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RUSSIA

THE TWO KREMLINS OF MOSCOW

To many tourists visiting Russia the word "kremlin" is only associated with the Moscow Kremlin and Red Square, but few foreigners have heard of other Russian cities that were built around fortresses also knows as kremlins. Even fewer know that there are two kremlins in Moscow, the other one being a colourful cultural centre imitating Old Russia.

15 OF MOSCOW'S MOST BEAUTIFUL METRO STATIONS

When in Moscow, there is a good chance you visit its most accessible museum -  the city's incredible metro network - at least once a day. Many stations hardly resemble transport hubs and look more like cathedrals, ballrooms, and art galleries. A few stations still feature busts of Lenin or communist icons that convey overtly symbolic messages. In other words, to step into the Moscow Metro is to discover a socialist time capsule: this is a spectacular underworld featuring intricate mosaics, ornate chandeliers, marble columns, baroque plasterwork, all invoking a feeling of grandeur.

A VISIT TO THE CAT CAFÉ IN MOSCOW

One of the downsides of being away from home a lot is not being able to get a pet. Let's face it: the poor animal has not done anything to be constantly cooped up in a cage and transported with cargo. As a consequence, I'm always on a lookout for ways to make fluffy friends while I cannot afford to have one of my own. Recently I came across a nice alternative - animal cafes. They operate as regulars cafes but also house cats, dogs, bunnies, hedgehogs, you name it, that can be watched and petted. Some of them cooperate with shelters, so you can adopt the animal(s) you have bonded with. 

SAINT PETERSBURG

Russia's cultural capiral, as it is sometimes referred to, Saint Petersburg is a treasure for any traveller. Stunning architecture, romantic canals, rich culture, there is something for just about everyone. Immerse yourself in the bohemian spirit in literary cafés, museums, and book shops. The city has many stories for the curious - if only those walls could talk!... 

13 THINGS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT RUSSIA

Did you know that you better not give an even number of flowers to a Russian? Especially if the flowers are yellow and the Russian is a lady? Well, unless you are looking for trouble you probably do not want to do it. Not that Russians are weirdos or anything, there are just some unspoken rules that are not very obvious to foreigners. Flower etiquette, supertitions, and another 11 things you did not know about Russia and its people.

TO SMILE OR NOT TO SMILE

"Russians don't smile," says every other tourist when they come to Moscow. "Are they so miserable?", they ask. There is no simple answer to this question, but it is somewhere between yes and no. Russians just happen to be picky about their smiles. It is not that they do not like you (although that too could be the case), it is just that Russian culture does not consider smiling a gesture of politeness. How one of the universal signs of friendliness can be taken as an offence - in this article.

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