The name of our tour was ‘Arctic Explorer: Northern Lights, Northern Culture’. It was on our third night of searching for the lights that we saw them near the town of Murmansk. My brother Rob was able to capture this mystical sight with his professional camera. You can see his photos at http://apolymath.com/northern-lights/
Murmansk also included a visit to the decommissioned nuclear powered icebreaker Lenin.
On our way south towards Moscow we were treated to a traditional Russian Christmas show in the town of Petrozavodsk.
We also visited the small town of Suzdal which has several UNESCO World Heritage sites. It was one of the original Golden Ring towns and dates back to 1024.
We finally made it to Moscow and had the great tour of The Armory, Kremlin and Red Square. The Armory is full of royal treasures such as faberge eggs, crowns, thrones, coronation gowns and even carriages. Too bad there are no photos allowed!
Ian and I ended our Russian trip with a visit to the famous Moscow metro, otherwise known as ‘Palaces for the People’. Next up: Sri Lanka!
Russia! Did I ever imagine going there? Honestly No. Given the current political climate and growing up in the Cold War plus Russia is COLD in the winter, it’s kind of a miracle that I ended up there. My parents generously gave Ian and I (plus our son, Soma and brother Rob) tickets to join them on The Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express train from Saint Petersburg up to Norway and ending back in Moscow.
The elaborate and somewhat somber history of Russia is best left to the people who inhabit it’s vast lands, and the history experts. I only wish to share some of the incredible beauty that was my pleasure to witness.
Saint Petersburg is known for it’s canals, museums and beautiful architecture. We had the incredible opportunity to have first access to see The Hermitage Museum before the crowds arrived! Truly amazing and rare experience, we even saw the famous Peacock Clock go through its paces (only kings, presidents and the fortunate few have witnessed this amazing feat in person).
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood was built on the exact place that Alexander II was assassinated in 1881. Remembered as one of Russia’s greatest tsars, he emancipated the peasant serfs in 1861.
Another beautiful church we visited was Saint Isaac’s Cathedral.
The borscht was delicious, the temperature frigid, the Russian dolls gorgeous in shop windows as snowflakes fell. The sky was dark except for a couple hours each day. We boarded the train and headed north to Norway!