The Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia

The Hermitage Museum is located in St. Petersburg, on the Neva River. It is considered one of the most famous, oldest and most important art museums in the world. There are more than 60,000 exhibits in nearly 1,000 rooms with nearly three million items kept in the reserves. Apart from the pieces of antiquity, there is an excellent collection of paintings with the names of remarkable artists such as Rembrandt, Matisse, Gauguin, Leonardo Da Vinci and Picasso among others. Several buildings, classified as World Heritage by UNESCO, built between XVIII and XIX centuries, form the museum (Small Hermitage, Old Hermitage, Theater Hermitage, New Hermitage and the Winter Palace). Part of the State Palace (on the other side of the Palace Square) and the Menshikov Palace have been added to the Hermitage complex. The museum was born thanks to the empress Catherine the Great and her collections of paintings that she began to place in the Winter Palace. Originally the Hermitage was exclusive to family members and loved ones but in 1922 was opened to the public with free admission for the first five years. Since the opening of Russia, the Hermitage has become for foreign tourists the main attraction of the country. It still has annexes in Amsterdam and Las Vegas.

Tips

You can take photos for private, non-profit purposes.

It is possible to visit the Hermitage without a guide with the existing smartphone app (Russian or English only).

The cats of the Hermitage are well known and in the spring the Party of the guardian cats takes place. For the occasion, there is an exhibition of art representing cats, visits to cat areas, games for children and adults, etc. This event is a way of collecting money to feed cats and their maintenance because this expense is not part of the museum’s budget.

On Wednesdays and Fridays, the museum has more opening hours and on the first Thursday of each month, admission is free.

The fastest way to buy the tickets is online or on the automatic machines on site. Note that children and students (regardless of age or nationality), do not pay but students will have to queue for get their entry with a student card.

Palace House of Verdugo, Avila, Spain

The Palace House of  Verdugo is located in Avila, Spain, inside the fortified area of the city. Don Suero del Águila had ordered tobuild it in 1531 at Lomo Street which is now called Lopez Nunez. In the sixteenth century, the city of Avila was booming thanks to the growth of the wool textile industry, the construction of churches and convents and religious thrust Saint Teresa of Avila and Saint John of the Cross . The house was designed as the home of Don Suero del Aguila and their descendants; in 1536 Don Suero decided to bequeath it to his son, but on the condition that if there were no more descendants, the house would pass into the hands of the Order of the Jeronimos and this has been accomplished in 1606, after the death of his little son, who was the last descendent. When the Jeronimos took it, the palace became a monastery, but ten years later they swapped it by the College of San Gil. The palace then passed to the Jesuits and they kept it until they were expelled from Spain (1.737) and in the eighteenth century, the house was abandoned. Its stone façade has a defensive character; windowless, low-level and two towers on each side of the door and on the door there is the noble coat of arms of Verdugo. It has a very large central courtyard with arches with floral decoration and shields.

Tips

In the vicinity of the palace there are other important monuments of the city that you can access by walking. For more information, visit the city of Avila.

 

Sucrerie de la Montagne (Sugar shack), Rigaud, Quebec, Canada

If you want to find a sugar shack open year round, where the owners have the pleasure of welcoming tourists from around the world, please, this place is the Sucrerie de la Montagne in Rigaud. M Pierre Faucher and his son Stefan will be delighted to meet you and tell you the passion they have for this fantastic natural site, this sugar bush of 120 acres offers you the opportunity to know the history and culture of Quebec and Canadian ancestry. The place is in a century-old maple forest. The visit gets you back in the past and you can be part of the history of an era. The current site is like a village of yesteryear with the sugar shack, the bakery, cottages, trails in the forest and it continues to grow while respecting the nature and tradition of yesteryear. You can simply visit it but you can not leave without tasting its homemade dishes, maple syrup, bread made on site, their delicious sugar pie and much more. It is the ideal place to visit with family, friends, to mix with the tourists who appreciate our traditions, in short, you will feel that you will return soon even before you left …

Tips

You can spend a few days in the cottages that can accommodate between 3 and 6 people, celebrate your birthday, your wedding, make business meetings, making your reservation by phone or email. Children under 5 years are free.

There are several trails to walk a few kilometers in the forest.

You have a gift shop where you can purchase the book by Pierre Faucher (owner): Chronicle of a rooted life.

Check on their website the menu and activities of Christmas Season to have a good time with the family or firends.