Russia is the largest country in the world, that has more than ninth of the planet's mainland. Despite being such a huge country, most tourists only go to Moscow and St. Petersburg. Outside of these cities there is a country with many mysteries and wonders and to really see this great country for which one would need weeks or months. Who has not dreamed of the legendary Trans-Siberian more than once? I am going to tell you about our experiences of the visit to Moscow and the gold ring we made.
5.30 in the morning. The alarm sounds. That day began our Russian adventure! And although it played early, it did not matter. In a few hours we would be in Russian lands. We took a quick shower, and we just keep the four things that were missing in the suitcase.
It was so early that I didn't even want to eat breakfast. Also, I had already seen in the flight reservations that we had a snack and a meal included in the two trips we would make. Also, in anticipation I put some cookies in my backpack.
With everything ready and eager to leave, we disconnected the light, water, and gas. Come on, it is the typical ritual, prior to travel. With our bags not excessively loaded we went out. We stored our bags in the trunk, and we were on the way to the airport!
At that time there was almost no traffic, so in a moment we reach there. We went straight to leave the car. It was all so full! It took us a while to find a place to park, but in the end we found a space. We unloaded the suitcases and went to the area where the vans pick us up and take us to the terminal. There was already a van. The girl asked us if we were going to Terminal 1. Yes! She packed our bags in the trunk and we got on the van. When the bags were already loaded, the girl started the van and took us to Terminal 1.
It was still 7.40. We had a lot of time ahead because our plane did not leave until 10. We were going past the entrance doors of the terminal, looking for where the door was that would take us to the counters. Finally we found it. Upon entering, we saw that the check-in counters were shared. We went to the queue to check and luckily there was not much people. The suitcases would go straight to St. Petersburg.
The boy gave us both boarding passes. With the passport ready we went to pass the control. Once passed the control, we looked at the boarding passes. We looked on the screens and there was still no boarding gate. There was still a good time, so we went for a walk around the Duty Free shops.
At that time I was already feeling hungry so we sat down to breakfast. In the airport cafe, we order pineapple juices and a croissant! We sat down to have breakfast quietly and we took advantage of to disconnect the mobile data and the data roaming, lest we get some surprises after the return from the trip.
The boarding gate for the flight still did not open. We went to the corridor (very long) where are all the boarding gates are, stopping to make a technical stop before boarding the plane. And at that moment I started with the first photos of the trip, because through the huge windows we could see beautiful views.
And finally, we saw on the screens our boarding gate. We started walking and walking, and that never ended! It was on the other side of the airport! By God, how far it was! At last, we arrived at the door and got in line. We were among the first. The boarding started. The plane was very comfortable, with enough space between the seats.
At 10.20 we were off! After half an hour of flight, they brought us the snack and the drink. After a short time they passed again delivering more drink. And suddenly, when looking out of the window there is Venice! The part of the Ducal Palace and the Campanile were perfectly visible. Even the cruises that dock there! What memories of my two trips to that spectacular and magical city!
On the screens of the plane were playing Tom and Jerry, Mr. Bean and the humor gags. No sound was necessary in any of them. At 12 they announced the landing maneuvers. When we landed we had a bit of turbulence. We touched down at 12.10 and at 12.45 we have the next flight to St. Petersburg. To get out of the plane we were just in the last rows and there were many people to go out.
At the end we went to the terminal. On the boarding pass we already had the door. We started walking following the indicators. And we walk, we run, we trot! We climbed some escalators, crossed many Duty Free stores. Well yes it was far! I could not do it anymore and I had to make a very quick technical stop, and keep going!
We went through areas where there was free wifi, places to connect computers with small tables. And when we thought we had arrived, they checked our passport and gave us a quick glance, and we keep walking! You could tell we were going to the St. Petersburg flight, because we were all almost running. I already imagined that the plane would not leave us on the ground, but they are moments of tension when you see that it is so far away.
On one screen I saw that the flight to St. Petersburg, which had to take off at 12.45, was at 12.55. That gave us a little truce! After a good walk almost at a trot, we finally reach the door. It was like watching an apparition! What a joy! There was already a line. And there was our plane! To pass through the boarding gate there are not the typical hostesses who look at your card, but we enter a barcode ourselves through a reader that validates it and opens the door for us.
We go down some escalators and we reach the finger. We entered the plane and there were enough people inside! The flight attendant spoke to us in English and greeted us. At 13.15 we took off (30 minutes later than expected). We're going to St. Petersburg! After running so much, we were on our way to Russian lands.
45 minutes later they serve us food. How well the whole plane smelled! We ate pasta with gratin cheese and for dessert a liquid mousse of red fruits. They handed us a basket with fresh hot rolls. And to drink there was a great variety: white and red wine, juices (apple, orange, tomato, pineapple), water, coke, and beer.
They also serve coffee or tea, and more juices or water. During the trip, in the general screens they also put the same series as in the flight to Vienna. From time to time they put flight information (height, local time of destination, outside temperature, where we were).
DAY 1: WE ARE ALREADY IN SAINT PETERSBURG!
And at 17.30, at the scheduled time for landing, we started the maneuvers. The landing was perfect. We saw a kind of "cemetery" of old planes at the Domodedovo airport. And we were already starting to see the first words in the Cyrillic alphabet! We got off, and went to the passport control. We found a good line.
They looked at my passport, the visa, sealed it and issued the immigration card. We went to find the belt where our luggage would come out. I was looking for a ATM to change to rubles. The bags come out very fast and we went to the exit. We were already in St. Petersburg! At the moment, everything was going perfectly!
When we went out the door, we saw many people with little signs. Suddenly we saw a blonde girl with the sign up. And there we saw the sky open! That was the first contact we had with our accompanying guide throughout the trip. We went to the bus that would take us to the ship.
They loaded our bags in the trunk and we went up. And we left the airport. We had already heard the fame of St. Petersburg traffic! Of course, we found traffic. Perhaps because it is usual there, or perhaps because we also agree that they were the world class athletes. What a contrast of cars! There were real carracks, and new and luxurious cochazos. The buildings were also huge, and with few balconies!
We arrived at the fluvial port and the ship around 20.10. We did not have to worry about the luggage, because the sailors would leave it at the door of the cabin. To get to our boat, we had to go through another that was docked next to ours. It reminded me so much of the Nile cruise!
And upon arriving on our boat, we were greeted with the welcome ceremony of bread and salt. The bread was a kind of bun that tasted great. They made the right photo and video. The reception was full and we had to wait a bit. We gave one of the girls everything they had asked us to fill out, and they gave us the keys.
We went to the room, which was close to the reception and we saw our cabin for the first time. It is small, but comfortable. It has everything from safe (inside the closet), refrigerator, television, hairdryer, bathroom with shower (tiny), and soap. There are two beds, two large closets, shoehorn, air conditioning, radio, a table.
When we left, we already had our bags at the door and we entered them. We went to dinner, and upon entering, the guides show us our table. We had the salad already served, with lettuce, peppers, cucumber, olives and cheese. We seasoned it with a garlic oil that was very good and soy sauce.
While we were eating, a girl came to offer us drinks. In the price of the trip we got water in all the meals, and in the dinners we could drink a glass of wine, or beer or soft drinks. We continue with dinner. In the second they served us a pork steak with sauce, with pineapple, rice and vegetables. How good everything was!
For dessert we ate kiwi cake, coconut and red fruit sauce. On the table we had some thermos with coffee, tea and milk. Our waitress was a very nice girl. And right behind us, we had the table of the accompanying guides. We would be well guarded!
While we were having dinner, a good storm fell, with lightning and thunder! What a welcome! The ship, despite being docked, occasionally moved a bit, when passing a ship nearby. We were not used to that little sway yet! Slowly, it would be normal.
At the end of dinner, we were all summoned at 22.20 in the bar on the top floor, for a brief informative meeting. The coordinator, explained to us again what we would do in St. Petersburg and the optional ones. And already, with the work done, we went to the room to unpack our bags. Upon entering the room, we had left the beds ready and open!
The suitcases fit perfectly under the bed, so the room was well cleared of junk. We put the alarm clock at 6.30, because at 8.30 we had to start with the panoramic view of the city. How strange was the body with that change of time! We went to bed at 00h. We were exhausted, for the trip, for the change of schedule, but happy and excited because everything had started very well!
DAY 2: SAINT PETERSBURG
The alarm clock rang at 7.40. After a quick shower we have breakfast at 8.30. At 10.30 we went on deck because we were already arriving in St. Petersburg. We go through the Russia travel guide to prepare well. And we were getting closer and closer to the river port. They started the maneuvers to dock.
Once the boat docked, at 12.45 we went to eat. As always, we have rice, grilled vegetables, chicken burger, fish with olives. And for dessert we have delicious muffins, and watermelon. And after lunch we started with the panoramic tour to the city!
At 13.30 we were already on the bus. Our guide would be a young girl, very pretty and very nice! She spoke with a slight South American accent. The first stop was the Smolny Convent. In the enclosure we also saw a bell. We went back to the bus and went through the street of the tapestries, where once there was a factory.
We also passed in front of the palace of one of the lovers of Catherine II the Great, Potemkin. In the center of St. Petersburg there are no tall buildings, because the land is swampy, and because it was also forbidden to exceed the height of the Hermitage.
We also passed through the Mikhailovsky Castle. It is all surrounded by water of the Fontanka River, the Moika River and two canals. Today it is part of the Russian Museum. It is the only palace built in orange, because of the color of one of the lovers' gloves. We pass by the Fontanka River, and by the Summer Garden, which has fountains, such as the gardens of the Palace of Versailles. The water is from the river.
And we stopped at the Church of the Savior on Blood. Inside there are 7,000 square meters of mosaics. But they are different than the Roman mosaics, since the Byzantines are made of enamels and colored crystals. The surroundings were absolutely full of people!
We went around the left of the facade, because on the right it goes down a street, and the bridge to cross to the other side is a bit far. When we got on the bus we saw a limousine. We continue our route through the Field of Mars, Nevsky Avenue.
The Nevsky Avenue derives from the name of the Neva River. The Fontanka River divides the city of the eighteenth century and the nineteenth century. We passed by the bridge of the domination of the horse, with some beautiful sculptures. The guide told us about the white nights, which are from May to June, and that it is not at night. It must be spectacular to live this experience, although a little weird.
On Nevsky Avenue there are a lot of shops, and nice cafes. We saw the Admiralty needle, where the avenue begins. We also passed by the oldest shopping center, which is in the Gostiny Dvor arcades. The building has a yellowish color. Right there is a subway station. We passed in front of the Kazan Cathedral. And continuing along Nevsky Avenue, we reach the Palace Square, where the Hermitage is located.
I was speechless and with tears drenching my eyes. We continued the journey, without stopping there. We crossed by the Palace Square or Dvortsovaya Ploshchad. On the right we had the Hare Island. The spire of the 122-meter cathedral museum was perfectly visible. Inside, there is the pantheon of the Romanovs.
We arrive at the Vasilievsky Island (in St. Petersburg there are 42 islands). We saw the buildings of the port. We had a photo-break of 20 minutes. The old building of the stock exchange and customs today is the Navy Museum. There are some stone sculptures that symbolize the Neva, Volga, Dnepr and Volkhov rivers. There are also images of bows of defeated ships.
Formerly these columns were lighthouses that were lit with fire and marked the entrance to the port. Today we can still see the place destined for that function. It seems that sometimes, for some parties they light them. I read that when couples get married they go there, because there is the tradition of uncorking a bottle of champagne, drinking a glass and throwing them against a rock on the banks of the Neva River.
I did not see the supposed tradition, but it was full of couples, yes! And we continued with the tradition of seeing more lovers! But fortunately, we saw these beautiful images of the Winter Palace, the river, and the Fortress. We also saw an old boat, imitation of the boats of the time, which is now a restaurant and fitness club.
We went with the bus to the so-called Quay with Sphinxes, brought from Egypt. We passed by a bridge, with a beautiful image of the dome of Saint Isaac's Cathedral in the background. We went through the Mariinsky Theater. Behind is the modern building.
We were next to the Hotel Astoria. At that hotel, Hitler thought he would make a gala dinner to celebrate his victory. The invitations that were already made, but not sent, were found. We pass in front of the Singer House on Nevsky Prospekt. It is the largest bookstore in St. Petersburg, and on the top floor it has a cafeteria with good views of Kazan.
We passed the Church of St. Catherine, with painters in front, and the Hotel Europe. We stop at the Arts Square, where there is the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, the Russian Museum and the Pushkin sculpture. And there we finished the visit at 17.30!
We changed the rubles and went to the channel. We quickly saw the jetty. Also, we did not have to wait that long. The journey lasts one hour and leaves and arrives at the same place. As soon as it left, the boat stopped and it was hard to start. The walk was beautiful and relaxing! Some bridges that we pass through are really low.
When we arrived, a water motorcycle passed by our side and I was a little wet. The ride was great! In the middle of the river Neva we crossed with the ship! As we were very close to Kazan, we entered.
They were doing a ceremony, all standing, and in the center the officiants very richly attired. The iconostasis doors were open. There were people dressed in black watching that nobody took pictures. Upon leaving we went to the Singer house to take a look. It is a beautiful building!
We saw the bookshop and went up to the cafeteria, but we did not stay. From there we went to Hotel Europe and entered without problems. It really is beautiful inside and very luxurious. And we went to the flea market. At the flea market, as it was 8:00 PM, there were very few people. Many stores were closing.
We stand in a little shop with very nice matryoshkas, made of wood, very different from the typical ones. We liked them. We were already a little tired from the trot all day, so we went to take the subway. We went to the ticket office. We went to the escalators, which were also quite fast, like in Moscow.
I was surprised to see that there, people are waiting in front of metal doors that are along a wall. When the train arrives they open, and the subway doors open in turn. It remains as hermetically closed. Then the train came. When I got into the car, a very nice guy let me sit down. He should have seen a pain of a tired tourist.
We left the subway and we did not remember if we had to go to the left or to the right. We went to the right, and bingo! We hit!
When we reached the pier, we went to the cabin to get a good shower. And at 22.30 we went to dinner. How cold it was in the dining room! I had to put on a thick jacket. While we were having dinner, they moved the boat again. We had a salad, Russian soup with barley (delicious and warm) and pork. For dessert, we have chocolate ice cream.
And after dinner, we go back to the cabin, because it had been a long day! At 00.15h we were already in bed.
DAY 3: MANDROGUI
7.45h. The Alarm rings. We look out the window. We were standing on the river Svir, which connects Lake Onega with Ladoga. We took a good shower. At 8:30 we went to breakfast. We taste Russian dumplings. They let us go down to the pier of Mandrogui at 10.20. We take some maps and started to walk. We climbed to a kind of barge that would take us to the other side.
At the end came another family, and the boatman began to turn a crank, to get to the other shore. There are sculptures made of wood and a kind of zoo with animals. We went in the direction of the mill, seeing other houses. And we entered the old houses, we see the craft workshops.
At 12 o'clock we went to go to eat. They gave us a plate with rice and a chicken brochette. We also have a glass of wine, and there were salads. The skewer was good, but the rice not so much. And suddenly a loud music started to play, and a group began to sing.
The music was so loud that it was impossible to talk! Mandrogui was touristy! Finally they finished singing. For dessert there was a berry cake, which I did not like either. At 14:00 the boat would sail, so we took advantage of the last hour.
I bought some matryoshka dolls, and in another store we bought other handmade dolls made of birch bark. As at 13.45 we had to be on board, we went to the ship. At 2pm we set sail for St. Petersburg! We kept thinking what we would do with the excursions in St. Petersburg. We went up to the bar at 14.45 to watch a documentary. When it was over we had the general rehearsal of the two songs that we would sing at night in the talent show! To recover from the rehearsal we asked for hummingbirds!
We were looking at the Russian craft class to make rag dolls. At 16.30 there was a Russian dance class. When we finished, we went out a little on the deck to enjoy the last moments of navigation. At 7pm we went to the dining room. Upon entering they gave us a glass of Russian cava.
I started dinner. First they put us a salad with salmon, grapefruit and cucumber. For a second we ate filo pasta with cheese inside. And then zander (come on, fish of a lifetime) with hollandaise sauce. For dessert, we have ice cream with berries and meringue.
Halfway through dinner, the captain left. And also, while we were having dinner, we entered Lake Ladoga. Lake Ladoga is the largest in Europe. From him the river Neva is born. During the World War II, during the siege of Leningrad, it became the road of life. We decided that it was a good day to give us a feast with the booty I had in the fridge (read chocolate and vodka).
We went up to the bar! Through the window we saw a beautiful sunset! And at 20.45 the talent show started! First we had to sing. The choreography failed a bit at the beginning! We had a great time, and that's the most important thing! To all this, you can already imagine that vodka and chocolate fell!
Beyond 10pm, in the middle of Lake Ladoga there was still light. At 23.15 we went to the cabin. It had been an intense and fun day! And the end of the party had been spectacular!
DAY 4: VYTEGRA
Dobre utra! Good Morning! The Russian classes was paying off! It was 7.30 and we got up just as we passed another lock. We showered and went to breakfast at 8.45. While we were having breakfast, we saw that the ship was docking. It could not be. We were to arrive at Kizhi at 7pm.
Now we understood why we had docked. We were in Vytegra, about 16 km from Lake Onega. In the lake there were some waves of about 2 meters, and the following weather forecast would not have until 2pm. It was very likely that we miss the visit to Kizhi, because the journey there was very long.
At 10.30, when we came down from the boat, it rained a little. Really the weather was bad. With the raincoats put we went to visit the submarine. It was made in St. Petersburg and served for 31 years, 19 of which were in the Atlantic. There were vertical bars to sink and bring the submarine to the surface. The flags were one of the Russian Navy (red and blue).
We enter. Inside there were 22 torpedoes! We saw the periscope. We also saw the thick suits that were put under the scuba when they had to go outside to do some repair. The scuba weighed about 100 Kg. The visit was very interesting. We could not visit Kizhy, but we made a stop that other cruises did not do! You had to look for the positive point, right?
From there, we went walking through the city of Vytegra to the ethnographic museum. The guide that accompanied us was also Russian. They showed us the animals of the area, and the customs. When we left, we saw that a good rain had fallen! We went to the Victory Square where there was a monument to the victims of the city in World War II. We also went to the village viewpoint.
We visited the Church, built to mark the 100th anniversary of the city. Inside we saw a kind of pool, to do the baptism by immersion. We continue walking through the city, see their houses, the bus station and the market!
We went into a supermarket, and buy some cookies, candies, and chocolate. The visit to the town was great! Once again we saw the real Russia, less touristy, with its little houses, more dilapidated buildings, and schools.
We arrived at the ship shortly before 2pm. We would go south to the Svir River, so in the end we would not go to Kizhy. We went to the cabin and kept everything. At 14.15 we went to eat, while we finally passed the lock. We ate fish croquettes, spaghetti, veal stroganoff, mashed potatoes, omelette with vegetables. And for dessert we have melon and orange, apart from the usual cakes.
We went up to the bar to wait for the hour. At 4 o'clock we left for Lake Onega. There was a moment when the seagulls were hovering right next to our ship. They came very close! They gave us a snack, a caldito that was very good!
At 18.30 there was Russian cooking class. They taught us to cook pelmeni, a kind of meat ravioli. Slowly they were dictating the recipe and we saw how they were made. We will have to try to make them!
At 7pm we had the intellectual quiz about Russian general culture and about the things we had already seen. The team that answered the most questions would win a matrioshka. We were answering questions, and eating chocolates. They were great! They were like Ferrero Rocher! I went to the deck for a while because we were passing through a very nice town.
At 8pm another class started to paint matryoshkas with watercolors and the silhouette of a doll. I, no longer participate. Let's say that my artistic skills are not too prominent. So we went to the deck to enjoy the sunset sun and the magnificent views that the landscape gave us. At 9pm we had the Russian dinner! The waitresses were beautiful!
The dining room was decorated with the flag, and with special tablecloths. For starters we ate a Russian soup that was delicious and very well presented, with a pot and a bollito as a tapa. For the second we ate meat, and for dessert, coffee cake.
During the dinner we had to choose not only the dinner of the following day, but the skewer that we would eat in Mandrogi (chicken, pork, fish). At 22.30 we had the final concert. At the end of the concert, at 23.20h we went on deck and there was still a trickle of light! But it was cold and windy! So about 23.45 we went to the cabin. At 00.20 there was still light on the horizon!
DAY 5: GORITSY
It was 7 o'clock and the alarm clock rang. Little light came through the curtains! We showered and at 8:00 there started the chirping of the birds on the radio. That day I could do morning gymnastics on the ship's deck. We returned to see earth from the window, because since the previous afternoon it was no longer visible. At 8 o'clock we went to breakfast.
After breakfast we went to the room. At 10 o'clock the girls came from the boat store to present us the products they were selling. There were books, toys, handkerchiefs. They told us that the Matrioshka is a symbol of fertility, because they go one within the others. And they also told us that the color pink is a very used color there.
We went out for a while to the solarium to sunbathe and take a picture. The landscape was beautiful and relaxing. At 11am we arrived in Goritsy, well before the scheduled time (which was at 1:30 PM)! So they modified the program. We did not do the Russian dance class.
When we went down, we could not find the key to our cabin. How could it be? We searched everywhere and nothing. We went to the reception. When they opened the door of the cabin, they were inside! As we left the room quickly so that the girl could clean, we did not notice that we left them inside, at the door.
Finally we went ashore and walked through the town. Goritsy is a tiny and authentic town. We saw several dilapidated houses, all made of wood. We arrived at the Goritsy Monastery and Goritsy Nunnery, which was under renovation. We entered this little chapel and covered our heads with a handkerchief out of respect. There were several people inside praying. Strolling, I climbed a small hill to have a view of Goritsy from above.
We went into a supermarket and we bought chocolate bars. Food time was approaching, so we went for a nice walk. At 12.45 we were already eating. That day we had lemon fish, potato pie with meat, carrot croquettes, and chicken salad. And for dessert we have cut watermelon and cakes.
At 2:00 we left the boat to make the excursion to the town of Kirilov, 8 km from Goritsy, to see the Cyril-Belozersky Monastery. We took some mail buses that took us there, passing through a natural park protected by the government. The monastery is named after St. Cyril, a Muscovite monk, and the White Lake, the largest in the Vologda region. We entered the monastery.
The first thing we saw was the Treasury Chamber. In the interior we could not take photos. It was the largest and richest monastery in Russia. We saw a nice collection of embroidery. We went out. We entered a building, where a male choir sang us a couple of songs. We left the walls to the area of Lake Siverskoye. It was cool and windy! After a break we were all 5 years younger.
Slowly we left the premises. As we had to wait for the bus, there was a market and we took a look. Then the bus came, we went up and went to the boat. On the jetty we saw a man selling a kind of smoked fish. At 16.30 we set sail. At 6pm we had the singing class. We reviewed Katyusha and learned Kalinka. We could already prepare, because we would sing it in front of all the travelers on the night of the dinner with the captain!
When it was over, we stayed for a while resting and chatting at the bar, but then we left to disguise ourselves for the pirate dinner. At 19:30, we dressed for the occasion with our eye patches, and headscarves, and went to the dining room. But at the entrance we had all the guides (also disguised), who would not let us pass if we did not drink a shot of vodka.
In the dining room they had put a pirate flag and on the tables. All the cutlery were disordered (even some were inside glass jars). The napkins were set in any way. Before we could start eating, we had to find the lost cook! We found him thanks to some clues! As a reward, we won vodka and Russian chocolates!
We had a good dinner of salad with squid, prawns, avocado, pink sauce. There was fish soup and grilled vegetables (pepper, zucchini, tomato). And there was vanilla ice cream. But I do not like it. I order an orange. While we were eating we saw a lot of cargo ships!
After dinner we went to the bar, because the party continued, with the game! We went up to the bar with our booty, which was in a room, that of the balalaika! And they shared it with us. They gave us a bottle of vodka and two tablets of Russian chocolate! At 21:45 the disco started. We went out on deck to see the moon, which was huge and bright! It was cool!
We stayed at the bar chatting for a while. What a party we were going to hit with vodka and chocolate! In the end we enter our room. It was 23.15.
DAY 6: UGLICH
After the party the day before, at 7:30 the alarm clock rang. We were so tired that I had slept like logs! We had not even heard the passage through the locks during the night. Also, after we learned that it had also rained at night. We opened the curtains and it was a bit cloudy. A boat was following us.
At 8:30 we went to breakfast. From time to time we would go out on deck to see the landscape. The landscape was simply beautiful. Occasionally a church was seen in the distance. At 11.15 we were informed that we were arriving ahead of schedule to Uglich! We went to the deck. The first sight was already beautiful!
Finally we docked. We met with the guides at 11.55 at the pier. They let us go down and explore a few minutes around there. To get ashore we had to cross two boats, since we were docked in the third row. Already on land we walk a little by the jetty, taking the first pictures.
When we all met to start the visit, we were approached by a beautiful girl. She repeated the reception with the ceremony of bread and salt. The girl was looking gorgeous! And we started our visit to the Uglich town. To get to the historic center we have to go through a street market.
We arrived at the square where the local guide who would visit us was waiting for us. We were going to visit the Uglich Kremlin (Fortress). The city is part of the famous Golden Ring, formed by several medieval cities of the central region of Russia. Some of the cities of the Ring of Gold are Sergiyev Posad, Suzdal, Uglich, Vladimir, and Yaroslavl.
The first thing we visited was the Epiphany Monastery, which was the winter church. We sat in the second row and when we were all together, a male group sang us a couple of songs. The second they sang to us was the Song of the Volga Boatmen. They left us all very impressed.
Still impacted by the choir voices, the next stop was at the Church of St. Dmitry on the Blood. In the refectory (which was a small entrance to the church) there were some frescoes with the creation of Adam and Eve. We left the church. The guide explained the different meanings of the name of the city. One is that the name resembles that of the Slavic tribes who lived here. Another is that the name Uglich in Russian resembles the word "coal," and here a lot of coal had been produced by burning wood.
Next we saw the sixteenth century rooms where Dimitri and his mother lived. We went to visit the Transfiguration Cathedral, which is the main cathedral of Úglich. We see what an Orthodox Mass is like. Finally the guide told us that Uglich is also known as the little Switzerland, since there was a watch factory. We walked around the city a bit before going to the market. We arrived at the Bogoyavlenskaya Church. And we went to the market to buy souvenirs.
We bought two dolls of porcelain with traditional dresses, a mitten, little matryoshkas, and bracelets. And with the purchases made we went back to the ship. We went up on deck. The music played again. There was still half an hour to eat, and we were starving. We take this opportunity to take the aperitif. We ordered two hummingbirds (a cocktail with coke and currant), a pineapple juice and some potatoes. What a holiday luxury!
At 3pm we went to eat. We ate well with salads, mashed potatoes that tasted great, fish with mushrooms, sauteed vegetables, and cabbage omelet. For dessert, we have a cake with chocolate on top.
We went to the cabin for a while to rest. On the television of the cabins they put a movie. It was the first documentary film about the history of Russia that was very interesting. And at 18.30 we had the first class of Russian songs. We learn Katyusha. We went slowly, but afterwards we sang it with the accordionist. The truth is that we did quite well.
We went on deck, because the sunset was really beautiful! At 19.55 the guide share a Russian folktale. And at 8pm we had the Ukrainian dinner. I do not know what the starter was, but I loved the detail that with cucumber and pepper was made like a flower. We ate borscht (beet soup) which was very good. Then we ate eggplant with vegetables. And for dessert, we have cherry ice cream.
We went up to the bar because at 9:45 there was a classical concert. At 10pm I went out to see how there was still a little light in the sky, despite the time it was. Well, at 22.40, when the concert was over, there was still clarity! But there was a wind on the deck!
At 22:45 the disco started at the bar, but that day we were a little tired, so we went to the cabin. But while we were going down we heard that they had put Gangnam Style and that people were laughing a lot. I went up quickly to see what was happening, and I saw that the young guys were dancing, and very well indeed!
Then I go back to the cabin! And at 23.30 I was already in bed!
DAY 7: MOSCOW BY DAY AND MOSCOW BY NIGHT
6.30. The alarm sounds. We needed a good shower! The feeling is not the same as the one you have with the jet lag when you go to the US, but almost. At 7 o'clock, as we had left the radio in the room connected. The songs of birds began to sound. How sweet! We are very grateful to wake up like this. But when the soft music ends, a more sugary music begins to sound! That's how we just woke up completely!
At 7.30 we went to breakfast. Breakfast was buffet style and varied with delicious pastas, jam croissants, toast, butter, yogurts of various flavors. There were also cereals, sausage, cheese, omelette, crepes, juices (orange, pineapple, peach), tea, coffee, cut fruit, and rolls of all types. I asked one of the waitresses if they had cocoa powder, but she did not understand.
At 8:30 we were already on the bus. The day had started a little ugly. I just wish it did not rain! As usual, we were accompanied by a local guide from Moscow. We passed Leningrad Avenue, so called because it leads to St. Petersburg.
On the bus we saw the Church of St Nicholas, from the XVI century. Finally, we got off the bus at the Theater Square, and saw the famous Bolshoi, where ballets and operas are performed, in its 19th century building, with its quadriga on the portico. In the square there was also a sculpture of Karl Marx, where it said: Workers of the world, unite!
We also saw the Metropol Hotel, beautifully and lavishly decorated in Art Nouveau style. We were already very close to the famous Red Square! We approached the entrance and saw Km 0 and the Resurrection Gate (which was demolished so that the tanks for the military parades could pass) with its chapel.
There is also the statue of Marshal Zhukov (one of the most important commanders of the World War II), stepping on the eagle and the German swastika. It was built to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the victory in World War II.
We enter the square. It looked imposing, despite the assembly of the stands for the festival of orchestras from around the world that takes place in September.
The square separates the Kremlin (the old royal citadel) of a historic merchant district. The main streets of Moscow leave here. It is the fourth largest square in the world. And that the name is not for the bricks of the wall, but for the meaning of red in Russian. It also has nothing to do with the nexus of the red color and communism.
The oldest thing that exists today are the towers of the Kremlin. The Tower of the Savior (the main door of the Kremlin) has a clock and a star at the top of the tower that weighs a ton. It is covered with ruby and glass, and is a kind of weather vane. The big clock is about 6 meters in diameter and a train could pass through it. Seen from there it did not look like it!
We were right next to the State Historical Museum. What a beautiful building! We also had very close the beautiful and small Kazan Cathedral, which was rebuilt. In the square also stands the huge building of the GUM stores. A very important Russian artist, Aleksandr Rodchenko, designed several advertising posters for these stores.
And we also saw Lenin's Mausoleum, with its huge granite pyramid. There were no lines outside. The first thing we did was to enter the small Kazan Cathedral. Being dedicated to worship, we were not allowed to take pictures inside. It was our first contact with an Orthodox church. Upon entering we heard some beautiful voices that were singing. A ceremony was being held. We saw for the first time the women with their heads covered, and the offerings of candles.
The church is really small, but beautiful! With great respect we went around the premises and went outside. As it was almost 10am we went to the doors of the GUM, but not before taking photos a little closer to the Mausoleum. We could not approach the mausoleum, because the fences that closed the enclosure of the stands prevented us. We had to take the pictures through them.
The square was full of people from all over the world. Everywhere we heard people speak in different languages. At the entrance to the stores there was some organized group waiting to enter. And at 10 o'clock a rather solemn music played and the doors opened.
The interior is spectacular, bright, pleasant, very good care, and with pleasure. From time to time, some machines sprayed water to cool the environment. And we went through one of the side doors, which took us straight to the Saint Basil's Cathedral. I had seen it a thousand times in photographs, but seeing it live is simply spectacular! It has 9 bulbous domes, for each saint, the day of which the tsar won the battle. One of the domes is smaller than the others. Inside are the relics of St. Basil.
To enter, we have to pay entry fee. I have to admit that I did not look at the prices, because we would not have had time to see it calmly. The monument in front is dedicated to the heroes Minin and Pozharsky, who helped to drive the Polish invaders out of the city in 1612. It seemed made of papier-mache. I could not stop photographing the domes!
Before going to the bus, we see a nice view of the Kremlin walls. On the way to the bus we came across a rather old trolleybus. And in the distance we saw the building of one of the 7 Sisters. These are skyscrapers built in Stalin's time, to commemorate the eighth anniversary of the city. There had to be eight buildings, but the eighth was not built. It had to be the Palace of the Soviets.
We took the bus and we continue. Right out of the place where the bus was parked, we saw that many cars and police were leaving the Kremlin compound. The next stop was at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.
It was erected in honor of the victory against Napoleon. In 1931 two tons of dynamite destroyed it. In the place where it had been, Stalin wanted to make the Palace of the Soviets about 389 meters high, with a Lenin sculpture of 100 meters. A library was projected on the head, and a base for helicopters was in the hand. But during the World War II construction was stopped.
Years later, there was an outdoor pool. And when Perestroika arrived, they rebuilt the cathedral. It took 6 years to build it, and in the year 2000 it was opened. Today it is the main cathedral of Moscow. The current church has about 40 Kg of gold, but the first had 400 Kg! We could not enter because it was closed. Right next door there is a nice garden.
We cross the bridge that is just in front of the cathedral, to have a nice view of Kremlin. We went back to the bus. We made a technical stop in a store. We were invited to a shot of vodka! And they left us for a little while to look at the store. There was everything. I was struck by these very different collections of Matryoshkas, which we would later see throughout the trip.
We take advantage to change to rubles. We bought Matryoshkas. They were not badly priced. After the technical stop we continue with the visit. With the coach we were taken to the Sparrows Hill. During the pre-Soviet period it was called Lenin Hill.
We got off the bus and saw the imposing building of the Moscow State University, and an impressive view of Moscow, with the stadium. We also see the Ostankino tower (the second highest communications tower in the world, after the Toronto CN Tower), a jumping trampoline, the thermal power station, and Moscow City.
We went back to the bus because it was time to eat (1pm). That day we had lunch in the center of the city, on Arbat Street (which is almost 3 km), at the cafe. With the bus we passed by the Novodevichy Convent. Near Arbat Street we also passed through the building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. On Arbat Street we saw a Russian McDonalds. And we arrived at the Hard Rock cafe.
There is a curious lamp made of electric guitars and, of course, photos of famous singers. We went up to the third floor, where we had the tables. We sit with our table companions on the ship. How well we ate! They put a tomato and cheese salad, cream of mushrooms (which was spectacular), sliced meat with sauce and mashed potatoes. There were many groups, but they were very fast serving! But to bring the desserts it took longer. But it was worth the wait. We have a delicious chocolate cake! We had water, and then coffee or tea. The guide also ate there.
We finished the meal and went down to Arbat street. We got on the bus and headed towards the Novodevichy Convent, or Convent of the Maidens. We walk through the enclosure. We saw a kind of mausoleum that we could not enter if we did not cover our heads. But it was not necessary either because it was so small, that it looked perfectly from the outside.
We went to the Cathedral of Our Lady of Smolensk and there we could take pictures. It is the building that was used in summer, since it is bigger. The interior fresco paintings are from the 16th century. The iconostasis separates the faithful from the sacred part. It's like a kind of wall. This was a gift from nobles. It is all made of carved wood bathed in gold. It has three doors: the central one that opens during the trades, and the lateral ones that are of service. The emperors, during the coronation ceremonies, were the only laymen who could pass through these doors.
We went to the gallery, also profusely decorated. And right next to it was the small winter church. Being smaller, wood was saved to heat it. This style of decoration in white and red, is what is called the Muscovite Baroque. We took advantage to enter the winter church. We also entered a small library and saw the part of the walls that surround the enclosure.
In the enclosure, at the moment, still reside nuns. We left the enclosure and went to see the lake, in which Tchaikovsky was inspired for the Swan Lake. We also had an interesting view of Moscow City, the most modern part of the city. We saw a wall where Muscovites leave their wishes.
And we entered the cemetery next to the convent. Admission is free. It is quite large, and at the entrance we have a list of all the graves that can be visited. Among them, there are the ones of Boris Yeltsin, Raisa Gorbachova, Rostropovich, Anton Chekhov, Stalin's wife.
It was a very different from the one we did last year to Arlington Cemetery in Washington. This is much smaller. At 5pm we returned to take the bus towards the boat. Among other points of interest in the city, we passed through the White House, the headquarters of the federal government. As usual, we found quite a lot of traffic on the way back.
At 6pm we arrived at the boat and we had a good restorative shower. We had the TV on to see the news. We realized that the plugs were not working, because the battery charger of the camera stopped. We had to go to reception to advise, and they fixed it right away.
At 19.30 we went to dinner, because afterwards we had the Moscow tour at night and the subway. As always, it was all great. There was salad, vegetable soup, chicken breaded with cheese and chocolate ice cream.
When leaving the restaurant, we saw a beautiful sunset from one of the windows of the boat, and a plane that was on the riverbank. At 9:00 we were all already on the bus. Once again we went through the Church of St. Nicholas.
We got off the bus near the first station we would visit: Belorusskaya. It was full of tour groups! With a lot of patience, we got in and went to the escalators. The station is awesome! We get off at the first station, Novoslobodskaya. It is the only station that has stained glass windows, with musicians and composers.
We also saw a huge mosaic, with the sickle and the hammer, the spikes (representing the peasants) and a belt (for the 15 republics of the Soviet Union). The exits are decorated with the sickle and the hammer.
Then we went to Kurskaya (as the name of the submarine Kursk), all made of granite and marble. It was made before the World War II, that's why it's darker and not as loaded as the others.
We went to Ploshchad Revolyutsii, where there is the famous dogs that if you rub their snout, gives good luck. It is accompanied by a border guard. It is curious to see the Muscovites (I will not tell tourists anymore), when they get off the car and pass by the side, as they touch it quickly, in a totally spontaneous and daily gesture.
The rest of the sculptures are also very curious, and represent people from the Soviet Union, in different attitudes. We went out to the surface again. The sensation that I took from the visit to the metro is that there were too many tourists. The fact of seeing a lot of people following a little flag, with headphones to hear the explanations of the guide, reduced the charm of what should be an everyday moment in the Moscow metro.
The subway goes really fast. But obviously, the experience is very positive, because it is really like a palace or a museum underground. I already have a perfect excuse to return on some other occasion. We go to Nikolskaya Ulitsa street to see the Red Square illuminated at night.
We went through the side wall of the GUM stores. The stores have been illuminated for some time with small light bulbs, as if it were Christmas. It seems that not all Muscovites like decoration. It reminded me of the decoration of Harrods in London.
The stars of the towers look perfectly at night! It was 23h and we went back to catch the bus. The next stop would be at the Novodevichy Convent to see the reflection in the lake. We returned to take the bus to go to the Victoria Park, with its impressive obelisk, with a sculpture of Nike and two angels and red fountains. It was built to commemorate the 50th anniversary of May 9, 1945 (Victory Day), the victory of the Soviet people in World War II over Nazi Germany.
We saw the Arc de Triomphe (built for the Russian victory in the war of 1812 against Napoleon, when he tried to invade Russia) and a clock with some flowers with the name of the city. It was already after 00h, so we went back to the bus, to return to the ship. On the way we pass by the White House, the Radisson Hotel that is in one of the 7 Sisters, Moscow City (which, by the way, looked like the Financial District of New York, or any other area of Manhattan with its towering skyscrapers ).
At 00.34 we arrived at the ship. It had been an intense and very interesting visit! But we were already a little tired. Of course, it had been worth the trip. Almost in silence, we went into the boat and headed to our cabins.
At 1 o'clock we were already in bed, with a very good taste after seeing everything that day, and wanting to see the Kremlin in the morning. Everything was going great! We go to sleep!
Good Night Moscow! Or as they would say in Russian: Spokoinoi Nochi, Mockba!
DAY 8: 48 HOURS IN MOSCOW
6.30: the alarm sounds. How hard is the traveler's life! This cannot be good for the body! Well, but that day we had a very interesting visit to the Kremlin enclosure! That took away all the evils. At 7 o'clock we were already having breakfast to have energy!
Before 8:00 am they already warned by public address that the buses were already prepared for the excursion. So far, everything was very well organized. We left our keys, they gave us the cards, and we went to the bus! That day was a little cool. Nothing that was not solved by a thin jacket. During the journey I fell asleep!
We got off the bus and went back to see the statue of Marshal Zhukov. We were already in the area of the Kremlin walls. We saw the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, dedicated to the Soviet soldiers who died in the World War II. The change of guard is done every hour, and in winter every half hour.
Just in front of the Alexander Gardens, we saw sculptures about folk tales, like The Ugly Duckling. The gardens are really splendid and very well maintained. We make the queue to enter the Kremlin. At that time there were already enough people (above all, groups). It was a quarter to ten.
We passed the security control. We enter through the Tower of the Trinity, the highest (80 meters). In the walls they put cannons to defend the enclosure. But now, there they keep the presidential musical instruments. We saw the Arsenal building. We also saw the Senate building. There is the office of present incumbent Vladimir Putin. And suddenly, the Zar Cannon, the king of cannons, appeared before us! Each bullet weighs a ton, but they are larger than the caliber of the cannon! Next we saw the Zarina Bell, the most beautiful.
It weighs about 200 tons. It was made in the time of the zarina Anna Ivanovna, replacing a previous one. To make it, the melted material of the previous one was used, but there was a fire and the bell could not resist the cold water with which they extinguished the fire. So it cracked, and a large piece of about 11 tons came off. The clapper weighs 5 tons. And so we come to the cathedral square.
We entered through another place. It is the oldest cathedral, and where Ivan the Great is buried. In addition, it is where the main ceremonies were celebrated. All these cathedrals are completely painted inside. In the exit, they represent the scenes of the Last Judgment. The architect who designed it was Italian. And very close was the Bell Tower of Ivan the Great. It measures about 81 meters. It was the highest building in Russia until the Russian Revolution, because it was forbidden to build something higher. They say that it marks the exact center of the city.
We also saw the Cathedral of the Archangel. It is where Ivan the Terrible is buried, and more members of the Muscovite dynasty of the Riurik, as well as the first Romanovs. The domes of the Palace of Facets are spectacular! It is not allowed to take pictures or video!
And here we finish our visit to the Kremlin, because we realized that it was 10.55 and there were about to make the change of guard in the Tower of the Trinity! So we started to run like mad to arrive on time!
When we reached the height of the building of the Arsenal we saw that the soldiers of the relay were already in full gear! We arrived at the point. We prepared the cameras and we saw it perfectly! We had seen last year the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery (Washington), which was spectacular!
When it was over, people took photos with the soldiers. We took the bus and left in the direction of the boat. Our last moments in Moscow were coming to an end.
And the general impression of the city of Moscow, is that it is a city of many contrasts. We can see people who have big cochazos, next to real tartanas. The traffic is horrible. I think we lacked time to get to know the city calmly, obviously. But what we saw loved it. The feeling of being in full Red Square, despite the steps that were being mounted, is indescribable. And the subway, what to say? Without words it was beauty!
Who knows! Maybe one day I'll come back so I can savor it calmly. But at the moment we can already say that we have been and known the history of a great city (in all senses).
At 12 o'clock we arrived at the ship. We went up to the deck. We looked for a place at the shade, because although there was a strong sun, the coolness was nice. Suddenly a very spectacular music sounded! We were sailing!
And we saw how another boat arrived at the same time. Slowly we moved away from the port and the city, and navigation began! We saw urban beaches and people bathing or fishing in the river. And also began a beautiful landscape full of trees, which would not leave us during many stretches of our trip!
That's how we were, until lunchtime. At 13.30 it was the first day we ate on the boat. The midday meal was also very good. There were assorted salads, pasta, fish gratin, courgette gratin, chicken with sauce and mushrooms. And for dessert, there was cut watermelon, and cottage cheese cakes.
There was always more queue, but the waitresses were very quick replenishing what was ending. And while we ate, through the windows we saw the landscape, people swimming, and jet skis.
After lunch, I wanted to rest, and so I went to the cabin to rest a little. From time to time I could see beautiful landscapes. As it was about 16.30, I went up on deck. That day we would pass 6 locks of the Moscow Artificial Canal. And they opened the floodgates to continue the navigation. And we continue sailing to get to another lock.
At 7pm they prepared a cocktail for the beginning of the navigation. They gave us a kind of cava (a little warm), and the captain and crew showed up. Two guys sang for us a couple of songs, played with a balalaika and an accordion. And at 19.45 we go for dinner! It was cold in the restaurant! To try to placate it a little, we covered the crack where the air came out with papers, the plants, and the wine list.
The dinner was again, great! There was salad with sausage, soup with chicken and noodles, salmon with sauce and ice cream with caramel. After dinner we went to the bar, because at 21.30 we had a concert. But before I started, I went on deck because it was getting dark and the sky gave us beautiful colors!
The concert was very good. They are a couple of virtuosos, and also showmans. They made several people participate, playing a tambourine and a very curious instrument. When we finished we even asked for an encore. At the end they sold CDs and the instrument, which is called Treshiotka.
At 22.30 the disco started. We went on deck, and despite the time it was, there was still light! It was cool. But by the early morning, we were a little tired, so at 23.30 we went to bed.
DAY 9: KAMCHATSKY
We wake up at 5 o'clock. At 5:30 we leave for the Vnukovo airport. It took us exactly 30 minutes. The flight to Petropavlovsk departs at 19:30. Luckily, there are many counters and everything is quite fast, and security control too. In the terminal there is free wifi and no codes, and some restaurants in the departure lounge. We had some very good salads.
From Moscow we left very punctual. Once again, we ask the hostess not to bother us, that we want to sleep all the way and adapt to the Kamchatka schedule. We remembered with horror the jet lag we had in Japan, that during the first week we woke up at 2 or 3 in the morning without being able to sleep again. We adapt quickly.
There are no televisions in the seats or any other entertainment on board. Well, yes there are screens in the seats but either they do not work, or they do not connect them. We managed to sleep until breakfast time. The juice and coffee are drinkable but the food leaves a lot to be desired. We arrived at Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky a little before 12 noon.
This is when I realize the vast expanse of Russia. And how far away is the Kamchatka Peninsula. Once we get there, we are closer to Kyoto or Seattle than to Moscow. Arriving in Kamchatka, the first impression is that everything is gray. It is raining. The fog prevents us from seeing the profile of the Avachinsky volcano, which we had read that can be seen from any point of the city. At the moment, the Avachinsky will have to wait.
At the exit, our transfer awaits us. In half an hour we arrive at Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, which is the full name of the capital of the Kamchatka Peninsula. In about 40 minutes, we arrived at the hotel. It rains a little. A person from the local agency comes with the umbrella.
We do the check-in. After our wifi time, we showered. The lunch buffet is very complete with smoked sausages, cheese, cereals, gofers, yoghurts, butter and homemade jams, porridge, vegetables and soups. Because of the simplicity of the hotel, it seems like a very abundant buffet.
We then go out to discover the city. We are curious about everything we have seen and read about the little things to see in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. On the outskirts of Kamchatsky in the middle of the forest we stopped for 20 minutes in a supermarket in case we needed something. We buy cookies, chocolates, beers and a few bottles of vodka.
We continue our journey. According to the program, we will drive about 120 km to the Bystraya river. The paved road runs through forests of intense green until we come to a kind of village (one street) consisting of a dozen houses. Finally we reached an esplanade near the Bistraya river.
We got on the rafts. The landscape is very beautiful and luckily, the weather too. Some drops fall from time to time but it does not bother. It is not cold or very hot. It is a perfect temperature. The river has some rapids but the guides are experts and they look for the way to pass them smoothly and without any danger. We spent many moments in silence, enjoying the scenery. Everything is very nice. We see bear on the shore. Some of us see them up close and we get very good pictures.
Others take the opportunity to stretch out on the bundles we carry for sunbathing. Others take the fishing poles and try their luck. A few hours later, some will catch a huge salmon that will be our dinner.
At about 5 o'clock in the afternoon we stopped and tied the boats. It is time to set up camp for the night. The first thing the guides do is to start preparing the food. With more or less skill, each one mounts his tent. In just over an hour, we are finished. While the guides light the fire, cut wood, we approach the river to fish. The others look, although they teach us the technique and we encourage ourselves to try. We wear the fishing boots, but every time we go deeper into the river the water is quite cold. Luckily, the temperature has dropped a bit but with a fleece it is enough. The whole group is there, sitting on the trunks of the shore. Sometimes we stay in silence watching the river go down. It's almost a hypnotizing effect.
A little while later, they call us for dinner. Finally we tried the salmon soup with fennel, bay leaf, sliced salmon pieces, and vegetables. It is a light dinner that we finish off with everything they have bought in the supermarket. There is salmon caviar, smoked, sweet and above all and that does not lack, vodka and beer. A couple of bottles of vodka are consumed in a moment. This time there is one of Armenian cognac and one of whiskey. After dinner, we approach the fire and chat. After enough chatting and drinking when we cannot take it anymore, at about 8 we go to sleep.
When we go to sleep, the guide gives us a tip. If we get up at night, we have to be vigilant because there could be bears. If in the dark, we see red eyes then the bear is far away and if they are green, it is close. So we have to scream, or make a lot of noise to wake up the rest of the camp.
DAY 10: AVACHINSKY
At 8 we had breakfast of delicious crepes with Philadelphia type cheese and currants. As there was more than enough dinner food, some prefer a plate of fish soup and other bread with smoked fish. It's a strange mixture, the soup with coffee but they are the sea of happiness. We left at 9:30. On this route there are some faster rapids but our guides dodge without problem, although more than one gets wet enough, especially the two girls who go in front of the raft. A few kilometers down, we finish the rafting.
Once again, the most important thing is to fill the stomach and although it is not even noon, we have ham and cheese sandwiches. We went to the next boat. On the deck there is a whole box of crabs. They are not King Crab (although we get the impression that they are huge). Without a doubt, it will be the star of our food since the crabs of the bay are very famous all over the country.
During the tour we can see birds such as puffins, gulls and cormorants. The view of the bay with the Koryaksky volcano is magnificent. We go to the area of the Mutnovsky and Gorely volcanoes to start the trekking. As is tradition, we went through the supermarket before continuing. It strikes us that there are beer spouts of many brands, and you can bring your bottle and fill it there, without a license or permit.
We drive a little over two hours by road. Our driver, says it's about 100 km. The time has changed rapidly. We have left with sun, and it is beginning to rain and there are strong gusts of wind. After an hour and something, we stopped at the Silver Water, a fountain that they say is miraculous because it heals everything.
Just ten minutes later, and as we go up, the weather gets worse and there is hardly any visibility. The road is a forest track with stretches of snow but with the rain has become a real mud. In some sections there is a lot of ice, so the driving is very slow. It took us an hour to reach the camp, located 800 meters high. Despite the thick fog, we see that a few meters ahead there is another group of the same agency also camped.
The guide explains to us due to the bad weather (and that according to the forecasts, it will not improve), we will not be able to climb the Mutnovsky volcano and we cannot change it for the climb to the Gorely volcano. For now they are suspended, and all groups that are camped have made the same decision as it would be dangerous.
We decide to move to the area of the Navychevo Natural Park. We start the road. We passed some pieces with ice. With rain, hail and dense fog we reached the camp.
There are no other groups, so the cook pampers us a little and prepares the dinner for us. At 7 we had a soup of stewed rice and meat. How nice is a hot dish. We were talking at the dining table and found out that at that time (8:30 pm) a small group of Japanese that after the up and down the Avachinsky is back to their refuge. Taking advantage of that they happened near the Camel Rock and that there was sunlight, they have also made the excursion. There is still much light and there are hardly any clouds where the cone of the Avachinsky volcano (2741 mt) and the Koryansky (3456 mt) look perfect.
We make a point regarding the excursion to go to the Valley of the Geysers. Our travel program offers the possibility of making the trip by helicopter to visit the Valley of the Geysers as a unique option. In Kamchatka, the local agency, offered us two possibilities: the Valley or Lake Kuril as a second option. Although we could not do either of the two due to bad weather. It is not dark yet when we go to sleep.
DAY 11: PETROPAVLOVSK
Today it has dawned clear and sunny and the top of Koryaksky volcano, perfectly visible and just a couple of hours later, the cold, rain and wind are the protagonists. At 6 we have breakfast with 2 fried eggs, chicken soup, and the corresponding coffee and juice.
The driver arrives at 9 to pick us up. Again, the refuge is empty because those who climb the Avachy leave very early. We are ourselves and some stragglers who have preferred to stay in the base camp while their friends climb the volcano. It seems that the day will be quite good (although of course, we also left yesterday with a splendid time, and twisted by mid-morning). Unfortunately, the weather does not improve and in the area of Lake Kuril, and the Valley of the Geysers rains and there is also strong wind so the helicopter tours are still suspended.
Our plan B is closer to the beaches of Khalaktyrsky, located about 40 minutes from Petropavlovsk. On the way to the beaches, we passed through the capital. It starts to rain. The beaches of Khalaktyrsky are black due to its volcanic origin. It reminds us a lot of the Icelandic beaches of Vik. Luckily, the tiny cafeteria is open.
Despite the strong wind, we walked for a while along the shore, because of touching the Bering Sea. We then head back to Moscow
We return to the hotel at night. The check-in is very fast. We have not done any exercise and breakfast at the shelter has been overwhelming, but as we are obedient, we eat what is served at the hotel. This time, a delicious salad and a steak with vegetables.
After eating, and although some drops fall, we went out to explore Petropavlovsk for the last time. In the hotel we found a free guide in English (with more publicity than practical information).
We had dinner at 7 o'clock. Here the schedules are what the hotel decides. The dining room has a corner with an impossible color combination and a disco ball. The waitress tries hard to be unpleasant each time she comes to our table to serve us. They serve us a more than correct vegetable soup and breaded steak and pancakes for dessert. In the middle of dinner, we pass the breakfast options for tomorrow. It is a letter in Russian and without photos. As the waitress passes by, she memorizes everything and tells us that tomorrow we will have it at 8 o'clock. Tired but very happy we fell asleep for the last time in our Russian bed.
DAY 12: FAREWELL
We pack the suitcases, we showered and at 8 o'clock we went to breakfast. At 9 o'clock we went to finish closing our bags, because at 10 o'clock we had to leave our luggage in the corridor. At that time we had to leave the cabin. And we started towards the airport. We found some traffic, but nothing worrying because we were well on time.
We arrived at 13.30, but until 13.50 we could not go through to check-in. The airport was really small. First we pass the luggage through a scanner. Finally they let us go check it out. We went to passport control. They checked the passport, and kept the immigration paper!
And we went to Duty free to spend the few rubles we had left. We bought two boxes of chocolates. And at the end they announced the boarding gate. We went down through the control, and we were already at the boarding gate! We look for a bus, which took us to the plane. There were newspapers, and magazines at the door of the plane. I picked up a magazine.
The plane was quite small and without screens. Punctually at 15.50 we took off, and immediately I saw through the window the gardens of a palace in Moscow. And the large number of trees that make Russia so rich. At 16.45 they served us food. The pasta was delicious, the bun hot, and the dessert delicious. The flight was perfect. Without any problem.
At 16.20, Vienna time, we landed. They left us on track again and we had to take a bus to the terminal. At 17.15 the next flight left. We arrived at the terminal and found a queue at the passport control.
We would have to go to the race again! Finally, after waiting a while, we passed the control without problems.
We had to walk a lot again. When we finally arrived, at a brisk pace, we went through the "serve yourself and pass your boarding pass" machines and went to the plane. It was 5.15pm. We sat down.
At 17.35 we took off. This plane was bigger than the previous one and had screens that go down from the top panel. Then they gave us a snack to snack on something and a drink (I had an orange juice). The cookie was very good! With chocolate! It's just that I'm addicted. After a while they served more drinks.
We could see this fantastic moon, which bid us farewell to our fabulous trip! I am happy, satisfied, delighted, and tired. The trip had come to an end, with a very sweet taste! A Russian chocolate!