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.

Lenga Creek, Hualpén, Concepción, Chile

Lenga Creek is a Chilean tourist beach located on the south coast of San Vicente Bay, in the province of Concepción, in the Biobío region. It is located 15 minutes from the center of Concepción and from Talcahuano, it’s part of the municipality of Hualpén since 2004. The creek is located near the estuary that bears the same name and which is home to a large variety of birds such as the swan coscorova, the black-necked swan, pelicans and cormorants among other species. They come to the estuary to nest and procreate. Its sand is gray and its waters are not suitable for swimming but you can practice windsurfing, kitesurfing or sailing. Other activities such as cycling or horse riding can also be practiced in the area.

Tips

If you like fish and seafood dishes, try one of the many restaurants there. If you want to have a good panoramic view, you can climb Teta Norte hill (77 meters), from where you can see the Gulf of Arauco and the bay of San Vicente. The best way to get there is by car, but there is also a bus that starts in the Nonguén area.

Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

Veliko Tarnovo, known like the ‘City of the Tsars’, is a city in north central Bulgaria and the administrative centre of the province with the same name. It’s located on the Yantra River, surrounding the Balkans, famously known as the historical capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire. The old part of the city is situated on the three hills, Tsarevets, Trapezitsa, and Sveta Gora. The palaces of the Bulgarian emperors and the Patriarchate, the Patriarchal Cathedral and some administrative and residential edifices surrounded by thick walls are on Tsarevets. Trapezitsa is known for its many churches and as the former main residence of the nobility. During the Middle Ages, the city was among the main European centres of culture, it has an important architecture that attracts lots of tourists. It was a very important city with foreign merchants (Jewish, Roman Catholic, Armenian) but in 1393, the Ottoman Empire captured it. The city and the rest of present-day Bulgaria, remained under Ottoman rule until the 19th century, when national identity and culture reasserted themselves as a strengthening resistance movement (480 years under Ottoman rules). It was at Holy Martyrs Church in Veliko Tarnovo where Tsar Ferdinand declare the complete independence of Bulgaria in 1908. Today, Veliko Tarnovo is the center of one of the largest urban areas in Bulgaria and is one of the few cities in the country with a growing population.

Tips

It’s a city with a rich and interesting history, so a good way to know more about it, is to take a guided tour or a private guide. You’ll discover beautiful monuments and churches.
There are other important cities and naturals places to see near the city. You can rent a car to discover it by yourself but make attention because you’ll find people that only speak local language so if you don’t understand the signs, you’ll be in a problem. Make sure you have good maps and indications.