Floating Through The Golden Ring

By Anastasia Mills Healy

KizhyA September 2 New York Times article on Russia’s Golden Ring — a group of historic, picturesque towns northeast of Moscow — enchants readers with its descriptions of fairy tale-like monasteries, brightly painted cottages and white butterflies flitting through the forest. But much of this story is devoted to how challenging – even for Russian-speaking travelers – it was to make the trip by car.

There were trucks on narrow roads, ubiquitous potholes and “Mostly there were no signs, or they were confusing or of little use, sometimes coming after the turn off.”

Volga Dream in MoscowNo wonder, according to the author, that the Europcar desk at Russia’s second-largest airport only rents 14 cars a week. And that most people who want to get their fill of spectacular onion-domed churches nestled in sleepy villages next to meandering rivers or tranquil lakes, board a riverboat.

June 2013 is our next trip to the fabled Golden Ring, aboard an elegant, five-star riverboat. Begin in Moscow, where we take a backstage tour of the grandly restored Bolshoi Theater prior to an evening performance, see the treasures of the Kremlin before it’s open to the public and enjoy special access to historic artifacts related to Prokofiev, accompanied by a foremost authority on the composer.

PeterhofAn optional postlude in St. Petersburg includes visits to Peterhof and Catherine’s Palace, a performance at the Mariinksy Theater and a tour of the Hermitage when it is closed to the public.

We’d say that beats dodging potholes, idling in traffic and constantly stressing about directions.

Learn more about our trip, “Waterways of the Tsars”: http://www.arrangementsabroad.com/trip.php?trip=195

Read the New York Times article “Old Russia, Reclaimed”: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/02/travel/driving-russias-revived-golden-ring.html?_r=1

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