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GCT Russia Revealed-My Take

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1000 miles by ship - 18 locks - Cruised thru the two largest lakes in Europe. Fantastic trip! We had great weather during the whole trip. I will try and not repeat what others have posted and must emphasise that the following is my opinion - others may differ.
First a piece of factual info. Russia Waterways and Russia Revealed are the same in every respect except Waterways uses hotels in St. Petersburg and Moscow while Revealed has you on the ship every night. I think you may get a few more included meals on board with the Revealed trip. It also makes no difference whether you start your trip in Moscow or St. Pete, you sill see the same things and the ports of call are the same only in reverse. My wife and I preferred staying on the ship vice changing hotels and heard mixed opinions regarding this. Given the traffic in Moscow I don't think you save much if any time by being in a hotel, these are not exactly on Red Square or the heart of
St. Petersburg.
The Ship: Tiki Don for us but both ships are identical. Very clean, our cabin 301 was on the boat deck and a bit larger than most but the upper deck is nice since it is on the dining deck thus very convenient. Very good food and service. GCT folks go out of there way to make this an easy trip. WE did have quite a bit of sickness on our ship but heard this is very common - Use the hand sanatizer they offer and bring your own-use it all repeat all the time!!!
We usually travel on our own and were concerned about the slow pace of this tour. We din not feel the pace was slow but of course did end up waiting for Aunt Tilly a few times. Meals off the ship were in restaurants that could handle and were used to tour groups, that is the same places are used time after time. Food not bad and surroundings could have been worse but hey your on a tour - if you want a nice out of the way Bistro go on your own. In spite of the above, a tour and GCT seems to be the best at this one, is really the best way to see Russia, its a long way, impossible drive and long train ride from St. Pete to Moscow. Just getting into some of the optional tours offered is quite difficult on your own and lots of hassels along the way.

Metro: Both cities have great Metro Systems. Do not fail to stop off at some of the nicer ones in Moscow they are well worth the stop and trains run every few minutes. My advice: Read the map in the station, they are marked with a you are here type thing, count the stops to your destination and your off.
Picpockets: Six of our people had their pockets picked and two more had attempts made on them. Most of these folks kept their billfolds in their back pockets so Hey guess what, money gone. Use a money belt of some kind and keep some cash in a zipper front pocket, be alert and you will be fine. No more dangerous than NY, LA etc.

Optional Tours: Must see: Peterhof - Yusupov Palace - Catherine"s Palace.

Other tours:
Central Museum of Armed
Forces and meeting with Russian WW2 Vets only if you are somewhat of a military nut otherwise quite boring, I did enjoy seeing the Nazi banners that were captured and the Eagle which was on top of the Reichstag. Kizhi Island a wonderful experience seeing the church with sunlight playing over it. The Kremlin, the Armory and Red Square, all were outstanding.

Lacquer Boxes: We have a small collection of these. Price range fron $79 to well over $30,000. We bought a couple for around $250 and I bargained a deal for another off the street for $60 which was priced at $128 I did know what I was buying and had done a lot of research esp for the specific box I bought on the street. Beware, there are good copies and the vendors will, surprise, try to get all they can from you. The ship probably has the best overall prices if you can find a box you like. We bought our first one in Iceland in 1973 for $9 - Those days are gone.

Please contact me direct if you would like additional specific info. Again the above is only my opinion.
Cheers!
Terry

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