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Holding firmly onto their Southern Carolina roots, post-grunge outfit Crossfade descended onto the scene with their debut self-titled album in 2004. After undergoing multiple name changes (formerly The Nothing and Sugardaddy Superstar) the band settled on Crossfade. Having produced a series of demos, the band caught the attention of FG Records/Earshot, a sub division of Columbia Records and thus signed a record deal. The album having achieved Platinum status catapulted the band into the mainstream charts featuring some of their most prolific tracks such as “Cold”, “So Far Away” and “Colors”. Following the success of the debut album, the band went on to release a further two more albums “Falling Away” and “We All Bleed”.
Taking the laid back approach on stage in terms of appearances, watching Crossfade live is far from laid back. Putting their all into every performance, Ed Sloan’s gravelly and powerful vocals resonates through the crowd as they stare mesmerised through more melodic tracks such as “Lay Me Down” and “Colors” where electrifying guitar riffs take precedence at poignant moments through the song. It’s no surprise that their hit track “Cold” receives the biggest response with the audience singing along word for word whilst swaying from side to side through the intro before throwing their arms back at forth as it progresses into the chorus. Crossfade are definitely one of those bands who command your attention through catchy choruses and heartfelt performances but also you can guarantee that whatever decade it is, their music transcends time and will always be relevant.
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Brit Turner of the country rock band Blackberry Smoke dies at 57 after brain tumor diagnosis
Brit Turner , a drummer and founding member of the country rock band Blackberry Smoke , has died. He was 57.
Turner was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a cancer of the brain, in the fall of 2022. His band, who announced his death in a Sunday Instagram post, said he "fought every day" following the diagnosis.
"If you had the privilege of knowing Brit on any level, you know he was the most caring, empathetic, driven and endearing person one could ever hope to meet," the band captioned a graphic featuring a photo of Turner in a blue hat and sunglasses. "Brit was Blackberry Smoke 's True North, the compass that instituted the ideology that will continue to guide this band."
USA TODAY has reached out to Blackberry Smoke and the band's label Rounder Records.
Glioblastoma is an aggressive and fast-growing brain tumor, according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons . The cancer often occurs more in older adults and men.
Turner founded the Atlanta-based country rock band with bandmates Charlie Starr, Paul Jackson, Brandon Still and Turner's brother, Richard Turner, in 2000.
The band has topped Billboard U.S. and U.K. country album charts with 2015's "Holding All The Roses" and 2016's "Like An Arrow" and charted in the top 10 on rock album charts. The band appeared on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" and "Conan."
Fellow musicians shared their condolences after Brit Turner's death in the comments on Instagram, including rock musician Nick Perri, frontman of The Underground Thieves, who said it was the "saddest news in the world" and said the drummer was "so kind and supportive of me and us."
Former SouthGang guitarist and singer-songwriter Butch Walker called Brit Turner his "longtime brother" and said he had been "crying all night" following his death.
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Pogačar launches season in style with dominant Strade Bianche win, Kopecky edges women's race
SIENA, Italy — Two-time Tour de France winner Tadej Pogačar started his season in crushing style with a stunning solo attack on a tricky gravel sector to cruise to victory in the Strade Bianche on Saturday.
Pogačar, who also won the race in 2022, had plenty of time to raise his arms in celebration before the finish. He got off his bicycle on the line and raised it above his head.
With the closest rider nearly three minutes behind, Pogačar was the first to win by more than a minute in the Strade Bianche’s 17-year history.
“The first race in the season is really tough mentally,” he said. “You never know if the shape is good or not, but I had really good preparation through the winter.
“I started a bit later so more preparation work before the first race and it was really worth it.”
Pogačar announced before the race that he planned to attack on the most difficult section — the brutal Monte Sante Marie climb — and that is precisely what the UAE Team Emirates rider did, making his move with more than 80 kilometers (50 miles) of the extended 215-kilometer (134-mile) route remaining as the weather turned briefly inclement.
Pogačar swiftly rode into the distance, and the Slovenian eventually finished two minutes, 44 seconds ahead of Toms Skujins, with Maxim Van Gils three seconds further back.
“We came to the Monte Sante Marie and it was a hailstorm, it was really tough conditions,” Pogačar said. “It was a moment where you couldn’t see anything, it was so muddy. I decided to go on the attack there and I knew it was going to be long but I knew if I got the gap I (would) just go through to the end.”
This Strade Bianche was the longest yet, surpassing 200 kilometers (124 miles) for the first time in its 18 editions. An extra loop near Siena meant there were 15 sections of the white, gravel roads that give the race its name — up from 11 in recent years.
In another repeat of 2022, world champion Lotte Kopecky won the women’s race.
“I actually didn’t have the best day. I suffered the whole race,” Kopecky said. “When I left this morning, I immediately felt I didn’t have the best legs. But I often have that in a race and usually they don’t really get worse as the race progresses.
“When I attacked, I went full speed until the last corner. Then I knew this win was in and that I could triumph in a very special way as world champion in the Piazza del Campo.”
Kopecky attacked on the climb up to Piazza del Campo to finish four seconds ahead of home favorite Elisa Longo Borghini. Kopecky’s Team SD Worx-Protime teammate Demi Vollering won a sprint for third, with the defending champion crossing the line 26 seconds behind the Belgian cyclist.
There were 12 gravel sectors on the 137-kilometer (85-mile) route through Tuscany.
“This was the main aim of the first part of the season, the next will be the Olympics,” Kopecky said.
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Mason Andersen wins 117th Visa Argentina Open presented by Macro, earns exemption for The Open Championship
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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – The Korn Ferry Tour crowned yet another first-time winner, its fifth in a row to start the 2024 season, as Mason Andersen defeated two-time winner Kris Ventura on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff at the 117th Visa Argentina Open presented by Macro. Through the Visa Argentina Open’s partnership with The R&A, Andersen’s victory also earned him an exemption for the 2024 Open Championship at Royal Troon.
An emotional Andersen pumped his fists in the air after the winning putt, on his way to accept the trophy, and upon conclusion of an emotional winner’s speech. The significance of the victory hit Andersen in waves, and the emotion poured out of him as he embraced his father just off Olivos Golf Club’s 18th green.
“Winning is just so hard in golf,” Andersen said. “You never win, you never win, and you come close a bunch of times, but winning’s just so hard. To do it with my dad here and my girlfriend here… yeah, pretty emotional.”
Mason Andersen celebrates after winning the 117th Visa Argentina Open presented by Macro. (Getty Images)
Andersen, a native of Mesa, Arizona, who played collegiately at Arizona State University, began the final round six strokes off the lead and made two bogeys in the first five holes Sunday.
Much like the first three rounds, Andersen’s putter was ice cold. Until, as Andersen said, “They all went in at the same time.”
Andersen closed the front nine with three consecutive birdies, followed by a streak of five consecutive birdies from Nos. 11-15, and another birdie at the par-5 18th to cap a dazzling 7-under 63 – which was the low round of the day by three strokes.
“I hope it’s enough,” Andersen said as he left the scoring area with the clubhouse lead at 17-under 263, which broke the 72-hole tournament scoring record previously established by Miguel Fernandez, who totaled 264 at Hurlingham Club en route to victory at the 1988 Visa Argentina Open presented by Macro.
“I want to win,” Andersen said in a brief interview shortly thereafter. “Fifth, or sixth, or seventh doesn’t feel that good anymore. I want to win a tournament.”
Andersen and his small circle of family and friends secured a table in the club’s restaurant for the long await ahead. On a television across the room, Andersen watched anxiously as Ventura bounced between 16- and 17-under par on the livestream.
“All I need is a chance,” Andersen repeated to himself.
After about 90 minutes, Andersen stood up and headed for the driving range. The time for preparation arrived, regardless if the opportunity he craved would actually come.
Ventura bounced back from a bogey at the bogey at the par-4 14th with a birdie at the par-4 16th, getting himself to 17-under par and yet again pulling even with Andersen. After a par at No. 17, all that stood between Ventura and his third career win was a birdie at the par-5 18th, the easiest hole of the week in relation to par.
Ventura hit the green in two and had more than 30 feet left for eagle, but he ran his first putt about 4 feet past the hole. As Andersen prepared on the range, Ventura lipped out what would have been a tournament-winning birdie putt.
Andersen’s opportunity arrived.
The first playoff hole – No. 18 – was a stalemate, as Andersen and Ventura both made two-putt birdies. The two played the 18th again, and both stumbled after quality drives. Andersen lost his approach right and into the crowd, but caught a fortunate bounce off a large scoreboard and watched from afar as his ball settled in the greenside rough. Ventura left his approach in the front greenside bunker.
For their third shots, Andersen played a perfect open-faced chip and left himself 3 feet for birdie, while Ventura blasted his bunker shot over the green. Ventura saved par after two chip shots (he made the second), but Andersen made his short birdie putt and closed out his first win.
As Andersen celebrated, he thought back to his time at Arizona State.
“I lost interest in it for a while,” Andersen said. “If it weren’t for (Head Coach) Matt Thurmond and (former Associate Head Coach) Armen Kirakossian, I would not be playing golf right now. (Volunteer Assistant Coach) Howard Twitty as well. Those three guys were able to change my attitude, change the way I approach the game, just complete overhaul of what I was doing off the course… that sent me to where I am right now. Twitty sat me down and said, ‘If you keep acting the way you’re acting, you’ll never make it.’ This is a guy who’s won PGA TOUR events, so really thankful he was honest with me. Had the same conversations with Thurms.
“I just woke up one day and was able to turn it around.”
Andersen closed out a five-season college career (2017-22) with two victories and a 2022 All-America Third Team selection. In his first attempt at Q-School, Andersen was one of eight players who advanced through every stage – including Pre-Qualifying – of the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament (which has since become PGA TOUR Q-School presented by Korn Ferry).
Andersen played all 26 events of the 2023 season, and back-to-back finishes of T2 and T18 in the 24th and 25th events gave him an outside chance at a PGA TOUR card.
Mason Andersen sinks putt for birdie at Korn Ferry Tour Champ
“That one still kind of stings,” Andersen said. “I had my entire family there. It was too good to be true. I just wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready.”
This past offseason, Andersen focused on “the little things” with his sports psychologist and swing coach, believing it would be the finest of details which would ultimately take him to the winner’s circle and the PGA TOUR.
Although Andersen accomplished one of those goals Sunday, he gave himself a whole other checklist of details to refine ahead of The Open Championship this July.
“I’m excited,” said Andersen, whose lone PGA TOUR start to date was a missed cut at the 2017 U.S. Open. “It’s a different type of golf than I’m used to. I don’t play links golf. I’ve barely experienced it, so we’re going to have to gear up and get ready for that.”
- For only the third time in the last nine seasons, the first five events of the Korn Ferry Tour season were won by first-time winners (2022 – first eight events; 2018 – first seven events)
- Mason Andersen (P1/-17) overtakes 19-year-old Aldrich Potgieter for the No. 1 spot on the 2024 Korn Ferry Tour Points List through five events of the 26-event season
- Kris Ventura (P2/-17) posts his highest finish in a Korn Ferry Tour event since a pair of victories in 2019 (won the Utah Championship presented by Zions Bank, and Pinnacle Bank Championship), when he earned a promotion to the PGA TOUR at season’s end
- Brian Campbell (T3/-16) closes with an eagle at the par-5 18th to post a second consecutive top-three finish (P2/Astara Golf Championship presented by Mastercard); his last top-three finishes prior to this season were recorded in 2019 (T3/2019 BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by TD SYNNEX; T3/2019 Club Car Championship at The Landings Golf & Athletic Club)
- Ward’s highest finish in 25 career starts on the Korn Ferry Tour prior to this week was T17/2023 HomeTown Lenders Championship
- Thailand’s KK Limbhasut (T5/-15) records a career-high finish; he had not finished higher than T10 (2020 Korn Ferry Challenge at TPC Sawgrass, 2020 Memorial Health Championship presented by LRS) in his previous 47 career starts on Tour
- Conditional member Brendon Jelley (T5/-15), making his first start of the 2024 season, records his first career top-10 in what is his 20th career start on the Korn Ferry Tour; he tallied three top-25s in 19 starts as a rookie last season, with his highest finish being solo 15th/2023 Magnit Championship
- Canada’s Wil Bateman (T5/-15) posts a third consecutive top-25, as well as his second top-five finish of the season (T2/The Panama Championship)
- First-time member Van Holmgren (T5/-15), who held the outright 54-hole lead, posts a top-five finish in his second career start on Tour (MC/2024 Astara Golf Championship presented by Mastercard)
- Cole Hammer (T10/-13), who finished No. 5 in the 2022 PGA TOUR University Ranking, records his second top-10 of the season; he entered the season with one top-10 in 20 career starts on Tour
- Del Solar posted four top-10s in 25 starts as a Korn Ferry Tour rookie last season; he has three top-10s in his first five starts of 2024
Return of Rock
The Best of Rock
Crossfade Albums Ranked
Crossfade is an American rock band formed in Columbia, South Carolina in 1993. Before settling on the Crossfade name in 2002, the band had previously existed under the names The Nothing and Sugardaddy Superstar. As of 2019, their current lineup includes Ed Sloan on lead vocals and guitar, Les Hall on lead guitar, keyboard, and backing vocals, Mitch James on backing vocals and bass, and Ryan Yerdon on drums. Since their formation, Crossfade has released three studio albums – their self-titled debut album in 2004, Falling Away in 2006, and We All Bleed in 2011. Here are all of Crossfade Albums Ranked.
Don’t miss out on the TIMELESS Crossfade albums below! Click and enjoy the evolution of their music.
3. We All Bleed (2011)
“This album is a perfect example of how a band SHOULD evolve musically. Crossfade’s first album was great, their second missed the mark and their third is the perfect balance. The musicality is great and it just has it’s own sound.”
2. Falling Away (2006)
“When I listened closely to the lyrics and let the melodies sink in then it all became so utterly addictive. The lyrics are deep-felt, kind of painful and incredibly poetic and expressive. I guarantee that if you are having a sad streak or have just broken up with someone it will absolutely ring your psychological tuning fork. The lyrics have this weird effect of making you feel rock-out powerful while wallowing in emotional misery. Very strange.”
1. Crossfade (2004)
” I really love the song “cold” it is a weird love song saying sorry to your girlfriend for treating her bad what I mean by it being weird usually love songs sound slow and mellow but this one is loud and fast. All of the rest of the songs are the same way except for the very last track “Unknown” I guest it the boys softer side.”
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Our Favorite Albums of 2022 So Far CrossFade: The Dueling Album Review Show
- Music Commentary
2022 is almost halfway over! To mark the occasion, Matt and Jason picked their favorite records released this year for this special discussion. Jason picked Soul Glo’s “Diaspora Problems” (March 25) because it’s high-energy, it bends genres, and crams a lot of righteous fury into its lyrics. Matt’s loved the work of Benny the Butcher for a long time, so his latest release, “Tana Talk 4” (March 10), is a shoo-in for Matt’s favorite records of the year. In this episode, we talk a lot about hardcore music made by people of color, what makes rap like Benny’s timeless, and how it feels to find music that just hits all your buttons. We’d also love it if you’d rate and review the show on iTunes, ‘cause it means more people can find the show and love it, too! You can find Matt and Jason on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MattHelgeson and https://twitter.com/nintendufus respectively and in the #music channel of the MinnMax Discord server. Our theme song is “The Lights” by Maps Of Norway from their 2008 record, Die Off Songbird: https://open.spotify.com/album/7tNrjnRB1f1oQizkkAePrI Support MinnMax on Patreon and get access to tons of great, exclusive content: https://www.patreon.com/minnmax/ Listen to the CrossFade Community Playlist, a growing Spotify playlist of our community’s favorite music: https://spoti.fi/3aRRgox Timestamps 0:00 - Our Favorite Albums of 2022 So Far 0:57 - Soul Glo - “Diaspora Problems” 9:09 - Gold Chain Punk (whogonbeatmyass?) 14:04 - Coming Correct Is Cheaper 18:01 - F****d Up If True 21:02 - Driponomics 26:10 - Spiritual Level Of Gang Shit 29:04 - Thumbsucker 32:35 - Benny the Butcher - “Tana Talk 4” 37:58 - Johnny P’s Caddy 40:59 - Back 2x (feat. Steve God Cooks) 45:01 - Uncle Bun (feat. 38 Spesh) 47:52 - Tyson vs. Ali (feat. Conway The Machine) 51:41 - Thowy’s Revenge 55:11 - Weekends in the Perry’s 58:46 - Our runner-up choices 59:00 - Nolan Potter - "Gregorian Chance" 1:00:51 - Mitski - "Working for the Knife"
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- See Lana Del Rey’s Music Video for “Blue Banisters”
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The backstage pass to your favorite music
Crossfade – 4th Studio Album
Crossfade released their 3rd album, We All Bleed , in June 2011. This record was quite different from their first two, for a few reasons. It had been half a decade since their previous album, Falling Away , came out in 2006. In that long gap, Crossfade was dropped from the major record label, sending frontman Ed Sloan into a depression. It wasn’t until Les Hall joined the band that things got going again. Les helped his longtime friend Ed get out of his slump and back into music. Les became the second guitarist for Crossfade, but he also brought a lot of musical influence and helped changed the band’s sound.
We All Bleed is a darker album than Crossfade’s first two releases. Not that the band was ever light and happy. But this record went deeper, with bigger guitar solos, eery pianos, and more revealing lyrics about depression and addiction. The album is a masterpiece, and a great comeback after the band’s musical break after 2006.
Now they are getting ready to release their 4th album. The band still includes Ed Sloan, Les Hall, and bassist Mitch James, just like with their last album. So far, the band has always gotten better with each record, so this next album should be amazing.
The first suggestion of new Crossfade music came in fall 2013. On October 9th, guitarist Les Hall shared a picture of an “in the works tune” (via Ableton) on Facebook:
In responses to fans’ comments, Crossfade revealed a bit more about the new music. When asked if a new album was in the works, Les confirmed with “of course YO!” He also stated that the new album would be out at some point in 2014.
In November, Les took to Twitter to call for some political action… and also mentioned the new Crossfade album they were working on:
We will release our album faster if… you join me in urging Congress to oppose Internet sales tax http://t.co/ZCPSgjjPS0 #smallbiz – 537 — Crossfade (@crossfademusic) November 14, 2013
They followed the same tactic in December, but this time for personal – rather than political – reasons:
Send any file @Gobbler Sign up for a free 5 GB account today! https://t.co/P0BHxXM6jB via @Gobbler – sign up& you'll get a new album sooner! — Crossfade (@crossfademusic) December 14, 2013
In this case, they simply needed some more space in order to send their huge music files to one another as they worked on the album from different states. So they didn’t lie: With their fans’ help, they would be able to make the new music faster!
Album Wrap Up & Vocals for Emotional New Songs
The band was quiet for the rest of the winter, but in late spring they were getting ready to finish the new album!
On June 1, 2014, singer Ed Sloan responded a fan’s question on Twitter:
Soon, my man. Just gotta wrap up this new record. Can't wait to get over there where the cools cats (cont) http://t.co/E2DzqWT6ni — Crossfade (@crossfademusic) June 1, 2014
On June 30th, Ed went to Facebook to talk about the new Crossfade songs. From the sounds of things, the new music is very personal and emotional – it comes from the heart, and that’s the best kind of music!
They also promised a tour would be coming soon – probably around the album’s release.
On August 10th, Ed was on Facebook again – this time teasing new songs!
After the overwhelming positive response, he updated with a promise:
His timeline was a bit off. Crossfade didn’t share any music or more news that week. Nevertheless, new music is just around the corner!
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One thought on “ Crossfade – 4th Studio Album ”
2022 and still no new music from these guys…a true shame
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- Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Best of Moscow by high speed train
By shuguley , February 15, 2014 in Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Sure would appreciate someone who has taken "Best of Moscow by high speed train" from St. Petersburg could please share their impressions of this shore excursion. From the description this sounds like a very long day.
Wondering how the 4 hour train trip was in terms of accommodations, etc. Also what time did you leave the ship and what time at night did you return? Were both legs of the trip on the high speed rail (I read that slower trains also travel the same tracks)?
My wife and I are considering this excursion. We thought that if we are making all the effort to go to Russia then how could we pass up going to Moscow, walking in Red Square, seeing St. Basil, etc.
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If you are considering this on the 2015 June Baltic cruise on Voyager; my suggestion is don't. There is so much to do in St. Petersburg and although a train is one of my favorite ways to travel the time would be far better spent in St. P.
Thanks for the advice. Yes, this would be on the Voyager during the 2015 season but not yet sure exactly which cruise.
We did the Moscow excursion "on a different luxury line", but from your brief description it sounds very much like the same trip, so I will operate on that assumption. It is a VERY long day! We left the ship at 5:30 AM and returned at 12:30 AM. The highspeed train trip is comfortable, and while they call it "Business Class" it does not compare well to the equivalent class on say Rail Europe. When we did it in 2011, we did have highspeed both ways, and the trip back seemed much longer as the adrenaline and excitement had worn off!:D
Moscow itself is not that terribly different from any other big city in the world, but this Cold War kid never thought he would ever stand in Red Square, never mind walk the grounds of The Kremlin, or tour The Kremlin Palace, or see (but not visit) Lenin's Tomb, or visit The Armoury. But he did, and he loved every minute of it! Yes, it is a long day, and you barely scratch a scratch on the surface, but it is worth it. There is a tremendous amount to see in St. Petersburg, but every Baltic cruise goes to St. Petersburg, so you can go back if you choose to. Not every cruiseline offers you the chance to see Moscow.
I have not personally done this tour, but our last time in St Petersburg, the private guide that we hired for a day was leading the regent tour to Moscow on the high speed train the next day. He said it was way better than the previous alternative, which was flying to Moscow and back. He said that you actually got to Moscow faster because you didn't have to deal with airline checkin etc. it did seem like a very long day to me, and there is so much to see and do in st. Petersburg that I didn't consider doing it.
We toured to Moscow from St. Petersburg via the hi-speed SAPSAN train last September, from a Baltic cruise on the Oceania Marina. You need to have a two-night, three day port call in St. Petersburg to take this tour because the tour typically leaves the ship around 5:00 - 5:30 AM and doesn't return until after midnight the next day. We didn't take the ship's tour; we made private arrangements with TravelAllRussia for three days of touring, the first and third days in St. Petersburg and the second day the tour to Moscow by train. Our cost for the private tour for three days was about the same as what the ship charged for the excursion to Moscow alone. There are a number of private tour agencies that operate in St. Petersburg and offer the Moscow train tours; we would strongly recommend them over the ship's tours.
All three days had private guides with car and driver. The second day, the driver picked us up at the ship and took us to the train, but we were alone on the train, and met in Moscow by the guide on the station platform. After our tour and dinner, we were brought back to the train and after the return train trip met by the driver and taken back to the ship. Because you are alone on the train you must have your own Russian visas.
If this is your first visit to St. Petersburg, I would agree there is much more to see there. We found Moscow somewhat a disappointment, particularly Red Square. The Kremlin and the cathedral in Red Square were also worth seeing. But the best thing we saw was the Moscow subway! I worked for the Washington Metro system back in the 1980s as it grew from 40 to 80 miles and although I was in the computer area, I learned a lot about the challenges of running a subway system. We used the Moscow system to get across the city from where we had dinner to the train station, and I was amazed at the cleanliness', speed of operation, the short headways maintained, and the courtesy of everyone involved. A very impressive experience!
We had been to St. Petersburg before, and so had the time to take a day and go to Moscow. Also, I really like trains, and the SAPSAN is a German train set running on Russian rails. Seats are like first class domestic air, spacious but not too plush or comfortable, but with enough room. Not too much recline, and almost 8 hours on the train in two shots is a lot for an old man. They come through and sell drinks, candy, etc. but the sellers don't speak English and no one around us helped, so we had just poor coffee once coming, and brought stuff with us for the trip back. Not too much to see from the train either, particularly on the return when it is night the whole way.
If you decide to go, take a private tour and avoid the overly expensive ship's tour. I'm glad we did it, but wouldn't bother to repeat the tour; we've seen Moscow.
Thanks so much to all of you for the thorough and thought insight. Yhe information you have provided is most helpful.
countflorida: Your detailed post is very helpful. We are not quite ready for a Baltic cruise but should do so within a year. Time enough to do our pre travel research, bookings and visa gathering.:) Thank you!
Sure would appreciate someone who has taken "Best of Moscow by high speed train" from St. Petersburg could please share their impressions of this shore excursion. From the description this sounds like a very long day. Wondering how the 4 hour train trip was in terms of accommodations, etc. Also what time did you leave the ship and what time at night did you return? Were both legs of the trip on the high speed rail (I read that slower trains also travel the same tracks)? My wife and I are considering this excursion. We thought that if we are making all the effort to go to Russia then how could we pass up going to Moscow, walking in Red Square, seeing St. Basil, etc.
I did this on Seabourn. IMO DONT. Take Aeroflop (er Aeroflot). The train has non folding seats where you are literally knee to knee with your fellow passenger (facing each other). Further they don't believe in air conditioning. It's also the worlds slowed bullet train. I think I would have found more enjoyment wandering around the St. Petersburg and Moscow airports.
This is a little off topic,, however we had planned a river cruise in Russia but decided we would rather stay on land and have booked about two weeks with Travel-All-Russia using the private guide and driver. I'm curious as to how you found them as a tour company.
The guides they provided were fine. We had a different guide each of the days in St. Petersburg, but both were flexible, pleasant, knowledgeable and spoke English very well, as did the guide in Moscow, incidentally. She was a bit aloof, distant, not too friendly, but otherwise fine. In fact, she was the one who suggested taking the Metro, which unexpectedly became one of the highlights of the Moscow excursion. If I have a complaint with AllTravelRussia, it is with their plan and its execution (more later).
I had requested emphasis on World War II (in Russia, the Great Patriotic War) sites and info. In scheduling us, they weren't careful about dates and a couple of the sites we wanted to see were scheduled on the third day, after we'd been to Moscow. But both sites were closed that day of the week, and that info was readily available, right on web sites describing them. Also, the included meals (lunches in St. Pete, dinner in Moscow) were not what we asked for: light meals with some choices, so we could avoid things we didn't like and choose things we did like. My request was ignored; we were given full Russian meals with a fixed menu, no choice. On the first day, a fish dish was the entre, but I am allergic to fish. Fortunately, I had the e-mail I'd sent with me and showed it to the guide, and she was able to change my entre to chicken, which was very good actually. But we didn't want a 3-4 course lunches or dinner (in Moscow). We had the guide drop the lunch the third day, although we never got any credit or refund. But, particularly in contrast to the ship's tours, the prices were so reasonable we didn't worry too much about it.
The people who were on the ship's tour to Moscow saw us boarding the same train for which they were forced to queue up and wait on the way back, and asked us what we had done. I was candid and open so they were not happy when I explained what we had arranged and particularly what it had cost. Also, when we returned to the ship, we found they had laid on a late supper for those who had gone to Moscow, so up we went and had something. Well, it turns out the late supper was supposed to be just for those on the ship's tour, but we and others on 'independent' tours, there were a dozen or more of us, crashed the party, actually got there first, and they didn't realize it until the larger group arrived and there weren't enough tables/places set. By that time, the 'independents' had all gotten served and were eating; what could they do?
A couple from the larger group sat down with us and asked us about our tour, and they were the ones I told about our arrangement and its cost. They turned to others who’d been with them and announced the details, loudly enough so the whole room heard, which started a lot of bitching and complaining. I gathered they weren't very happy with the ship's tour to begin with, and this was the straw that broke the camel's back. We finished up and beat it out of there, but overheard later that one of the excursion staff came to check on something and ran into a real mess. I caught a cold on the trip, which forced me to bed the second day following in Tallinn, so by the time we reappeared we heard about the contretemps' but apparently no one recalled who started it, thankfully.
Because of what happened to us, I would probably not use AllTravelRussia if I were to go again, or if I did, I would be sure to get confirmation of every detail of the tour. They do have good reviews generally, and we were certainly helped by their visa department and liked the guides and drivers. Their weakness, I say now with full 20:20 hindsight, is that once the sales person who plans the tour, sells it to you and collects your money, he (or she) transfers the plan to their Russia office for implementation; there is no follow-up to make sure it gets done right. And that is where our problems arose; we paid for a custom tour but got a standard package with a few destinations switched, and no one checked them out, even to see when they were open the day we were scheduled to go. If you check every detail that’s important to you, it should be OK, but that’s a hell of a way to have to do business, in my opinion.
Thank you for the 20/20 hindsight observation on your Russian tour operator, and better priced than the ship's excursion cost.
Thanks very much for the feedback.
We had the same experience as you so far as price. We originally booked a Viking Cruise but, hearing some things about the river cruises that made us unhappy, looked into other options. T-A-R cost the same or less than a cruise and had us in hotels for 11 days. We opted for the private tour. They have three tour levels, based on hotels. We originally opted for the four star as it did not cost much more than the three star hotels. Finally we decided to throw it all in and upgraded to five star. In Moscow we will be at the newly opened Kempinsky which is two blocks from Red Square. In St. Petersburg it is the Grand Hotel Europe, one of the most vaunted luxury hotels in Russia. Location is important for us as the tours use up only part of the day so being in the center of everything for our independent touring is important. As with many other cities, the less you pay, the farther out of the center of town you are.
We have been working with our salesman in D.C. and he seems to get back to us with the changes we want. He recently returned from Russia so is up on everything. When I asked they said they paid the full TA commission if I wanted so I got my usual TA on board so he is watching our back and giving us that extra level of comfort. He also set up our air, which I know pays him little or nothing, and got us business class for much less than T-A-R wanted for economy, though it took working for a while with a consolidator. He's happy to get his 10 percent on this trip without having booked it. He also took care of the trip insurance. We've been doing a lot of research on the CC sister site Trip Advisor and will write a report there. We will, I guess, become a source of info for CC members after having spent 5 days in Moscow and 6 in SP.
- 4 months later...
Anybody considering a day trip to Moscow from St. Petersburg on the Sapsan may want to look at our travelogue filled with pictures.
Very informative. Thanks dor sharing. Jeff
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