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Russia, a different kind of trip (2021 edition)

Hello all,
Just wanted to file this under "other travel options": it's another year, and the Center for Citizen initiatives is organizing another person-to-person diplomacy trip to Russia: https://ccisf.org/ccis-exploratory-trip-to-russia-2021/

This time around the trip will be co-led by the Honorable Jack Matlock, former U.S. Ambassador to Russia. Need I say more?

I've been following their endeavors for years now, but had never met or talked to anyone who tried it out. Until last year, that is, when a trip participant (tmbohman) came back to this forum to share his experience: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/russia/russia-a-different-kind-of-trip

The trip is scheduled for Sep - Oct, and, given the vaccine availability on either side of the fence, I'd be cautiously optimistic. Overall, I think it's a wonderful opportunity to try something different and "travel with a purpose".

Cheers,
PerilsofP

Posted by
4849 posts

Verrrry Interesting! Sounds like quite a chance for engagement, even if you’re participating in an assignment, and paying up to $8,000 for the privilege.

M husband’s had 2 trips to Russia, in 1976 and 1997. I went to Leningrad in the 1980’s. None of them involved structured diplomatic programs, but each offered some interaction with the locals, and some element of social involvement was present. This 2021 “exploratory” trip might be fulfilling on several levels, plus you’d see a sizable portion of Russia, including some parts that a typical tourist doesn’t.

Speaking of tourists, we’ve talked about a return trip to what’s now St. Petersburg, and maybe visiting the Winter Palace, in winter. The absolute best vanilla ice cream of all time was being sold outside it in the summer.

So are you going for the bare bones option, one of the economy offerings, or the Tsar’s $8K package?

Posted by
417 posts

I'd probably say 8k is a bit excessive - but then again, it does cover about two weeks of (supposedly luxury) accommodations and a fair deal of internal travel.
If it were me, I'd go with mid-tier arrangement, most likely - while I can't imagine the "no frills student" one being anything below a standard 3* hotel, the location will likely be less than ideal.
But then again,a trip like this is more about who you meet and what you see, rather than where you stay

Posted by
417 posts

Looks like they went ahead and postponed the trip to June, 2022. Makes sense - and all the more time to apply.

Posted by
4849 posts

That also gives 14 months to learn (or brush up on) Russian. Hopefully the world will be much more suitable for all kinds of trips by then.

Posted by
706 posts

I’m sorry to hear that they had to postpone the trip. It sounds like such an awesome experience.

Posted by
417 posts

I truly think it is. Nothing but the deepest respect for Ms. Tennison and her efforts.

Frankly, even if the borders do open up in the coming couple of months, I can't see the latest diplo row not affecting visa processing times, so September this year would be somewhat unrealistic anyway. Too bad.

Posted by
706 posts

I’m still hoping for a 2022 trip. That will give time for diplomatic relations to warm up, I hope. Lots of hoping!

Posted by
417 posts

I've recently watched Sharon's extended call with Spb Rotary Club (https://youtu.be/N0yP7FgVavc?t=972), where she gives details of the usual itineraries and travel arrangements at around 55:00 mark, and I have to take back my "no frills" 3* hotel comment - apparently, they are also willing to arrange homestays for those who are on very tight budgets. In my opinion, it's even better and much more in line with the purposes of the trip (but, of course, not everyone would be happy with the arrangement).