Moscow to St. Petersburg - 2011


Saint Basil’s Cathedral

Thursday, May 19th - Friday, May 20th

Our flights to Moscow were on time, smooth and pleasant.  We left Minneapolis around 4 pm on Thursday, and arrived at the Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris around 7 am on Friday.  After a 3 hour layover, we boarded our flight to Russia and arrived at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport around 3 pm.  There is a 9 hour time difference between Minneapolis and Moscow, but we will not change time zones (there are 9) while in Russia.  We were met by a Viking River Cruise employee and shuttled to our ship, the Viking Pakhomov, which was only about 20 minutes from the airport.  We arrived in time for the embarkation lecture, so learned all about life on our ship.  Dinner was at 7 and was quite good.  We caught a few winks on the flight to Paris, but were exhausted.  After unpacking and stubbing our toes multiple times on a brace for a support at the foot of our bed, we went to bed in our cozy cabin #202.

Saturday, May 21st

There were no excursions planned for this morning, so we had breakfast and then walked around a nearby park to take pictures.  The lilacs and tulips are still in bloom.  The park and pier areas are busy with young people rollerblading and couples with small children on little tricycles that have a handle in back that the parents can use to control their little one.  We had lunch with a couple from England on the ship, then headed out on our excursion to Moscow.  We packed rain gear, as we were told a storm was expected, but after a little rain while on the bus the weather cleared and the rest of the day was beautiful (low 70’s).  We stopped at Sparrow Hills, location of the Moscow University, for some pictures.  We saw lots of brides and limos here, as Saturday is a big day for weddings.  We saw one bride in a red dress, which is the traditional style.  There were many famous buildings on our route, including Parliament, the Bolshoi Theater and KGB Headquarters.  We also drove past the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, which has an interesting history.  It was built to celebrate the victory over Napoleon, blown up by Stalin so the site could be used for the world’s largest swimming pool and rebuilt after the fall of the Soviet Union.  We got off the bus and took the Metro from the Victory Park station to a station that was near Red Square.  The Metro system is about 180 miles long and carries about 7 million passengers per day (Moscow has a population of about 12 million).  The Victory Park station has a long escalator that takes you down 400 meters from the main level to the train level.  In Red Square, we had about 1 1/2 hours to see the outside of the Kremlin, Lenin’s tomb, St.  Basil’s Cathedral and the famous GUM shopping center (rhymes with zoom).  We bought a chocolate bar at the food department at GUM so we could get change, and Barbara got her first “nyet” from a clerk when she asked for smaller change (we got our first rubles at an airport ATM yesterday and only had large bills).  The exchange rate is 28 rubles/dollar.  After shopping, we were driven to a park where we ate a boxed snack around 6 (really a whole meal) as we are having a late dinner.  We then walked to a theater for a classical folklore concert.  The group called themselves the Moskva (Moscow) Orchestra, and they were talented musicians playing traditional Russian instruments including balalaikas and domras.   They were so enthusiastic and seemed to be truly enjoying themselves.  We came away with a very positive first impression of Russian people.  We went back to the ship after the concert and had a late dinner with the same English couple we met at lunch.  Today’s walking was a little more than 7 miles.


The weather was fine for our flights to Moscow on Thursday and Friday.   It rained briefly in Moscow on Saturday but did not interfere with any sightseeing.

Landing in Paris

De Gaulle Airport - Paris

Viking Ships Pakhomov and Peterhof

Cabin 202 on Viking Pakhomov

Park near pier

Memorial in park

Moscow from bus - the Bolshoi Theater

Moscow from bus - KGB Headquarters

The Kremlin from bus

Cathedral of Christ the Savior

Traditional red wedding dress

Victory Park Metro Station

Red Square - GUM Department Store

Lenin's Tomb in Red Square

Red Square - St Basil's Cathedral

GUM Department Store

GUM Department Store

GUM Department Store

Red Square