Teacher Tour Russia 2016


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14559983_520812474779284_1620123807969875825_oRussia where to begin I think the right word is WOW. It may sound a bit cheesy but trust me if you’ve been to Russia you’ll know what I mean. We all met up at Auckland International Airport and got to know each other pretty quickly. Where we’re still missing one person as she was meeting us in Singapore from Christchurch. Travelling with a bunch of history teachers can be rather intimidating, but soon I felt as part of their world. Everyone talked about what they though Russia would be like, soon we found out we were all wrong. Dark, sterile and unfriendly where definitely the wrong descriptive words to use. As soon as we arrive into Moscow we hit the ground running. Red Square, our first stop, what a welcome to Russia that was. The correct descriptive words would be grande, colourful, clean, safe and friendly.

First we visited the Mausoleum of Lenin then we enjoyed some free time to wander around the red square, we visited the Gum Shopping Centre and all took photos in front of St Basil. The sky so blue the whole thing just felt unreal, we really where in Russia, we still couldn’t believe it. We hopped back onto our private coach which we later learnt used to be the private bus for the national football team, which made us feel pretty special. We continued to explore Moscow and learnt all about the different style of buildings, the European style, Stalin Style and the brand new stunning skyscrapers.

The following day, after a great nights sleep, we visited the Kremlin. Again nothing like what anyone had imagined! Beautiful churches that from the outside made you feel like you where  in Greece. Putin’s office building was a beautiful European style yellow building with white edges. Everywhere you looked you were in complete awe. The churches from the inside where very fascinating, no wall was allowed to be left left blank, all where covered in stunning hand paintings which would have taken years to do. Gold gold gold and sooo much gold.

From the Kremlin gardens we walked to the Kremlin Armoury Museum, its name is very deceiving, this is not a place where you will find guns, tanks or anything even remotely close. What you will find is glamorous garments from the Stars and rulers of Russia. You will also discover how many stunning carriages Empress Elizabeth and Catherine the Great owned…..and how long it took to travel in those giant extravagant modes of transport.

14589830_520812711445927_9138005895984583017_oWhile in Moscow we also took a day trip to a monastery. And lets just say Russia never disappoints. Once inside the monastery wall you’re mesmerized by all the different styles of buildings. All stunning in their own way, hard to describe….guess you better go see for yourself.

We got to enjoy some free time to do what we wanted, some of us visited art museums, some shopped and a small group of us visited this real Armour museum which housed tanks, planes, helicopters, artillery trains and even boats. Inside part of the museum are stunning memorials to WW2, beautiful panorama paintings of cities during the war, two story high statues and plaques full of names everywhere. Upstairs was a stunning 3D set up of a war torn part of a city which you got to walk through. Here you got to see your Russian propaganda poster and learn all about the war. The teachers found it very interesting as it had some very different information which never made it into New Zealand Russian history text books. All in all a must visit if you’re in Moscow.20160927_170430

20160928_112449We took the over night train to St Petersburg ….1st class might I add. We all got a grand sleep. When we arrived the weather wasn’t as sunny as Moscow but it was still nice and dry. We ate breakfast at a local hotel before starting our city tour. Very different to Moscow, St Petersburg reminded me of strolling through Paris, the architecture was very very European. We stopped at the hermitage and the palace where Rasputin was murdered. We visited several churches all very different styles.

img_7907The following day we visited Peterhof Palace…. Again WOW is all I can say. The decor inside this palace is just breathtakingly beautiful. Grand room after grand room. Gold and more gold. Paintings and more paintings. Gardens galore and then there was the Baltic sea, gravity fed fountains and original sculptures. On the way back to the city we passed Putin’s residence another big rebuilt palace, we can only imagine what it looks like on the inside. This evening we went to see the ballet Swan Lake in a stunning traditional theater. 20160930_185753

The next day we visited the Hermitage and nothing like any of us imagined another stunning palace and museum, Paintings galore and very fascinating artifacts from many different countries. Lets just say I could write pages about this as it takes only 9 years to see everything in the museum if you visited every day all day. We finished the day with a final group dinner at a typical Russian restaurant eating stroganoff and lost of other Russian goodies.

While half of the group flew back home to New Zealand, we kept on going and flew to Volgograd or better known by its prior name Stalingrad. What a stark contrast it was arriving into this city, as far as we could see the airport was surrounded by a vast
desert, sand, scrub and more sand and scrub. We did a short city tour before visiting the cities war museum home to many interesting artifacts, a history teachers dream. This evening after a long day we grabbed dinner at a local Russian restaurant recommended by our guide and what a treat it was. Think I ate one of the best meals ever… I’m missing the food already!

The next day we spent walking from war monument to war monument and learning all about what had happened during WW2. We visited a museum which was in the cellar of an old department store, which was a hidden beauty and the history teachers where fascinated by it all.

Russia is a must see place! For teachers and students alike. My advice is go! You will not regret it. I cant wait to go back 🙂

ps: If you’re interested in joining us on a Teacher Tour message us – we’re just in the planning for a Teacher tour to the US in Sept/Oct School holidays.

For more pictures visit our Russia Gallery