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"The tour was excellent"
The tour was excellent. As always, the extra excursions were expensive and should be included. Red Square was my favorite part. The Russian people were very warm, friendly and welcoming.
The legacy of Peter the Great lives on in the Russian city that bears his name. There's no sign of the swamps the powerful tsar transformed into elegant waterways and opulent palaces as you'll come to discover as you explore the city your way. Today there's an undeniable air of aristocracy in the former imperial capital - grandiose buildings in soft pastel shades reveal a prosperous past, while lush parklands and canals take you back to a time when wealthy tsars and tsarinas ruled this Russian roost. Meet your Travel Director and fellow travellers later for a glimpse of what lies ahead and enjoy dinner at your hotel.
With a Local Specialist as your guide, the stories of Russia's royalty come to life as you explore some of St. Petersburg's most iconic sights. See the Tsar's Winter Palace, St. Isaac's Cathedral and The Bronze Horseman, whose enduring presence in the heart of St. Petersburg ensures the city will never yield to enemy forces. Explore the golden-spired St. Peter and Paul Fortress, the final resting place of the Romanovs. Then spend the rest of the day on your own or consider an Optional Experience to the Church of the Saviour of the Spilt Blood and St. Isaac's Cathedral, the fourth-largest cathedral in the world. You could choose instead to visit the Hermitage Museum to see one of the largest and most valuable collections of art in the world.
Trace the magic touch of centuries of tsarist rule as you embark on a full free day of sightseeing on your own terms. You could head to the Hermitage Museum on an Optional Experience to see the masterpieces of Matisse, Vermeer and Rembrandt on display and admire the opulence of the city's Baroque, Neoclassical and Orthodox architectural heritage. Take a stroll down Nevsky Prospekt and snack on a soft, hot and sweet pyshki or two, or embark on a full day Optional Experience to the imperial summer residences at Pushkin and Petrodvorets. You're in for a cultural extravaganza this evening should you choose to join an optional evening at the ballet in a tsarist-era theatre or attend one of the best Russian folklore performances featuring Cossack dances, songs and costumes.
Cross the vast plains of Russia, bound for the ancient city of Novgorod, the 'Birthplace of Russia'. Here you'll delve into the legacy of the Rurik dynasty which ruled Russia for over seven centuries. You'll view the Millennium Monument, St. Sophia Cathedral and the Kremlin whose fortified red façades overlook the Volkhov River. Tonight, dinner is served at your hotel.
Looming larger than life, the Russian capital lies ahead, but not before you pay a brief lunch visit to the Tver region, the traditional pit stop on the popular route between St. Petersburg and Moscow. Arriving in Moscow later today, you'll have an opportunity to embark on an Optional Experience to visit an illuminated Red Square and Moscow's grandiose Metro stations, themselves great works of art. Here style and substance coexist effortlessly making Moscow's Metro the most beautiful subway system in the world.
Strut your stuff in one of Europe's mightiest capitals, joining a Local Specialist for a sightseeing tour that will delve into the indomitable spirit of the Russian nation. Moscow oozes grandeur around every turn, from the colourful domes of St. Basil's Cathedral to the imposing Red Square - the site of grand celebrations, fierce fighting and the seat of Russian power for centuries. An Optional Experience to the heart of Moscow will take you behind the scenes of its red walls to the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour and Ivan the Great's Bell Tower or admire great imperial riches during an optional visit to the Treasure Chamber of the Russian tsars.
Wave farewell to Mother Russia and head east across the Belarus border to Minsk. Driving past Borodino, you'll be reminded of Napoleon's great 19th-century battle, immortalised in the famous novel War and Peace as "a continuous slaughter which could be of no avail either to the French of the Russians". Arriving in the Belarus capital later, you'll be left in no doubt of the city's strong ties with Russia. Your orientation tour will reveal a perfectly Soviet city, rebuilt after World War II in a style that would make Stalin proud. Dinner is served at your hotel this evening.
The war was not kind to Minsk, but the grand buildings, large squares and elegant avenues that characterise the Belarus capital today tell a tale of Soviet supremacy. Your Local Specialist will reveal the city's history of occupation and all its iconic sights, including the Hero City Memorial, built to commemorate the city's status as one of the Hero Cities of the former Soviet Union. You'll have the rest of the afternoon to explore Minsk your way, delving into its austere architecture followed by night of art and culture should you choose to visit the celebrated National Academic Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theatre.
Cross the expansive plains of Belarus this morning, heading west towards Warsaw. You'll stop for lunch at Brest, a celebrated site of Soviet resistance during World War II. Later arrive in Poland's capital, a modern metropolis which has risen with all the invigorating spirit of a phoenix after a recent tragic past.
A Local Specialist reveals the turbulent history of Warsaw this morning as you see first-hand how the resilient Poles rebuilt their city which was almost obliterated by the Nazis in retaliation for the 1944 Warsaw Uprising. View St. John's Cathedral and the Royal Palace in the Old Town, then see the site of the Warsaw Ghetto which confined over 400,000 near-starving Jews during World War II. Tonight, an Optional Experience will reveal the heart and soul of Warsaw
Blaze a trail west along the Autostrada Wolności (Motorway of Freedom) which was first initiated by Nazi Germany to connect Berlin with Poland and left unfinished for decades after World War II. Cross the border into Germany and head to its vibrant multicultural capital, Berlin. Consider joining an Optional Experience with good food, wine, beer and music, followed by a Berlin-By-Night tour of the illuminated capital.
Embrace the effervescent spirit of your Berlin hosts when you join your Local Specialist for a sightseeing tour that will bring the tumultuous history of this city to life. View the Reichstag Building, German State Opera House, Tiergarten, Unter den Linden Boulevard and Brandenburg Gate, the iconic 18th-century military monument that has since come to symbolise peace and unity. Spend the rest of the day exploring the city's energy on your own or maybe join an Optional Experience to uncover the secrets of Berlin's World War II and Cold War past.
Your epic encounter with imperial Russia, Soviet powerhouses and the capitals of Germany and Poland has come to an end. You've seen grandiose monuments and seen the revival of cities that were once reduced to rubble. Say a fond farewell to your travel companions as you prepare to return home. Transfers are available to Berlin Tegel Airport.
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