Grand Kremlin Palace Moscow Faberge Museum St Petersburg

Russia Founder’s Tour with Greg Tepper

Sail down the beautiful rivers
Sail down the beautiful rivers

Travel To Russia with the Founder of Exeter International 

Imagine yourself enjoying a private after hours’ tour in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. In Moscow, see yourself walk the corridors of power and the venue of Presidential inaugurations at the strictly closed to the public Grand Kremlin Palace. Wonder at the jaw-dropping Faberge collection in the Shuvalov Palace, led by the best guides in Russia. Eat in the best local restaurants and connect with the Russia of today.

Greg Tepper, Founder of Exeter International is personally hosting an exclusive tour to Russia in 2021. This tour will appeal to both people that have never been to Russia, and to people that have not been for several years. Traveling with Greg will give you an insight into the Russia of today and the Russia of yesterday unlike any other.

Greg started studying Russian at the age of 16 – six days a week. He fell in love with the language, the history, culture and people of Russia. After living in Russia at the turbulent time of change from the USSR, Greg returned to the United States and wanted to share his passion for Russian culture with others – so Exeter International was born. Greg will share  his knowledge, insights and passion of this vast and complex nation.

Many things have changed in the last quarter century but the art, culture and beauty of St. Petersburg and Moscow have been restored and re-imagined and the quality of hotels, restaurants and service levels are a world away from 1993. Moscow is unrecognizable, with beautiful pedestrianized streets and restored parks. In St. Petersburg new museums have been created out of historic but dilapidated palaces and new theaters have been built to take Russian ballet, opera and symphony to new levels.

See provisional itinerary below or download here.  Contact us today to reserve your place on this these very special tour.

Departure Date: September 24 to October 1, 2021

Download a PDF itinerary here

    

 

Day 1
Arrival | Moscow Metro Kievskaya Station - Moscow, Russia

Arrival into Moscow. This flight is not included in program cost. You will be met by your Exeter International driver who will be waiting for you just outside of Customs after you pick up your luggage. Please look for a sign with your name or Exeter International on it.

You will be transferred to your hotel, the Metropol Hotel, the premier historic hotel in the city and the setting for Amor Towles bestselling novel “A Gentleman in Moscow”. Your final documents will include an author signed copy of the novel, the perfect read leading up to your stay.

After some time to rest, our guide will meet us near the concierge desk in the lobby, for an overview walking tour of the neighborhood, including Red Square! Be sure not to miss the newly rebuilt church and Imperial Gates at the south end of Red Square- they were both destroyed under Stalin and only recently have been rebuilt in their original splendor. Our guide will also show you the stunning St. Basil’s Cathedral. This magnificent church-museum was commissioned by Ivan the Terrible and was completed in 1561.

Note: All services today are on foot. Please wear comfortable footwear.

Tonight, we welcome you to Moscow with a dinner at one of Moscow’s leading restaurants.

Exeter Services: Arrival Transfer; Guide (4 Hours)

Hotel: Metropol Hotel

Meals: Welcome Dinner

Day 2
Moscow | Moscow State Hermitage Museum - Moscow, Russia

This morning we will meet our guide in the hotel lobby to depart for today’s touring.

Today our guide will take us on the short walk to Red Square before our visit to the Kremlin and its expansive grounds. Here we will see the largest bell in the world – as well as the largest canon. Neither was ever used due to their enormous size! We will also stop into one of the most historic churches in Russia, the Assumption Cathedral, where all Russian tsars were crowned.

Next, our guide will take us into the famed Armory Museum, including its vast collection of Imperial Russian artwork. Also in the Armory are many of the most important Imperial thrones and crowns, including the most historic, Cap of Monomachus. This is also where the famed Imperial Faberge Easter Eggs are kept.

We have made special arrangements to see the Diamond Vaults inside the Kremlin. We will see Catherine the Great’s scepter with its famous Orlov Diamond and one of the largest collections of diamonds and gemstones in the world!

We will lunch at a local restaurant.

Later we will have the opportunity to experience the fascinating interiors of the Moscow Metro stations, ornately decorated with beautiful paintings, carvings, and chandeliers! The Moscow Metro was created as complex of monumental structures featuring designs of the very best Soviet architects.

This evening is at leisure. We highly recommend that you try one of the wonderful restaurants near the hotel. Our favorites right now are the Dr. Zhivago Grand Café in the Hotel National (reservation needed!) and Strana Kotoroi Net, which is located in the same building as the Four Seasons.

Exeter Services: Guide (6-8 Hours)

Hotel: Metropol Hotel

Meals: Breakfast; Lunch

Day 3
Moscow | Moscow

This morning we meet our guide in the hotel lobby to depart for today’s touring.

This morning we will visit the vast Tretyakov Gallery. Located in one of Moscow’s most interesting neighborhoods, the Tretyakov Gallery occupies the former home of Pavel Tretyakov. Your guide will take you through the museum, which houses only Russian artists – from Andrei Rublev’s icons to famous 20th Century Russian painters. Here you can see a timeline progression of Russian icons starting from the 16th century through to the 20th century. Each century of icons is arranged in separate halls to convey a clear insight into the development of Russian Icon painting.

This afternoon we return to the Kremlin as VIP guests!

Exeter International Extraordinary Experience: Grand Kremlin Palace

Later today we will be among the few ever allowed into the Grand Kremlin Palace to see the Grand Kremlin Palace proper, the Faceted Chamber, and the Terem. The ancient Terem was home to the very earliest tsars and was the official residence of the Romanovs. The Faceted Chamber, the oldest building in the complex, was constructed in the fifteenth century by the order of Ivan the Terrible. Today, these palaces have been completely renovated at the cost of over $300 million dollars in the 1990’s and are now used by the Russian President for entertaining and hosting State visits and meetings. Some of the rooms, including the Romanov’s Throne Hall and St. Alexander’s Room are unique in the world.

Exeter Services: Guide (8 Hours); Vehicle & Driver (4 Hours)

Hotel: Metropol Hotel

Meals: Breakfast; Lunch

Day 4
Moscow to St. Petersburg | Moscow to St. Petersburg Church of Spilled Blood - St. Petersburg, Russia

This morning, we will transfer to the train station to catch the luxurious Sapsan high speed train, departing for St. Petersburg. A light meal is served onboard the Sapsan. First class train tickets are included and will be arranged 45 days prior . Your 4-hour journey will take you through the picturesque Russian countryside.

Upon arrival into St. Petersburg we will transfer to the Hotel Astoria. You will have some time at leisure to rest, shop, or explore on your own. Meet at the lobby at 4PM, where we will make our way to the pier.

Exeter International Extraordinary Experience: Private Neva Cruise

This evening, weather permitting, we will have a private boat tour of the canals of St. Petersburg. This is one of the most enchanting ways to explore the city, as we take in the sights while gliding along the canals and rivers of the city, past the Winter Palace, the Mariinsky Theater, the Summer Gardens, and many other important sights. Champagne and soft drinks will be served on the boat.

We will disembark near St. Petersburg’s first Fabergé Museum. The palace houses the celebrated Fabergé collection of the Link of Times Foundation owned by Russian Entrepreneur Viktor Vekselberg, which, with it’s over 1500 choice pieces, now easily outranks the comparatively small collection of the Kremlin Armoury Museum. Mr. Vekselberg has assembled the most formidable collection in the world of works by this great Russian master craftsman.

Finally, we will have a visit to the ornate Church on Spilled Blood on Canal Griboyedova. The Church on Spilled Blood is so named because it stands on the spot where the Emperor Alexander II was assassinated on March 1, 1881. Its unique design was actually inspired by St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. This is the only church in the world covered completely inside and out by mosaics of tiles and precious and semi-precious stones. This is one of the most extraordinary buildings in St. Petersburg and is well worth the visit. During the Bolshevik Revolution the church fell into a state of decline, and only recently has it been fully restored to its former glory.

Tonight, we welcome you to St. Petersburg with a dinner at one of St. Petersburg’s leading restaurants.

Exeter Services: Departure Transfer (Moscow); Arrival Transfer (St. Petersburg); Vehicle, Driver & Guide (4 Hours)

Hotel: Hotel Astoria

Meals: Breakfast; Light Meal (aboard the train); Dinner

Day 5
St. Petersburg | St. Petersburg Yusupov Palace - St. Petersburg, Russia

This morning we will have a brief overview city tour.

First, we will stop into the famous Yusupov Palace on the banks for the Moika Canal. We will have a private tour of the palace including its famous theater and Arabian Room. Our guide will recount the story of Rasputin’s murder.

We will see the Peter Paul Fortress: the birthplace of St. Petersburg. As Peter’s original outpost against the Swedes, St. Petersburg was born from this fortress and its historical significance is felt to this day by the presence of every Romanov tomb from Peter the Great.

Later today our guide will take us into the stately St. Isaac’s Cathedral. Its malachite and lapis lazuli columns are not to be missed! St. Isaac’s was built between 1818 and 1858, by the French-born architect Auguste Montferrand, to be one of the most impressive landmarks of the Russian Imperial capital.

The rest of the afternoon is at leisure. We will meet in the lobby this evening and walk to the Hermitage.

Exeter International Extraordinary Experience: After Hours at the Hermitage

This evening the museum will be opened specially for us after the general public has left. Our visit to the Hermitage Museum will take us to another world; a time when Catherine the Great commissioned whole buildings to house her ever growing collection of the world’s finest art. This museum holds the largest collection of art in the world. Our guide will escort us through the highlights of the collection, from Rubens to da Vinci and beyond! After the tour, we will walk back to the hotel.

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide (4-5 Hours); Evening Guide (3 Hours)

Hotel: Rocco Forte Hotel Astoria

Meals: Breakfast

Day 6
St. Petersburg | St. Petersburg General Staff Building - St. Petersburg, Russia

This morning, we will visit the famous Matilde Kshesinskaya’s mansion – the very first prima ballerina assoluta who was famously the lover of Nicholas II. The mansion became the Political History Museum after the Russian Revolution. Lenin gave one of his earliest and most famous speeches from the balcony of the second floor during the early days of revolution and thus, the political tie for this mansion was bound. The mansion actually became the Bolshevik headquarters for several years before turning into the Museum of the Revolution (and later the Political History Museum). We will find a large collection of personal items from leading 20th century leaders, including Nicholas II, Lenin and Gorbachev, as well as banners, flags and posters from the Communist era. The museum displays the political history of Russia from as far back as Catherine the Great to today’s Russia, with an unsurpassed collection of Soviet-era exhibits.

Afterwards, we will head back to Palace Square for a visit to the General Staff Building, the Eastern Wing of which is now a part of the Hermitage. Designed by Carlo Rossi, one of the central architects that conceived St Petersburg, the General staff building was the headquarters of the army in Imperial times. At just under 2,000 feet it is the longest building in Europe. This is now the home of the Hermitage’s contemporary art collection, including its collection of French Impressionists.

The rest of your day is at leisure. We suggest taking in an evening theatre performance; please let us know if you would like help booking tickets (cost is not included and quoted separately).

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide (5-6 Hours)

Hotel: Rocco Forte Hotel Astoria

Meals: Breakfast

Day 7
St. Petersburg | St. Petersburg Amberroom Catherine Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia

This morning, we meet our guide in the hotel lobby to head out into the Russian countryside to see one of the city’s most elegant and beautiful palaces- Catherine Palace (formerly Pushkin).

Exeter International Extraordinary Experience: VIP Entrance to Catherine Palace

VIP Entrance to the Catherine Palace has been arranged for us. We will enter through the main Golden Gates of the palace with our guide avoiding all the lines. We will then be met by a palace representative. Our guide will walk us to the main entrance from the gates and take us into the private reception area where we will be able to use the facilities and leave our coats. Our tour of the palace will then begin.

Catherine Palace was originally designed in the 1750s in the Rococo style by the famous architect Rastrelli (who also designed many of St. Petersburg’s grandest buildings like the Winter Palace, parts of Peterhof, the Stroganoff Palace, and the Smolny Cathedral) for the Tsarina (Princess) Elizabeth, who named it after her mother Catherine I – Peter the Great’s second wife. Later, Catherine II (the Great) commissioned the Scottish architect Charles Cameron to re-design the palace’s interiors in the then-fashionable Neo-Classical style. After Catherine the Great’s death, the palace remained largely unchanged for centuries until the Second World War when the Nazi army, retreating after the unsuccessful siege of Leningrad, destroyed the palace almost completely. After the war, the magnificent palace and its interiors were thoroughly and painstakingly rebuilt.

You will also visit the Palace Chapel. Designed by Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli Chapel was consecrated in 1746. It was looted during World War II and its frescoes and icons were almost completely lost. Restoration has been ongoing since 2015 and the chapel is now open to a limited number of visitors daily.

Exeter International Extraordinary Experience: Amber Room Workshop

While visiting Catherine Palace, we will be invited into the Amber Room workshops where craftsmen rebuilt the famous amber panels lost in World War II.

After visiting Catherine Palace, we will have a farewell lunch in the village of Pavlovsk, then return to the city around 3:30PM.

The rest of the evening is at leisure to explore, take in a performance, or pack before tomorrow’s departure.

When theatre schedules are announced we will send each participant a list of available performance. We are happy assist in purchasing tickets (cost not included and quoted separately).

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide (6-7 Hours)

Hotel: Rocco Forte Hotel Astoria

Meals: Breakfast; Farewell Lunch

Day 8
Departure | St. Petersburg English Embankment, St. Petersburg

Your driver and English-speaking assistant will meet you in the hotel lobby at transfer you privately for your onward flight. This flight is not included in program cost.

Exeter Services: Departure Transfer

Meals: Breakfast

Meet a ballerina in St Petersburg
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