Journey of the Czars 1999

by Laurel Rossnagel

The University alumni office has partnered with Intrav for many years to offer quality travel programs. This year we offered the Journey of the Czars trip on Russia's waterways.

This was an extremely unique experience that incorporated living on a boat with 180 travellers and 109 crew for 12 days.We learned the history of the Czars, and how the fall of communism and rise of democracy affects Russia.

Our ship had exceptional entertainers, an American chef who served up excellent meals, and terrific service. We also tasted Russian traditions like vodka, champagne, wine, caviar, sturgeon, borscht, blini (small pancakes served with cavier, fish and sour cream), and morozhenoye (ice cream).

The tours went to St. Petersburg and Moscow as well as interesting smaller centers along the waterways. We saw palaces and museums like the Hermitage, the Kremlin, monasteries and churches dating back as far as the 1600s, a city which dates back to 937, a modern day puppet theatre, wooden museums, and much more.

The Russian people were friendly and more than willing to sell their special items including amber, balalaikas, hand-embroidery, matryoshkas (wooden nesting dolls), hats, watches, inlay wood, and books. Street vendors are common and most speak English to help you with your purchases.

Intrav was fabulous at catering to participants needs, anticipating questions, supplying information, and providing knowledgeable and experienced guides. We have signed up to offer this Russian experience again next year - you may want to get your name in early!