Trip To Russia Full Of Grand Culture And Pure Adventure

A much anticipated, logistically difficult and long awaited Princethorpe trip to Russia finally took place over the Michaelmas half term. Some 38 pupils and six staff headed off to Moscow and St Petersburg for six days of spectacular enlightenment, grand culture and pure adventure.

The pupils involved included Sixth Form historians and Soviet enthusiasts, Year 10 and 11 adventurers, looking for a more unusual travel experience and an independent Year 9 on a quest for knowledge and enrichment. All were to be enthralled by the unsurpassed scale of the enigmatic nation that is Russia.

The visit started in Moscow with a full city tour where amongst the many highlights the party took in the iconic Red Square, St Basil’s Cathedral, a tour around the Kremlin and the very impressive Armoury Chamber. The next day included a morning visit to the Red Army Museum, before a fascinating exploration of the history of the Russian space programme at the Cosmonaut Museum, where Belka and Strelka the first dogs to be launched into space and safely return, are preserved. And then there was the Moscow Metro at rush hour, where it was not just about getting from A to B safely, but also a visual testament to Stalin’s idea of ‘Palaces for the people’, with its ornate carvings, chandeliers and huge paintings on the walls.

The group travelled onto St Petersburg to explore the grandeur and opulence of the Tsars’ palaces, including the Grand Palace and gardens (often referred to as the Russian Versailles) and the Yusupov Palace, an elegant baroque building full of rooms of amber and gold and famously the site of the assassination of Grigory Rasputin.

The group also got to explore the State Hermitage, a complex of six buildings including the Winter Palace, the largest museum in the world and the War Museum, also known as ‘Heroic defenders of Leningrad’ museum, a melancholic and sombre place where the horrors of the siege of the city in World War II were explored. There 900 candle style lights, lit the room, one for each day the citizens were trapped.

The final night saw a feast of traditional Russian food, including a hearty bowl of borsch at local tavern Masha and the Bear. Theatrical entertainment including traditional song and dance topped off the evening with lots of participation from pupils and notable performances from Mr Hester and Mr McCollin.

The pupils returned to the UK with amazing memories and an incredible array of Russian memorabilia purchased in the cities’ flea markets, with everything from traditional Russian dolls to soviet army hats, belts and even a pair of pilot goggles!

Ed Hester, Headmaster, commented “Russia was a fascinating country to visit, one which has been shaped by tragedy and idealism and tyranny, and which itself has had such a profound effect on 20th-century history.”

Photos from the trip: