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Looking to expand your travel horizons this summer or fall? We’ve got the deals for you. From Bonaire to Bali to Bulgaria, travel outside the usual domestic or Caribbean destinations and head somewhere truly special this season – and still save in the process. Read more
Confession: I’ve never watched any of the Die Hard films. It’s understandable as the movies are in no way marketed to me (or my gender, for that matter). Sure, every once in a while I’m as game as any guy is for a high-adrenaline action film, but I’ve never felt compelled to watch them. But, with the newest installment, A Good Day to Die Hard, the allure of having it set in Russia (a place I’m eager to visit), and filmed in Budapest, Hungary (a city I’ve heard amazing things about), makes me think twice about catching the film. Below, three reasons I’m reconsidering skipping the action-packed flick. Read more
There’s no way around it, Moscow is pricey, and its nightlife scene is no exception – if you’re intent on painting the town red (you are just steps from the Red Square after all!), you might as well get something more than a cheap vodka buzz for the cost of your drink.
While you might not be able to dole out the big bucks for the pricey digs at these two swank Moscow hotels, there’s nothing keeping you from sampling their crowning glories. Each boasts a rooftop bar with prime panoramic perches, where, for the cost of a splurge-worthy cocktail, more budget-friendly brew, or simply a stiff drink, you can rub elbows with a motley mix of moneyed Muscovites (business tycoons, Kremlin bigwigs, celebs and pseudo-celebs – which, while I was there, came in the form of members of the Russian national soccer team), and lap up mesmerizing Moscow views that are even more intoxicating than your drink. Read more
St. Petersburg’s Hermitage needs little introduction, with this renowned Russian jewel-box of a museum counting amongst the world’s great art collections, coming filled to the brim with more than three million invaluable works of art (which attract nearly as many annual visitors). Founded in the mid-18th century, thanks to the collecting whims of Empress Catherine the Great (and largely situated within the gilded and frescoed halls of the dazzling Winter Palace, former residence to the once-ruling Russian czars), the word on the wonders contained here is widely out, with the Hermitage top of mind for just about every tourist on the Russian circuit (myself included, during my visit earlier this month).
In order to ensure that you’ll have every second you’ll need to lap up this lavish collection (trust me, you’ll need it), I’ve whipped up some tips on maximizing your time with the masterpieces, so that you don’t spend the bulk of it waiting on line and bumping elbows instead. Plus, a few money-saving ideas for making the most of your museum budget. Read more
Coming to St. Petersburg is a special treat for me since I was last here as a student 25 years ago, before the fall of communism. I wanted to return to see just how much the city had changed. Back then, the average person waited in line for several hours a day just to buy life’s necessities. The city was run down, without color, without any zest for life.
How times have changed. I spent a delightful five days in St. Petersburg during the “white nights” of summer, when it remains light outside until after 10pm and people can enjoy long days of walking (residents are quick to point out that the city is far more walkable than Moscow). It’s often referred to as “the Paris of the North” for good reason: both cities are bisected by a major river (the Neva standing in for the Seine), with majestic 18th-century buildings (albeit here they are often pastel colored), wide boulevards, and manicured parks. Read more
It’s been 25 years since I was in Moscow, when I was a student of the Russian language. I wanted to return to see all the changes since the end of Communism. To start off with some context, nothing is better than a visit to The State Central Museum of Contemporary Russian History, which is commonly known by its former name, the Museum of the Revolution.
Actually the name should be plural because it covers Russia’s three 20th-century revolutions. There is the 1905 Democratic Revolution, which led to the Tsar abdicating and the election of the Duma, or parliament. World War I began, which greatly damaged the government’s credibility and helped lead to the second revolution in 1917, when the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, shot their way into power. Lenin ushered in his policies of state planning and the collectivization of farming. The museum does a great job of reviewing the good, the bad, and the ugly of this period in history. Lastly, there was the third revolution (albeit a peaceful one) when Gorbachev introduced Perestroika and began the unraveling of the USSR and communism. Read more
W St. Petersburg opened in April this year, making it the first W Hotel in Russia and one of several new hotels to open in the city recently (Crowne Plaza, Staybridge Suites, and Courtyard Marriott also opened properties here). Located in the aptly dubbed “Venice of the North,” a network of canals lined with cathedrals and palaces and plied by gondolas, the W. St. Petersburg showcases jewel tones (inspired by Russia’s Faberge egg) and lavish touches like hanging mirrored balls in guest rooms and a fleet of luxury cars to chauffer guests around town. The 137 good-looking guest rooms, especially the suites with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking St. Isaac Square and St. Petersburg, were designed by Milan-based Antonio Citterio and Patricia Viel Partners. The signature restaurant miX, bar, and rooftop lounge have menus created by Michelin-star chef, Alain Ducasse. There’s also a spa with an indoor pool and fully-equipped fitness center. Opening rates start at $258/night; 011-7-812-610-6161; www.wstpetersburg.com
The new Radisson Royal Moscow recently debuted a fleet of specially commissioned river yachts equipped with ice breakers. This way hotel guests who visit during the city’s famously frosty winters can still glide along the Moskva River and see the sites – including the Kremlin and Christ the Savior Cathedral – even if the water freezes up.
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