Marilyn Foster: Imperial Russia awaits exploration

Mark Twain wrote, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

Collette Travel has put together a tour that will give us insight into Imperial Russia, for the only way to understand Russia and its people is to journey there. The news media paints such a negative picture of this fascinating country that I’ve always wanted to see that I have decided that this is going to be my trip for spring 2020. Politics aside, I would love to see the iconic St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow and tour Hermitage in St. Petersburg and learn about the Czars and politics from the Russian point of view. There are always two sides to each story.

The Imperial Russia Tour features three nights in Moscow and four nights in St. Petersburg, giving us plenty of time to get the feel of each city. We’ll be lodged in comfortable hotels and enjoy 11 meals that will include a traditional Russian dinner in a local Moscow restaurant. In St. Petersburg, we’ll learn about Georgian cuisine — again dining in a local restaurant. There’s got to be more to Russian cuisine than borscht, beef stroganoff and vodka. We’ll find out together!

Of course, we’ll see all the iconic sights and learn firsthand from our guide and special scholars and guests about life then and now in Russia. There’s even a themed tour in Moscow called “Back to the USSR,” giving insight into the tensions between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union.

On the sightseeing list in Moscow is Red Square, St. Basil’s, the Kremlin and the Armoury Museum where all the jewels are stashed along with the Faberge eggs. We’ll ride the Metro where every stop is like a beautiful museum — just the opposite of the New York subway system.

In St. Petersburg, we’ll tour the famous Hermitage, the Winter Palace, built for Peter the Great, and the magnificent Catherine Palace, built for the daughter of Peter the Great. How exciting it will be to tour St. Petersburg in vintage Soviet cars. Yup, that’s part of the tour!

Traveling between the two cities will be via high-speed rail, giving us the opportunity to view the Russian countryside. I am told by those who have traveled to both cities that St. Petersburg has a decidedly European flavor, whereas Moscow is truly Russian. Because most news of Russia originates in Moscow, we’ve become as familiar with the iconic background of St. Basil’s, often used as the background for the media, as we have with the Eiffel Tower or Big Ben.

Those of you who read this column know that I like to plan ahead and have at least two trips to look forward to in any year. My October trip this year is to Switzerland and Germany. Come join me on April 23, 2020, as we discover the Imperial Cities of Russia together, guided by knowledgeable guides who will be with us every step of the way. You can bet Collette would not conduct tours to Russia if it were not safe.

The cost? Double is $3,999 — a heck of a rate when considering this price includes air from Reno, 11 meals, first-class hotels, all ground transportation, guided tours of the most iconic sights, a professional tour manager, free parking at the Chamber and airport transfers starting right here in Reno. Check out the full itinerary on the travel club page at or drop by the Chamber at 1900 S. Carson St. to pick up a brochure. I always recommend booking early to reserve your space, for all tours have limited seating.

(Marilyn is 90 and has traveled to many places, but still has so much more to see and experience.)


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