This time, for the first time, our annual cruise is not a cruise at all. There is so much deep and rich culture in both Moscow and St. Petersburg that we decided to do a land-based trip, with five days in each city and a high-speed train between.
Peter Trippi, editor of Fine Art Connoisseur magazine, and I have deep art connections and friendships in this magical place, home to some of the most important art in the world. Friends and acquaintances include the heads of the top art academies in Moscow and St. Petersburg, the director of the Hermitage Museum, and many prominent artists, some of whom are world famous.
Of course, one cannot go to Russia without seeing its amazing palaces, churches, and other tourist locations, so we’re incorporating those into our art-heavy itinerary; that is why we’re spending five days in each city. This will be a rich cultural experience, and you will probably find, as I have, that the Russian people are very happy, warm, and giving.
Russia is very safe, and most is not at all like the movies (though some outlying areas can be dodgy). For instance, Moscow is a very vibrant city like New York, and as fashion-savvy as most European cities. And you’ll also see its Old World features, full of charm and rich culture.
But Russia is a place you’ll want to visit with a group and guide. If you do that, it is perfectly safe. It is really about knowing where, and where not, to go on your own. There will be places and times you can shop on your own and feel 100 percent confident you’re in a great place.
Speaking of shopping, on our first Russian trip, many of our family purchased paintings to take home. We’re working on some private showings and visits to artists’ studios, making this possible again. No collection is complete without a piece of contemporary Russian impressionism. And you cannot call yourself a connoisseur of art without having viewed Russian art in person.
September is a great month to visit Russia because the summer tourists are gone and the crowds are a little bit thinner. It’s fall there and quite beautiful, and not yet cold.
Because this is a bucket-list trip of a lifetime, it will probably sell out quickly, and we have no plans to return to Russia in the future. That means this is your best chance to visit with a group and to visit places and people you would not meet on other trips. I’ve been hearing from people for years that when we announce a trip to Russia, they plan to go.
I also think this will be one of those times when people who have gone on our cruises once or twice before will want to go again. So I expect this will be a big cruise “family reunion.”
Please know that visiting Russia always requires a visa, therefore we must work several months in advance so the paperwork can be processed in a timely way. Plus, a high percentage of our seats are already sold.
When I first went to Russia, I was intimidated and frightened because of all the things I’d seen in the movies, and the stories I had heard. But while there I fell in love with the Russian people, made many friends, and could not wait to return. If you have not visited, you’ll be surprised by the quality and history of Russian art, and by the quality of the traditions that live on today. If you have visited, you’ll have a rich experience as we visit as art insiders, getting access to amazing, life-changing experiences.