Plyos : Kostroma is one of the loveliest cities of the Golden Ring. The pride of Kostroma is Ipatyevsky Monastery founded in the 14th century. The crypt of the Monastery became the Godunovs' Dynasty burial vault. Kostroma is one of the few Russian cities retaining the classical layout of the 18th/19th centuries, with streets and boulevards fanning out like the spokes of a wheel from a central square. During a city tour today there will be a visit to Ipatyevsky Monastery; other wonders of this lovely place are seen as well. Ship stops at Plyos in the second half of the day. It seems that time has no power over this small chamber town. The layout of the place did not have major changes since 18th century. The place is cozy and quiet, and people here lead calm and steady life of Russian province, just like century ago. The town is located on higher hills; views are just fascinating - famous artists of the past often found inspiration here that further led to masterpieces. Quite a lot of time is spent on your own today. Take a walk along the cobbled streets of this hospitable place; go up the Cathedral Hill, breathe the fresh air and take a look aroundâ?¦ Maybe you'll create great painting of your own afterwards? Who knowsâ?¦
Day 8 - Nizhny Novgorod : Some call it a 'third Russian capital'; but Kazan that is also in our itinerary claims this title as well. The city has great picturesque location at the confluence of Volga and Oka rivers. Kremlin of Nizhny Novgorod is among its most famous sites. This impregnable fortress has turned into historical monument over time, but one of the surrounding streets still strongly resembles fortification moat. Visit to beautiful local Kremlin is a part of a city-tour.
Day 9 - Kazan : "This city, no doubt, is the first in Russia after Moscow, - wrote Catherine the Great in 1763, - clearly, Kazan is the capital of a big kingdom". Kazan is the capital of Tatarstan Republic; it is very diverse, modern and ancient at the same time. It is among the seven largest cities of Russia. Famous for its Kremlin and the mosque Kul-Sharif Kazan lies at the confluence of the Volga and Kazanka Rivers. Kazan Kremlin is also visited on city-tour.
Day 10 - Simbirsk (Ulianovsk) : Lenin was born here. The city was a Soviet shrine for almost 70 years. The Lenin Memorial Complex includes the house in which he was born and other buildings associated with his life. The city of Ulyanovsk is also home to SUV maker UAZ and aircraft producer Aviastar, however, is one of a handful of cities that has managed to preserve the atmosphere of an old Russian province. The city-tour is going to be quite extraordinary.
Day 11 - Samara : Samara is a large and important historical port. Just as many well-developed cities of the past, Samara was built where two rivers merge, in order to protect inhabitants and to ensure successful trade. Modern Samara is a fusion of old trade town with well-preserved houses, the features of Soviet period and modern times featuring the Old-Russian teremok-buildings, art nouveau and gothic temples. The city-tour offers more great sights.
Day 12 - Saratov : Saratov was founded in the 16th century as a fortress to protect southern districts of Russian Empire. Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, began his career here and did his first air-flight. Visit the museum dedicated to Gagarin and his life. Don't miss the Conservatoire designed in a Neo-Gothic style, historical Drama Theatre, and Radischev Art Museum with more than 20,000 exhibits. In Saratov there will be a city tour.
Day 13 - Volgograd : Volgograd, former Stalingrad, is the site of one of the toughest battles of the WWII. Certainly, main monuments here are related to the war and soldiers' glory: the giant 'Motherland' sculpture; panoramic museum of the Battle of Stalingrad; Pavlov's house - legendary Soviet bastion, marked as fortress on personal map of German general Paulus; Mamaev Kurgan (hill) that saw particularly fierce fighting. Certainly, Mamaev Kurgan is visited during city tour.
Day 14 - Cruising : The day at leisure.
Day 15 - Astrakhan : The Caviar Capital or Southern Venice as it is called sometimes is really situated on 11 islands. Astrakhan may also be called the city of bridges: there are about 50 of them! You will see stunning examples of architecture. Astrakhan Kremlin with its magnificent tower clock is one of the best attractions during the city-tour.
Optional for today: tour to Volga River Delta that is the largest inland delta in Europe. Its area is a natural reserve that is home to a unique mix of species associated with European, Caucasian and Asian ecosystems. The lotus growing in the Delta has been singled out into separate specie - Caspian Lotus. It is the only place in Russia where pelicans and flamingos may be found.
Day 16 - Cruising : The journey to our next stop provides you with opportunities to enjoy the fresh air on outer decks and the passing by sceneries. It will be a nice day to recall what had already been seen, to have a bit of relaxation, to socialize with other travelers and to take part in daily activities of the cruise.
Day 17- Volgograd : We are back to Volgograd. This day offers quite a lot of free time on your own.
Optional for today:
- Panorama Museum "The Battle of Stalingrad" has vast collection of World War II artifacts. Among there is a rifle of famous sniper Vasily Zaytsev - he's been popularized by Western media and in the film "Enemy at the Gates". Museum hosts the artistic panorama "The Defeat of Fascists Armies at Stalingrad" - the biggest pictorial canvas of Russia, its size is really enormous!
- Visiting military cemetery of Rossoshka. Thousands of Soviet and German soldiers died in fierce battles of 1942-43 near the village of Bid Rossoshka. All of them are now buried at cemeteries facing each other as a sign of reconciliation. Soviet memorial was opened in 1998 and German fraternal cemetery appeared a year later.
Day 18- Volga-Don Canal. : Today we are passing though the tremendous artificial waterways named the Volga-Don Canal. It is a part of the United Deep-Water System of Waterways. This canal connects the Volga and the Don rivers.
Day 19 - Rostov-on-Don : Rostov-on-Don is: one of the largest cities of Russia with a population of over a million people; industrial hub of Southern Russia; cultural center with a large number of universities, colleges, architectural monuments and museums; agricultural center; important river port and 'Gateway to the Caucasus.' It was a Cossack outpost in the 18th century, and is famous for its magnificent parks and beaches. The distance from Moscow is 1226 kilometers or a bit over 760 miles.
The place has a very nice city center. It will be visited during the city-tour today during first half of the day. Places of interest in Rostov-on-Don include Bolshaya Sadovaya Street the focal point of administrative, business and cultural life of the city; the beautiful park named after Maksim Gorky; very old site where fortress of St. Dimitry Rostovsky was situated in the 2nd half of the 18th century. Also one of the sights is the city's picturesque quay of the River Don.
Day 20 - Rostov-on-Don : Time to bid farewell to your new friends and to Rostov-on-Don. Disembarkation