Cruise bounty

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Peel away some of the mys­tique that still at­taches to Rus­sia on a cruise from Moscow to St Peters­burg. Pic­ture vis­it­ing the iconic Her­mitage (pre­vi­ously the Win­ter Palace, home to the Tsars) and the Krem­lin, en­joy bal­let and sam­ple vodka while cruis­ing aboard bou­tique ship the Scenic Tsar. It’s all part of the sched­ule on Scenic Tours’ 18-day “Jewels of Rus­sia’’, as you wind your way along the Moskva River and other wa­ter­ways. The Scenic Tsar takes just 112 guests, so the em­pha­sis is on com­fort. The itin­er­ary pro­vides five days in Moscow and four in St Peters­burg, al­low­ing trav­ellers to im­merse them­selves in the won­ders of Rus­sia as they cruise.

Start with an ex­tended stay in Moscow. Ride the metro sub­way sys­tem, visit St Basil’s Cathe­dral and ad­mire the as­tound­ing ar­chi­tec­ture as you cruise the river.

You will also visit the Krem­lin, the seat of power of the for­mer Soviet Union. View the price­less weaponry, jewels and cer­e­mo­nial robes, then catch a Rus­sian show per­formed by 50 folk dancers. Be en­thralled by a visit to the Memo­rial Mu­seum of Cos­mo­nau­tics and pos­si­bly meet a real cos­mo­naut, be­fore at­tend­ing a renowned Rus­sian cir­cus as day five on tour ends.

Next day you can visit the State Tretyakov gallery, which houses a spe­cial col­lec­tion of Rus­sian art, or ex­plore the Mu­seum of the Armed Forces. A guided tour of Uglich is fol­lowed by ar­rival in the an­cient city of Yaroslavl, which dates back to 1010. Ex­plore the Rus­sian ortho­dox Kir­illo-Beloz­er­sky monastery (1397) be­fore sail­ing off with a vodka toast.

On day 10, the ship docks at Kizhi Is­land, an open-air mu­seum with a pre­cious col­lec­tion of wooden churches and chapels. You’ll be able to see the Church of the Trans­fig­u­ra­tion, with its 22 tim­bered onion domes. There’s time to ex­plore the mu­seum vil­lage of Man­drogi, re­con­structed after World War II, be­fore start­ing day 12 with a guided tour of as­tound­ing St Peters­burg. En­joy lunch in a lo­cal restau­rant and later visit the Her­mitage, for­merly home to the Tsars and now hous­ing one of the world’s most mag­nif­i­cent art col­lec­tions.

Ex­plore Cather­ine’s Block and the foun­tains in the Lower Gar­den at Peter­hof on a guided tour, or just revel in the ex­trav­a­gance of Peter­hof’s Grand Palace.

The morn­ing of day 14 will take you to Cather­ine Palace, with its grandiose white and gold fa­cade, then to the wooden Pod­vorie Restau­rant for tra­di­tional Rus­sian cui­sine. On day 15, glide un­der some of St Peters­burg’s 400 bridges on a scenic cruise through the canals.

The tour, de­part­ing Ade­laide on Au­gust 5, is priced at $9525 a per­son (twin share), in­clud­ing air­fares, the river cruise from Moscow to St Peters­burg, on shore ex­cur­sions, tip­ping and gra­tu­ities and all meals aboard.

Scenic Tours sales ex­ec­u­tive Damien Wolff will present two films (with morn­ing tea) about the tour on July 22 and Au­gust 16 King Wil­liam Travel’s theatrette.

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