Vic’s Picks – The Hotties
St. Petersburg, Russia
Besides the fact that you can currently catch the World Cup here, there’s plenty to see and do. If you love fairytales and have a fascination with the Romanovs then this is it. While the Russian dynasty met a tragic ending, the city does resemble a picturesque storybook. Head to the Peterhof Palace and Gardens which was built by Peter the Great. The gardens contain magnificent fountains with intricate designs in a unique arrangement.
The State Hermitage Museum is a must. Formerly a winter imperial palace, the museum holds more than 3 million pieces of art. With additional time, visit the next door General Staff Building which houses the Impressionist Art Collection. Considered one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world, the St. Isaac’s Cathedral is steeped in rich history. If you’re not afraid of heights climb its pinnacle and enjoy incredible views of St. Petersburg. Visit the Imperial Catherine Palace where your eyes will shine at the dazzling display of ornately decorated rooms. The palace reflects the 18th century royal life through photos, décor, and furniture. If you opt to have a very customized Romanov tour, then of course, another stop must be the Peter and Paul Cathedral – which is also the burial place of the Romanov imperial family. Bar hop along Rubinshteyna Street which offers an array of assorted bars and restaurants to choose.
Modena, Italy – Located in the region of Emilia-Romagna, is this charming city which is also the birthplace of Luciano Pavarotti. Both Modena and its surrounding areas of the region, offer plenty of balsamic vinegar, Parma ham, gelato and wonderful Parmigiano-Reggiano. There’s nothing like chomping your way through farms and shops. And if you don’t like food, then don’t come here because this is an epicurean’s paradise. Visit cheese factories and farms to indulge, learn, and taste – all of this situated in historical settings with rolling hills, tiny ancient villages, beautiful castles, piazzas, and wonderful landmarks such as the Basilica of San Petronio and the leaning Torre Garisenda. Learn how to cook and make delicious pasta and tiramisu. Try an array of light and creamy gelato flavors. The number #1 restaurant in the world for 2018’s 50 Best Restaurants is the three-Michelin starred Osteria Francescana. For sports car enthusiasts this is also home of the Ferrari so check out the Ferrari Museum.
Phuket, Thailand– While the beaches seduce and beckon visitors, this city offers so much more. Venture to the historic Old Town and note the beautiful red-tiled old mansions many with lavish inner courtyards and bright and colorful ceramic tiles. The island is colorful with its hanging lanterns and buildings. Note the many galleries, museums, cafes and lovely shops – many of which are ornate in design and color. Enjoy the wonderful aromas and exotic flowers that exemplify Thai cooking. Take a stroll or hike to enjoy island water views. On your way to Monkey Hill (known for its monkeys), let them beguile you as you move along. Enjoy the nightlife as it brings plenty of music and clubs. A visit to the 45m-high Big Buddha in Chalong Circle is a must and its location offers one of Phuket’s finest viewpoints. Spend time on the beaches of Hat Bang Thao and rent a boat and just soak in the sun.
Marrakesh, Morocco – explore this vibrant city with its medina of spice markets and shops. Note the opulent mosques and palaces. Zip along the Agafay stone desert on a motorbike.
Take a food tour and learn how to cook a tangia (spiced stew). *Take a day trip along the pristine coastline or stay for the night and experience luxury beach glamping among the dunes with billowing white tents. Learn how to ride camel or take a yoga lesson. *Take in a day of architecture and art with views and a lunch at spectacular contemporary cottages and farmhouses. Peruse the fabulous new Yves Saint Laurent Museum. *Glamp in a desert location not far from Marrakech where your tent is comprised of plush carpets, fluffy beds, and en suite bathrooms. *Take a magical hot air balloon flight and note the glorious views of the Atlas Mountains, the deep valley gorges, quaint villages, and olive groves. *Trek through the mountains (Rif, Middle Atlas, High Atlas and Anti Atlas) with a team of mountain guides and cooks. Explore the ranges from two to seven days or make it a day trip to enjoy a simple hike. *Enjoy the coastal town of Dakhla known for its watersports, particularly kiteboarding, surfing, and paddle boarding.
Crete, Greece– is the largest of the Greek islands and is mythical with tales of the Minotaur in the labyrinth. It offers many experiences besides being chased by a Minotaur and is an easy flight from Athens. There’s the historical fortress and leper colony in Spinalonga, the Samaria Gorge National Park which offers spectacular scenery and a great place to hike. Visit the Palace of Knossos, where ruins and reconstruction offer the idea of a grand palace, baths, and colorful frescos. Take a stroll at the Venetian Harbour where the area is lined by colorful buildings on tiny streets . There’s plenty of tavernas and shops. Enjoy the lighthouse at sunset.
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