Exeter International - vacations and travel

The Lower Volga

Russian Federation, Europe

from $3,585* per person 14 Days September, October
Comfort accommodations Exertion level: 3
Operator: Exeter International 12 people max
  • Moscow, russia
  • Boats, Barges & Small Ship Cruises trips
National Geographic Traveler's Tours of a Lifetime 2011
Few travelers ever have the chance to explore the truly Russian towns that line the waterways from Moscow south to the enchanting city of Astrakhan on the Caspian Sea. This is truly the real Russia, filled with historic towns and cities that we have all heard and read about, Stalingrad (now Volgograd) not the least among them. Set far away from the typical tourist routes, the Lower Volga will take you back in time and show you a part of Russia that she rarely shows to foreigners. Only recently have these cities been linked in all-encompassing comfort aboard a luxurious riverboat and we are very proud to bring this experience to our well-traveled guests. Here not only can you experience true Russian towns with all their history, but also grasslands, coastal forests and dense thickets of reeds, which provide habitat to wildlife seen nowhere else in Russia.

The journey starts in Moscow and then includes such exotic ports of call as one thousand year old Kazan where the ancient kremlin is a UNESCO World Heritage site and Samara with its picturesque waterfront. Visit Saratov, the home of Yuri Gagarin and a vital link in the Russian space program and Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad), the site of the bloodiest battle in modern warfare and overseen by Motherland Calls, one of the tallest sculptures in the world. Where the river flows into the Caspian sits the capital of caviar, Astrakhan. Here flamingoes and pelicans parade on the riverbank and lotus flowers fill the landscape.

Locations visited/nearby

Russian Federation, Europe

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Day 1
September 23 Friday
Arrival into Moscow, where you will be met by your driver who will be waiting for
you just outside of Customs, after you pick up your luggage. Transfer to the Volga
Dream. Please note that, depending on your arrival time, your cabin may not be
ready. You will be able to relax in the lounge or on deck while the boat staff
prepares your cabin for check-in.
Welcome reception with Dr. Rosamund Bartlett, a renowned specialist in Russian
cultural history with several books to her credit
Overnight on board the Volga Dream.
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2
September 24 Saturday
This morning meet your guide for an included tour of the Kremlin and its expansive
grounds. Here you will see the largest bell in the world – as well as the largest
canon. Neither were ever used due to their enormous size! Also on the grounds of
the Kremlin are three very important churches and your guide will take you
through all that are of interest. You will also see the Assumption Cathedral, where
all Russian tsars were crowned.
Later, your guide will take you to the famed Armory Museum, including its vast
collection of Imperial Russian artwork. You will have the opportunity to see the
Kremlin’s unique and intimate collection of Imperial Faberge Easter Eggs. Also in
the Armory are many of the most important Imperial thrones and crowns, including
the most historic, Cap of Monomachus.
This afternoon is at leisure. Dr. Bartlett will be hosting a lecture today on Moscow:
Holy Mother Moscow, the Third Rome.
Half-Day Tour
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 3
September 25 Sunday
Meet your guide this morning for a visit to Red Square and its famous landmark, St.
Basil’s Cathedral. This magnificent church-museum was commissioned by Ivan the
Terrible and was completed in 1561. Rumor has it that Ivan had the architect
blinded so he would never be able to design anything as exquisite again! The
cathedral is at its most awesome when viewed from the outside and your guide
will be happy to explain its history and the significance of each of the domes,
each of which contains a separate chapel.
During this morning’s overview city tour you will also see the Cathedral of Christ the
Redeemer, the Park of the Fallen Idols and the Novodevichy cemetery which
houses the graves of many famous Russians, from cultural figures to political and
military dignitaries.
This afternoon you will visit the vast Tretyakov Gallery. The Tretyakov is located in
one of Moscow’s most interesting neighborhoods. This area, called Zamoskvoreche
(“beyond the Moscow River”) was originally settled in the 13th century. The small
winding streets give this area an almost old-fashioned atmosphere, with historic
churches and the mansions of 19th century wealthy merchants.
The Tretyakov Gallery is situated in the former home of Pavel Tretyakov. Your guide
will take you through the museum, which houses only Russian artists - from Andrei
Rublev’s icons to famous 20th Century Russian painters. Here you can see a
timeline progression of Russian icons starting from the 16th century through to the
20th century. Each century of icons is arranged in separate halls to convey a clear
insight into the development of Russian Icon painting.
This evening the Volga Dream will depart to begin your journey on the Russian
waterways. Enjoy scenic views of the Moscow – Volga man-made canal as the
ship sails from Moscow.
Full Day Tour
Meals Included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 4
September 26 Monday
Today, upon arrival in Uglich you will enjoy a walking tour of this charming town.
Founded in 1148, Uglich is one of the most beloved towns in old Russia. As you
approach the town by river, the view of the town is especially lovely with the
Cathedral of the Resurrection and St. John’s Church looming on the horizon. This
delightful town retains much of its original charm in the form of historic wooden
architecture and elegant cathedrals, including the famed Tsarevitch Church that
was built in memory of Ivan the Terrible’s son, who died mysteriously on this site.
Dr. Bartlett’s lecture today will be Uglich: Boris Godunov, the Murdered Dmitry and
the Romanov Dynasty.
Half Day Tour
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 5
September 27 Tuesday
Yaroslavl is a large river port stretching along the banks of the Volga River. Yaroslav
Mudry (the Wise) founded the city in 1010. It was a large center of trade and crafts
in the 17th century. It is famous all over Russia for its textiles in the old tradition.
Yaroslavl belongs to the "Golden Ring" cities of Russia and it's one of the largest
centers of Russian architecture and arts of the 13th - 17th centuries. Today you will
tour this city’s historical and architectural monuments.
Dr. Bartlett’s lecture today will be Yaroslavl – the Spiritual World of Russian Icons.
Half Day Tour
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 6
September 28 Wednesday
Nizhni Novgorod
This city contains the earliest preserved Kremlin in all of Russia, surviving numerous
Tatar attacks. In later years, the Strogonovs who were the wealthiest merchant
family in Russia, chose Nizhni Novgorod as their base of operations. This resulted in
many buildings throughout the city designed in the Stroganov style, which you will
be able to view today.
Later today enjoy a lecture by Dr. Bartlett. Nizhny Novgorod – Tretyakov, Morozov
and Shchukin: the Colorful World of Russian Merchants.
Half Day Tour
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 7
September 29 Thursday
The center of Tatar culture, the official “third capital” of Russia, Kazan is famous for
its ancient kremlin, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city is also known for Our
Lady of Kazan, the mysterious icon invoked to thwart every major foreign invasion
since the 17th century. A shipbuilding base for the Caspian fleet, Kazan celebrated
its millennium in 2005.
Dr. Bartlett’s lecture today will take you inside Tatar culture: Kazan – the Tartar
Capital and Russian Orientalism.
Half Day Tour
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 8
September 30 Friday
This is the site of Stalin’s WWII bunker. Samara, then known as Kuybyshev, was
designated to be the capital of the Soviet Union should Moscow fall to the
Germans. Now an important economic and cultural center, Samara has the most
picturesque waterfront on the Volga. Here you can observe Russians enjoying the
beaches or taking a stroll along the promenade.
Today enjoy Dr. Bartlett’s lecture featuring Shostakovich’s 7th and the History of
Russian Music.
Half Day Tour
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 9
October 1 Saturday
Formerly a closed city, Saratov, the home of Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space,
was a crucial military manufacturing site, and a vital part of the Soviet space
program. Still a center for space research, Saratov is a major Volga port and one
of the largest cultural and scientific centers in European Russia.
Today Dr. Bartlett will focus on Two Sons from Saratov and the Question of Russian
Half Day Walking Tour

Day 10
October 2 Sunday
An outpost on Tsarist Russia’s unstable southern border, Volgograd (then known at
Tsaritsyn) saw heavy fighting during the Russian Civil War. But it was not until
Tsaritsyn was renamed Stalingrad that the city gained everlasting fame at the cost
of its own destruction. For 200 days in 1942 and 1943, Soviet and Nazi forces
engaged in the bloodiest battle in modern warfare, the decisive act of WWII. The
Sword of Stalingrad, given to the city by King George VI, is displayed at the Battle
of Stalingrad Museum here. Motherland Calls, one of the tallest sculptures in the
world, at 280 feet high, memorializes the battlefield.
Today delve further into Russian history with Dr. Bartlett’s lecture on Volgograd:
Tsaritsyn-Stalingrad-Volgograd and Russian history.
Half Day Tour
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 11
October 3 Monday
This afternoon, you will arrive into Astrakhan, your home for the next two nights.
Astrakhan is located on the Volga delta leading into the Caspian Sea. It is a
remnant from the Golden Horde, merging from a small fishing village to a
prominent trading center. Today it is still features a large fishing fleet farming for
both fish and caviar.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 12
October 4 Tuesday
Today you will tour the city including its Kremlin and cathedrals, designed on the
Baroque style. The city also features a monument to Peter the Great, who
constructed a shipyard here for his aggressions against Persia.
Full Day of Touring
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 13
October 5 Wednesday
Disembark the Volga Dream and meet your driver on the pier for your transfer to
the airport and flight onward.
Transfer Only
Meals Included: Breakfast
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

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