Russia Travel Guide, A Baffling Experience

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As Winston Churchill said it, Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, a breathtaking and baffling realm, world’s largest country  and monumental in almost any aspect. With a population of approximately 143 million and a land surface of 17 million plus square kilometers, everything that Churchill said back then is as true today as it ever was.

Russia is a former empire, both “then and now” sort to speak, and I am talking about the tsarist-era Russia and the communist USSR, as they were both empires in every sense of the word, though very different in the same time. The imperial splendor of tsarist Russia is still here to be admired in the country’s extraordinary cities, but visiting Russia is more than strolling in Moscow or St.Petersburg.

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Russia makes for a unique melange of Soviet and tsarist era monuments and architecture and incredible natural beauty, the likes of the icy Siberian tundra and the country’s incredible vivid and cosmopolitan cities, both working together from a traveler’s point of view for creating one of the most interesting touristic destinations in the world.

The western part of the country is better known to the general public, due to the fact that the country’s capital and St Petersburg are some of the most extraordinary cities in the world, especially Moscow, which rapidly became the beating heart of the capitalistic Russia, a place where Asia meets Europe for creating an enigmatic and boisterous metropolis where everything happens on a grand scale.

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St Petersburg is also an incredible city, that kind of place which looks like taken from a Hollywoodian film set, boasting its cathedrals, waterways and epic palaces, being the grandest and arguably the most European city in Russia, with a deep, complex character.

However, if you want to know the deep Russia, you’ll have to go farther than these 2 main hubs. For example, there’s an ancient collection of little towns, north-east of the capital, knowns as the Golden Ring, where you can admire some of the best architectural works in Europe. Also, you can take a cruise along the majestic Volga river, or travel south and admire the Caspian see, thus having an opportunity to see the country beyond its westernized urban areas.

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If you’ll be heading east to Siberia, you’ll find paradise on earth, a land of sublime natural, unspoiled beauty. From the ancient imperial city of Irkutsk to the Lake Baikal, from the epic mountains of Altai and the grand shamans of Tuva, Siberia has plenty of secrets to discover for the intrepid traveler. But if you come to think about it, visiting Russia and learning everything there is to learn about the country would take a life time or maybe two…

All these things I’ve told you about are drawing an increasing number of travelers to the Russian Federation, but keep in mind what Fyodor Tyutchev, a Russian poet once said: Russia cannot be understood.

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If you’re going to St Petersburg, make sure you’re doing it in the height of the summer season, when you can live through the white nights, due to its city’s northerly location which makes it for some 3 weeks in the summer season to experience twenty four hour daylight starting from mid June, transforming it literally in the city that never sleeps.

Catherine Palace is another must-see while in St Petersburg, as it’s located about 25 kilometers outside the city skirts, being the former summer residence for the royal family in tsarist Russia (think Amber Room).

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If you’re in Moscow and you’re a ballet/opera aficionado, buy a ticket and go see the Balshoi Theatre, one of the most prestigious and oldest of its kind in the world.

Also, don’t forget the Red Square, which is bordered by the country’s best known monuments, the likes of St Basil cathedral, the Kremlin or the GUM department store. Moscow is world renowned for its boisterous and wild night life, being a place where luxury really means opulent luxury, with an emphasis on party, not profits.

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Finally, the Trans Siberian railway is arguably the best rail journey in the world, being a week long voyage from the Russian capital to the Chinese capital, Moscow to Beijing that is, taking you through some of the world’s most remote and epic landscapes where everything is still wild and unspoiled by the human civilization.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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