Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes, Rigaud, Quebec, Canada

The Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes is a place of pilgrimage situated in the hillside of Rigaud, in a green natural area; dedicated to the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception. This place recalls the apparitions of the Virgin Mary to Bernadette Soubirous in 1858, at Lourdes in France. Brother Ludger Pauzé is the person who placed a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes on the hill in 1874 and he, his superior, François-Xavier Chouinard, as well as professors and students came fervent pray to the Virgin with him. From there, the place is visited by pilgrims from different countries. There is a team of religious, volunteers and staff to welcome the people. There is a central chapel, the cave with the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes and a small chapel at the top. The sanctuary is at the end of Lourdes street at the foot of the hill.

Tips

For service schedules, it’s best to look on the sanctuary page. There is a Rosary every day at 16:00. If you want to spend part of the day with friends or family, you will find a place to eat and get some rest, there are toilets and mountain trails for hiking. There are two crosses situated on the hill accessed by trails. Wear comfortable shoes because you will ride through trails or long stairs.

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.

Ocean Casa del Mar, Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba

The Ocean Casa del Mar is a complex with 800 modern and comfortable rooms located on the beach in Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba. All-inclusive hotel, considered a 4 stars and a half one. There is a kids club, many activities and sports, à la carte restaurants and the opportunity to enjoy a honeymoon package. There are various shows every night either in bars or at the theater. The staff is very friendly and they are always there to help with a smile. The hotel also counts with a Privilege section for 18 years and over and you have to pay to enjoy it. In this section, you will have 1 hour of free internet in the lobby, breakfast à la carte, separate check-in and late check-out, bathrobes and slippers in the room, access to pool and lounge privilege, priority reservations at à la carte restaurants and drinks premium brand.

Tips

Please note that the hotel is almost 2 hours from the airport so if you don’t want to travel by bus so much, choose another hotel. 

Regarding the vegetation, it will take a few years to see it in all its splendor.

There are some rocks at the entrance to the beach, but other than that, you will find beautiful sand, you don’t need beach shoes.