Thursday, October 13, 2011

15. My Visit to Russia, October 1, to October 8, 1994 (8 days)



Trip to Russia (Oct 01 through Oct 08, 1994 - 8 days)
Escorted Tour organized by General Tours Company, Boston, USA

RUSSIA: Russia stretches from the Baltic Sea to the Pacific Ocean and from Arctic Ocean to the Black Sea. In population it is the third largest country in the world. Moscow, Leningrad (formally known as St. Petersburg) and Kiev are this nation's largest cities. The largely industrial economy is centrally planned. The Russian Empire became a great world power in 18th century. The Revolution (1917) brought Lenin and the Communists to power and USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republic) was setup.

Oct 1, 1994. Leaving Orlando via Delta Flight 2:10 PM Arriving at New York.
   Leaving New York via Delta Flight at 4:35 PM and Arriving at Moscow at 10:05 AM next day.
Mrs. Kamalam Chellappan, Ambi's aunt accompanied me in this trip.

MOSCOW: Capital of USSR located on the River Moskva. It is the communications, economic and cultural center of the country. --Founded in the 12th Century -- By the 15th century it was the capital of the Russian state. The capital was transferred to St. Petersburg in 1712 but returned to Moscow in 1918 after the revolution. It is the site of the Kremlin, with its many cathedrals and Red Square with the Lenin Museum and the St. Basil's Cathedral which was erected in the 16th century. The splendid city was also the host for the 1980 Summer Olympic games.

Oct 2, 1994 : Greeted by the Tour Manager at the Airport and transferred to the Hotel Cosmos. Afternoon was free. Strolled alone to view the city. After dinner we were taken to the famous Russian Circus complete with high wire acts by men and women; comic shows by clowns and of course by Russian Bears. Enjoyed the show for three hours.

Oct 3, 1994: Sight Seeing, City tour began with a preview of the sights Moscow. On our way we visited the old capital building, the Kremlin. The citadel of Moscow, housing the offices of the Soviet Government. Originally built in the 12th century, destroyed and rebuilt many times. Enclosed in the Kremlin walls we saw the many exquisite palaces and cathedrals. 

A tour to the Kremlin Armory showed us the riches of the pre-revolutionary Russia including Royal carriages, jewels, thrones, robes and more. After enjoying the 15th century Kremlin Museum visited the imposing Cathedral Square and went into one of the Cathedrals, the Annunciation and Assumption Cathedral where the Tzars (Russian Kings) were crowned.  Viewed the 40 ton Tsar Cannon cast in bronze in 1586 and the famous tombs of the Unknown Soldiers.

After lunch break our tour continued to see the Red Square, both historic and modern center of political changes. Covering over 70,000 square meters, it stretches out broadly against the eastern wall of the Kremlin. The Lenin Mausoleum dominates the center of the square. The tomb is built of dark granite and black labradorite. There is always a guard posted at the entrance. The architectural ensemble of Red Square was developed gradually over time.

Our eyes were attracted by the vividly painted onion domes of St. Basil's Cathedrals. From in construction 1555-61 St Basil's Cathedral was a project commissioned Ivan, the Terrible laying at the heart of the Red Square.  Next to the St. Basil's stands the Saviour Tower another symbol of Moscow.

A drive through showed us the new and old Moscow, Moscow State University, a city panorama from the Lenin Hills, Olympic Stadium, Novodevichy Convent and in the distance the Kremlin walls, Official quarters of the Prime Minister and others, Parliament of Congress, General Library, City Hall and Exhibition center.

That night we went on the optional excursion "Drive Boat" on the Moscow River where the folklore performances feasted our eyes and ears with cocktails and beverages (music & dances) for three hours.

Oct 4, 1994: Went to Serge Posad, formally called Schemers, the seat of the Russian Orthodoxy since 16th century. Visited the monastic complex including the 15th century Holy Trinity Cathedral. On the way to the monastery we visited the Russian Villages, their houses and farms. We sampled Russian orthodoxy cuisine for our lunch in the monastery, then returned to the hotel. After dinner in the hotel, we were transferred Moscow's fabuolus Metro Station, famous for its murals and mosaics, to catch the train to St. Petersburg from Central Station. We settled into our comfortable First Class Sleeping compartments aboard the overnight train for St. Petersburg.

Oct 5, 1994: On arrival at St. Petersburg, transferred to the Hotel Pratbaliiskaya.

St. PETERSBURG: Also known as Leningard--a city in the western USSR on the banks and delta islands of the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland. It is the USSR second largest metropolis and a leading seaport and commercial and industrial center. Founded in 1703 by Peter the Great as St. Petersburg.  It was built as a rival to the city of Venice, and hence the nickname "Venice of the North". It was the capital of Russia from 1772 until 1918.  From 1914 to 1924 it was called Petrograd. The city was laid out on classical lines by French and Italian architects. Its central thoroughfare is the clebrated Nevsky Prospect. The city is also the city of the famous Hermitage Museum.

Peter I is known as "Peter the Great" (1672-1725), Czar of Russia (1682-1725) who turned his country into a major European power campaigned against Turks and Persians and led Russia, Poland and Denmark to victory over Sweden in the battle of Poltava, extending the Russian territory around the Baltic and Caspian shores. He also founded the Russian navy and reformed the administration of the State.

City Tour: Travelled along Nevskey Prospect,  the city's most elegant boulevard which is lined with palaces, mansions, new shops and famous restaurants. Saw the famous & majestic Bronze Horseman Statue of Peter the Great (Landmark of the city). We witnessed the Admiralty and Kazan Cathedral. We stopped at the Church of the Spilled Blood, a large brightly painted, multi-domed structure, whose beauty belies the name, "Spilled Blood". Its reflection on the Neva River is amazingly wonderful to look at.

In the afternoon we participated in a unique program, "Treat A Friend" that allowed us an opportunity to meet the Russian Nursery School Children. We talked with the children and danced with them and gained an insight into their world. Mrs. Kamalam took a keen interst in dancing with the children and everyone of us appreciated her interest very much. I bought gifts to the children worth about $100/- and I distributed to them. My gifts were more attractive and valuables and those of my co-travellers. The Principal of the school was highly pleased and delighted and spoke high of me for my generous gifts. She took pictures with me and thanked once again with shedding tears of joy.

At night we attended another Folklore Performances in one of the famous theatres in Russia, the Puskin Theatre.

Oct 6, 1994: Our tour started with a visit to Peter,  the Great's Summer Palace-- the Grand Palace. No words are found to explain the beauty and the structure of the Palace-- everything embossed with gold. Really it is a grea, great grand palace. This night was a gala one. We attended the famous Russian Ballet in Chirpy Theatre (Opera & Ballet Theatre) now known as the Marinsky Theatre.

Oct 7, 1994: Visited the famous Hermitage Museum. One of the largest in the world, the museum boasts masterpieces by Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Rembrandt, Monet, Picasso and Giorgione among others. The museum is located in a splendid ensemble of buildings in Palace Square. The prinicipal building the Winter Palace of Catherine, wife of Peter the Great. The main attraction is the lavish, glided building itself. It is an outstanding example of Russian Baroque architecture. With over 2 million art and history exhibits displayed in the halls and galleries that are themselves masterpieces that is most definitely one of the world's finest museum. We explored the rooms in the Winter Palace where Russian royalty lived not too long ago.

Our next attraction was St. Issac's Cathedral with its golden dome towering 33 feet above impressive marble columns--erected between 1818 and 1858 -- famous for its glided dome and its interior decor. Its primary attraction is its mosaic reliefs and jeweled walls. St. Isaac's Cathedral stands 3rd in rank in the world for its grandeus after St. Peter's Cathedral in Italy and St Paul's Cathedral in London. On our way back we visited 900 War Memorial Monument and the Puskin Palace.

Farewell Party in the Hotel Banquet Hall. Our festive dinner with champagne, vodka, delicious dishes, music and dances lasted for 3 hours and ended in happy mood.

Oct 8, 1994 Leaving St Petersburg via Delta Flight to Frankfurt. Leaving Frankfurt to New York & from New York to Orlando. Reached home safely  by 6:00 PM on the same day.


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