advertisement

Russia is the land of intrigue. Political change and social upheaval have earmarked Mother Russia's 20th Century giving the land of the Tsars much to look forward to. Peace has brought consistency and with it a reliable tourism industry rich in offerings. This fall and winter, warm your bones with borscht, cold vodka, a walk through the Kremlin, Red Square, St. Petersburg, Lenin's Tomb and other attractions around the former Soviet Union.

Odyssey's Unlimited (tel. 888/370-6765;www.odysseys-unlimited.com), although not the cheapest of package providers, delivers some all-encompassing tours that cover Russia from top to bottom. A 13-day "Russian Rivers" tour that covers ground from Moscow to St. Petersburg and includes air/land and an 11-day cruise starts at $2,795 with tour membership ranging from 12 to 24 spots. Starting out in Moscow, this unique tour takes the slow and luxurious boat down the Moscow River through such Russian cities as Uglich, Yaroslavl, Lake Onega, the Svir River, and the Baltic Waterway before dropping anchor in St. Pete for the tour's grand finale. On the way, you'll visit ancient monasteries, historic churches, small riverside villages, canals and some of Russia's most renowned and picturesque lakes. Included in the price is airfare from the United States, eleven nights aboard a sea cruising vessel, 32 meals, extensive sightseeing tours, luggage handling of up to one bag per person, private motor coach travel, and the unlimited access to a professional tour guide. All port taxes and entrance fees to sites are also included. Tour highlights include a Kremlin sightseeing tour, a circus performance in Moscow, guided shore walks at each cruise stop, and plenty of amenities like only unpacking once for the bulk of your trip.

Departure dates for this trip are September 20 and September 23, 2005 with U.S. departure cities including New York and for slightly more money ($2,995) Boston, Chicago, Miami, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. as well as other cities for other additional prices.

Djoser USA (tel. 877/356-7376; www.djoserusa.com) has an interesting 16-day tour that covers Russia as well as other new nation states that declared independence after the dissolution of the former Soviet Union including Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. With round-trip airfare out of New York, this trip starts at $2,495. From Los Angeles, the cost rises to $2,695. Departures include August 12 and 26 and September 9 and 23, 2005. This fascinating tour leads you off the beaten path to stops in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, an Estonian island, gorgeous coastal dunes, and ends in St. Petersburg for a look at the "window to the West." Expect a bit of everything on this tour including biking, hiking and a lot walking. One of the purposes of this trip is an in-depth look at the stark differences in language, culture, architecture and history of the different areas you'll visit. As with all Djoser tours, you'll get a unique look at these distinct cultures from the inside out with local guides, exposure to traditions and customs, and interaction with native people putting the local focus at the forefront of your travel experience.

Gate One Travel (tel. 800/682-3333; www.gate1travel.com) offers an eight-day package with an escorted tour of Russia that hits Moscow, Novgorod, and St. Petersburg. Departing out of New York, the Gate One trip starts at $1,649 and includes round-trip air out of New York and other cities (for additional fees), six nights deluxe accommodations, 12 meals including six breakfasts and six dinners, sightseeing in an air controlled luxury bus and all air transfers as well as entrance fees to sightseeing excursions. The trip leaves September 5, 12, and 26 and October 10, 2005. Security fees and air departure taxes are not included in any of the above trips to Russia.

Share your thoughts about a Russian vacation with fellow travelers or see what others have to say about their trip to the former Soviet Union at the Frommers.com Russian Message Boards.