking with the hope of saving some money.
Together with the usual group of friends we explore the web in search of new and economic destinations.
We find on Google an offer from an agency for one river cruise on the Volga from Moscow to St. Petersburg.
- Volga cruise itinerary and information
- Volga cruise useful tips on what to visit
- KIZHI ISLAND
- Photo gallery Moscow and St. Petersburg
Volga cruise itinerary and information
Sunday August 8
Early in the morning we arrive at Fiumicino airport and check-in and land at Moscow airport on time.
We wait a few minutes for the baggage claim and the transfer to the motor ship.
Moscow tips hotels places to visit clubs and restaurants
Arriving at our motor ship and we are assigned the cabins and the agency had warned us that they were not the cabins of the large ocean liners (I personally had already taken a cruise in the Mediterranean) and, in fact, they are really small.
Volga cruise useful tips on what to visit
However they are welcoming and, most importantly, clean so we settle down as best we can: we are ready to start our journey and even more thrilled to know places that are unusual for all of us.
In fact, we are all used to choosing more classic and "summer" destinations, even if the thermometer a Moscow today it is probably higher than in Sicily!
Monday August 9
In the morning I wake up early and before breakfast I read the Moscow guide to study a little about the itinerary planned for the day today.
Our visit includes a panoramic tour of the city and a visit to the Kremlin.
We take the bus that awaits us at the river port and takes us on a tour around the capital.
I am personally enchanted and almost intimidated by the grandeur of some Soviet-style buildings.
Moscow it particularly strikes me because it is very different from the cities we are usually used to; from this first lap I already begin to understand that it will be a very fascinating journey and that it will give me even more than I imagined.
Passing through the Door of the Resurrection, we enter the Red Square.
The sensation is truly incredible: suddenly a huge square opens up with the splendid one St. Basil's Cathedral in the background, with its colored domes, and the silhouette of the Kremlin on the right, with the mausoleum of Lenin, revered almost like a god by the Russians.Where to go on holiday in August on a budget
Our guide tells us many interesting things, including the fact that in Russian the square is called "kransnaja" which in addition to meaning "red" also means "beautiful".
We also visit the Kremlin which we have always thought of as a political building: instead inside the walls there are many beautiful cathedrals and a huge bell built by Ivan the Terrible.
In the evening we return to the ship tired but satisfied with this first taste of Russia.
Tuesday August 10
Today we have a free day and we decide to go to the city center to visit it freely.
In particular, we are suggested to visit some subway stations, famous in the world, for their frescoes, statues and mosaics.
Also in this case we are really struck by the uniqueness and beauty of these stations and a little surprised as we are not used to connecting works of art to the metro stations.
In the afternoon we return to the motorboat because in the evening we will leave Russian capital towards Uglich.
Wednesday August 11
We arrive at Uglich, a small town in the region of Yaroslavl.
It is always very hot, but nevertheless we venture on a lovely walk through the streets of this small town founded just before the year 1000.
Uglich does not offer much (we visit the Church of San Dimitri and the Cathedral of the Transfiguration which is located inside the Kremlin), but it gives us the opportunity to delve into the Russian countryside.
In fact, it was only until yesterday that we were in the very large and very chaotic Moscow; now the atmosphere is much calmer and more relaxing. We return to the ship and in the evening we set sail for Yaroslavl.
Thursday August 12th
The motor ship arrives in Yaroslavl, the main city ofGold ring.
The guide explains that this is the name given to an area located in the North West of Moscow which includes some cities of particular historical and artistic interest.
Several centers are part of theGold ring but the most important is precisely Yaroslavl.
The historic center of this city was also declared by theUNESCO World Heritage Site.
Our guide also explains that we were particularly lucky because this year the city of Yaroslavl celebrates its thousand years, having been founded by Yaroslavl the wise, prince of Kiev, in 1010.
This has meant that most of its architectural jewels have undergone a recent restoration.
We visit the Sant'Elia Cathedral which strikes us for its beauty both externally (it has pretty green domes) and inside: in fact the entire surface of the cathedral is covered with frescoes that mostly depict figures of Saints.
After visiting the many cathedrals of Moscow and those of Uglich, we got to appreciate the typical Russian art, made above all of icons and iconostases.
However we are always pleasantly struck by the sumptuousness and richness of decorations e mosaics.
We then go to the Yaroslavl Kremlin, whose complex constitutes the oldest part of the city.
We take up the little free time left before the ship's departure by taking a stroll through the souvenir shops in search of some gifts for relatives at home.
In the evening we have dinner on the ship and leave in the direction of Goritzy.
Friday August 13
This morning, contrary to usual, I sleep longer.
We are still underway and will arrive at Goritzy late in the morning.
I have breakfast with my travel companions and chat with our escort on the ship who is always very kind and helpful.
In the afternoon we visit the Monastery of San Cirillo, once one of the most important places in the Russian religion.
I must say that these monasteries are really interesting from an architectural and religious point of view, even if seen one it seems to have seen them all.
Towards evening we return to the ship and leave forKizhi island.
After dinner Sergio and I taste a glass of vodka at the ship's bar: since we arrived in Russia we have not tried it yet and we cannot leave this land without tasting one of its typical products.
Saturday August 14
We arrive in the small Kizhi island.
This place has also been declared a "World Heritage Site" by UNESCO, I must say with good reason.
In fact, the island is really pretty.
We are on the Lake Onega one of the largest in Russia (the largest is Lake Ladoga which we will cross later before arriving in St. Petersburg).
The island we visit is about 8 kilometers long; this archipelago has numerous units, some of which are very small (one measuring even 2 meters by 2!).
With the guide we visit the open-air museum of wooden art, very interesting because it allows us to immerse ourselves in the Russian rural reality.
We then return to our ship where we have dinner and sail towards Mandrogy.
Sunday August 15
Today's stage includes the town of Mandrogy.
We are particularly curious because today a picnic is waiting for us instead of lunch on the ship: it promises to be an interesting day.
We arrive at Mandrogy and we visit the town on foot.
In reality we are a little disappointed when the guide explains that it is a village completely rebuilt in 1996.
However, the visit is interesting and we have this picnic on the banks of the Volga.
In the afternoon we leave the group and decide to take a walk to savor the Russian countryside atmosphere for the last time, before returning to a big city like St. Petersburg.
We return to the ship.
Monday August 16
In the morning I wake up anxious because finally today we will disembark at St. Petersburg.
I read a lot about this city, nicknamed the "Venice of the North”And all the opinions of those who have seen it are always more than positive.
Everyone is talking about a magnificent, almost fairytale-like city: today I will be able to see for myself.
We start from the river port of St. Petersburg which is located in the south of the city.
The bus tour touches all the main points of interest: the perspective Nevsky, the main street of the city, which I have often read about in the great Russian novels.
We then pass by the Griboedov canal, at the bottom of which stands the majestic Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, really gorgeous.
We stop and take a lot of photos.
At the end of this long road we reach the square of the Winter Palace which houses the very famous Hermitage: the green color of the building is immediately striking.
Let's just make a short stop, as we will calmly visit the museum tomorrow.
We then go to the Mariinsky Theater, famous in the world above all for Russian ballets: we would like to attend one of these, for example, in "Swan Lake", but we are told that during the summer Russian companies are often abroad for the various tours and then we postpone: it will be an excuse to return to this splendid city (perhaps in winter!).
The bus tour also includes the passage in front of the Admiralty building,cruiser Aurora (the one who had given the starting signal for the Bolshevik revolution) and the fortress of Saints Peter and Paul.
Here we stop because we plan to visit the complex that houses the tombs of the tsars.
Driving in front of the tomb of Peter the Great he takes the opportunity to briefly tell us the history of the city.
In fact, the name Petersburg derives from the name of the sovereign who had strongly wanted the construction of the city, Peter I.
He wanted to create a new capital for the country facing the West, to open Russia to Europe.
To build this city many men and means were used, as it was a swampy area. It was an impressive work that lasted a few years. The Tsar brought the best European builders, artists and architects to Russia.
Among these, some Spaniards also stand out such as Giacomo Quarenghi and Bartolomeo Rastrelli.
For lunch, instead of returning to the motorboat, they take us to a nice restaurant in the center, very characteristic and very good.
In the afternoon we have some free time: we decide to visit the very famous one on our own St. Isaac's Cathedral.
The exterior is truly impressive: on the guide I read that the builder was inspired by St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
In fact, the dome, in particular, is very reminiscent of that of the Vatican and has nothing to do with the Russian-style churches we have seen so far.
We climb to the top and look at the panorama which is truly magnificent: you can see all the canals and islands on which this splendid city has developed.
In the evening, exhausted, after this first day of "Piter”(As Saint Petersburg is affectionately called by its inhabitants) we return to the ship.
Dinner and then to sleep: another busy day awaits us tomorrow.
Tuesday August 17
Today's program focuses on the visit toHermitage, one of the most famous museums the world.
As for the sculpture we have the opportunity to admire "Cupid and Psyche" by Canova; for painting there is only the embarrassment of choice: the "Lute Player" by Caravaggio (always phenomenal in its play of light), the "Madonna with child" by Leonardo (also known as "Madonna Benois").
And then many works of the French school, above all "La Danza" by Matisse, but also the "usual" Renoir, Many, Cezanne, etc.
We also see some interesting paintings of Pablo Picasso, but what strikes us most of all about this museum are the rooms.
In fact, the palace that now houses one of the most important museums in the world was once the residence of the Russian tsars, the famous Winter Palace.
It is therefore the symbol of the immeasurable wealth that these sovereigns possessed: some rooms amaze us with their unbridled luxury (we see objects in gold and malachite).
Our eyes still sparkle at the memory of what we have seen.
Wednesday August 18
Today's program includes a visit to Catherine palace a Pushkin, a location not far from the city.
This palace, made by the Italian architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli, is one of the summer residences of the Tsar of Russia.
Also in this case, perhaps even more so than for the Hermitage, what is striking is the exaggerated pomp and the all too baroque style.
The guide tells us that more than 100 kg of gold were used to decorate the rooms of the palace.
Then there are sumptuous crystal chandeliers and, above all, the very famous Camera d'Ambra, entirely covered with amber panels.
What we see, however, is not the original; in fact, during the Second World War the Germans who invaded Russia sacked the room and took away all the amber.
In 1979, the Russian council of ministers ordered the Chamber to be rebuilt to bring this former glory back to life.
At the end of the visit we return to the city where we have free time.
It is the last chance to buy some little gifts to take to Spain and stroll on the prospect Nevsky.
In the evening we return to the ship and have dinner for the last time on board.
We pack up and go to bed early because, unfortunately, tomorrow we go home.
Photo gallery Moscow and St. Petersburg