Russia – Discover the Unknown https://travelexperts.justgorussia.co.uk The place where the Go Russia team share their passion Wed, 26 Aug 2020 22:54:59 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2 https://i0.wp.com/travelexperts.justgorussia.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/cropped-Go_Russia_small_square.jpg?fit=32%2C32&ssl=1 Russia – Discover the Unknown https://travelexperts.justgorussia.co.uk 32 32 101143019 Kostroma – a historic Golden Ring town https://travelexperts.justgorussia.co.uk/2020/11/20/kostroma-a-historic-golden-ring-town/ https://travelexperts.justgorussia.co.uk/2020/11/20/kostroma-a-historic-golden-ring-town/#respond Fri, 20 Nov 2020 18:00:01 +0000 https://travelexperts.justgorussia.co.uk/?p=33297 There is a historic beautiful Golden Ring town on a shore of the Volga River – Kostroma.

This ancient city has a great historic meaning for Russia as this is a motherland of Russian dynasties of Godunovs and Romanovs. Three centuries Romanovs were the rulers of Russian Empire and Kostroma as a place where this dynasty was born saves the atmosphere of pre-revolutionary Russia. Majestic monuments of the era of classicism and cozy stone and wooden houses with fancy stucco and carved platbands, shady alleys, boulevards, parks and large red-brick industrial complexes are combined here as a neat filigree.

It’s no wonder why Kostroma is called a jewellery capital of Russia. More than a third of all jewellery in Russia is produced on the Kostroma land. The quality of golden and silver jewellery is the same as famous brands have but prices are much lower. The secret is in old traditions of creating jewellery. A scan-filigree technique is especially popular in this region. Except buying golden and silver pieces of art it’s possible to find out how they are created in local jewellery museums and even try to make something by yourself.

Kostroma is a place where it’s possible to visit ancient churches and monasteries, to admire wooden architecture and have a rest on a picturesque Volga riverside. The ancient history is a neighbour of a fairy-tale here as this town is a place where a famous Russian play writer lived – Alexander Ostrovsky. One of the most popular plays written by Ostrovsky is Snegurochka – a fairy-tale about “the daughter of the Father Frost”. She is the main Russian New Year character and all Russian children believe that she is a helper of the Father Frost (a local Santa Claus). Now Kostroma is considered a place where Snegurochka lives and it’s hardly possible to find a better place for a fairy lady. 

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Park Patriot, Military Themed Park near Moscow https://travelexperts.justgorussia.co.uk/2020/11/01/park-patriot-military-themed-park-near-moscow/ https://travelexperts.justgorussia.co.uk/2020/11/01/park-patriot-military-themed-park-near-moscow/#respond Sun, 01 Nov 2020 09:00:13 +0000 https://travelexperts.justgorussia.co.uk/?p=33289 Patriotic Park of Recreation and Leisure “Patriot” exists in Moscow during 5 years already and in a relatively short period of time the park has become a popular holiday destination for Russians and foreign visitors.

As Russia historically faced horror of hostilities for many times on its territory, it is rather important for locals to pay attention to the power of arms that can protect their Motherland. Starting from the Second World War that took lives of several millions, the development of military equipment became an important and necessary sphere for obtaining confidence that the horror of the middle of XX century will not repeat.

What to do in the park

On the territory of the Park, there are an aviation museum, a museum of armoured vehicles, a museum of artillery, sports facilities, sports simulators, historical exhibitions and expositions of weapons. There is also a model “partisan village” – a recreation of dwellings, shelters, fortifications used by military resistance groups during the WWII. There is also a multipurpose shooting centre, where visitors can try shooting arms up to 12.7 mm calibre including the famous Kalashnikov AK-47. Visitors can also drive and fly on military equipment simulators, shoot from combat weapons, jump with a parachute.

There is also The Main Cathedral of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation dedicated to the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War, as well as the acts of bravery of the Russian people in all wars.

As creators say the Patriot Park promotes civic spirit education, forms an attractive image of service in the Russian Armed Forces, develops a sense of love and respect for the Motherland.

How to get to Park Patriot

The easiest way to get to the park is by car, it will take about 1.5 hours from the central Moscow. You are allowed to use your car on the territory of the park.

By public transport. Take a train from Belorusskaya station to Kubinka, then a public bus to the park. It will take about 2.5 hours from central Moscow.

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Carved window artwork in Russia https://travelexperts.justgorussia.co.uk/2020/10/16/carved-window-artwork-in-russia/ https://travelexperts.justgorussia.co.uk/2020/10/16/carved-window-artwork-in-russia/#respond Fri, 16 Oct 2020 08:00:22 +0000 https://travelexperts.justgorussia.co.uk/?p=33265 In some Russian cities you can notice a very beautiful window artwork on the walls of old wooden houses. In Russian it’s called «Nalichniky» and means something «on the face». It’s amazing how the etymology shows the inner sense. In case of Russian «Nalichniky» it says that a house is considered as a body with its inner world and from outside you can see first its face. This first look of course is very important. And as a famous Russian writer Chekhov says «People should be beautiful in every way – in their faces, in the way they dress, in their thoughts and in their innermost selves.» The same is for Russian houses.

Last centuries it was very popular to decorate houses by such wooden masterpieces. But carved windows weren’t created only for beauty. The main function of wooden ornament was protection. First of all additional wooden panels helped to cover gaps in wooden walls and protect from cold winds. And at the same time wooden ornaments were amulets that provided peace and safety at home.

Modern ethnographers that study Russian ornaments say that some symbols meant fertility, richness and life fullness – for example an image of a tree or different plants, solar symbols such as the sun, rhombus, rays meant the obtaining and increase of both material and spiritual benefits, water symbols such as waves or drops meant purifying and life-giving. 

Unfortunately the time doesn’t have mercy on the beauty of former centuries and it’s almost not possible to find such houses in modern big cities. But there are small towns in Russian province that are proud of saving traditions and it’s possible to visit such places when you travel around the Golden Ring. Such beautiful towns as Plyos or Kostroma are still alive and can share with us the beauty and traditions of old Russian style. Walk slow on the streets exploring ornaments on the window and try to define what people lived in these houses. 

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Health & Document Requirements for International Travel https://travelexperts.justgorussia.co.uk/2020/08/26/health-document-requirements-for-international-travel-get-instant-confirmation/ https://travelexperts.justgorussia.co.uk/2020/08/26/health-document-requirements-for-international-travel-get-instant-confirmation/#respond Wed, 26 Aug 2020 09:44:12 +0000 https://travelexperts.justgorussia.co.uk/?p=33210 As borders are gradually reopening and international travel is resuming, we appreciate current uncertainty many travellers might have not knowing what tests and other official documentation is required for their travel plans.

IATA (The International Air Transport Association) has developed a very useful online resource where you can get an instant confirmation of what is required for your holiday or a business trip overseas.

Login on IATA dedicated website – https://www.iatatravelcentre.com, choose your destination, enter your passport details and get an instant confirmation of all documentation required for your trip, including any mandatory COVID-19 test. The website will also confirm whether a visa or other travel documentation will be necessary for your trip.

IATA documents confirmation for international travel

Just a quick note: as of 26 August 2020 Russia has reopened its borders with the UK, Switzerland, Turkey & Tanzania. A negative COVID-19 test (by PCR method) taken not earlier than 72 hours before arriving in Russia will be required. There is no need to translate the test results in Russian, an English confirmation will be accepted.

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The borders are open now. Are you ready to go to Russia? https://travelexperts.justgorussia.co.uk/2020/08/21/the-borders-are-open-now-are-you-ready-to-go-to-russia/ https://travelexperts.justgorussia.co.uk/2020/08/21/the-borders-are-open-now-are-you-ready-to-go-to-russia/#respond Fri, 21 Aug 2020 09:46:19 +0000 https://travelexperts.justgorussia.co.uk/?p=33204 For many of us, 2020 has been the summer of the staycation, but it’s now time to think about broadening our horizons. We’re delighted to report that from the end of July, the Russian authorities started to lift restrictions on international flights and on 01 August, Britain was one of the first countries to be welcomed back.

One of the biggest benefits to being among the first tourists to Russia post-lockdown is that visitor numbers are still low. So why not take advantage of the lull in tourism and enjoy Russia without the crowds? If you travel with us, you can be sure our tours are limited to small groups – that’s just how we like it.

Find your tour to Russia now!

Life is back to normal in Russia

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How Go Russia responds to Covid-19 https://travelexperts.justgorussia.co.uk/2020/05/26/how-go-russia-responds-to-covid-19/ https://travelexperts.justgorussia.co.uk/2020/05/26/how-go-russia-responds-to-covid-19/#respond Tue, 26 May 2020 15:11:45 +0000 https://travelexperts.justgorussia.co.uk/?p=32787
Moscow River

As many of you are concerned with future travel plans, we would like to give you some update on our response to those unprecedented times and how we deal with the situation.

We would also like to encourage our potential customers to start thinking about their future holidays. So keep browsing our website for new travel ideas in Russia or along the Trans-Siberian railway, or maybe going further south and discover the Caucasus nations: Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan & Turkey.

Life goes on, and we would encourage you to make plans for future travels. To avoid any concerns you might have, please continue reading to be rest assured Go Russia continues in business and our travel consultants are more than happy to help you with your travel ideas.

  1. Monitoring Government & Health Advice. We constantly monitor the government and health advice of respective authorities in all destinations where we operate our tours. Customer information is regularly updated on our website with an advice on what to do – www.justgorussia.co.uk/en/newsdesk/news_396.html
  2. Financial Stability. We have a healthy balance sheet and our finances and operations are annually reviewed by the Civil Aviation Authority in the UK when we renew our ATOL licence. There are no concerns in terms of fulfilling our obligations even in the current climate.
  3. Total Financial Protection. We are fully compliant with the Package Travel Regulations and all holidays offered by Go Russia are financially protected. This means that all your payments to our company will be refunded in the unlikely event of our insolvency. More information – www.justgorussia.co.uk/en/financial_protection
  4. Discounts & Special Offers. We are offering discounts should you wish to postpone your holiday to a later date. We believe you should not miss this chance to rebook your tour now: you will lock in today’s price and on top you will get a discount. Our rebooking options are much more favourable than any special early booking or similar promotions offered by our company.
  5. Investment in Technology. We continue investing in technology, automating many booking processes and our communication with suppliers and customers. Thus we keep our operational costs to a minimum. However, our travel consultants remain our key staff and we are not cutting any costs here.
  6. Operational. Our operational offices are open and you can reach us by phone or email, Monday to Friday, 9 AM – 5 PM. All inquiries are responded within 24 hours except for weekends and public holidays.  
  7. Forward Thinking. We are sure, international travel will resume soon, so we continue working on new itineraries to offer you more choices and destinations. Just some examples: we have recently launched our Luxury tour to Moscow & St. Petersburg, a city break in Kiev & Lviv, we continue expanding our programmes in the Caucasus region.

Virtual travel is all very well if that’s the only thing you can safely do, but there’s nothing like the real thing.

Search for your future holiday now!

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Victory Day 2020 – a very different kind of occasion https://travelexperts.justgorussia.co.uk/2020/05/18/victory-day-2020-a-very-different-kind-of-occasion/ https://travelexperts.justgorussia.co.uk/2020/05/18/victory-day-2020-a-very-different-kind-of-occasion/#respond Mon, 18 May 2020 15:34:25 +0000 https://travelexperts.justgorussia.co.uk/?p=32780 This year’s Victory Parade was a very different kind of occasion, impacted by the spread of the coronavirus that has brought not only Russia but the entire planet to lockdown. This massive parade, an annual event since 1995, commemorates the sacrifice Russians made to defeat Nazi Germany in the Great Patriotic War.

The first Victory Day celebration was held a month after the end of that war – which we in the West know as World War Two – on June 24th 1945. 40000 Red Army soldiers marched through the streets of Moscow accompanied by 1800 military vehicles. People would wait 20 years for the next one, held on May 9th 1965, the 20th anniversary of the end of the war in Europe. After another 20 year gap, the 1985 parade reminded the world’s observers that Soviet Russia was still a force to be reckoned with. If you’d like to see footage of some of those historic events, the Moscow Times has produced this video of Russia’s Victory Day through the decades and it’s fascinating to watch.

Since 2005, Putin has been at the helm.  The medals on the chests of today’s participants bounce as they march perfectly in sync, battalions followed by the military hardware that’s showcased for all to see. It’s an impressive sight, whether you’re Russian or not. The largest ever parade, taking place in 2015, saw half a million Russians walk through the streets of Moscow.

Sadly, though understandably given the nature of this medical threat we all face, this year’s parade has been postponed indefinitely. There’s hope that the situation will have improved sufficiently for this year’s parade to be staged in September, with the date the war ended after the Japanese surrender – September 2nd – one possible date being considered. Only time will tell, so watch out for an announcement this summer.

Russia. Moscow – May 9, 2020. The Victory Day.

This year, Russian citizens had to be content with an overflight by military aircraft, itself a sight to behold. They watched on television as Putin walked, alone, to the Eternal Flame and placed flowers outside the walls of the Kremlin. The mood was solemn as he addressed the nation, and though he did not mention the virus by name, it was ever-present in people’s thoughts. Instead, Putin emphasised that historic Russian sacrifice and alluded to the current threat as he said:

“Our veterans fought for life, against death. And we will always be equal to their unity and endurance. We know and firmly believe that we are invincible when we stand together.” 

And so the event, adapted but no less powerful, continued with bombers, fighter jets and military helicopters leaving a trail of red, white and blue smoke across the sky. Russians were invited to send in photographs of those who fought in the war to enable the Immortal Regiment commemoration to take place in an online format instead of the usual outdoor procession. There were also online concerts, lectures and films. Fireworks traditionally draw Victory Day to a close, and this year was no exception, with displays going ahead across the country. In each place, all that was missing was the crowd.

MOSCOW – MAY 9: Fireworks on the 70th Victory Day on Red Square on May 9, 2015 in Moscow

So now Russia waits, to see how long it takes to tame and defeat this pandemic. But you can be sure of one thing, whether in September or at some other date in the not-too-distant future, Victory Day will be back and the streets of Moscow will be full again.

Please contact Go Russia if you wish to arrange a tour to Russia.

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Are you prepared for the 75th anniversary of Victory Day? https://travelexperts.justgorussia.co.uk/2020/02/12/are-you-prepared-for-the-75th-anniversary-of-victory-day/ https://travelexperts.justgorussia.co.uk/2020/02/12/are-you-prepared-for-the-75th-anniversary-of-victory-day/#respond Wed, 12 Feb 2020 11:00:58 +0000 https://travelexperts.justgorussia.co.uk/?p=32736 This year, on May 9th, it’s the 75th anniversary of Victory Day and a very important holiday in Russia. To understand why, you need to know that this is the day Russia marks VE Day. It’s celebrated elsewhere in Europe on May 8th, but Russia lies further east. By the time the surrender was officially agreed, it was after midnight in Moscow and therefore May 9th in its time zones.

World War Two was a bleak time in Russian history and many of its citizens suffered terribly during those war years. The end of such a period was a big deal and to this day, the occasion is marked by parades and ceremonies all over the country. Each year, the events staged in St Petersburg and Moscow attract global attention and in 2020, that’s likely to be even more the case as it’s such a major milestone.

It’s expected that many foreign visitors, including Heads of State, will travel to Russia for the event. Invitations have been sent to the leaders of the USA, France, Germany and China amongst others. It’s customary for Red Square to be the focus of attention. Division after division pass by, representing each sector of the armed forces. Tanks, helicopters, surveillance vehicles and an aerial fly past join the brigades and battalions on the ground. A ceremonial 21-gun salute as the national anthem is played adds gravitas and military bands provide a soundtrack. There’ll be the usual address from President Putin after he’s completed his inspection of the armed forces personnel. It’s an impressive sight and leaves the visitor in no doubt as to Russia’s current military capabilities.

As you might expect, that’s going to bring with it some disruption. We already know that Red Square is going to be closed from May 1st to 10th. If you want to see the military parade, it’s worth finding a spot near to the entrance of Red Square if you can, which is the nearest the general public are permitted to be. Alternatively, try to catch the rehearsals when you can often get closer to the action.

At the time of writing we are awaiting confirmation whether the same closures will be put in place for the Kremlin as well. Right now nothing has been decided but to see if you will be able to access sights such as the Armoury, you can check with us nearer the time – if they are selling tickets, then it will be open.

The bad news is that these closures are going to have an impact on sightseeing. You should still be able to access GUM department store but St Basil’s Cathedral will be off limits if you can’t get into Red Square, meaning you won’t be able to snap a selfie in front of those colourful onion domes. In the past Lenin’s Mausoleum has been off limits as well. Road closures and extra security measures at the airport are to be expected.

Major cities will be extra crowded, particularly Moscow and St Petersburg as domestic visitors flock to see the parades. In the evening, there are plenty of parties and a fireworks display. You see, the upside of the disruption to those tourist attractions is that you will get to see Russia at a time of intense and joyful celebration – this is one of the most important holidays on the calendar. The crowds create an air of excitement and the atmosphere is not to be missed.

Of course, those key visitor attractions will still be there if you return for a second visit, but there’s something very special about being in Moscow for Victory Day. You won’t regret being there for the spectacle.

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Euro 2020 https://travelexperts.justgorussia.co.uk/2020/02/07/euro-2020/ https://travelexperts.justgorussia.co.uk/2020/02/07/euro-2020/#respond Fri, 07 Feb 2020 11:00:49 +0000 https://travelexperts.justgorussia.co.uk/?p=32759 Following the success of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, football returns to Russia this year as St Petersburg co-hosts the UEFA Euro 2020 tournament. In fact, no fewer than 12 cities have been selected for the honour of staging matches. Together with St Petersburg, teams will compete in Germany (Munich), Hungary (Budapest), Denmark (Copenhagen), Spain (Bilbao), Italy (Rome), The Netherlands (Amsterdam), Romania (Bucharest), England (London), Ireland (Dublin), Scotland (Glasgow) and Azerbaijan (Baku).

This set up is different to previous competitions but the organisers wanted to do something a little different seeing as this is the 60th anniversary of the first tournament. Cities had to bid to stage the group stages, quarter finals, semi finals and finals. St Petersburg successfully bid to host group matches in its Krestovsky Stadium, which will see the national side going up against Denmark, Finland and Belgium in matches scheduled for June 2020.

If you enjoyed the atmosphere in 2018, or realised too late that you’d missed out on a good thing, you might be tempted to book a trip to St Petersburg this summer to coincide with the matches. St Petersburg’s easily reached from the UK. Direct flights with Wizz link London Luton with St Petersburg’s Pulkovo airport; Aeroflot also offer a direct flight from London Gatwick. With high speed train connections linking St Petersburg and Moscow, it’s also easy to combine a holiday to the Russian capital with a match or two further north.

Just Go Russia can help with your travel arrangements. We can arrange transfers, book hotels and suggest add-ons such as that city break in Moscow or even an epic journey across Russia on the Trans-Siberian. You could even combine a match with a visit to neighbouring Finland. If you’re not sure what your options are, there are lots of tour suggestions on our website or if you prefer we’d be happy to take your call if you get in touch by phone.

As with the World Cup, travellers in possession of a Fan ID are entitled to visa-free entry. Once you have your Fan ID, you can enter and exit the country between 30 May and 3 July 2020 as if you were in possession of a multi-entry visa. The advice on the UEFA website reads as follows:

“Please apply for a FAN ID on www.fan-id.ru. You will need your passport, as well as your order number or ticket number, which you can find on the UEFA EURO 2020 Ticket Portal.”

If you’re not in possession of a match ticket, then to visit St Petersburg on a UK passport you’ll need a standard 30 day visa, unless you enter by cruise ship or ferry on the 72 hour visa-free arrangement. Holders of passports of 53 countries including most of the EU can take advantage of the e-visa which was introduced in October of last year.

Once you’re in St Petersburg, getting to the stadium is straightforward. There’s a metro station right outside, Novokrestovskaya, which connects to the city centre, while Krestovsky Ostrov is also located within walking distance of the ground. Transfers are swift, cheap and easy. All you’ll have to worry about is how your team is doing and whether they’ll make it through to the next stage of the competition.

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Discover the Pavlovsk Palace in St. Petersburg https://travelexperts.justgorussia.co.uk/2020/01/30/discover-the-pavlovsk-palace-in-st-petersburg/ https://travelexperts.justgorussia.co.uk/2020/01/30/discover-the-pavlovsk-palace-in-st-petersburg/#respond Thu, 30 Jan 2020 10:30:56 +0000 https://travelexperts.justgorussia.co.uk/?p=32751 Have you ever watched a design or home improvement programme on TV and thought that sometimes, the homeowner doesn’t quite get the say that they should in what’s being done to their own property? Worse, have you ever spent money on your own renovation project and decided that the result wasn’t quite what you had in mind? Most of us don’t have enough spare cash to redo the work, but then we aren’t Russian emperors and we certainly don’t have a Royal budget.

In the 18th century, Catherine the Great commissioned a grand palace for her son, Grand Duke Paul and his wife Maria. She loaned them her official architect, Charles Cameron, and gave the couple a thousand hectares of woodland beside the Slavyanka River, up the road from Tsarskoye Selo, the palace he had designed for her. Some would say Cameron did a great job, creating an elegant and simple Palladian home for the Royal pair. That’s not to say it wasn’t grand: a three storey palace with a dome, colonnades and galleries decorated with friezes and reliefs.

Leaving the builders behind, Paul and Maria set off for a tour of Europe which would take them to Italy, Austria and Germany. In France, they fell in love with the beauty of palaces like Versailles and Chantilly with their magnificent and immaculately landscaped gardens. Along the way, they shopped for antique furniture, clocks, paintings and porcelain. Though they kept abreast of progress, their vision for the property didn’t match that of Cameron, and unsurprisingly, things became a little tense.

Cameron was unhappy at Maria’s unsolicited purchases, while Maria didn’t find the bright colours Cameron had chosen to her exacting tastes. Paul didn’t much care for the similarities between his house and that of his mother, and found the place a little too austere for his liking. Four years after work began, inevitably perhaps, they parted company. Cameron set off for the Crimea to build Catherine a new palace and Paul hired an Italian, Vincenzo Brenna, to complete the interiors.

Fortunately, Brenna was more in tune with his employers’ wishes than his predecessor had been. He oversaw the creation of a palace that was more suited to the status of its occupants. It was lavishly furnished with false marble, silks and gilded detailing, and heavily influenced by ancient Greece and Rome. When Catherine died in 1798, Paul became Emperor of Russia and with that elevation in status came an extended, more imposing palace. Curved wings fanned out from the original building, closing in around a courtyard, with a statue of Paul placed right in the centre.

No expense was spared, but Paul’s joy was to be short-lived. He’d made enemies of the nobles in his court and was murdered in 1801. When fire destroyed a large part of the palace in 1803, Maria called upon Cameron and Brenna to rebuild, also enlisting the help of a Russian architect called Andrei Voronykhin and later, Italian Carlo Rossi, to recreate the palace she adored. Pavlovsk Palace remained Maria’s residence until her death in 1828, a memorial to her late husband and their extravagant tastes. In her will, she stipulated that none of the furniture should be removed. Her descendants respected her wishes, and the house effectively became a family museum, remaining so after the Russian Revolution, though ownership of course passed to the state. Heavily damaged in World War Two, careful repair work ensured that it was eventually restored to its former glory.

Today, Pavlovsk Palace is one of the most popular sights in the St Petersburg area. Visitors are drawn not only to the palace itself, but to the beautifully landscaped garden that surrounds it. The pictures you’ll see online don’t do it justice. Why not come and admire Emperor Paul’s grand design and see what you think of it in real life?

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