St. Basil's Cathedral
The first thing you'll probably notice after entering the Red Square is the beautifully colored onion domes of the Basil Cathedral, and a magical view of one of the most famous landmarks in Russia. But it's interesting to know that the bright colors were only added 200 years later to its exterior walls. Another funny note is that the former dictator Josef Stalin wasn't really happy about how the location of the church blocked the entrance to the Red Square for his mass demonstrations, so he considered demolishing the cathedral. Luckily, someone made him change his mind.
Wieliczka Salt Mine
A shining gem in the UNESCO World Heritage list, this eerie yet fascinating salt mine is located 14 kilometres from the city of Krakow and its rich deposits are well known for their preservative properties and their multiple health benefits. Everything here has been carved by hand by virtue of salt blocks and is of immense material and spiritual value in the country. The length of the many tunnels inside the mine amount to some 300 kilometres and there are as many as 22 chambers. Then there are salt chapels, statues, monuments and even underground lakes for that matter. Heck, even the chandeliers are made of pure salt. There’s also a reception room for private weddings. Yes! There’s the Eram Baracz Chamber with an elaborate salt lake, the Stanislaw Staszic Chamber with a panoramic lift and the beautiful Chapel of St. Kinga. There’s also the Krakow Saltworks Museum to be seen during the 2 hour tour during which you are expected to walk around 2 kilometres and be entirely covered in salt towards the end. Tickets for the mine come for 49PLN inclusive of everything and English language tours depart every 30 minutes between 8:30am to 6pm during July and August. During the rest of the year, there are six to eight daily English tours.It is advisable to buy your tickets online (and a lot in advance) from their official website: http://www.wieliczka-saltmine.com/ Minibuses to the salt mine originate from the Krakow Glowny train station between 6am till 8pm and a single ride costs around 3PLN. You could even take the suburban public bus but the ride is longer. You could however take this bus 304 on your way back to Krakow.
Stalin used to call them the 'palaces of the people', and the Moscow Metro station truly does seem like a palace. Every ride on the Moscow Metro is a majestic journey. You will be amazed by the fancy chandeliers, the beautiful wall adornments and the marble abutments. Every station tells you a different story about Russia's history. Another exciting highlight is the escalators that take you up or down the stations. Sometimes you aren't even able to see the end, especially at the Park Podeby Station where you can find the longest escalator in the world, measuring 126 meters. Nine million people use the Moscow Metro every day. Must visit stations: Mayakovskaya/Маяковская, Prospekt Mira/Проспект Мира, Arbatskaya/Арба́тская Kievskaya/Киевская, Komsomolskaya/Комсомо́льская, Novoslobodskaya/Новослободская, Belorusskaya/Белору́сская
Santa Claus Village
5) Meeting the Real SantaThe 'Real' Santa lives in the Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi on the Arctic Circle. There are rein deer rides, great food, post office where one could send letters to their future and others. We met the man himself. He was exactly how we all imagine him to be. Happy, merry, and fun! He promised us that he knew where we all lived and he visited us every christmas. We took some quick pictures with him! Meeting santa was a treat to the little girl in me :)
House of Blackheads
Another wonder to behold. The house of Blackheads was constructed during the 14th century by the Brotherhood of Blackheads, a guild of unmarried German Merchants. It has been destroyed twice before finally being reconstructed in 1999. Lavish parties and feasts were thrown here in its day, and while things are a bit quiet today, the magnificence of the place is still pretty imaginable. The architecture is mostly Gothic with a evident influence of Dutch Renaissance.
St. Peter's Church
St. Peter's Church is a part of Riga's heritage and history. A Roman Catholic Church built in 1209, it turned Lutheran in 1523. The church has been modified and renovated time and gain and thus reflects the various phases of the city's past. An architectural style combining of Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque, this masonic church is a highlight of European art. Declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this monument is a symbol of pride for Riga. There is an observation deck here that lets you witness the colourful and charming views of the city. The church is also a center for art and culture in Riga, as it often holds art exhibition, concerts and competitions.
Suomenlinna Church (Suomenlinnan Kirkko)
I did not know what to expect in the Suomenlinna Islands, but from the moment we landed there (it's a 10 mins boat ride from Helsinki), we were transported to a different era. The island is serene, clean, and breathtakingly beautiful! I was surprised to know that people actually stay in that island!
Wawel Royal Castle
The Wawel Royal Castle, perched magnificently on the stunning Wawel Hill is undoubtedly one of the most culturally and historically significant structures in Poland. It is most importantly an emblem of Polish identity. This 16th Century palace has been home to a line of Kings and Queens who kept beautifying it and has also seen troubled times in the form of vandalism and occupation by enemy troops. It was only entirely restored after the Second World War and is now an elaborate museum where one can see the splendid Halls of Deputies and Senators as a section of the State Rooms. Then there are the Royal Apartments and the Treasuries apart from other exhibitions. All of the interiors are spectacular and are brilliant examples of the Renaissance, Baroque and Gothic style of architecture. There are five permanent exhibitions to be seen at the Wawel Castle and there is a different ticket for each one of them: State Rooms: 18PLN from April to October and 16PLN from December to March. Royal Private Apartments: 25PLN from April to October and 21PLN from December to March. Crown Treasury and Armoury: 18PLN from April to October and 16PLN from December to March. Exhibition The Lost Wawel: 10PLN from April to October and 8PLN from December to March. Exhibition Oriental Art: 8PLN from April to October and 7PLN from December to March. The State Rooms, Royal Private Apartments and Exhibition Oriental Art are open from 9:30am to 5pm from Tuesdays till Fridays and 10am to 5pm during the weekends. They are closed on Mondays. The Crown Treasury and Armoury and Exhibition The Lost Wawel are open from 9:30am to 5pm from Tuesdays till Fridays, 10am to 5pm during the weekends and 9:30 am till 1pm on Mondays. It is advisable to book your tickets by calling the reservations office in advance or you could buy them at the visitors centre. Arrive as early as you can and avoid weekends. For more information about the office, the winter timings and the updates for the month of November, visit their official website: https://www.wawel.krakow.pl/en
Kay and I enjoyed Irkutsk and its pleasant atmosphere of a university city. But after a couple of days, we were off to Bolshoe Goludnoe, a Siberian village on the shores of Lake Baikal, not far from Irkutsk. Lake Baikal is the oldest and the deepest lake in the world which contains 1/5 of all the fresh water in the entire world. Even though the weather had been hot during our Siberian adventure, the depth of that lake and the amount of water ensured that the water was constantly freezing cold. My first impression of our new Homestay was that village homes seemed more spacious than city apartments. These were actual houses rather than apartments. There was plenty of empty space outside, though, and we took advantage of being in the countryside to do some long walks – through the village, through the nearby forests, and along the shore of Lake Baikal. It felt so liberating to be out in the countryside for a while with its fresh air and wide open spaces.
Krakow-Auschwitz At Auschwitz concentration camps, the atrocities against deported Jews changed the definition of human monstrosity forever. Millions of Jews were gassed to death. The railway tracks, barbed wires, personal belongings of the victims(there's fabric made of human hair!) all narrate horrifying tales of Nazi cruelty. In Krakow, synagogues were destroyed, Jews rounded up. But one man rekindled faith in humanity - Oskar Schindler. He saved nearly 1,200 Jews by providing them employment in his factory (remember, Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List?)
The Kadriorg Palace is set in a beautiful park where the Prime Minister's house is located. The Prime Minister is the actual political head of state, and their President is mainly a symbolic figure, who does not hold any executive power. We are pretty sure he was there as the flags were up, the red carpet was out, and guards were walking everywhere. It was a lovely walk through the park. The Palace and park were created by Tsar Peter I in the 18th century for his empress Catherine. The name, Kadriorg, means Catherine's Valley. We toured the Royal Palace, which is now an art museum.
Should Lenin finally be buried or not? That is a very common question, as Lenin's embalmed body has been on public display for almost 90 years. During the Second World War his body was brought to Siberia when it appeared that Moscow might be in danger of invasion by Nazi Germany. For a while he was even joined by Josef Stalin. The structure is built with elements of several great mausoleums like Cyrus the Great and the Step Pyramid. The mausoleum opens its gates every day from 10:00 to 13:00 excluding holidays. Try to pay Lenin a visit before he disappears for good.
St. Mary's Basilica
The Church Of The Assumption Of Our Lady or St. Mary’s Basilica is an 80 metre tall brick church standing tall and pretty adjacent to the Rynek Glowny. The crimson façade is essentially composed of two asymmetrical towers one of which is a watch tower and the other a bell tower. While the 13th Century Tartar raids left it in ruins, it was rebuilt in Gothic style to look like the iconic structure that it is today. The southeast entrance is open for tourists and it is illuminated courtesy of breath-taking stained glass windows. The blue starred ceiling of the nave and the intricately carved wooden altarpiece are the most striking aspects of the interior. Designed by Veit Stoss, the beautiful altarpiece represents the assumption of the Virgin surrounded by the Apostles and is an extremely important piece of medieval art. 13 metres high and 11 metres wide, it is also the largest. Tourists are expected to pay 6PLN for the side entrance and 5PLN for ascending the tower for arresting views of Krakow. The church is open from 11:30am to 6pm Mondays through Saturdays and on Sundays, it is open from 2pm till 6pm. The timings for the watch tower with its gilded ball and stunning spire may differ.
One of the most popular beaches in Pondicherry, this beach stretches forever. Its great to take a long walk and find a spot which is not so crowded and relax. If you are lucky to get friendly with any of the fishermen there, they might agree to take you on a boat ride into the sea- which i guarantee would be the awesomesttt experience you could have (you will have to pay them some money ranging from 400 to 700 bucks..its worth every penny you spend, i swear)