Whether you’re heading to Russia to cheer your favourite team on at the World Cup or just planning a holiday there, here are four cool things you can do to add that extra zing to your trip.
Russia is all in the news these days. Whether it’s the FIFA World Cup or their ‘benign’ foreign policies in the Middle East, you can be sure you aren’t too far away from Vladimir Putin’s Terminator-like gaze.
In any case, Russia is a land of stunning landscapes, vibrant cities and incredible sights. In short, there’s a lot to see regardless of whether you’ve maxed out your Credit Card to catch a few World Cup matches or you’re heading there for a much-needed holiday.
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If the only information you’ve gathered about Russia comes from the label on a vodka bottle, then it’s time to get hip with everything Soviet. Here are four ultra-cool things you can do in the largest country in the world.
- Visit the Kremlin
This is pretty obvious, of course, but that still doesn’t mean you should give it a pass. For those of you who think the Kremlin is Russia’s version of a Gremlin, maybe brushing up on your Russian architecture would hold you in good stead.
The Kremlin is the largest fortified complex in all of Russia and is currently the largest active fortress in Europe. Located bang in the centre of Moscow, this impressive structure is a feast for the eyes. Shutterbugs from all over the world throng to its steps to take selfies for their Instagram page, hoping someone somewhere will care.
But all jokes aside, the Kremlin is definitely worth a visit. After you’re done gazing in awe at its sheer size and majesty, you could rest easy on the banks of the Moskva River nearby or head on over to the equally impressive Saint Basil’s Cathedral.
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- Stroll through Alexander Garden
If you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of Moscow and immerse yourself in the wonders that Mother Nature has to offer, then taking a long, lazy stroll through the elegantly quaint Alexander Garden should do more than enough to put your mind at ease.
For the uninitiated, Alexander Garden is a massive public park that is actually made up of three separate gardens, which stretch all along the length of the western Kremlin wall for a whopping 2,800 feet.
With its stunning stretches of greenery and dazzling flora, the Alexander Garden is perfect for anyone looking to unwind after a night of one-too-many vodka shots.
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- Hike around Lake Baikal
Up for an adventure of fairly epic proportions? Well, then you could do no worse than making the long trip to the mountainous and mysterious region of Siberia.
While Siberia usually conjures up images of icy wastelands, snow-covered forests and snowmen without limbs, it is actually quite picturesque as long you’re well equipped to brave the elements. So, if adventure and mystery is your forte, then head on over to Lake Baikal, which holds the distinction of being the deepest lake in the world.
The lake is surrounded by a vast network of intriguing hiking pathways, also known as the Great Baikal Trail. In fact, the village of Listvyanka, which is situated on the western shore of the lake, is a great location for wildlife enthusiasts. And if you don’t mind the biting cold, you could indulge in some ice skating as well during the winter.
Just make sure you don’t fall in. The waters there could give Putin’s icy stare a run for its money. Brrr!
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- Climb Mount Elbrus
Here’s something for all you hardcore adventure buffs. No, we don’t mean taking a shot at deciphering cryptic Russian crosswords in the local newspaper using an online translator. We’re talking about scaling the monstrous Mount Elbrus, which just so happens to be the highest peak in Europe and the tenth highest peak in the world.
Mount Elbrus is, in fact, a dormant volcano, but it’s a steep climb and rough terrain has caused many a prospective mountaineer to blow his top. However, there are safe and quick ways to make the climb, especially if you decide to make use of the cable car or the chairlift system.
Regardless of whether you decide to put your mountain climbing skills to the test or just mosey along on the cable-ways, you can be sure you’ll bear witness to some of the most stunning views anywhere in the world.
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Looks like it’s time to get those mufflers on and brush up on your Russian. You probably won’t have to worry about forgetting anyone’s name in Russia either, since everyone you meet is either a Vladimir or a Dmitri.
So, bon voyage and don’t forget to pack your Travel Insurance. Like the saying goes, in Soviet Russia, sight-seeing comes to you!