Karelia with Nordic Travel

By Judy Yandoh
This item appears on page 51 of the April 2017 issue.
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The Republic of Karelia lies in northwestern Russia along the border of Finland. A friend and I, both senior women, toured the area at the end of June 2016.

Through Patriarshy Dom Tours (Vspolnyy per., 6, Moskva; phone +7 495 795 09 27, www.toursin russia.com), a travel agency that a friend of mine in Moscow recommended, we had booked the 6-day, 5-night “Grand Karelia Tour” offered by Nordic Travel (26 Kuybysheva St., Rm. 100, 185035 Petrozavodsk, Russia; www.nordictravel.ru).

We traveled in a first-class compartment on an overnight train from St. Petersburg to Petrozavodsk (tickets, $65 each), where we met our guide, Alyssa, early the next morning. She was knowledgeable, patient and quick to help when we needed a hand with our luggage.

After we checked in at our hotel and ate breakfast, Alyssa took us on a short walking tour of the city. Then we boarded a hydrofoil to Kizhi Island, home to the Kizhi State Open-Air Museum of History, Architecture & Ethnography, where historic wood buildings, including the magnificent Church of the Transfiguration, have been reconstructed.

This was the beginning of a jam-packed tour that included Valaam, an island in Lake Ladoga, where we saw historic monasteries and churches, and the Solovetsky Islands in the White Sea, home to the 15th-century Solovetsky Monastery and also, during the Stalin era, the location of harsh, forced-labor camps for “enemies of the people.”

This was a tour for active travelers, with lots of walking and stair climbing. Because of the distances traveled, there were also some long drives. 

One attraction, for us, was going to parts of Russia that few Americans have visited. We encountered many tour groups, tourists and pilgrims, but most were Russian. The weather was unusually warm and dry. By the time we reached the White Sea, we had 24 hours of light.  

Our tour cost 980 (near $1,041) for each of us, and we traveled in a comfortable, late-model VW van with a professional driver. Our hotel rooms, all with facilities en suite, were clean and comfortable, and all but one had Wi-Fi in either the room or lobby. 

All meals were included. Lunches and dinners, for the most part, were light and healthy — salad, soup, fish and potatoes. 

Our Nordic Travel tour came to an end at the White Sea, where we were driven to a motel in Kem to spend the night (at extra cost) before departing on a 24-hour train trip to Moscow. We had purchased the tickets for our first-class compartment ($185 each, including breakfast and dinner) through Patriarshy Dom Tours.

Anyone with questions can contact me at jujaya@earthlink.net.

JUDY YANDOH

Albuquerque, NM

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

The Republic of Karelia lies in northwestern Russia along the border of Finland. A friend and I, both senior women, toured the area at the end of June 2016.

Through Patriarshy Dom Tours (Vspolnyy per., 6, Moskva; phone +7 495 795 09 27, www.toursin russia.com), a travel agency that a friend of mine in Moscow recommended, we had booked the 6-day, 5-night “Grand Karelia Tour” offered by Nordic Travel (26 Kuybysheva St., Rm. 100, 185035 Petrozavodsk, Russia; www.nordictravel.ru).

We traveled in a first-class compartment on an overnight train from St. Petersburg to Petrozavodsk (tickets, $65 each), where we met our guide, Alyssa, early the next morning. She was knowledgeable, patient and quick to help when we needed a hand with our luggage.

After we checked in at our hotel and ate breakfast, Alyssa took us on a short walking tour of the city. Then we boarded a hydrofoil to Kizhi Island, home to the Kizhi State Open-Air Museum of History, Architecture & Ethnography, where historic wood buildings, including the magnificent Church of the Transfiguration, have been reconstructed.

This was the beginning of a jam-packed tour that included Valaam, an island in Lake Ladoga, where we saw historic monasteries and churches, and the Solovetsky Islands in the White Sea, home to the 15th-century Solovetsky Monastery and also, during the Stalin era, the location of harsh, forced-labor camps for “enemies of the people.”

This was a tour for active travelers, with lots of walking and stair climbing. Because of the distances traveled, there were also some long drives. 

One attraction, for us, was going to parts of Russia that few Americans have visited. We encountered many tour groups, tourists and pilgrims, but most were Russian. The weather was unusually warm and dry. By the time we reached the White Sea, we had 24 hours of light.  

Our tour cost 980 (near $1,041) for each of us, and we traveled in a comfortable, late-model VW van with a professional driver. Our hotel rooms, all with facilities en suite, were clean and comfortable, and all but one had Wi-Fi in either the room or lobby. 

All meals were included. Lunches and dinners, for the most part, were light and healthy — salad, soup, fish and potatoes. 

Our Nordic Travel tour came to an end at the White Sea, where we were driven to a motel in Kem to spend the night (at extra cost) before departing on a 24-hour train trip to Moscow. We had purchased the tickets for our first-class compartment ($185 each, including breakfast and dinner) through Patriarshy Dom Tours.

Anyone with questions can contact me at jujaya@earthlink.net.

JUDY YANDOH

Albuquerque, NM