Foodie Friday | Russia

Food was not the primary focus of our trip to Russia but it was the unexpected star. We ate phenomenal fresh and marinated fish, wonderful mushroom dishes celebrating autumn and some of the most delicious desserts I have eaten anywhere.  Read on for the highlights and a list of restaurants where you can sample these delights.

Moscow

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Suguday of Whitefish with Hrenovuha (Horseradish Vodka)

We had barely checked into our hotel when it was time for lunch at Savva in the historical Metropol Hotel (where Amor Towles’ novel A Gentleman in Moscow takes place — a great read).  Continue reading “Foodie Friday | Russia”

The Glorious City of St. Petersburg | Part II

As someone who grew up during the Cold War and its aftermath, the splendor of Russia’s churches and palaces was a revelation.  I read enough Tolstoy and Chekhov to know that religious institutions played a major roll pre-1917, but in St. Petersburg as in Moscow, their beauty and stature were impressive to behold.

Continue reading “The Glorious City of St. Petersburg | Part II”

St. Petersburg | Catherine Palace

Named the for the widow of Peter the Great, Catherine Palace  is in Tsarkoe Selo, about an hour inland from St. Petersburg.  The original palace was built in 1717, but the current building was designed by Bartholomeo Rastrelli , architect of  St. Petersburg’s Winter Palace,  at the request of Empress Elizabeth . Continue reading “St. Petersburg | Catherine Palace”

Seven Wonders of The Galápagos

There are few places in the world more “wonder-full” than the Galápagos Islands. A magical combination of wilderness (only three of the 19 islands have any resident population of the human kind) and wildlife, activities in the archipelago are strictly regulated by the Ecuadorian government and its National Park Service  in order to preserve this UNESCO World Heritage Site.  I cannot think of another place I have visited where a picture is indeed worth more than a thousand words. Accordingly, my Galápagos posts will present a photographic record of a week beyond my imagination — with a few fun facts thrown in. As an introduction, here are seven of the infinite wonders we saw in just one week.  Continue reading “Seven Wonders of The Galápagos”

Palaces and Fountains of Peterhof

In 1703, Peter the Great (1672-1725) moved the capital from Moscow to St. Petersburg where the city was built on a series of islands in the Neva River. (The city was named in honor of St. Peter, not its founder as is often assumed.) However, the river near the capital was too shallow for commercial traffic or warships, necessitating the construction of a fortress and port further west.   Peter designed a palace complex at Peterhof, on the Gulf of Finland, including his beloved summer retreat Monplaisir. From this strategic location, he could see the Kronstadt fortress as well as the city of St. Petersburg. Continue reading “Palaces and Fountains of Peterhof”

The Glorious City of St. Petersburg, pt I

We took the high speed train from Moscow and arrived in St. Petersburg at night which allowed us the optimal amount of time in both cities. The train was extremely comfortable – as nice as the Shinkansen and Eurostar. The stations in both cities are centrally located which makes travel that way the best choice. Continue reading “The Glorious City of St. Petersburg, pt I”

Foodie Friday | Head over Heels for Herring

My gustatory life before Russia did not include herring, or at least not the succulent mouthwatering fish I grew to crave during my time there. Any previous encounters were most likely at overladen buffet tables, with some mysterious white sauce and not of a very high standard. From our first dinner in Moscow and for the next eight days, I made sure to have herring at … Continue reading Foodie Friday | Head over Heels for Herring

Moscow | More Highlights

In addition to the spectacular churches within the Kremlin  Moscow | Red Square and the Kremlin), there are numerous exquisite examples of Moscow Baroque architecture throughout the city. We spent several hours exploring the Novodevichy Convent and adjacent cemetery and there is a reason they are the third most-visited site in Moscow. Continue reading “Moscow | More Highlights”

Red Square, St. Basil's Cathedral and the Kremlin, Moscow, Russia ©travelmagnolia2016

Moscow | Red Square and the Kremlin

The sun never made an appearance during our three days in Moscow,  but nothing could dim my excitement at discovering this remarkable city. There is so much more to the Russian capital than I had ever imagined. This is the first of several posts sharing our sights and experiences.  Continue reading “Moscow | Red Square and the Kremlin”

Helsinki Hello

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Helsinki may be the most-bike friendly city on earth (or in the universe as far as we know)! This was my second visit there and while it was brief (not even 24 hours), it was action packed. We arrived from Tallinn (36 Hours in Tallinn, Estonia) via hdyrofoil in a quick 90 minutes.  After rolling our suitcases to the elegant Hotel Kamp (where Justin Bieber was also staying that night – cue screaming teeny boppers outside our windows), we jumped on bikes for a five hour tour with our Finnish friend Tuire  (photo credit Jim Hunt). Continue reading “Helsinki Hello”