Get to know Western Russia from the inside out. Enter into medieval Moscow and imperial St. Petersburg and follow them through the cataclysm of revolution and war, then perestroika, collapse and rebirth. Enjoy intimate conversations with local people, insider perks like a ballet master class and dinner at a private dacha; and soak up the absolute best of Russian culture at superb museums and theaters.
Days 1-4: Moscow
Take a ride through Moscow’s lavish metro stations, hopping off at the golden-domed Cathedral of Christ the Savior, demolished by the Soviets and rebuilt as soon as Orthodox Christianity was legal again. Get a feel for the importance of vodka, sampling the country’s finest, Cristall; and gain an understanding of the deep unhealed wounds of WWII at the WWII Memorial. Stroll the historic neighborhood of Kitay Gorod, and then see the future in the new skyscrapers of Moscow-City. Tour the Kremlin – of course – but also walk the halls of Moscow State University, enclosed in one of the monumental “Seven Sisters” that Stalin commissioned. Spend an evening at a sophisticated theater, and share dinner with a family of Muscovites in their home.
Days 5-11: St. Petersburg
Engage with soulful St. Petersburg, strolling the backbone of the city, Nevsky Prospekt, climbing to the top of St. Isaac’s Cathedral, sipping a flute of champagne on a breezy canal cruise, enjoying an intimate chat with a Russian professional, and attending a lecture to learn how the city evolved from socialism through perestroika to capitalism. Attend a ballet master class, and a top-flight performance at a prominent theater. Begin to comprehend the importance of the quintessential Russian dacha at Peter the Great’s royal dacha, Peterhof, as well as at a civilian dacha, dining with your hosts on home-grown and home-cooked Russian fare.