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Wasn’t it exciting to watch the opening of the Sochi Olympic Games and Canadians winning three Olympics medals on the first day.  As I write this we have 9 Olympic medals leading the way for the first time in history.  Go Canada!
It has been a number of years since I visited Russia, the world’s largest country but with the 2014 Olympics there and our upcoming Russian River Cruise I find myself reminiscing with fond memories of my visit.
When planning my visit I was filled with the anticipation of seeing first-hand places I had read about: Red Square, colorful onion domed cathedrals, the opulent palaces of the Czars and the Russian Ballet.  I was also apprehensive as this country was not only someplace foreign but had for years been forbidden and whose history and ideology was deemed threatening to the free world.
What I discovered was a beautiful country, warm and welcoming people, and delicious local cuisine. Our Russian River Cruise is an excellent way to see not only the two mega cities of Moscow and St Petersburg but also a first-hand glimpse into the quiet life of the Russian countryside as the waterways pass charming villages and pastoral landscapes. River cruising is an excellent way to travel from location to location and the ship becomes your home for the entire journey.  No need to pack and unpack as you move about the countryside which allows for a very relaxing experience and those iconic sites you have read about are all included: St Petersburg’s Winter Palace, the Heritage Museum, Catherine’s Palace and the Kremlin.
On board the Viking Ingvar there is complimentary beer and wine served at dinner as well as soft drinks and bottled water when you need it. The cruise director will keep you informed as to the daily entertainment, lectures on upcoming ports of call and various on board activities to enrich your Russian river experience.
Unfortunately Russian cuisine hasn’t made it big in Canada but on board you will find the majority of dishes reflect the local flavours and you will have a chance to taste the traditional foods:  Borsch, piroshky (pastries filled with potatoes, meat, cabbage or cheese), shaasklyk (Russian kebabs), pemeni (pastry dumplings typically filled with meatballs) and my favourite blinis served rolled with a variety of fillings.
Why wait any longer to visit this country that holds such mystery,  history and charm.

Written by: Joan Niemeier