Russia, Croatia & Baltic Regions
Crossing over to Eastern Europe, you will never be prepared for the treasures that await! For spectacular scenery, Plitvice Lakes National Park has sixteen azure lakes tiered by cascading waterfalls; moss and algae-encrusted caves of dolomite and limestone; and forests that shelter brown bear, EuroAsian lynx, eagles, and wolves. The Red Cave of Crimea, Ukraine is a limestone cavern adorned with stalactites, stalagmites, corallites and glowing pillars. The underground river, Su-Uchkhan, flows beneath its elevated arches. Yet another unique underground feature is in Poland – an almost vampiric-ambianced salt mine hundreds of kilometers deep. Within its chambers are galleries of engraved stone walls, carved altars, underground chapels and statues sculpted in salt. Gdansk, Poland is a picturesque 17th century city with plazas and perfectly aligned houses arranged in charming concentric squares akin to a pop-up fairytale storybook.
At St. Petersburg, Russia are the Peterhof Palace, Versailles’ doppleganger, with its resplendent fountains and golden state rooms; and the State Hermitage Museum, Russia’s counterpart to the Louvre. The Hermitage takes weeks to explore with its Rembrandt, Da Vinci, Raphael, Van Dyke, and other priceless art collections. The heart of classical ballet will always remain in Russia, with its world-renowned Mariinsky Ballet and the Bolshoi Ballet. Moscow’s Kremlin houses the crown jewels and the glittering Faberge Eggs. St. Basil’s Cathedral (Moscow) and the Church of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ (St. Petersburg) are the most spectacularly ornate Eastern Orthodox cathedrals with gorgeous floor-to-ceiling murals created by millions of mosaic tiles. Visit Suzdal, Russia’s “Golden Ring ” of ancient cities that have been carefully preserved. The Russian Federation also holds two of the grandest monasteries in the world, the white elegance of Kiev Pechersk Lavra (Kiev Monastery of the Caves) with its spectacular catacombs, and the Monastery of Gelati, located in the republic of Georgia.