Highlights Of A Cruise To The Caspian Sea
Following a successful and, largely, trouble-free World Cup, Russia continues to rise as a travel destination for people from the UK. River cruises along the Volga have been growing in popularity and the show put on by the country during June and July has gone a long way to giving the people the confidence to explore this intriguing nation.
One of our Volga River cruises, with Volga Dream, offers the chance to sail all the way from the beautiful city of St. Petersburg to the shores of the Caspian Sea. This 18-day, epic adventure will take you through many of Russia’s largest cities and to some of the more remote regions along the way. Here are just a few of the highlights on this mammoth journey known as the Grand Russian Cruise.
Home Cooked Food In Svirstroy
The first highlight comes as you sail into the small village of Svirstroy, home to only 1,000 residents, many of whom will greet you as you walk through the area. After an interesting tour to see the breathtaking nature surrounding Lake Ladoga and Lake Onega, you will be invited into the home of a local family to share an unforgettable experience.
Enthusiastically, they will tell you about their village and the people who live there, whilst offering traditional tea and snacks. You’ll have the chance to sample home-made pirozhki, delicious puff pastry pies stuffed will fillings such as beef, mushrooms, potatoes and cabbage. There are even sweet varieties filled with apple or apricot.
Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery, Goritsy
This vast and impressive structure was founded at the end of the 14th century by St. Cyril (known as Kirill of Beloozero). It stands on the shores of Lake Siverskoye and predates the surrounding town of Kirillov by almost 600 years.
A visit here will allow you to discover the monastery’s 11 churches and learn all about its history at the state museum. The museum preserve features exhibitions showing the failed attempt to penetrate the walls of the monastery by the Polish-Lithuanians in 1612, as well as weapons and clothes used and worn at the time, and various oddities and treasures collected by the tsars that stayed here.
Church Of St. Dmitry On The Blood, Uglich
During the Grand Russian Cruise, you will stop in the town of Uglich not once but twice. This will give you plenty of time to explore one of Russia’s oldest settlements – time you might use to visit the Transfiguration Cathedral or one of the various museums featuring anything from antique weapons and religious artefacts to displays on hydro-electric power and local myths and legends.
The standout attraction in Uglich, though, is the Church of St. Dmitry on the Blood. Not to be confused with St. Petersburg’s more famous Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, but still demonstrating tradition Russian onion-domed architecture, this structure is allegedly built on the spot where Ivan the Terrible’s last remaining heir was murdered.
A definitive cause of death was never established but many believed it to have been a plot by pretender Boris Godunov. Inside, a wall painting depicts the story of this death and an ‘exiled’ bell is displayed. This bell is said to have tolled on the day of Dmitry’s death and was then exiled for a number of years before returning to Uglich.
Tatar Culture, Kazan
Kazan is the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan and this is where you will see a change in the sights along the riverbanks and in the culture in general. It is mosques that dominate the skyline here instead of churches, the language is different and there is a different feeling than in other parts of Russia.
A walk along the Kremlin Embankment will take you to various different restaurants where you can try some traditional Tatar cuisine, featuring plenty of baked goods, soups and grains. Make your way to the quieter part of town and you will see the wooden houses that represent the Kazan of yesteryear. Then, later, immerse yourself in Tatar folk music as a children’s ensemble entertains the group.
Gagarin Museum, Saratov
Another key part of Russian culture is the role they played in the space race and their dedication to exploring the final frontier ever since. The most famous cosmonaut of them all lived and studied in Saratov and so you will find a museum dedicated to him and his journey into the atmosphere.
The Gagarin Museum is home to a variety of displays relating to the man himself, including personal items and objects used during his flight into space. Just outside the city, a monument also marks the spot where his Vostok 1 capsule landed back on Earth.
Caviar At the Caspian Sea, Astrakhan
As your Russian River cruise comes to an end, you will sail into the city of Astrakhan, close to the shores of the Caspian Sea. This is the world capital of caviar and the ideal place in which to taste this delicacy if you haven’t already done so on board.
Venture to one of the many fish farms in the area (it is no longer legal to catch wild sturgeon) to learn about the caviar making process and try some for yourself.
If you would like more information about our Grand Russian Cruise or you wish to book your stateroom on board, call us on 0800 954 0064. Alternatively, you can click here to contact us through the website.