MOSCOW AND SAINT-PETERSBURG, 7 DAYS/6 NIGHTS

  • DAY 1 / MOSCOW (ARRIVAL)

    • Arrival in Moscow
    • Transfer to the hotel
    • Welcome cocktail including traditional Russian «bread and salt» welcome ceremony
    • Dinner at the hotel
    • Presentation of the program
  • DAY 2 / MOSCOW

    • Panoramic tour of Moscow
    • Visit to Novodevichy Convent
    • Lunch at Godunov
    • Visit to the Kremlin and its cathedrals
    • Visit to the Kremlin Armoury
    • Visit to Saint Basil’s Cathedral
    • Dinner at Cafe Pushkin
    • Transfer to the hotel
  • DAY 3 / MOSCOW – SAINT-PETERSBURG

    • Visit to the Star City (Russia’s Space Center)
    • Visit to the Cosmonaut Training Center  Optional: conference with an astronaut, trying on a space suit, space food tasting
    • Return to Moscow
    • Lunch at Glavpivtorg
    • Transfer to the railway station
    • Departure to Saint Petersburg on Sapsan high-speed day train
    • Arriving in Saint Petersburg
    • Transfer to the hotel
    • Dinner at the hotel
  • DAY 4 / SAINT-PETERSBURG

    • Panoramic tour of Saint-Petersburg
    • Visit to the Peter and Paul Fortress    Optional: Quest at the Peter and Paul Fortress
    • Lunch at Restoran
    • Visit to St. Isaac‘s Cathedral
    • Visit to the dome of St. Isaac’s Cathedral
    • Visit to the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood     Optional: Private choral concert at St. Isaac‘s Cathedral or the Church of the Saviour on Blood
    • Dinner at Sadko with singing waiters
    • Transfer to the hotel
  • DAY 5 / SAINT-PETERSBURG

    • Visit to the Hermitage Museum (exclusive early opening)
    • Lunch at Russkaya Ryumochnaya including a degustation of vodka
    • Jeep safari
    • Dinner at Russkaya Rybalka
    • Transfer to the hotel
  • DAY 6 / SAINT-PETERSBURG

    • Team building program in Shuvalovka
    • Paint your own Matryoshka
    • Russian cooking lesson
    • Russian banya
    • Lunch at Krapiva including Russian tea party with pirozhki
    • Excursion to Peterhof and visit to the Grand Palace and its park
    • Transfer to St. Petersburg by hydrofoil
    • Farewell dinner at Bellini
    • Transfer to the hotel
  • DAY 7 / SAINT-PETERSBURG (DEPARTURE)

    • Visit to the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan
    • Transfer to the airport

DETAILED PROGRAM

Day 1 / Moscow (arrival)

Arrival in Moscow.

Transfer to the hotel.

Welcome cocktail including traditional Russian «bread and salt» welcome ceremony. This ceremony is a thousand year old Slavic tradition during which hosts welcome their visitor with a loaf of circular bread laid out on a dish covered with an embroidered towel and crowned with a small container of salt. Bread was the most wide-spread food in the Slavic world, while salt was synonymous with friendship and one of the most valuable food products in ancient Russia. The visitor salted and ate a piece of the bread while someone recited the welcome ritual. The ceremony symbolizes friendship and hospitality.

Dinner at the hotel.

Presentation of the program.

 

Day 2 / Moscow

Panoramic tour of Moscow: the ideal way to get in touch with the city, including its historical center and major monuments. We will stroll along the broad avenues, making our way though famous Tverskaya Street to the top of Sparrow Hills, under the imposing stare of Lomonossov University, one of the Stalin-era skyscrapers scattered throughout the city. From there we will admire an impressive panorama of the city, followed by a stop at Victory Park and another in front of Novodevichy Convent and its lake, the inspiration for Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. We will approach the historical center from the banks of the Moskva River, coming out near the White House, location of the siege of the Russian Government. We will also stop at Arbat Street, a busy pedestrian thoroughfare nicknamed the “Moscow Montmartre” because of the artist that used to live in the area and the painters that nowadays populate the street. We will pass in front of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, the Parliament Building (Duma), Bolshoi Theatre, and the imposing facade of Lubyanka, headquarters of the KGB. We will continue through the alleyways of the ancient merchant district Kitai-Gorod, which contains numerous small churches, finally arriving at Red Square, undoubtedly one of the most beautiful in the world and designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. It was named Red, or “Krasnaya” in Russian, which in Old Russian was a synonym of “beautiful.” Now the square is surrounded by the famous buildings of the Russian Historical Museum, the Kremlin, and Saint Basil’s Cathedral with its gorgeous onion domes, built by order of Ivan the Terrible. Red Square is also home to Lenin’s Mausoleum and features Russian Army parades on various holidays throughout the year.

Visit to Novodevichy Convent. Novodevichy Monastery, designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, is one of the most beautiful monasteries in all of Russia and is situated in the southwest of the capital on a meadow next to the Moskva River. It was founded as a fortified monastery by Vasili III in 1524 to commemorate a victory over the Polish and Lithuanian armies and the seizure of Smolensk. During the 16th and 17th centuries the great boyar families and even the tsar’s family sent their daughters there. The monastery is situated next to a small lake which served as the inspiration for Tchaikovsky’s famous Swan Lake ballet, the exteriors of its five-domed cathedral and bell tower being stunningly beautiful. In Novodevichy Cemetery, situated on the Monastery’s grounds, numerous outstanding and famous Russian personalities from the worlds of art, science, and even politics are buried: Boris Yeltsin, Khrushchev, Kropotkin, and Molotov rest here, along with Chekhov, Gogol, Mayakovski, Bulgakov, and also Rostropovich, Shostakovich, Stanislavsky, Rubinstein, Chaliapin, and Eisenstein.

Lunch at Godunov. This restaurant is housed in a building that was once part of a monastery, and is situated in front of Bolshoi Theatre in the middle of Kitai Gorod, which is in Old Moscow close to Red Square and the Kremlin. The entrance to Godunov Restaurant is made to look like a painted arch, while its interior is the original refectory chambers of the monastery that was built in the 17th century. Inside there are oak tables covered with velvet tablecloths and heavy chairs with carved backs lit up by wall lamps in the shape of burning candles. The waiters wear traditional Russian costumes and the menu offers an extensive array of dishes prepared according to old Russian recipes. Guests enjoy their dinner along with Russian folk dances and music, as well as a Gipsy show. The delicious food includes the famous Guriev porridge, delicately smoked meat and fish, marinated mushrooms, hunted meat recipes, different fish from Russian rivers, and a varied selection of vodka.

Visit to the Kremlin and its cathedrals. The word “Kremlin” in Russian means fortress, and in early Rus every important town had a fortress encircled by a wall where the main buildings, churches, and cathedrals were located and protected. The Moscow fortress, the cradle of the city, is the main fortress in the country and has been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Built in the 12th century, it took the form we know today in the 15th century. It is an excellent reflection of the different stages of Russian art; a single monumental center of architecture, painting, and decorative and applied arts. The best craftsmen and artists worked on its churches, cathedrals, and palaces, bequeathing to us their priceless work framing the power and fame of Russia that is concentrated in its unforgettable alleyways and different sections. The Kremlin is even today the seat of some of the main political and religious government bodies: the President’s Palace, different administrative and military buildings such as the Senate and Armoury, and also numerous churches and cathedrals. Its walls, 19 meters high and 2235 meters long, tower above the Moskva River and Red Square and are made from eight kilogram bricks. We will visit the fortress, enjoying the view of the world’s biggest “tsar bell”, forged in 1733, and the “tsar cannon”, one of the biggest guns ever made in the entire world. Forged in 1586 by Andrew Chokhov, its purpose was to defend the gate of the Spasskaya tower, though it has never been used. The Cathedral Square is an architectural jewel, flanked by the Dormition Cathedral, the Cathedral of the Annunciation, and the Cathedral of the Archangel.

Visit to the Kremlin Armoury. The Armoury is the oldest and most important museum in the Kremlin. It is supposed to have been built in 1485, though the first record of it dates back to 1508. Its collections include the costumes used in the coronations of the tsars, made of the most expensive materials and encrusted with precious stones; the tsars’ carriages, cars, and harnessing made by the best artisans with the most glamorous materials; thrones encrusted with diamonds; and jewellery, tableware, and weapons belonging to the royal family. We will also admire the world-renowned Faberge Easter Eggs, as well as the most important item of the museum, the so-called “Crown of Monomachos:” the imperial crown of Russia, legend having it that it was a present from the Byzantine Emperor Constantine Monomachos. It has been used since 1547 during all the coronations of the tsars.

Visit to Saint Basil’s Cathedral. This piece of architecture is considered one of the primary symbols of Moscow. The whole group is carefully laid out: it has the form of a Greek cross constituted by a central church and four chapels set at the four cardinal points, between which there are four other, smaller chapels. Its central church, which is 57 meters high, is surmounted by a tent-shaped roof, while the others brandish spectacular onion-shaped domes crowned by large gilded crosses. The Cathedral was constructed by order of Ivan the Terrible between 1555 and 1561 to memorialize his victories over the Golden Horde. The Tsar took possession of the town of Kazan after a long siege on October 1, 1552, after 300 years of occupation by the Tatars, on the same day as the orthodox celebration of Intercession. The name is therefore commemorative of this event: the Cathedral of the Intercession of the Virgin, only changing to “Saint Basil’s” after the construction of a 10th chapel on the grave of Vasili (Basilius), an ordinary man made a saint in 1580. He dedicated his life to poor people and was very popular in Moscow, while also predicting Ivan the Terrible’s victory. The legend says that Ivan the Terrible was so impressed by the Cathedral that he command that the architect be blinded to ensure that he would not be able to rebuild it anywhere else.

Dinner at Cafe Pushkin. This is a luxurious restaurant housed in a 19th century mansion that consists of three main halls on three levels, while the interior decor revives the wonderful atmosphere of the 19th and early 20th centuries. The first level is the “drugstore,” where the room is reminiscent of an old, 19th century drugstore with its volumetric flasks, measuring glasses, and pharmaceutical scales. The second level is the “library,” decorated with telescopes, terrestrial globes, bookshelves, and ancient woodcuts. Finally, the third level is the balcony of the “library.” The covered summer terrace is situated on the roof of the restaurant, while the other rooms are the “wine shop” and “fireplace.” Guests enjoy a magical atmosphere with classical music playing in the background, along with splendid Russian and French cuisine: the specialties are home-made pirozhki, with a wide selection of typical Russian pies stuffed with different top quality local products such as red caviar, prunes, walnuts, honey, apples, and jam. Guests particularly enjoy the filorett, a meat dish with eggplant and tomato baked in a cheese sauce. Unforgettable!

Transfer to the hotel.

 

Day 3 / Moscow – Saint-Petersburg

Visit to the Star City (Russia’s Space Center). Star City is the most popular Russian space-related attraction.  It is located in a picturesque setting in the Moscow region and offers a great opportunity to visit the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre and the Space Museum of Russia, both of which are famous all over the world.

Visit to the Cosmonaut Training Center. Situated 50 kilometers east of Moscow, Star City has been the main training center for Russian astronauts since the 60s. It is also where they live, often even after retirement. During Soviet times it was a secret location under military jurisdiction, not even being recorded on maps. For some years now, however, it has been run by Roscosmos, the federal space agency, under civil jurisdiction but still considered a closed city, only accessible to foreigners via a cumbersome security procedure and with a special permit. You will visit the technical area, where we will be introduced to astronauts in training, the conditions of life in orbit, and the history of the Russian space program. You will also have the opportunity to see the manned Soyuz spacecraft, which is currently used by all space crews to get to and from space. Afterwards you will visit the hydro-laboratory where the astronauts learn the techniques necessary to venture outside their spacecraft while on a spacewalk. You will then visit the unique CF-18 centrifuge, which is used to simulate the extraordinary gravitational changes experienced by astronauts when entering and exiting Earth’s atmosphere.

 Optional:

Conference with an astronaut: you will set up a conference given by a real Russian astronaut who will be able to answer any questions you might have.

Trying on a space suit: you will be able to try on an extraordinary space suit, specially designed to withstand the extreme conditions born by astronauts.

Space food tasting.

 Return to Moscow.

Lunch at Glavpivtorg. Glavpivtorg is located in a historical building on Lubyanka Square, where the Ministry of Road Transport was situated during the Soviet era. This place is famous for its unique interior decorated in the classic Soviet ministerial style. Red carpeting leads guests to the hall, where they feel like nomenklatura workers. In the evenings Glavpivtorg features live music that is reminiscent of the 60’s and 70’s, while guests drink light filtered, unfiltered light, and dark velvet versions of the restaurant’s own beer or Pilsner Urquell, Spaten, or Blanc de Brussels. The cuisine is Russian and European, offering salad with lamb tongues, tomatoes, and grilled Narsharab sauce, as well as salad with sprat, which are sticks of jerked venison.

Transfer to the railway station.

Departure to Saint Petersburg on Sapsan high-speed day train. Introduced in 2010, the high-speed train service between Moscow and St. Petersburg runs brand new, technologically advanced Siemens trains. Capable of reaching speeds of up to 350 kilometers per hour – limited to 200 kilometers per hour in their first few years of operation – Sapsan (meaning “peregrine falcon” in Russian) trains make the journey extremely comfortable with a view of the changing, beautiful Russian landscapes, including the Volga crossing, from comfortable leather seats. The journey takes around four hours

Arriving in Saint Petersburg.

Transfer to the hotel.

Dinner at the hotel.

 

Day 4 / Saint-Petersburg

Panoramic tour of Saint-Petersburg. A guided tour completely in English, this tour is ideal for getting the feel of the city, and in particular its historical center and major monuments. Participants will enjoy Nevsky Prospect along with its most prestigious buildings: the Anichkov, Stroganov, and Belozersky Palaces; Lutheran, Catholic, and Armenian churches; the orthodox Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan, the Eliseev, Singer, and Mertens buildings, and many others. We will cross the Fontanka, the river that, along with the Moika River and Griboedov Canal, formed the border of the city center. The banks of Griboedov Canal are home to the well-known Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, built in the so typically Russian style with its multicolored cupolas and gold onion domes. The former Winter Palace, once a residence of the tsars and now the Hermitage Museum, dominates the northern bank of the Neva River, while on the opposite bank the silhouette of the Peter and Paul Fortress and its high spire command the skyline. We will stop by the Aurora Cruiser, whose guns opened the Russian revolution, followed by the House of Peter the Great it was from this modest residence that the Tsar personally kept an eye on the construction of “his” city between 1703 and 1708. On Vasilievsky Island we will see the Strelka, the Menchikov palace and a historical building which is part of the State University. We will pass by the Admiralty with its imposing gold broach, a symbol of the Russian navy on which Peter the Great wanted to base his empire. His equestrian statue is erected in front of the Senate building and St. Isaac’s Cathedral with its impressive columns made from Finnish red granite. Then there are the buildings of the Conservatory and Mariinsky Theatre on Theater Square, after which the tour will conclude with a visit to the St. Nicolas Naval Cathedral, surrounded by canals.

Visit to the Peter and Paul Fortress. Located on a small island opposite the winter palace and dominating three branches of the Neva River, the Fortress was intended to protect the city from a naval assault. It was the city’s first building and is considered the foundation of St. Petersburg, while the tsars also used it as a political prison for their main opponents. Now it is a museum and one of the best spots in the city to enjoy magnificent panoramic views of the Neva’s southern bank. One of the guns on the top of its bulwarks is even fired every day at noon, and what was initially a small wooden church built inside the big fortress was eventually expanded and improved on, becoming the current cathedral, both hits with visiting tourists. There we will take in the graves of all the tsars of the Romanov dynasty and their families, including the grave of Peter the Great, founder of the city, and those of Nicholas II and his family, killed during the Bolshevik revolution of 1918. Their remains were buried in the cathedral in 1998.

Optional: Quest at the Peter and Paul Fortress. This unique program takes place in the heart of St. Petersburg. Teams search for an antique cache hidden many years ago by the builders of St. Petersburg, and in order to find where the cache is hidden they have to get through a set of trials and puzzles. The Peter and Paul Fortress is set on an expansive, multipurpose area that is suitable for both active, teambuilding stunts and individual activities with a historical flair where each participant can dive into history. Along the way, participants appreciate the beauty of the Peter and Paul Fortress and witness real historical events. They are split into teams of 8-12 that proceed sequentially through 8-10 check points that are marked on their map or team-card. For each stunt the team is met by a costumed animator who explains the rules of the stunt, talks about sightseeing and the historical events that have taken place at that spot, and assesses the team’s performance. Afterwards the animator provides the team with a new piece of the map. When the last stunt is successfully finished, the full map will show the point where the cache is hidden, the exciting adventure ending in a summary of the results and presentation of prizes.

Lunch at Restoran. This modern restaurant is situated very close to the Neva River, where the river reflects the northern capital’s most beautiful landmarks, with the Hermitage, St. Isaac’s Cathedral, the University, and Menshikov Palace just a few meters away. Its interior is decorated in a trendy, minimalist, but still cozy style where harmony reigns, blending three vaulted halls, solid wooden furniture, exquisite plates and dishes, a fireplace, and an original lighting system that creates a very special ambiance. The menu features traditional Russian specialties in addition to European dishes.

Visit to St. Isaac‘s Cathedral. This St. Petersburg landmark was designed and constructed by two main architects: the Spanish Agustin de Betancourt and French Auguste de Montferrand. St. Isaac’s Cathedral is one of the largest cathedrals in Europe, while also one of the richest by the luxury of its materials: gold, malachite, lazuli, 14 varieties of marble, more than 40 minerals and semiprecious stones, granite from Finland, and 600 square meters of mosaics, along with numerous paintings and sculptures. The dome is covered with 100 kilograms of gold. The imposing columns are each 43 meters high and made from a single piece of granite from Finland. More than half a million workers took part in the construction of the cathedral, made particularly difficult by the swampy ground, the magnitude of the project, and the heavy materials that were employed – more than 300,000 tons! Today the cathedral is a museum, with only one small chapel used for religious purposes every day, though religious services are still held on the most important orthodox holidays.

Visit to the dome of St. Isaac’s Cathedral. From the open gallery around St. Isaac’s colossal cupola visitors can admire a splendid panorama of the majestic Neva and the city with its main monuments. You will appreciate the splendour of the imposing sculptures decorating the balustrade.

Visit to the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood. Erected in 1882 by order of Alexander III, it was designed and named to memorialize his father Alexander II, killed in a terrorist attack on pavement preserved inside. It was built in the traditional Russian style and influenced by churches from the Yaroslavl region and Saint Basil’s cathedral in Moscow, and is therefore very different from the rest of the churches in St. Petersburg. Its facade is made from red bricks decorated with mosaics, and its onion domes are covered with brightly-coloured ceramics and gilded painting. However, it is the magnificent interior where the décor achieves its greatest splendour: more than 7500 square meters of mosaics, unlike any other church in the world. Its silhouette rising from the waters of Griboyedov canal is undoubtedly one of the symbols of the city.

 

Optional: Private choral concert at St. Isaac‘s Cathedral or the Church of the Saviour on Blood.

 

Dinner at Sadko, Russian chic deco in an ancient building where singing waiters surprise the guests. Situated right in front of Mariinsky Opera House, Sadko offers a contemporary, fashionable view of Russian cuisine and traditions. The vaults are painted with colorful flowers inspired by the most traditional decorations, with red crystal chandeliers wrapping it all up in a warm, cozy atmosphere. A devoted, skillful team provides guests with outstanding service, delighting them as they discover quintessentially Russian dishes finished off with a trendy touch given by the excellent chef.

Transfer to the hotel.

Day 5 / Saint-Petersburg

Visit to the Hermitage Museum (exclusive early opening). The magnificent Hermitage Museum is the most important sight in St. Petersburg, occupying the Winter Palace, former residence of the Russian tsars, and three more adjacent buildings overlooking the Neva River. The Hermitage is Russia’s biggest museum and one of the most important in the world. It was founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great and it grew richer through the centuries as tsars purchased entire art collections abroad. Today it is home to more than three million masterpieces and hosts invaluable collections of sculptures, pictorial art, crystals, porcelain, carpets, jewellery, engravings, antiques from the classical era, modern art, weapons, medals, coins, precious books, and many more. It is well known all over the world for its collections of Italian, Flemish, French, and Spanish pictorial art, and particularly for its paintings of Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Rembrandt; impressionists such as Gauguin, Matisse, and Van Gogh; and such geniuses of modern art as Picasso. Its sumptuous interiors, richly decorated by the most talented artists, are a marvellous frame for this unique collection.

Lunch at Russkaya Ryumochnaya including a degustation of vodka. Situated in a historical building very close to St. Isaac’s Cathedral, this restaurant offers typical Russian food from different historical periods that is carefully prepared and served by an experienced staff and washed down by traditional Russian drinks, including the biggest selection of vodka in the city! The restaurant is home to the Museum of Vodka, where two rooms are dedicated to the history and preparation techniques of the national beverage. It is possible to organize a guided tour of this little museum before the meal, including a degustation of vodka with the snacks, or zakusky, that typically accompany it. The selection of traditional Russian dishes includes kasha, a sort of baked buckwheat grouts with porcini mushrooms and chicken hearts that accompanies most home-cooked meals. There is also a selection of traditional soups like ukha, a fish soup made with carp, pike perch, and sterlet; rassolnik, made from pickles and giblets; and a tasty mushroom cream soup with pearl barley and sour cream that is traditionally prepared. All the traditional Russian meat and fish dishes are also on the menu, including red caviar and blini.

Jeep safari. Russia’s immense space, with its numerous cultural and natural monuments, favors organized off-road tours. These journeys can be either extreme or comparatively easy, without an exhausting physical load. For those who prefer off-road tours, adrenaline is more important than comfort! The majority of tours are organized between the end of spring and the middle of fall, although there are special winter tours available as well. Groups are divided into four person teams that Russian-made, modern 4×4 cross-country Chevrolet-Nivas take on an amazing journey along a specially created route that spans forests, crosses rivers, and climbs hills, with plenty of muddy ravines and green fields along the way, all in the pursuit of discovering the exceptional wild nature of Russia.

Dinner at Russkaya Rybalka. The name of the restaurant, Russkaya Rybalka, is translated as “Russian fishing” and perfectly defines the theme of the restaurant, being inspired by a famous Soviet film. It is located not far from St. Petersburg on the shores of the beautiful Gulf of Finland in a marvelous, natural environment that is surrounded by a fir forest and sand dunes. It was designed following the traditional architecture of wooden houses and has a network of canals and ponds that offer a wide variety of live fish, including trout, eel, sturgeon, and sterlet. Guests can even catch their own meal! The restaurant’s staff assists them with the fishing, providing the tackle and briefing them on the rules and art of how to catch fish. Everybody has a great time, and even if a guest doesn’t have any luck, they’ll pull the fish in with a net! The chef then cooks it according to the guest’s preferences: on the grill, roasted, or smoked. There is also a great variety of traditional Russian starters and drinks that can be enjoyed on the restaurant’s large summer terrace that faces the sea. Enjoy a traditional Russian meal of tasty river fish in a uniquely natural context, complete with an exciting fishing experience!

Transfer to the hotel.

Day 6 / Saint-Petersburg

Team building program in Shuvalovka. This picturesque open air museum was set up between St. Petersburg and Peterhof (former residence of Russian tsars) along the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland. Visitors stop by to enjoy the coziness and warmth of Russian hospitality and have a look at all the buildings in the village that are examples of ancient Russian wooden architecture. Here guests see the down and dirty reality of the everyday life and holidays of 17th-18th century Russians, as each construction has its own functionality. Walking through the village and visiting each building one can daydream about another life or even try out pottery or nesting doll (matryoshka) painting, even taking it away as a reminder of a wonderful visit to Russia. Visitors also play various games, learn how to cook traditional Russian dishes, have a tea party with pirozhki in the most traditional fashion, and visit a vodka theater to taste this famous drink with traditional snacks!

Paint your own Matryoshka. The matryoshka, or Russian nesting doll as it is known around the world, is one of the most popular and endearing examples of Russian folk art. Crafting a matryoshka is a very long and labor-intensive task, as first the wooden form itself is curved using very primitive tools, a process that results in each half being precisely matched to each other, after which each doll is hand-painted, which in turn means that two dolls may be similar, but that no two dolls are ever alike. Even the final coat of oil is applied by hand. Have you ever wanted to try your hand at painting your own matryoshka? Now with our help you can!

Russian cooking lesson. Ever been on a cooking holiday or vacation? We say that the best meal a person will ever taste has to be made by his or her own two hands. However, this is not always true: a master chef could help you put together a much better meal than one you made on your own! We are offering you the chance to immerse yourself in the smells, flavors, and delights of Russian cuisine, guided all the while by a chef with a true passion for Russian cooking traditions. We invite you to visit our master class and learn how to prepare dishes such as pelmeni, Olivier salad, bliny, syrniki, and pirogi.

Russian banya. One of the most popular Russian traditions is the Russian bathhouse, or banya, which involves steam, a lot of heat, cold, and an invigorating beating with a leafy birch bough! Traditionally, the banya was the most common way for Russian villagers to cleanse the body, though it has also long been known to have a powerful physiological effect on the body as a whole. If you have not visited a Russian banya, then you have not been to Russia!  Enjoy a relaxing stay, a hot but cozy steam, and the smell of fresh wood

Lunch at Krapiva including Russian tea party with pirozhki. Krapiva is situated in Shuvalovka, the ethnographic Russian village. The restaurant building was made in the tradition of Russian estate architecture and many interior elements are unique, for example, the exclusive stained-glass windows, laced curtains, paintings on the walls, and specially-designed samovars, all of which give the restaurant a unique personality and create a warm and intimate atmosphere. The restaurant serves a menu of traditional and delicious dishes of Russian and European cuisine that are cooked from original recipes.

Excursion to Peterhof and visit to the Grand Palace and its park. Peterhof, rightfully called the “Russian Versailles”, and in former days “Petrodvorets”, was the main summer residence of the tsars. Located on the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland near the sea and about 30 kilometers from St. Petersburg, it is undoubtedly one of the main centers of interest of the former tsar’s capital. Construction on the Grand Palace was initiated under the reign of Peter I as his summer residence, designed by the French architect Leblond, and was continued afterwards by the Rococo master, Bartolomeo Rastrell. Its main attractions are the monumental Ceremonial Staircase, the luxuriously gilded Ball Room and the private rooms of Peter I, such as the Oak Studio and the Throne Room. Even considering the magnificent interiors of the Grand Palace, the main interest of the visit is the park, where many small palaces, monuments and pavilions are scattered throughout the beautiful gardens. Don’t miss its famous ensemble of 150 fountains and three cascades, decorated with splendid golden statues, as well as its amazing “water play” which will surprise you during your promenade in the park.

Transfer to St. Petersburg by hydrofoil. We will leave Peterhof from the same pier in the palace gardens where the imperial family used to leave the summer palace on their way to their capital. After the leafy forests of the shores with the magnificent houses and small palaces of yesterday’s and today’s elite will come the urban scenery, along with the port and its hustle and bustle. From the Gulf of Finland we will enter the estuary of the Neva River and pass under its most famous bridges, arriving at the most beautiful place in the city, the Winter Palace, opposite the Strelka and the Peter and Paul Fortress.

Farewell dinner at Bellini. This restaurant occupies an old palace situated on the bank of the Neva in the most historical part of the city and is next to the oldest Russian university and the Kunstkamera. While its balcony offers stunning views of impressive St. Isaac’s Cathedral and the statue of Peter the Great, the restaurant’s interior is elegantly simple, accenting the beauty of this historical monument. It boasts spacious halls, a fireplace with a live fire, and enormous windows, its walls adorned with paintings and meals animated by the music of a classical quartet or lively jazz band. The entire restaurant can even be reserved for groups. The menu combines Mediterranean, European, and Russian cuisine, with different kinds of meat, fish, and seafood, as well as mild soups and a wide array of unique desserts. Guests enjoy an excellent culinary experience inside a historical building with modern, sober decor.

Transfer to the hotel.

 

Day 7 / Saint-Petersburg (departure)

Visit to the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan. This cathedral is a real treasure of 19th century Russian architecture, built in 1800 by order of Paul I and based on the same model as St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The plans were designed by Voronikhin, originally a serf of the Stroganov count before becoming professor of architecture at the Fine Arts Academy. Kutuzov, hero of the war against Napoleon, was buried here in 1813, and the epitaph on his tomb was later written by Pushkin. During the Communist period the cathedral was transformed into the Museum of Atheism. It reopened at the end of the Soviet regime as a place of worship and today is one of the city’s main orthodox churches.

Transfer to the airport.