Russia Travel Guide

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Today we’ll talk a little bit about a hugely under rated travel destination: Russia, or the Russian Federation, as it is called nowadays.

To begin with, Russia is a very interesting country, hell, it’s almost a continent…I am kidding, but truth be told, Russia is a huge country, the largest in the world and it covers 12.5% from the Earth’s land area.

Yes, it’s a big one, and being located in northern Eurasia, technically speaking, it incorporates an impressive range of landforms and environments, spanning over 11 time zones and sharing borders with lots of other countries, like Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, Norway, Estonia, Mongolia, China, Ukraine, Belarus, Japan and even the US via Alaska…you name it, they got it! Neighbors, I mean.

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However, despite being world’s largest country, Russia’s population is just the ninth in the world, with almost 144 million people as per 2014’s census.

To begin with, I must tell you that Russia is both baffling and breath-taking, and to quote Winston Churchill, Russia can be described as a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.

I must confess that looking at the geo-political situation developing as I’m writing this article, that old saying is very true now as it was back in the day.

Russia is a monumental country from all points of view,a land where the old imperial beauty co-exists with the wild and cold Siberian tundra, a place where communism and socialism met capitalism, a country where Soviet era monuments are sitting next to high tech and super-trendy urban cultures and buildings, a place where old meets new and they get together in a strange deja-vu…

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The west is the best, as Jim Morrison used to say, and the same applies with Russia: the most interesting places to visit are on its west coast, i.e. two pieces of drama, and by that I mean astounding cities: Moscow, the capital and St. Petersburg.

Moscow is the new-age city, the trendy and luxurious beating heart of the Nouveaux Russia, a place where Asian culture and European values intermix thus creating a cosmopolite and mysterious metropolis, on a huge scale.

However, St. Petersburg looks like a Hollywood film set, filled with waterways, beautiful cathedrals and palaces, being the most impressiveand grandest of Russian Federation’s cities, with a complex and enigmatic character.

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What to see, what to do in Russia

Well, possibilities are almost endless, but let me begin with the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, home to the world-renowned Bolshoi Ballet Company, which is among the best, prestigious and oldest in the business and the place to be for art and culture buffs travelling to Russia.

Just 25 kilometers away from St. Petersburg, you must pay a visit to the Catherine Palace, which used to be the summer residence for various tsars of Tsarist Russia. The most famous thing about this place is the Amber Room, which features a beautiful array of amber panels, re-built after World War 2  when it was looted by Nazis.

While in St. Petersburg, you must profit from the White Nights, i.e. 3 weeks of twenty four hours daylight, due to the city’s northern location. The White Nights means that the city never sleeps and they happen for three weeks, in mid June.

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Some of the most interesting monuments symbolizing Russia’s heritage are located in the Red Square in Moscow, the country’s capital. Here you can admire St Basil’s Cathedral, the Kremlin, but also the GUM department store, an iconic place for shopping fiends. This huge building dates way back to the Soviet era and today is a huge tourist attraction. While the GUM department store can be viewed as a symbol of the country’s renewed conciliation with capitalism, on the west side of the Red Square sits undefeated Lenin’s Mausoleum…

Moscow is the city where night-life is wild and famous, where women are outstandingly beautiful and luxury means luxury.

Lake Baikal sitting on the Mongolian Border is the deepest in the world and also maybe the clearest, a place where you can admire the Russian wilderness.

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The Trans Siberian railway is another famous tourist attraction and maybe the most iconic railway trip in the world. The most popular route is from the Russian capital Moscow to Beijing (China’s capital) and the trip is breath taking, to say the least, getting you through our lonely planet’s lest seen wilderness, stretching over 9000 km of railway.

Russia’s Cuisine

The country’s staple dish is a sort of porridge called Kasha, made with oats, milk and buckwheat. Blini are little pancakes served with caviar, sour cream, melted butter or fish. You’ll also enjoy eating ponchiki, i.e. sweet doughnuts and also fried rolls filled with meat called Pirozhky. Borsch is the Russian equivalent of beetroot soup while Pelmeni are meat dumplings.

Regional drinks include vodka, which is the national drink and available in a myriad of varieties, sweet tea with milk (chai) and all sorts of liquors and brandies, along with Nastoika (a fortified wine with medicinal properties).

Visa Requirements

To visit mother Russia, you’ll require both a valid passport and a Visa.

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