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Russia is an enigmatic country, where the mystery of the icy tundra spills into grand cities bursting with character and fascinating names. You'll find grandeur in the natural and the man-made, in palaces that rival the gilded gems of Asia and in the dense stretches of silver birch that fan out over sparkling lakes. Borrowing from the host of countries that stretch out underneath it, and saluting an agricultural and deeply historical past, Russia has forged an identity wherein favourite pastimes include everything from vodka-soaked soirees to polished ballet performances.
Day 1 - Depart for Moscow
Day 2 - Moscow: B/D
Day 3 - Moscow: Kremlin, Cathedral Square, Red Square, St. Basil's Cathedral, Arbat Street. B
Day 4 - Moscow: B
Day 5 - Moscow to St. Petersburg: Peter and Paul Fortress and Cathedral. B/D
Day 6 - St. Petersburg: St. Isaak's Cathedral, St. Isaak's Square, Hermitage. B
Day 7 - St. Petersburg
Day 8 - Depart for Canada
Moscow is a city that does everything to the extreme. It boasts the most billionaires in the world yet bursts with a creative energy that is constantly redefining expectations and turning abandoned warehouse into edgy art galleries, spinning relics of the past into visions for the future. St. Petersburg, because of its network of canals, islands and picturesque bridges, is often compared with Venice and considered the most beautiful city in the country. Built by Peter the Great, this city is distinctly European and boasts baroque architecture and delectable cuisine like roast duck and Russian crepes.
Sights and Attractions
The Kremlin is an epic salute to the czars and all the accouterments of their past; from their private churches to their burial ground, and from the famous 16th Century Czar Cannon to the 18th Century Czar Bell. Ponder the anthology of gold and silver works that rests under the candy coloured spires of this famous sight before admiring the buildings that embrace the Red Square and the Tomb of Lenin. Also on the itinerary in Moscow is a visit to Arbat Street, a famous pedestrian street lined with old-fashioned lampposts, monuments and small souvenir shops.
In St. Petersburg you'll visit the Peter and Paul Fortress, an Orthodox Russian cathedral whose butter cream facade braces an impressive display of artistry and a famous bell tower. Perhaps St. Petersburg's most notable attraction is the Hermitage - an incredibly ornate museum housing over 2.7 million items (one of the largest collections in the world) including works from Leonardo Da Vinci, Raphael and Rembrandt.
While in Moscow, you'll stay at the Holiday Inn Lesnaya, set on a lively boulevard of shops and restaurants and centrally located in Moscow's business district, three kilometres from Red Square. At the Novotel in St. Petersburg you can peruse the lively bar scene of the proximate Nevsky Prospekt after enjoying the hotel's fashionable restaurant.
Moscow is known for the intricacies of its subway stations, and you will have the option of touring the most notable ones decorated with marble, brightly stained glass, mosaics and chandeliers. You can also cruise through the canals of the River Neva or visit the baroque gardens and fountain cascades found at the former summer residence of Peter the Great. On your own time, try to catch a performance in Moscow's Tchaikovsky's Conservatory, salute Salvador Dali at St. Petersburg's newest museum, or wander past the inverted pyramid at the city's famous pier.