War and Peace Tour -- FULL ITINERARY

Designed and conducted by Gary Cox (PhD Russian Literature, Columbia; click here to CONTACT)

March 24. Fly to Vienna or Bratislava. (Flight not included, but Professor Cox provides a discount-fare-finding service.) Transfer to hotel in Old Town, Bratislava.
A leisurely evening meal to get acquainted, share thoughts about the novel, hear a “dinner speech”: Andrei Bolkonsky's reflections on Napoleon.

March 25. Breakfast is provided in the hotel. Morning free to (re-)read, and recover from the journey, with an optional guided walkabout in Old Town Bratislava. Luncheon with discussion. Afternoon at the Archbishop's Palace, signing site of the Treaty of Pressburg, dissolving the Holy Roman Empire in the aftermath of Napoleon's victory at Austerlitz, an event which figures in the novel. Restaurant recommendations will be proved for supper.

Optional evening program: a showing of the first half of part 1 of Bondarchuk's 1967 film, through the Austerlitz sections. (Total viewing time of the film is about 390 minutes, so each of our 4 viewings of segments will last a little over an hour and a half. Copies of the DVD, and viewing devices, will also be available for those who prefer to view portions of this film as an in-flight movie, or on bus rides. But be forewarned: the battle scenes should be viewed on a large screen.)
Alternative option (not included in tour price): local theatre, schedule provided.

March 26.Breakfast will be provided in the hotel. Bus to Brno (Brünn in the novel) and Austerlitz (Slavkov u Brna).

Luncheon in the Old Post Office, which served as a lodging for French general Murat before the battle, Russian general Bagration during it, and Napoleon afterwards.

Battlefield and museum tours. Mini-dramatizations of vignettes from the novel.

Evening: Fly to St. Petersburg; in-flight supper.

(Copies of the Bondarchuk film will be available, with viewing devices, for those who wish to view the second half of of Part 1 as their in-flight movie, or on the bus. Small screens are adequate for this post-battle segment.)

March 27. Breakfast will be provided in the hotel (near the Hermitage), followed by a leisurely bus tour around St. Petersburg.

Restaurant recommendations will be available for lunch on one's own.

A variety of optional afternoon programs will include:
– A guided walkabout in the center of St. Petersburg
– "Readers' Theatre" -- guests gather to read aloud, taking roles, the chapters describing favorite excerpts, for example: Pierre Bezukhov's carouse with Anatole Kuragin and his dissolute friends, or the table discussion at Natasha's birthday party, many other possibilities, of course
– A public viewing of the second half of Bondarchuk's Part I
– Or arrangements may be made to attend the guest's choice of any attraction in St Petersburg (schedule of options provided).

Evening program: A “ball” with period music and costumes for guests who wish to rent them. Mini-dramatization. Light supper and open bar.

March 28. Breakfast will be provided in the hotel. Tour the Hermitage, with emphasis on the Military Hall ("Hall of 1812"). This is a grand collonade featuring portraits and scenes from the campaign, and will render invaluable insights on the novel's background. For the remainder of the day, guests will be free to lunch in the museum's cafe, and explore whichever sections of the Hermitage they desire -- Plans of the building will be provided.

Evening: Train to Moscow (first class, the trip takes 5 hours, so supper will be served on the train). The first half of Part II of Bondarchuk's film will be shown on the train, where the television-sized screens will be adequate.

March 29. Breakfast will be provided in the hotel, followed by a leisurely bus tour of central Moscow, ending at the vast shopping complex near Red Square (the famous "GUM" and also the newer "Hunters' Row"), where guests may lunch at one of the fine food courts.

In the afternoon, a visit to the Tolstoy family home in the Khamovniki district.

Dinner at the superb and atmospheric Pushkin Cafe, with a mini-dramatization.

Evening: A central feature of the tour -- attendance at Prokofiev's opera based on the novel at the Stanislavsky Musical Theatre.

The theatre is 3 blocks from the restaurant, so guests may wish to stroll to the show along Tverskaya Street, rather than clamber on a tourist bus or scramble for cabs. A transfer back to the hotel will be provided after the show. For guests wishing to linger at a nightclub on glittering Tverskaya, info on reliable cab services will be provided.

March 30. Breakfast will be provided in the hotel. On our way toward the battlefield at Borodino, we will stop at the Museum-Panorama of that battle in Fili, on Moscow's southwest side. Built on the 150th anniversary of the battle, beside “Kutuzov's hut”, where in the novel as in history that general momentously decided the city's fate, this museum features a panoramic, wrap-around mural depicting the battle.

Lunch in Borodino, museum visit, afternoon battlefield tour, mini-dramatization.

Evening bus to Yasnaya polyana ("Clear Meadows", the Tolstoy estate near Tula, about a 3-hour trip from Borodino), with a stop for a light supper on one's own. The bus trip will be enlivened with discussions of the novel, of what we have seen, of guests' impressions and changed perspectives.

For guests who desire it, section 4 of the Bondarchuk may be shown after check-in.

March 31. Breakfast will be provided in the hotel. All day at the Tolstoy estate: the house, the school (Tolstoy's educational project for peasant children, conducted shortly before writing the novel), the grave (famous for its simplicity: no headstone, greenery is piled over the final resting place). After a guided tour, travelers will have free time to explore the grounds on their own, to reread favorite passages in the author's actual haunts, to lunch at a Tolstoy-themed cafe, to meditate, discuss, and refresh their spirits.

The evening will feature a farewell banquet, with a program of readings, and chances for guests to address their personal reflections to the group as a whole.

April 1. Transfer from Tula to Domodedovo Airport (south of Moscow, 84 miles from Tula), or if necessary to other Moscow airports, for connecting flights.

(All tours will be enhanced with radio-guide equipment – this lets each guest wander freely while hearing every word the guide has to say.)


War & Peace tour, Mar. 24 - Apr. 1, '13