Saturday, May 25, 2019

14 DAYS RUSSIA TOUR 2019: MOSCOW, THE GOLDEN RING & ST. PETERSBURG

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14 DAYS RUSSIA TOUR 2019:
ITINERARY & DAILY ALBUMS
9th to 23rd May 2018: Moscow, the Golden Ring & St. Petersburg
A 14-day tour flying from Kuala Lumpur by Thai Airways via Bangkok to Moscow. With ground tours visits to interesting places in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and the Russian Golden Ring cities of Sergiev PosadRostovSuzdal, and Vladimir.
These are the links to the daily Facebook albums with some write-ups. Click on photos for album links; click on Google map link for route maps; and click on Relive for bird's eye view of route.
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RUSSIA 2019: Days 1& 2 - From Kuala Lumpur to Sergiev Posad via Bangkok & Moscow
After a 14-hours Thai Airways flight from Kuala Lumpur via Bangkok (inclg. a 1-hr delay in Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport) we arrived at Moscow's Domodedovo Airport to be met by Alex (our guide from Angel Tours) and was immediately whisked off on a 1-1/4 drive to Sergiev Posad, one of the Russian Golden Ring cities. It was Victory Day holidays, but we arrived in the late evening and thus missed the celebrations with fire works.
The following day was a full day tour of Sergiev Posad with visits to:
   1. 73yrs old Yuri Victor Artist Muzey Krest'yanskogo Byta "Zhili-Byli" Музей крестьянского быта "Жили-были" - to see his artwork and Russian cultural collections.
   2. First exposure to beautiful tulips at the City Administration Square (Sovetskaya Ploshchad' Советская площадь Sergiev Posad Moskovskaya oblast').
   4. Matryoshka Doll Museum of the famous Russian dolls (it's next to the city museum).
   5. The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius (Russian: Тро́ице-Се́ргиева Ла́вра) - the most important Russian monastery and is the spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church.
   6. A life size Matryoshka Doll at the "Ресторан Русский дворик" (Russian Courtyard Restaurant).
   8. Memorial Slavy (War Memorial).
   9. Best view point of the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius at Blinnaya Hill.

And a first introduction to Russian food with:
   1. Lunch of Georgian fare at "Ресторан Пиросмани" (Pirosmani Restaurant) of fish, vegetable herb soup, lamb stew, turkey and nice cheese.
   2. Dinner at "Ресторан Сергиевская Кухмистерская" (Sergiev Kuhmisterskaya Restaurant) of Fried salmon with red caviar, halibut, and unfiltered Latvian dark ale etc.
   3. Also tried cold Kahoh (Kvass), a refreshing fermented rice-bran drink at the monastery.

Hotel: Barskiye Polati Hotel

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RUSSIA 2019: Day 3 - From Sergiev Posad to Rostov 
It's by van from Sergiev Posad to Rostov, another of the Russian Golden Ring cities. En-route we stopped at a secluded monastery and a secluded convent. Both of which were started by monks and nuns who wanted more privacy away from the public/tourist for their private prayers. Photos of these two places are shown, but out of respect for their privacy, their names are not indicated and their locations not shown in the route/destination map. Also today we had our first taste of the renown Russian borscht beetroot soup.

Places of interest:
   1. Russkiy Park (Русский парк). Museum of historical Russian firsts in the world - inventions, planes, ships, rockets etc. Sikorsky. It's also a theme park of Russian rural Izba houses and country living.
   2. Enamel art factory Ростовская Финифть, at the outskirts of Rostov.
   3. The Rostov Kremlin (Ростовский кремль). which included churches, a pottery shop, a bell museum, an observation tower, and a cosy apple garden. Had a nice coffee break in the apple garden.
   4. Monastery of St.Jacob Saviour (Spaso-Yakovlevsky Monastery; Спасо-Яковлевский монастырь), located at the edge of Lake Nero.

Meals:
   1. Breakfast: Inclusive Buffet at Barskiye Polati Hotel Hotel in Sergiev Posad (pancakes, kuskus, mashed potato-fish, etc.)
   2. Quick Lunch: cold Okroshka sour cream soup & Oroshka alcohol soup with rye bread at Dom Figurina Hotel in Rostov.
   3. Tea: Kvass drink at Apple Garden in Rostov Kremlin.
   4. Dinner: At Pokrovskiye Vorota Restaurant "Ресторан Покровские ворота" with international music - French, Spanish, English songs. (Traditional Rostov Borscht soup, fish soup, pork, rabbit, Russian dumplings (Pelmeni, пельме́ни), and meat in pot).

Hotel: Dom Figurina Hotel (there are mosquitoes at the town, so make sure the room have netting at the windows)

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RUSSIA 2019: Day 4 - From Rostov to Suzdal to Moscow
We had a long 460 km. journey ahead and were supposed to leave Rostov early at 5:30am, but due to a bad night of mosquitoes we only left at 7:30am to head for Suzdal (another Russian Golden Ring city), and had to skip the places of interests in Vladimir so as to avoid the Moscow rush-hour traffic jam. Our route took us along the rougher rural roads (some stretches were un-tarred). It was a pleasant quiet route, only disadvantage was finding P-stops. The guys had an emergency stop at the woods mid-way to Suzdal; while the girls managed to hold on until we reached Motel'"Kartskhiya" on the outskirts of Suzdal. By now we had learnt to recognize the important Russian word "Туалет", i.e. toilet 😂.

Places of interest:
At Suzdal
1. Monastery of Our Savior and St Euthymius (Spasso-Ephimovsky Monastery) (listened to church bell pealing symphony) .
2. Smolensk Winter & Summer Temples (Our Lady of Smolensk Church [Smolenskaya tserkov] & Simeonovskaya Church) (viewed from outside).
3. Suzdal Kremlim (the Suzdal Museum is inside here too).
4. Intercession (Pokrovsky) Monastery (Convent of the Lady of Intercession) .
6. Church of Boris and Gleb (Kideksha Church), the oldest church in North East Russia.
7. Museum of Wooden Architecture, the wooden buildings assembled here were collected from different villages of the Vladimir oblast (region), some of which are:
At Moscow

Meals:
1. Breakfast: inclusive individual set at Dom Figurina Hotel, toast, omelet, hard-boiled egg, etc. 
2. Lunch at cafe in Monastery of Saint Euthymius (Cabbage meat roll, Cabbage soup, Borscht beet soup, chicken & mushroom soup in clay pot, potato chicken stew, pies). 
3. Dinner at the food court of Globus Hypermarket on the outskirts of Vladimir (Sausage with mash and coleslaw, cheese wrapped pork with egg plant stew).

Hotel: Veliy Hotel Mokhovaya (Велий Отель Моховая Москва).

Google Route Map Day 4 Link.
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RUSSIA 2019: Day 5 - Red Square, The Kremlin & Metro Stations
An amazing day of visiting some beautiful Moscow Metro stations, the Red Square with two main iconic building, and the historical Kremlin (the seat of the Russian government). Later it was also to the very secured Diamond Fund & the Armoury Chamber), where the Imperial Crown of Russia and Russian Imperial Treasures are kept. In the evening, some of us went for a night walk and were impressed by the beautifully lit buildings.

Places of Interest:
1. TOUR OF MOSCOW METRO STATIONS
Alex took us on a whirlwind tour shuttling between several Moscow Metro stations (with a fair bit of walking in between) to view their nice architectural design, and beautiful painted & mosaic murals at the walls and ceilings inside. Listed below are the stations we passed through or visited, the ones with the star are those with beautiful artwork inside or nice entrance architecture:
   a. Lenin Library Station, (Biblioteka im. Lenina, Библиотека им. Ленина),
   b. Kropotkinskaya Station (Метро Кропоткинская),
   c. Park kul'tury Station (ст. м. Парк культуры),
   d. ✩ Kievskaya Station (Киевская),with Kiev Victory mural,
   e. Park Pobedy Station (Парк Победы), the deepest and shiniest,
    f.  Prospekt Mira Station (Проспект Мира),
   g.  Belorusskaya Station (Белорусская), with white ceiling and nice flooring,
   h.  Teatralnaya Station (Театральная),
    i.  Okhotnyy Ryad Station (Охотный ряд), which led to the Red Square.

2. RED SQUARE & THE MOSCOW KREMLIN
a. Red Square (Кра́сная пло́щадь, Krásnaya plóshchaď),
b. St. Basil's Cathedral, formally called the Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed (собо́р Васи́лия Блаже́нного, Sobor Vasiliya Blazhennovo), which actually consists of 12 churches.
c. State Historical Museum (Государственный исторический музей, Gosudarstvenny istoricheskiy muzyey), & the adjacent Ressurection Gate (Воскресенские ворота, Voskresenskie vorota), also called the Iberian Gate (Иверские ворота, Iverskie vorota),
d. Kazan Cathedral (Казанский собор,), formally known as the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan,
e. Alexander Garden (Александровский сад),
f. Kremlin (Моско́вский Кремль, Moskovskiy Kreml), inside were the:
    - Amusement Palace,
    - Patriach Palace, also known as the Church of the Twelve Apostles (церковь Двенадцати Апостолов),
    - Grand Kremlin Palace (Большой Кремлёвский дворец, Bolshoy Kremlyovskiy Dvorets),
    - Dormition Cathedral (Успенский Собор, Uspensky sobor), alson known as the Assumption Cathedral - this is where the Tsars are crowned,
    - Tsar Canon (Царь-пушка, Tsar'-puška),
    - Tsar Bell (Царь–колокол, Tsar-kolokol),
    - Kremlin Armoury (Armoury Chamber) (Оружейная палата), a secured museum which holds the Russian Imperial Treasures,
    - Diamond Fund (Алмазный фонд), a secured chamber which holds the Imperial Crown of Russia, and other Russian Crown Jewels,
    - the Kremlin Walls (),
    - Spasskaya Tower (Спасская башняtr. Spasskaya Bashnya), known as the Saviour Tower and is the main tower facing Red Square. and is the main entrance to the Kremlin.
    - Troitskaya Tower (Троицкая башня, Trinity Tower),
    - Kutafiya Tower (Узнай Москву), formerly known as the Predmostnaya Tower, and
    - Other Kremlin towers,
g. Vladimir the Great Statue (Па́мятник Влади́миру Вели́кому, Pamyatnik Knyazyu Vladimiru), this is located just outside the Red Square.

3. NIGHT WALK
a. Night lit Red Square as well as night views of the surrounding buildings: St. Basil Cathedral, the Kremlin, GUM, etc,
b. the Avenue of Stars at Nikolskaya Street (Никольская улица) in front of GUM Department Store (ГУМ abbreviation for Главный универсальный магазинGlávnyj Universáľnyj Magazín, literally "Main Universal Store").

Meals:
1. Breakfast: Paid buffet at Veliy Hotel Mokhovaya.
2. Lunch: Burgers & Milkshake from Red Square McDonald's.
3. Dinner: Ukrainian fare at Taras Bulba Restaurant (Корчма Тарас Бульба На Моховой, Korchma Taras Bulba) - Stuffed Duck with apples & honey sauce, perch, split pea soup, Borscht Soup, Russian blood sausages (РОВЯНЫЕ ЗЕЛЬЦЫ), etc.

Hotel: Veliy Hotel Mokhovaya (Велий Отель Моховая Москва).

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RUSSIA 2019: Day 6 - Of Vodka, Bazaar Markets & Pushkin Cafe
Today was a contrasting day of cheap flea markets and expensive fine dining.
We continue our tour of the beautiful Moscow Metro stations. At one of the stations, we had a fright when one of our buddies leg was caught by the closing door while trying to get on board the train. Fortunately, other passengers help pry the door open.
The Metro tour ended at Izmaylovo Station where we took a short walk to the nearby bazaar flea market for some shopping. After that we adjourned to a vodka museum for a history of vodka and also sampled some different varieties.
After that we took on the Moscow traffic, returning to our hotels on a van & car; the 16km journey back to our hotel took us almost an hour and a half.
In the evening, we went to the renown Café Pushkin for a taste of fine Russian cuisine.

Places of Interest:
1. TOUR OF MOSCOW METRO STATIONS
Listed below are the stations we passed through or visited, the ones with the star are those with beautiful artwork inside or nice entrance architecture:
a. Moscow Library Station (Библиотека им. Ленина, Biblioteka im. Lenina),
b.  Arbatskaya Station (Арбатская),
c.  Okhotnyy ryad Station (Охотный ряд),
d. Teatral'naya Station (Театральная),
e.  Ploschad' Revolyutsii Station (Площадь Революции), touch statues her for good luck,
f. Lubyanka Station (Лубянка), below the infamous KGB Lubyanka Square (Лубянская площадь),
g.  Komsomol'skaya Station (Комсомольская),
h. Kurskaya Station (Курская),
i. Izmaylovo Station (Измайлово), and exited to Izmaylovskiy Bazaar.

2. OTHER DESTINATIONS
1. Izmaylovskiy Bazaar (Измайловский базар) flea market,
2. Museum of the History of Vodka (Музей истории водки) at Izmaylovskiy Park (Измайловский Парк культуры и отдыха). Tried cherry, regular class, plum vodkas.

Meals:
1. Breakfast: Paid buffet at Veliy Hotel Mokhovaya (Велий Отель Моховая Москва).
2. Lunch: Noodles back at hotel.
3. Dinner: Fine Russian cuisine (Lamb with bone marrow, Suckling pig, etc.) at Café Pushkin (Кафе Пушкинъ).


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RUSSIA 2019: Day 7 - Cycling In Moscow
Today I got to scratch my cycling legs and did a bit or riding around Moscow with Moscow Bike Tours and joined their Grand Moscow Bike Tour. While I was cycling, my buddies had a free and easy walk around the city that included a visit to the State Tretyakov Gallery. I was fortunate to be the only one turning up for this guided bike tour (as weather forecasted was rainy but it actually wasn't) and Vado the guide took me on a off-the-beaten track route that included:

Places of Interest on Cycling Route:
1. Kotelnicheskaya Embankment Building (Высотка на Котельнической набережной), one of the majestic Seven Sisters (Сталинские высотки, Stalinskie Vysotki) towers built in the Stalinist Empire Style (Сталинский Ампир, Stalinskiy Ampir), seen behind the Bolshoy Ustinsky Bridge (Большой Устьинский мост).
2. Bolshoy Krasnokholmsky Bridge (Большо́й Краснохо́лмский мост).
3. Tagansky (Тага́нский райо́н), a district in Moscow not often visited by tourists.
4. St. Andronicus Monastery (Спасо-Андроников монастырь).
5. Tssi Vinzavod (ЦСИ Винзавод, literally winery), the Moscow Contemporary Art Center Winzavod, set in an artsy area.
6. 2Gis (2ГИС), corperate offices converted from a former round factory building, now a chic office area.
7. Ascension Church on the Gorokhovo Field (Церковь Вознесения на Гороховом поле).
8. Clean Ponds (Чистые прудыChistye Prudy).
9. Perlov Tea House, a tea house built in Chinese architectural style.
10. Lubyanka Square (Лубянская площадь).
11. Bolshoi Theatre (Большо́й теа́тр).
12. Monument to Vladimir the Great (Памятник князю Владимиру).
13. Cathedral of Christ the Saviour (Храм Христа СпасителяKhram Khrista Spasitelya).
14. The House on the Embankment (Дом на набережной).
15. Bolotnaya Square (Болотная площадьBolotnaya ploshchad).
16. Children are the Victims of Adult Vices (Дети – жертвы пороков взрослых).

Places of Interest on Original Cycling Route:
1. Peter the Great Statue (Памятник Петру I).
2. Fallen Monument Park, officially called Muzeon Park of Arts (Парк ИскусствPark Iskustv).
3. Gorky Park (Парк Горького, Park Gor'kogo).
4. Merry Garden / Neskuchny Garden (Неску́чный сад; literally meaning "not boring" or "merry").
5. Old Arbat Street (Арба́т).
7. Chambers of the Romanov Boyars (Палаты бояр Романовых).
8. Ivanovsky Convent (Ивановский монастырь).
9. Lutheran Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul (Евангелическо-лютеранский кафедральный собор Святых Петра и Павла).
10. Red Square (Кра́сная пло́щадь, Krásnaya plóshchaď).
11. St. Basil's Cathedral (собо́р Васи́лия Блаже́нного, Sobor Vasiliya Blazhennovo).

Other Places of Interest:
1. Views from the Bolshoy Kamennyy Bridge (Большой Каменный мостGreater Stone Bridge).
2. Tree of LOVE @ Luzkhov Pedestrian Bridge (Лужков мост, Luzhkov Most) spanning over the Vodootvodny Canal (Водоотводный канал) which runs parallel to the Moscow River (Москва-рекаMoskva-reka).
3. Bench of Reconciliation (Скамья примирения).
4. The State Tretyakov Gallery (Государственная Третьяковская Галерея, Gosudarstvennaya Tretyâkovskaya Galereya; abbreviated ГТГ, GTG).
5. The Flying Bridge over the Moscow River, located at the Zaryadye Park (Парк «Зарядье»).

Meals:
1. Breakfast: At The Restaurant Bratya Tretyakovy (Братья Третьяковы, Restaurant Brothers Tretyakovs) next to the gallery.
2. Lunch: Buffet Deli at Karavaev Brothers (Братья Караваевы).
3. Tea: Soup and fish at Zaryadye Gastronomic Сenter (Гастроцентр Зарядье) in Zaryadye Park.
4. Dinner: Take-away KFC Russia.

Hotel: Veliy Hotel Mokhovaya (Велий Отель Моховая Москва).

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RUSSIA 2019: Day 8 - Changing Of The Guards & Danilovsky Market
Today will be a day of relatively little walking as in the evening we will be heading for St. Petersburg by an overnight train [the 10:16 pm overnight "Red Arrow" sleeper train from Moscow Kursky Railway Station (Москва́-Ку́рская, Moskva-Kurskaya), arriving at St. Petersburg Ladozhsky Railway Station (Ла́дожский вокза́л) arrival 6:16am the following day.

Places of Interest:
1. Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (Moscow) (Могила Неизвестного Солдата).
2. Lenin's Mausoleum (Мавзоле́й Ле́нина).
3. Monument to Marshal Georgy Zhukov (Памятник маршалу Г.К. Жукову).
4. Museum of the Patriotic War of 1812 (Музей Отечественной войны 1812 года).
5. Russian Parliament (Государственная Дума Федерального Собрания Российской Федерации) (Duma).
6. Wishing Floor mural at Zero Kilometer City of Moscow (Нулевой километр, Nulevoy Kilometr Goroda Moskvy) (in front of the Iberian Chapel).
7. Danilovsky Market (Даниловский рынок).
8. Cathedral of Christ the Saviour (Храм Христа Спасителя, Khram Khrista Spasitelya).
9. Patriarshy Bridge (Патриарший Мост).
10. Monument to Peter the Great (Памятник Петру I) viewed from Patriarshy Bridge.

Meals:
1. Breakfast: Paid buffet at Veliy Hotel Mokhovaya.
2. Lunch: Vietnamese Pho at Danilovsky Market (Даниловский рынок).
3. Dinner: Tomyam with rice, mushroom soup, and lasagne with tomato juice at a restaurant in the Moscow Kursky Railway Station.

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RUSSIA 2019: Day 9 - St. Petersburg Palaces
Just past six in the morning we arrived at St. Petersburg Ladozhsky Railway Station (Ладожский вокзал) and were whisked to our hotel in town on a Merc Sprinter. We had taken the "Red Arrow" sleeper train the previous evening from Moscow.

When we reached town, most of the places were still not opened for breakfast (they only open at 7:00 to 7:30am) But we managed to get some sandwiches, pies and coffee at Coffit.

After checking in we were met by our local guide Tanya and together with driver Vassily took us on a drive to visit the palaces.
First was a 2-hrs drive to see Catherine Palace with its Golden Enfilade, Amber Room, Catherine Park, all located in the town of Tsarskoe selo (Ца́рское Село́).
Enroute to the next palace, we had a premium lunch at Nordic Restaurant that included:
Oliver salad, baked vegetables, venison, pan-fried Mackerel, crayfish, Chicken Kiev, crayfish, cakes, sorbet, and Icecream.
After lunch, we headed for Peterhof Grand Palace, with it's beautiful gardens and its Peterhof Fountains.
It was back to town by a fast hydrofoil boat from the Peterhof Jetty (Пристань ГМЗ "Петергоф"), located at the edge of the Gulf of Finlandthe easternmost arm of the Baltic Sea.
            
Places of Interest:
1. The Catherine Palace (Екатерининский дворец).
2. Peterhof Grand Palace (ГМЗ "Петергоф").

Meals:
1. Breakfast: Sandwiches, pies and coffee at Coffit (сеть кофеен).
2. Lunch: A premium lunch of Scandinavian fare at Nordic Restaurant (Ресторан северной кухни Nordic) Oliver Salad, Mackerel, Herring, Chicken Kiev.
3. Dinner: Indian fare at Tandoor Indian Restaurant (Индийский ресторан "Тандур").

Hotel: Tchaikovsky House (Дом Чайковского).

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RUSSIA 2019: Day 10 - St. Petersburg Walking Tour
It's a walking tour today, and Tanya took us to several key places in St. Petersburg city centre including parks, canals and stately museum buildings.

Places of Interest:
1. St. Isaac's Cathedral (Исаа́киевский Собо́р, Isaakievskiy Sobor).
2. Saint Isaac’s Square (Исаа́киевская пло́щадь, Isaakiyevskaya Ploshchad); known as Vorovsky Square (Площадь Воровского).
3. Senate Square (Сенатская площадь).
4. The Bronze Horseman (Statue of Peter the Great) (Медный всадник, literally "copper horseman").
6. Admrialty Building (Адмиралтейство, Admiralteystvo).
7. Church of Saviour on Spilled Blood (Церковь Спаса на Крови, Tserkovʹ Spasa na Krovi).
8. Anichkov Bridge (Аничков мост, Anichkov Most).
10. Dom Knigi, The House of Books (aka Singer Building) (Дом книги «Зингер»).
11. Kazan Cathedral (Каза́нский кафедра́льный собо́р, Kazanskiy Kafedralniy Sobor), also known as the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan.
12. Palace Square (Дворцо́вая пло́щадь,  Dvortsovaya Ploshchad).
13. The Hermitage (Госуда́рственный Эрмита́ж, Gosudárstvennyj Ermitáž).
14. Winter Palace (Зимний дворец, Zimnij dvorets).

Meals:
1. Breakfast : Inclusive buffet at Tchaikovsky House hotel.
3. Dinner: Arka Bar & Restaurant - Duck breast with spicy apple jam, Jerusalem Artichoke soup, Hummus with vegetable stick, Trout.

Hotel: Tchaikovsky House (Дом Чайковского).

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RUSSIA 2019: Day 11 - St. Petersburg Cycling & Neva River Cruise
It's a day of tours! In the morning I joined a guided cycling tour that took us to several points of interest and our route also ran through the compounds of public housing. Tour highlights included:

1. Saint Isaac’s Square (Исаа́киевская пло́щадь, Isaakiyevskaya Ploshchad); known as Vorovsky Square (Площадь Воровского).
2. St. Isaac's Cathedral (Исаа́киевский Собо́р, Isaakievskiy Sobor).
3. Senate Square (Сенатская площадь).
4. The Bronze Horseman (Statue of Peter the Great) (Медный всадник, literally "copper horseman").
5. New Holland Island (Новая Голландия).
6. Riverfront views from Vasilievsky Island (Васи́льевский о́стров).
8. Petrogradsky Island (Петроградский остров, Okrug Petrovskiy) viewed from the Petrograd side, and its many hidden wonders.
9. Optina Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin (Церковь Успения Пресвятой Богородицы, Tserkov' Uspeniya Presvyatoy Bogoroditsy).
11. St. Andrew's Cathedral (Андреевский собор).
12. Old Saint Petersburg Stock Exchange (Здание Биржи, Zdaniye Birzhi).
13. Rostral Columns (Ростральная колонна, Rostral'naya Kolonna).
13. Peter & Paul Fortress (Петропавловская крепость).
14. Trinity Bridge (Тро́ицкий мост, Troitskiy Most) and the views from it.
15. Field of Mars (Ма́рсово по́ле).
16. Church of Saviour on Spilled Blood (Церковь Спаса на Крови, Tserkovʹ Spasa na Krovi).
17. The Atlanty Statues (Атланты), where people touch the bronze statues for good luck.
18. Kazan Cathedral (Каза́нский кафедра́льный собо́р, Kazanskiy Kafedralniy Sobor), also known as the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan.

In the evening we all went on a Astra cruise along the Neva River (Нева́), that passed by:
1. Admiralty building, Saint Petersburg (Адмиралтейство).
2. Zoological Museum (Зоологический институт РАНm).
3. Zenith Arena (Gazprom Arena, Газпром Арена).

Meals:
1. Breakfast:: Inclusive buffet at Tchaikovsky House hotel.
2. Lunch: Russian draft beer, Solyanka (Russian mixed meat soup), Duck leg with stewed Cabbage and baked potatoes at Oldham Pub.
3. Tea: Snacks on Astra cruise - deep fried Smelt fish, mojito and ice-cream.
4. Dinner: Georgian and Uzbek food at Kazan Mangal.

Hotel: Tchaikovsky House (Дом Чайковского).

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RUSSIA 2019: Day 12 - St. Isaac's Cathedral & a Russian Folklore Show
It's a free & easy day with a longer visit to the St. Isaac's Cathedral and a climb up to it's cupola for a panoramic view of St. Petersburg (Санкт-Петербу́рг, Sankt-Peterburg). Entry ticket to the cathedral was 300 roubles, copula climb was an extra 260 roubles.
In the evening we took a slow walk through Alexander Garden and along the quieter Galernaya Ulitsa over to Nicholas Palace to see the folklore show. It's presentation of Russian folk stories through traditional music and dance with colourful costumes. Dances were from the Russian north, the Urals & Siberia and included lively Cossacks. Would have been more complete if dances from the sourthern regions were also included.

Places of Interest:
1. St. Isaac's Cathedral (Исаа́киевский Собо́р).
2. Alexander Garden (Александровский сад, Aleksandrovskiy Sad).
3. Walk along Galernaya Ulitsa (Галерная улица), a quiet street of stately houses.
3. Folklore show at Nicholas Palace (Николаевский дворец, Nikolaevsky palace).
4. Mariinsky Palace (Мариинcкий дворец), also known as the Marie Palace. It houses the Saint Petersburg Legislative Assembly (Законода́тельное собра́ние Санкт-Петербу́рга, ЗакС).

Meals:
1. Breakfast: Inclusive buffet at Tchaikovsky House hotel.
2. Lunch: Smoked pig ears, potato chips, Hungarian Goulash, Belgian beer at Oldham Pub.
3. Late Tea: Inclusive snacks at the folklore show.
4. Dinner: Borscht Soup, Fish n chips, Belgian beer at Oldham Pub.

Hotel: Veliy Hotel Mokhovaya (Велий Отель Моховая Москва).


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RUSSIA 2019: Day 13 - Moscow's Sparrow Hill, Victory Park & Old Arbat Street
In the early morning we took a high-speed Sapsan four-hour train ride from St. Petersburg's Moskovsky Station (Санкт-Петербург-Главный, St.Petersburg-Glavny) back to Moscow's Leningradsky Station (Ленинградский вокзал, Leningradsky vokzal). Alex met us at the hotel and took us to Sparrow Hill & Victory Park, the couple of places that he had missed showing us earlier, his tour task was then completed. We then went forth ourselves to the Old Arbat Street to view the place and had dinner there before taking a nice night walk back to the hotel.

Places of Interest:
1. Seven Sister Hilton Moscow Leningradskaya (Хилтон Москоу Ленинградская) next to Moscow's Leningradsky Station.
2. Vorobyovy gory Metro Station (Воробьёвы горы) walk through Fitnes-Studiya "Bereg" Park to the Luzhniki Лужники Cable Car Station.
4. Moscow cityscape view from Sparrow Hills (Воробьёвы го́ры, Vorobyovy Gory).
5. Seven Sister Moscow University (Московский государственный университет) at Sparrow Hill.
6. Victory Park (Парк Победыk, Park Pobedy) at Poklonnaya Hill (Покло́нная гора́).
7. Triumphal Arch (Триумфальные ворота).
8. Old Arbat Street (Арба́т).
9. Seven Sister The Ministry of Foreign Affairs near Smolenskaya Metro Station (Смоленская), that leads to Arbat Street)

Meals:
1. Breakfast: Included simple breakfast pack from Tchaikovsky Housel.
2. Breakfast 2:  Sandwiches, coffee and tea at Aton Deli in the St. Petersburg's Moskovsky Station.
3. Lunch: Inclusive light meal on board the Sapsan train, 
4. Tea: Crimean Cheburek, Veal Samosa from Vostok stall, & Ice-cream from stall from the Мос.Маркет at Luzhniki (Лужники) cable car station.
3. Dinner: Authentic Russian fare at Вареничная 1 restaurant in Old Arbat Street (Арба́т).

Hotel: Veliy Hotel Mokhovaya (Велий Отель Моховая Москва).

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RUSSIA 2019: Day 14 & 15 - Goodbye Russia. Do svidaniya!
After a wonderful two weeks, it's time to say goodbye to Russia. Some spent the morning for some quick last minute shopping nearby while a few just relaxed at the hotel. An airport transfer van sent us to Domodedovo International Airport for our Thai Airways flight back to Kuala Lumpur via Bangkok. All would have gone smoothly but for a flight delay in taking off which had us rushing like mad to catch the connecting flight at Bangok's Suvarnabhumi Airport (ท่าอากาศยานสุวรรณภูมิ). In the rush one of our buddies dropped his passport at the security check, fortunately he managed to find it.

Meals:
1. Breakfast: Paid buffet at Veliy Hotel Mokhovaya.
2. Lunch: Vietnamese Phở and spring rolls (Gỏi cuốn) at the Yedim Letim food court (Едим Летим)Domodedovo Airport.
3. Dinner: In flight Thai Green chicken curry and beef stew.
4. Breakfast: In flight Chicken sausage and omelet.
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