Maslenitsa in Russia
February, 20/2017

Maslenitsa in Russia

What is Maslenitsa

Maslenitsa is an ancient Slavic holiday that was imbibed by the Russian culture from heathenism. For centuries the Russian Maslenitsa has obtained a title of a big folk festival that is celebrated across the board. In the Russian culture this festival represents a farewell to the cold, severe winter, and a greeting to the warm and sunny spring. If you still don’t know what to do on during this festival, this article is for you.

Maslenitsa traditions

Maslenitsa traditions

The celebration is carried out in the end of February – beginning of March. It has particular symbolism, since February is the last winter month in Russia. The Russian Maslenitsa is a many-sided event combining lots of different traditions that are aimed to hunt away the winter and wake the spring up. People welcome the spring with songs, traditional dances, games, snow-fights, and other fun activities. One of them is burning a chuchelo (the Russian for ’a scarecrow’) – a representation of the leaving winter. When the burning is done the main fun comes into play: accompanied by happy Russian songs and music the people start to compete in jumping across the fire. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

Maslenitsa food – blinis

It’s not a secret that Maslenitsa’s number one treat is Russian pancakes, or blinis. The blinis are cooked in every family during the whole week starting on Monday. The choice of the treat was not occasional. The tradition of making blinis has come from ancient pagan times, when people were calling for Yarilo, the god of the Sun, to chase the frosts away. The round-shape golden blinis were taken as the symbol of Yarilo. Today every housewife has her own blinis recipe but the way they are served is the same: traditional blinis toppings are butter, sour cream, or honey.

Maslenitsa 2017 in St. Petersburg

Maslenitsa 2017 in St. PetersburgMaslenitsa in Russia can become a great cultural experience for you if you’re visiting St. Petersburg during the Maslenitsa. It is celebrated all around the country and our city is not an exception. Maslenitsa 2017 starts on February 20 with the main celebration on the weekend – February 25-26. There’s plenty of places that organize public activities for Maslenitsa. One of them is the Shuvalovka village, located in 50-minutes drive from the downtown. It is a big entertaining complex that imitates an old Russian village.

The celebration starts at 12.00 p.m. on February 26 (Sunday). The festival program includes little theatrical shows, snow-fights, different contests and competitions. The main highlight of the day will be the burning of the chuchelo at 2.00 p.m. During the whole day you can treat yourself with blinis and other traditional Russian food. Moreover, you will be able to participate in workshops of cooking blinis, wood carving, embroidery, making clay toys, and many other.

The address of the Shuvalovka village is 111 Sankt-Peterburgskoye highway. To get to the complex you can take a taxi or public transport: shuttle buses 424, 424А, 300, 401, 401А that run from the Avtovo metro station, or bus 404 from the Baltiyskaya metro station.

Most popular ski resorts in Russia
February, 17/2017

Most popular ski resorts in Russia

Russian ski resorts are a popular destination in the end of February – March for the lovers of active holidays Early spring is the time when the strongest frosts are already gone, but the snow hasn’t melt yet. In many Russian ski resorts you will be guaranteed with bright weather: sunshine, fresh air and clear sky. Hot tea will for sure make your day. For the lovers of active holidays there’s a number of ski resorts in Russia, in its different parts. In this article we are going to review the most popular Russian ski resorts.

Sochi – Rosa Khutor

russian ski resortsNowadays, Rosa Khutor, being located on the shore of the Black Sea, is known to be the biggest and most popular among other Russian ski resorts. Here, in the surroundings of Sochi, in 2014 the winter Olympic games were held, which definitely contributed to its popularity. For the needs of this international event they have developed a lot of new runs that are equipped with all modern technologies: elevators, fake snow machines, snow smoothers and others. The resort has everything for a comfortable and enjoyable vacation: a number of high-class hotels, well-developed infrastructure, skiing and snowboarding classes (private and group), equipment rental, etc. The total length of the ski runs is 94 kilometers (58,5 miles) with the highest peak 4920 meters (16140 feet) above the sea level. 20 lifts are at the guests’ disposal. The ski season lasts for almost 140 days a year. These days they organize lots of different activities and competitions for skiers and snowboarders on a local and international level.
More details you can find here.

Baikalsk – Gora Sobolinaya

russian ski resortsAnother great skiing place is located deep is Siberia. The name of the little town Baikalsk derives from the lake Baikal – a Siberian lake, famous for being the deepest fresh lake in the world. To the south of Baikal there’s a mountain chain – that’s the place we are going to talk about. The name of the ski resort sounds as ‘Gora Sobolinaya’, which means ‘sable mount’. Although, Siberia is famous for its cold winters, skiing is getting more and more popular here and a lot of tourists arrive to Baikalsk to enjoy this great experience. There are many hotels located close to or on the territory of the resort. Some of them you can find here. The ski runs make up 15 kilometers (9,3 miles). The highest point is 1004 meters (3293 feet) above the sea level. The key feature of Gora Sobolinaya is that from every slope you can admire a wonderful view of the mighty Baikal. At the bottom of the runs there are a few cosy ski bars and cafes to warm up with hot tea or mulled wine, or have a snack. Everyone can find a run to their taste: from beginners to professionals.

Kirovsk – Big Wood

russian ski resortsAnother hot spot for skiers and snowboarders is located in European part of Russia. Due to its location it is very popular not only with Russians, but also with foreigners. The Big Wood in Kirovsk is the most high-altitude ski resort in the area. It’s equipped with a number of different lifts (T-bar, chair or gondola lifts). The total length of the runs is 45 kilometers (27,9 miles). The Big Wood provides all kinds of services for an unforgettable trip: from accommodation to equipment rental, ski and snowboarding classes, spa, fishing and lots of different activities and competitions. Check out their official web page for more information.

St. Petersburg – Igora

russian ski resortsOne of the other Russian ski resorts is located in a 1,5-hours drive from St. Petersburg. Isn’t it a great chance to combine sightseeing in the metropolitan city with sports fun in the countryside? There are trains and buses that can bring you directly to the Igora ski resort. It’s very convenient to come for a day if you’re visiting St. Petersburg. For those of you who want to spend more time at the resort you can book a hotel room, an apt or a cottage. Local spa services will help you to relax after a long day of skiing. There’s also a swimming pool and a gym for the guests. 3 T-bar and 2 chair lifts bring people up. 8 runs are organized for skiers and snowboarders with different level of training. For ski runners they have developed three picturesque itineraries. If you’d like to visit Igora, but you are unsure of how to do it, contact Hello Russia Tours and we will be happy to help you!

5 Benefits of Private Tour to St Petersburg
February, 10/2017

5 Benefits of Private Tour to St Petersburg

What are your benefits when you ta a private tour to St Petersburg?

Nowadays St. Petersburg is becoming a more and more popular touristic destination. There are lots of ways to explore the city: you can join a group tour or walk the streets by yourself. However, many travelers prefer private guided tours to get their bearings. We are deeply convinced that taking a private tour in St. Petersburg is the best way to explore a new culture.

Private tours are organized for those travelers, who want to see the world from a new angle and in a comfortable way. In this article we are going to review the main advantages of private tours in St. Petersburg with Hello Russia Tours.

Your party only

Private tour is the one organized for a little party only. You get personalized attention from your tour guide and the whole tour is tailored around you. The private tour can be organized even for 1 traveler! Hello Russia Tours assures you that when booking a private tour in St. Petersburg with us it will be just you and your party! No foreigners will be joined to your tour.

Flexibility and comfort

Since there are no other people on the tour you can feel free to ask for specific requests or extra stops during your tour. Take as much time for pictures as you need – you are not pushed by anyone else. You don’t have to go to fixed food places for lunch as you normally have to do when on a group tour. You can choose the restaurant or cafe that YOU like and YOU want! Change the details of the tour to make it most comfortable for YOU: the meeting point, time, duration and the itinerary can be adjusted to your personal needs and interests. Hello Russia Tours would be happy to show you all the aspects of the Russian culture in the way YOU want to see it.

Cultural exchange with a local

private tour in Saint-Petersburg Having a private guided tour allows you to not only learn the history and culture of St. Petersburg, but also to get a lot of personal exchange. All of our tour guides are Russians (who speak your language!) and willing to share their expertise, emotions and love to the city with you! It’s a unique chance to ask any questions that concern you. Your local tour guide can share their insider knowledge that no other guidebook will tell you.

Great Value

Not so many people realize that a private tour is a real value for money. People think that private tours are more expensive than other travel options. However, many travelers are surprised with how advantageous they actually are! If you travel with your family or with a party of your friends you can split the costs and the final price per person will be the same as you’d pay for a shared tour with other strangers. Taking into account everything stated above, you get a unique worthwhile experience that you never get on a big group tour.

Saving your time

When traveling to a new country every moment is precious, since quite often we are limited in time. For this reason, it is highly essential to plan your schedule properly. Instead of putting your energy and time into planning out the program and researching the highlights just contact Hello Russia Tours and let us do it for you. Our team consists of experienced professional. We are eager to share our expertise! We would be happy to handle the whole organization for touring the main city’s attractions and not only. With a private guided tour you get a chance to avoid lines to the major museums of St. Petersburg.

St Petersburg Lions
February, 9/2017

St Petersburg lions

St. Petersburg is literally inundated with cats, sphinxes and lions: altogether you can find thousands of them in the city. St Petersburg lions are multifarious: made of marble and plaster, bronze and cast iron, brought from Italy, China or Israel, or made in Russia. You can also see lots of lions and griffins in St. Petersburg suburb like Peterhof.

St Petersburg lions

The lion is the king of beasts, that’s why it is a symbol of royalty, courage and power. First St Petersburg lions appeared in the city at the times of Peter the Great: they started to decorate private houses and public places, squares and embankments, parks and gardens. Even today many restaurants and hotels have lion sculptures in front of their buildings. The Four Seasons hotel in St. Petersburg is also called the Lion Palace since two marble lion statues welcome the guests at the main entrance. St. Petersburg lions

Lions on Trinity bridge

In the Chinese culture the lions are almost always presented in pairs – male and female principals. The male lion has his right paw on a ball, which symbolizes country unity; the female one is frequently shown with a lion cub, which represents the life cycle. One can find a great example of such lions in St. Petersburg. If you go to the Petrovskaya embankment, not far from the Troitsky bridge (the Trinity bridge), you will find Shi Tza – Chinese lion statutes. They were brought to St. Petersburg in 1907 and today are known as the most mysterious lions in St. Petersburg.

In antique times lions were thought to sleep with their eyes open. For this reason they were considered to be the best guards of the house against evil spirits. The ball that the lion had under his paw didn’t let him sleep – even if he fell asleep the paw would slide down the ball, and the lion would wake up again. Today you can see a lot of such city guardians in St. Petersburg.

Here are a few examples:

• Copper lions next to the Dvortsovy bridge (opposite the Admiralty building)

• Lions on the spit of Elagin island

• Cast iron lions in front of the Russian museum

St. Petersburg griffins

Sometimes St. Petersburg lions have wings, some people calls them griffins despite it’s not really correct. Thus, four lions of the Bankovsky bridge (the Bank bridge) have wonderful golden wings. In the past they were watching the Assignation Bank that was located next to the bridge (hence the name of the bridge). Another example is bronze winged lions next to the Egyptians sphinxes on the Universitetskaya embankment (the University embankment). They have shiny heads – people believe that if you pat them on the head they will make your wishes come true. Try to imagine how many people come to polish the griffins head everyday!

St. Petersburg griffins

This is by far not the end of the list, we could go on forever. We only wish you had enough time to see all of them!

Unknown St. Petersburg: Monuments Part 2
February, 3/2017

Unknown St. Petersburg monuments

St. Petersburg is a truly unique Russian city that combines grand 18th century architecture with urban vibes of a modern city. There are a lot of monuments in St. Petersburg that are hidden from our eyes but they still deserve being known. Keep your eyes open and learn about the most unusual alternative attractions of the city hidden behind the imperial facades.

Chizhik Pyzhik

Russian people are very superstitious and have many different beliefs. You can find tons of monuments in St. Petersburg that you can rub or touch for Chizhik Pyzhikluck, make a wish or throw a coin. One of them is called Chizhik Pyzhik. It’s a little bronze birdie that is sitting on a granite perch at Fontanka river. If you throw a coin on the perch and it stay there, you wish will come true. Don’t forget to make a wish before doing so!

Chizhik-Pyzhik, where’ve you been?
Drank vodka on the Fontanka.
Took a shot, took another –
Got dizzy.

Monument to the Victims of Political RepressionsMonument to the Victims of Political Repressions

Surprisingly, there are a lot of sphinxes in St. Petersburg located in different parts of the city. Two of them are placed on Robespierre Embankment. Right on the opposite side of the Neva river you can find the Kresty Prison. This location is very symbolic. The point is that it is the. The faces of sphinxes are divided into two halves — from one side they have beautiful female faces, from the other one, overlooking the Kresty Prison, they are skulls. The monument reminds us of thousands of people who were arrested and died in the prison during Stalin’s regime. You can learn about other St. Petersburg Sphinxes here.

Saint Petersburg angelSaint Petersburg angel

In the Izmailovsky garden, not far for the Fontanka river, you can find a monument called St. Petersburg Angel. It’s an old fellow sitting on a garden bench and reading a book. According to its author, Roman Shustrov, the angel symbolizes all the older generations who went through the wars, hunger and repressions and made it to keep spotless minds and harmony in souls. The angel has an umbrella in one hand – giving us a tip of what to take with you when you go out in rainy St. Petersburg.