Listed City Guide - R
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REUNION

Saint-Denis Travel Guide

Reunion’s small but spirited capital is Saint-Denis, a picturesque town flanked by three mountains and situated at the mouth of the Saint-Denis River. Saint-Denis is a mixture of sophisticated French-style restaurants, bars and nightclubs, and more traditional sights and sounds. Sadly, it is often sidestepped on trips to the island, used merely as a starting point due to its close proximity to the airport. However, it is well worth taking some time to explore its charms before moving on.

The chic, upmarket seafront area with its lovely promenade is known as La Barachois, and remnants of the small port that once existed can be found here including an old warehouse of the East India Company that now houses the French Administration Offices. The Grande Marche (market) is a treasure trove of Malagasy arts and crafts, fragrant spices and textiles, while smaller markets offer mouth-watering fresh tropical fruits and vegetables. A distinctly French flavour mixes with African, Chinese, and Indian, creating a rich mélange that is evident even in the cuisine. Try a delicious cari (a meat or fish stew cooked in a sauce and eaten with rice) and rougail (a spicy tomato salsa), sample some excellent Chinese food from a tiny take-away or indulge in juicy mangoes or litchis off the stalk.

Saint-Denis boasts a fascinating mix of religious architecture including mosques, Tamil and Buddhist temples, and a cathedral, illustrating the cultural diversity of the island. There are several quaint old buildings, an interesting Natural History Museum, a modern art museum named after the poet Léon Dierx, and the facades of old East India Company buildings. It is also well worth getting out of town and climbing one of the three surrounding peaks for a gorgeous view. Perhaps the most breathtaking is from Route de la Montagne (the Mountain Road), a steep track that winds up to the top of a lava cliff that drops dramatically into the sea. Once the delights of Saint-Denis have been explored, the rest of the island paradise of Reunion awaits.

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ROMANIA

Bucharest Travel Guide

The nation’s capital since 1862, Bucharest is the country’s largest and wealthiest metropolis. Tree-lined boulevards, classical buildings and extravagant public structures lie in juxtaposition to untidy, congested streets, unsightly Stalinist apartment blocks and incomplete constructions. It is a city that most people either love or hate at the first encounter.

Once considered the ‘Paris of the East’ for its long leafy avenues and grand buildings together with its distinguished social scene enjoyed by the extravagant Romanian aristocracy, the city’s elegance and beauty soon deteriorated under the harsh era of communism. The notorious redevelopment project by Nicolae Ceausescu, leader of the Communist Party in 1965, was a scandalous affair; in order to create an imitation Champs Elysee, a Civic Centre and 12-storey palace for himself together with a parliament building, he demolished an immense area of historic architecture in the old city, including 26 churches. The parliament building was designed to be the largest building in the world. It is now known as the Palace of Parliament, second in size to the Pentagon, and has become one of the city’s prime tourist attractions.

Bucharest offers a number of superb museums, galleries, exquisite Orthodox churches and architectural surprises and its political legacy provides a fascinating selection of sights where visitors can rediscover the events and emotions of its history. It is experiencing renewed vigour; historic buildings have been restored and there is plenty of nightlife and an increasing amount of cultural events. Traditional Romanian cooking can be savoured alongside international cuisine, and in summer festive beer gardens and picturesque parks are filled with cheerful crowds.

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RUSSIA

Moscow Travel Guide

Now an attractive and expensive commercial powerhouse, Moscow still retains an aura of mystery which intrigues travellers, inviting them to explore the heart of modern Russia as well as the legacy of Soviet Socialism and the opulent rule of the Tsars.

It was the remote, largely inaccessible headquarters of the Soviet Union for decades, but now a holiday in Moscow is not only possible but a top choice for all those whose imaginations were captured by life behind the Iron Curtain. Beside the ‘must see’ sights like the Kremlin and Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow has numerous other attractions, including many military memorials and museums. Most who travel to Moscow, however, get the biggest kick out of just strolling its old neighbourhoods, soaking up the history and culture and admiring the many newly-restored churches and the unique Russian architecture.

Moscow is a playground for the wealthy, with glamour and glitz enough to satisfy the most fashionable of visitors. Shopping in Moscow is a delight and the city is home to droves of good restaurants and entertainment venues, making Moscow’s nightlife varied and fun. Even getting around Moscow is a pleasure because the Moscow Metro is one of the city’s greatest tourist attractions!

Best time to visit Moscow

The best time to holiday in Moscow is either during the hot summer months, from May until late August, which is the peak tourist season; or to beat the rush by visiting in spring (April to May) when the days are longer and warmer than winter, while the rates are lower than summer. Winters are best avoided except for the most determined tourists because they are bitterly cold and snowy with very short, dull days. Read more on Moscow’s Climate and Weather.

What to see in Moscow

-Relive the defeat of Napoleon by the ‘invincible’ Russians at the Borodino Panorama Museum.

-Visit the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, one of the largest Orthodox Churches in the world.

-Enjoy the best of traditional Russian art at Moscow’s Tretyakov Gallery.

-Photograph the colourful domes of the iconic St Basil’s Cathedral.

What to do in Moscow

-Take in a world-class ballet or opera at the famous Bolshoi Theatre.

-Marvel at the beautiful interiors of the Moscow Metro.

-Stroll around Red Square, the bustling heart of Moscow.

-Explore the many museums, palaces and churches of the Kremlin, the oldest part of the city.

Beyond Moscow

The Golden Ring, a circular route winding through about eight historic towns near Moscow, includes many attractive manor houses and museums and takes in some impressive architecture while still giving travellers a taste or the Russian countryside. Favourite stops on this route include the cities of Sergiev Posad and Suzdal. Other popular excursions from Moscow include the Arkhangelskoye Palace and Yasnaya Polyana, former home of author Leo Tolstoy.

Getting there

Travellers most commonly arrive at Moscow Sheremetyevo International Airport, located 32 miles (51km) northwest of central Moscow, or Moscow Domodedovo International Airport, located 22 miles (35km) south of the city centre. Get more information on Airports in Moscow.

Did you know?

-Moscow is home to a whopping 12 million people.

-Until 1918 St Petersburg was the capital of Russia.

-Moscow is said to be the home of more billionaire residents than any other city in the world.

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St Petersburg Travel Guide

Situated on the Gulf of Finland and spread over numerous islands in the Neva Delta, St Petersburg is a city of arched bridges, winding canals, wide boulevards, elegant palaces, impressive squares and ornate churches, and as such is often referred to as the ‘Venice of the North’. It has an elegance also reminiscent of cities like Paris, Berlin and Amsterdam, but is at the same time too uniquely Russian to be European, and beguiles with a charm all its own.

It is the country’s most beloved and beautiful city, founded by Peter the Great in 1703. It became the capital of Tsarist Russia, and the greatest artists, sculptors and architects worked together to create the city’s elegant look. Rich palaces and government buildings line the streets, along with majestic cathedrals and elaborate churches, including the golden spires of St Peter and Paul’s Cathedral, the magnificent gleaming dome and grand colonnaded façade of St Isaac’s, and the colourful multi-domed Church of the Resurrection.

Although the Russian capital moved to Moscow after the Revolution, St Petersburg remains the principal artistic and cultural centre of the country. St Petersburg is the birthplace of Russian ballet and performances by the Kirov Ballet, rivalling the Bolshoi ballet in Moscow, are shown in the historic Mariinsky Theatre. The magnificent green and white Winter Palace forms part of the Hermitage Museum, one of the world’s greatest art galleries, and the city’s foremost attraction.

With its romantic waterways and decorative Tsarist architecture, St Petersburg is also the perfect setting for the famous ‘White Nights’, and the summer months of June and July are crowded with visitors who come to experience the dreamy twilight that takes the place of night.

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