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From sailing through the Three Gorges in China aboard a luxury cruiser to soaring above the gilded pagodas and stupas of Myanmar, grand temples of Angkor and volcanic moonscape of Cappadocia, Asia’s diversity is boundless. Covering 8.7% of the Earth’s total surface area, Asia varies even within its regions in cultural ethnicity, environment, history, economics and political systems. From the expansive grasslands of Mongolia and Silk Road cities of central Asia to Malaysia’s melting pot of cultures, Indochina’s colonial heritage and Indonesia’s iridescent islands, experience authentic travel moments across the world’s largest continent while luxuriating in world-class accommodations. Wherever your journey takes you, we’ll be with you every step of the way, making sure your experience is utterly unforgettable and that you return home with a treasure of memories from the land of tea and silk.

The White Nights of St. Petersburg


Join the festivities as we bring you four performances at St. Petersburg’s premier theaters, including the world famous Mariinsky Theater. The White Nights Theater Festival is a must for anyone who loves the performing arts. During the day, discover the city’s enormous heritage, and at night, experience the finest ballet, opera and symphony that Russia has to offer.  Tour in association with Exeter International. 

The Basics 
• 6 nights at the Rocco Forte Astoria located in the heart of the city 
• Expertly planned small group touring with a top local guide
Entrance Fees to all the sites mentioned in the program

Highlights of the White Nights Tour
Prime Tickets to 4 White Nights Festival Performances
Private backstage tour of the renowned Mariinsky Theater
Early Entrance to the Hermitage Museum
Private tour of the Gold Treasures Rooms of the Hermitage
Private visit to the Amber Room Workshops of Catherine Palace 


Combine this tour with:  Copenhagen or StockholmBerlin or MunichVienna, Prague or Budapest

Trip Departure Date: June 2017 - exact dates TBA soon

DAY 1:  Upon your arrival into St. Petersburg, transfer to your deluxe hotel in the center of the city. After checking in and a little time to refresh yourself, your guide will meet you in the lobby of your hotel to begin your introduction to St. Petersburg.

Begin with a visit to the Peter and Paul Fortress: the birthplace of St. Petersburg. Cross the gates, bridges and moats dating back to the 18th century, discover how it served as a bastion against the Swedes, and listen to your guide tell the fantastic stories of each of the Romanovs who are buried within its walls. Later this evening proceed on a short overview city tour to include Nevsky Prospect - the buzzing artery of the city, Vasilievsky Island for the best views of St. Petersburg, and the beautiful façade of the Grand Synagogue. (D)

DAY 2:  This morning, take a fascinating tour into the stately Yusupov Palace, including its gorgeous theater and the dramatic Arabian Room, but the true drama lies in its story. Take a step back in time into the world of Grigori Rasputin and the last Tsars of Russia. A Russian peasant and mystic who was extremely close to Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra, Rasputin was ultimately murdered by those who despised him and the monarchy. The palace is only opened by special request and you will be able to tour the entire palace with one of the museum’s on-staff curators. This tour is by appointment only and cannot be moved to another time or day.


Exeter International Extraordinary Experience:  This afternoon, you will be invited backstage for an exclusive and one-of-a-kind tour backstage at the Mariinsky Theater. Starting from the Tsar’s Box, explore the sets, costumes and technology that go into creating each performance. You might also get a first-hand peek into the backstage preparations for tonight’s performance! This evening, you will have Prime Tickets to a White Nights Festival Performance. (B)

DAY 3:  This morning, drive to the outskirts of the city to visit Peterhof (or Petrodvorets) Palace. A special early admission time is confirmed for touring today so that you can enjoy the palace ahead of the crowds. Cascading fountains s that roll down to the Baltic Sea make it reminiscent of a Russian Versailles. Enter the Lower Gardens and watch out for sprays of water from the trick and treat fountains on the grounds. Walk to the Upper Gardens and ascend the steps to the Grand Palace. Its grandiose Baroque façade gives way to an eclectic interior. Visit the grottos beneath the palace and learn more about the incredible vision and engineering behind the fountains that spout water across the gardens. NOTE: Touring at Peterhof involves a lot of walking. Please wear comfortable footwear.

Enjoy a casual buffet style lunch at the Orangerie at Peterhof. Return to the center of St. Petersburg on the express hydrofoil. Your guide will go with you and your driver will meet you as you disembark. Evening:  Prime Tickets to a White Nights Festival Performance. (B,L)

DAY 4:  Today drive out into the countryside around St. Petersburg to visit two of St. Petersburg’s most stunning palaces – Catherine Palace (formerly known as Pushkin) and Pavlovsk. The understated summer palace of the Tsars, Pavlovsk was started by Cameron, a Scot and a favorite of Catherine the Great, but it was finished by Andrei Voronykhin – a Russian serf who rose to become one of Russia’s finest architects, under the patronage of Paul I and his wife Maria. Lunch today has been arranged for you at a quaint local restaurant serving Russian cuisine. 

In stark contrast to Pavlovsk, the Rococo style Catherine Palace bears the extravagant signature of Rastrelli, the architect who designed much of St. Petersburg’s royal precinct. Named for Catherine I by her daughter Tsarina Elizabeth, it was later embellished by Catherine II (The Great). Razed by the Nazis during the second siege of Leningrad, the palace and its fabled Amber Room have been painstakingly restored to exquisite perfection.

Exeter International Extraordinary Experience:  Learn how the Amber Room has been restored by Russian craftsmen after World War II on a private tour of the Amber Room workshops. By private appointment only. Evening:  Prime Tickets to a White Nights Festival Performance. (B,L)

 

DAY 5:  Exeter International Extraordinary Experience:  This morning, your guide will escort you to the Hermitage Museum, the world’s finest collection of art, housed in the original Winter Palace of the Tsars. We have pre-arranged an early entrance for you approximately one hour before the general public, so that you can explore the collection at greater leisure. 

Exeter International Extraordinary Experience:  We have also made a special appointment for you to view the Treasure Gallery of the Hermitage. From Peter the Great’s hoard of ancient Scythian gold artefacts to the Diamond Rooms which showcase jewelry craftsmanship throughout the ages, a Hermitage official will guide you personally and will invite you to view the finest sections of the Treasure Gallery. These rooms hold some of the most priceless collections within the Hermitage Museum.  

After exploring the Hermitage Museum, walk across to St. Isaac’s Cathedral with its columns made of malachite and lapis lazuli.  If you feel strong enough, climb up to the pinnacle of its massive golden dome for some of the most gorgeous views over St. Petersburg.  

The remainder of this afternoon is at your leisure. It’s the perfect opportunity to explore a bit of St. Petersburg on your own. Stroll along Nevsky Prospect – St. Petersburg’s main avenue, interspersed periodically by meandering canals. Stunning Art Nouveau architecture, charming cafes and several boutiques make this a delightful afternoon promenade. Step into the mysterious hush of the inner sanctum of the Kazan Cathedral or in through the doors of the Art Nouveau bookstore, Dom Knigi

Evening:  Prime Tickets to a White Nights Festival PerformanceAfter the performance, we recommend a romantic late evening stroll on the banks of the Neva River. The famous drawbridges of St. Petersburg are raised just before 2am – yet it appears as if it’s daylight! It’s a truly magical moment of the White Nights Season. (B) 

DAY 6:  This morning will be left open for shopping, personal exploration, or just to relax on your own. This afternoon, head off to the Russian Museum with your guide. One of the greatest collections of exclusively Russian artists, it includes an extraordinary Repin collection and one of the world’s largest collections of ancient Russian icons.

Just around the corner, visit the exquisite Church on Spilled Blood with its beautiful façade festooned in intricate mosaics and semi-precious stones. Originally inspired by St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, it stands on the exact spot where Alexander II was assassinated on March 1, 1881. It has recently been completely restored in the post Soviet-era to bring it back to its former glory.

Exeter International Extraordinary Experience:  Visit the Shuvalov Palace, which houses Viktor Vekselberg’s private collection of Faberge objets d’art. By far the finest collection of these prized pieces in the world today, this tour is limited to very few people and is by special appointment only.

Evening:  Farewell dinner tonight at Café Astoria, which is at your hotel. (B,D)

DAY 7:  Morning at leisure until your airport transfer and onward flight. (B) 

 


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