Getting on/off a bus. Walking approximately 2+ miles in park and palace; steps/stairs, rest areas available.
We’ll continue studying the royal lifestyle of the Romanovs with an expert-led field trip to the town of Pushkin — originally called Tsarskoye Selo (Tsar’s Village) — to explore the Catherine Palace and its adjacent park. This elaborate baroque residence was built by Tsarina Elizabeth in 1752 to honor the memory of her mother Katarina, the first wife of Tsar Peter I “the Great.” It was later rebuilt to become the main summer residence of Tsarina Catherine II “the Great.” Inside the palace, we’ll come face to face with a magnificent reconstruction of what some have called the Eighth Wonder of the World: the extraordinary Amber Room, made with six tons of amber, decorated with other gemstones and gold leaf, and inlaid with mirrors. We’ll learn how the room’s panels of amber mosaics were taken by the Nazis during their invasion of Russia in World War II, how they mysteriously disappeared, theories regarding the yet-unknown whereabouts, and how teams of Russian artists and conservators worked meticulously from 1979 until 2003 to reconstruct the entire room.
Near World War II Memorial, on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.
Next, we’ll visit one of four museums dedicated to the defenders of Leningrad — as St. Petersburg was called then — during the siege that lasted from September 8, 1941 until January 27, 1944 — 900+ days when more than 700,000 civilians died. We’ll learn about the sacrifice and endurance that defined this terrible time in the city’s history. We’ll then transfer to and embark the M/S Mstislav Rostropovich, named for the renowned musician, and have a lecture by a local expert on contemporary Russia.
In the ship's dining room, we’ll have a plated 3-course meal: appetizer or soup, main course and side dish, dessert, a glass of wine, coffee, tea, bottled water; other beverages are available for purchase. (Note: On the first evening, the meal is pre-set; during the voyage you will choose soup and main course in advance; bottled water may not be served in individual bottles.) If you want a snack later, the ship’s coffee-tea-cookie station is open 24 hours.
After an orientation to the vessel, the remainder of the evening is at leisure. On rare occasions in May and September, the itinerary and ports of call may change on short notice due to weather events and local conditions. The ship is cleared to sail in waters with waves up to 6.5 feet (2 meters). In recent years, waves on these very large lakes have reached much higher. In such cases, the captain will chart a different route for the sake of everyone’s safety. Certain waterways have pre-scheduled time slots for passage. If we are delayed, we may have to wait for other vessels to go before us; updates will be provided aboard ship.