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2nd November, 2020

How will you experience Russia?

To get an idea of what it’s like to visit Russia, all you need to do is ask someone who has been and watch their face light up with the memories.

You just have to visit Moscow and St Petersburg in your lifetime, Andrew Iwasyszyn, Saga Holiday Creator, tells me emphatically. "And it doesn’t matter how many times you go, you’ll want to go back again and again."

For a country so steeped in history, with a contribution to literature, music and art practically unrivalled, Russia had remained largely unexplored by the British traveller, until recently.

"The culture is big and bold and can seem very different from ours, but people are now getting a taste for it and realising how magical it all is," Andrew says. "When we create these holidays, we make sure that we are giving our guests the real Russian experience, delivered with the same award-winning service that they enjoy and expect from Saga."

Moscow, most famously home to the Kremlin, may boast the exuberant colours of the onion domes of Saint Basil’s cathedral and the sprawling expanse of the Red Square, but it still keeps its best secrets for those who tread its streets and crane their necks to its rooftops.

"There is so much life to be found here, a people proud to be unique, who have fascinating stories to tell. Whatever you think you know about the place, you always leave knowing more and loving it more."

Saint Petersburg, Moscow’s younger contemporary, is adorned with regal pastels and golds along every dome, column and archway, easing a traveller’s mind into the realm of fairy tale.

"This city transports you to another world any day of the year, but perhaps during the White Nights is when it’s most powerful." The White Nights, named for the midnight sun that glows over the city during June and July, is a festival that annually draws millions to its music and dance shows celebrating the continuous, almost ethereal light.

It’s no secret that Andrew is passionate about his classical music, and being the home of so much, Russia suits his tastes perfectly.

"To see a ballet or concert in Moscow or Saint Petersburg is to be at the heart of some of the most iconic and moving music ever composed," he answers when I ask about his favourite things to do in Russia. "In fact," he smiles, "I can't imagine a world without Tchaikovsky or Rachmaninoff! If you love classical music, it’s simply unmissable."

So what is Andrew’s favourite way to get the most out of Russia?

"A river cruise enables you to explore some of the smaller towns and villages between the two great cities and to experience the culture of the more rural aspect of Russia," he tells me. "Travelling by rail between them and staying in hotels means you get more time to spend falling in love with these cities or you can take an ocean cruise into St Petersburg as part of a tour of the Baltic."

Whether it’s arranging hotels and flights, or picking out the best places to eat and visit, Saga has it covered, which means there’s really only one big question left: how will you experience Russia?

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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