Friday, June 20, 2014

A River Cruise from Moscow to St. Petersburg

We're going on our first ever river cruise. This one begins in Moscow and ends in St. Petersburg. Russia has been on Jim's bucket list for quite a while, so this will be a big tick. On the map are the places we'll be visiting. It's going to be a big change from cruises as we know sea days and a different port every day.

We decided to drive to Toronto for our flight. Here is the beautiful St. John River in New Brunswick.

Welcome to Quebec!

 The mighty St. Lawrence River...

There was a lot of construction in Quebec as they are continuing to twin the highway. Some of the farms in the background will be much closer to the highway than they used to be.

After driving past St. Louis-du-Ha!-Ha! for years, it struck me that the name is quite funny (ha ha!). It is supposedly the only municipality in North America with two exclamation marks in its name.

One of the many beautiful and well-maintained farms...

The traffic when we got to Toronto at 3:00 p.m...I think it's worse than ever.

That night I had the pleasure of having dinner with three girls whom I've only ever interacted with on-line. You know how after a couple of years, you feel like you know them? Well, dinner was so much fun and I hope we get to repeat it in the future. Thanks, Ladies, for really coming out of your way to meet me (aka Fortunecat, Rhondy, me and DiveDiva).

And we were off...we were fortunate to be flying business class this time--Toronto to Zurich, and then Zurich to Moscow. The first flight was on Air Canada's new 787 Dreamliner and it was a pleasure.

And we've arrived... first leg of the journey is complete.

 Swiss Air Lounge in Zurich. They had these three containers. One had pretzels, one had peanuts...

And the third one had gummy bears. I guess I'm not the only junk food addict!

Getting ready to leave the Zurich airport, we had a bit of a glitch when we found out they didn't have any oxygen on board for Jim. After sitting on the tarmac for 45 minutes (I'm sure the other passengers were pleased), the oxygen arrived and we were on our way.

How pretty is the Zurich countryside?

Business class on Swiss Air was interesting. No individual monitors and the ones overhead showed cartoons the whole way. Leg two of the journey almost complete.

Puffy clouds...

I think this is the Moscow River snaking through the countryside...

Moscow looking a little more industrialized...

These buildings looked like a bunch of dominoes...

We made it! Left Toronto at 6:00 p.m. and arrived in Moscow the next day at 6:00 p.m.

The Domodedovo Airport is beautiful. Our travelling companions, Mike and Marg, arrived before us and decided to sit outside to wait only to find they couldn't get back into the airport without scanning their luggage. It's a different system in Russia. The minute you walk through the door, your luggage is scanned. So it was interesting trying to explain the situation to the driver who met us and didn't speak much English. He quickly walked us outside and turned around with both hands up saying “Stop!” so we knew that was our cue to stand in that spot while he went to rescue Marg and Mike.

Sights from our drive into's strawberry season. Their climate is obviously very similar to ours as we were about to start the season at home.

Mockba was the sign we saw as we were coming in. They would pronounce it Moskva.

Always a McDonald's...

Crossing the Moscow River...the red tower is part of the Kremlin wall, and you can see the Grand Kremlin Palace and the domes of the churches within the Kremlin walls.

The driver was doing his best to point out landmarks. We did understand the Bolshoi Ballet.

After a little trouble with our Canadian credit cards at check-in, we quickly unpacked and met downstairs for a well-deserved celebratory drink. We almost choked when we saw our bill and realized that the glasses of wine amounted to about $30 each. We all sat there doing the rubles conversion and coming up with the same amount. Lesson's hard to find reasonably-priced wine in Moscow. The lady playing the piano added nice ambience.

These hamburgers we ordered complete with a fried egg on top were absolutely amazing.

Jim, Mike, Marg and I celebrating our first night in Moscow.

Tomorrow, we're looking forward to a tour of the city with a private guide, Viktoria.


Pamela Gonnason said...

Wine in Moscow= Mint Julep in Savannah :-)

Jim and Kim said...

OMG you're right, Sissy! Too funny