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If you haven’t yet heard of the Shukhov Tower, now’s a good time to check it out (at least on Wikipedia), as it might not be around much longer. The funky landmark is a radio tower over in Russia, and some have even called it the country’s version of the Eiffel Tower. We wouldn’t go that far, but there are preservationists eager to keep it hanging around for future generations.
The thing rises 525-feet into the Soviet sky, but structurally it's a little shaky and needs to come down sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, the aforementioned preservationists cite the symbolism of the tower as it relates to Russia’s history and past advances in telecommunications.
While Ukraine ordered the withdrawal of troops from Crimea yesterday, Russia has been busy planning its summer holiday in its newly-annexed peninsula. Crimea’s First Vice-Premier Rustam Temirgaliev made a statement that asked Russian citizens to pass on their usual destinations in favor of a more "patriotic" choice.
“I’m sure that the coming tourist season will not be upset. Some Russian tourists may find it reasonable to give up tours to Egypt, Turkey or other customary resorts in favour of Crimea,” Temirgaliev told the CrimeaInform news agency on Monday. “Also, this would be a patriotic gesture."
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The start of a new year means a zeroing-out of frequent flier qualifying miles and hotel loyalty program balances. Thus, there's no better time to plan for 12 more months of travel. To help with some inspiration, we're sharing the places and events we're most excited about for 2014.
More new months in the year means more chances to party at the buzziest events or simply witness a historical occurrence. Keep this list handy as you map out your itineraries for this year:
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Moscow is getting in shape for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, literally. Some subway stations in the Russian capital are accepting payment in the form of 30 squats.
If you're wondering how it works, try flashing back to those Nintendo Power Pads from the '80s. In front of the ticket booth, there's a blue pad on which you do the squats, while a screen keeps count of the number. At the end of squat 30, a subway ticket pops out of the doohickey. The brilliant initiative is designed as a way to get the population in better shape while also hyping the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics?
Well played, Moscow.
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You might know Russian airline Aeroflot as the super-tawdry airline that three years ago decided to take nude pictures of its flight attendants and put the photos in a VIP calendar. Or as the super-sketchy airline where the employees make their own bongs and smoke up in the galley. This is not a company known for its squeaky clean image, or its professionalism, or its squeaky clean professionalism.
So we were surprised to learn that the rest of Russia sees Aeroflot - and now we're quoting the New York Times - as "at the forefront of a broad and transformative trend in the Russian service industry." The idea is that the Russians have traditionally been staggeringly horrific at customer service. So Aeroflot began holding classes for its employees and reminding them, among other things, to say things out loud to customers. The classes worked, and other companies began to notice.
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Russia travel is a white-hot topic as of late, after the nation's government outlawed any type of gay "propaganda." We've talked about the warnings for any LGBT travelers visiting the country in the coming months, even leading up to the this Winter's Olympic games in Sochi. As you can imagine, the debate is only gaining momentum as some celebs throw their weight behind a boycott.
While we aren't going to get into the back-and-forth of celebrities flexing their political muscle, we do understand they are allowed to voice a personal stance on the topic.
Shortly after the law passed, Tilda Swinton snapped some pics of her holding a rainbow flag in the Russian capital in an act of political defiance, but she's not the only celebrity to stand up for equal rights. This week, Bravo exec Andy Cohen announced that he will be turning down the Miss Universe hosting gig this year because it will be in Moscow and, as a gay man, he wouldn't feel right about "stepping foot into Russia."
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It seems like pretty much each and every airline is considering—or at least has or had—a low-cost carrier sibling. Competition is pretty strong out there, so if you’re able to offer up a cheaper alternative it’s probably a good idea.
The latest carrier to throw their hat into the budget ring just might be Aeroflot, as there are rumors that the Russian carrier is thinking of launching an LCC beginning at some point in 2014.
Gay Travel / LGBT / Travel Safety / Sochi 2014 Olympics / 2014 Olympic Games / Russia Travel / Travel Tips / → All Tags
With plenty of victories on the same-sex marriage front on our own shores and now the UK getting one step closer to full recognition, it's easy to get caught up in the jubilation that is progress. One country that standing in the way of such celebrations, however, would be Russia. Recently President Putin signed new laws onto the books prohibiting the spread of any type of "gay propaganda."
What can this mean for foreign LGBT nationals traveling to the country to get some snaps of the Saint Basil's Cathedral or even heading to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi? In short, we would recommend to watching your back and being more vigilant than what western Europe travel would require. Since bad things can happen to good people regardless of sexual orientation, here are a few tips to ensure your safety if traveling abroad:
We’ll be honest—we’re way behind in our planning for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games over in Sochi, Russia. The event is less than a year away, so if you’ve been waiting to finalize some plans, now’s probably a good time to get the ball rolling.
Airlines and hotels have been taking reservations for quite some time, but that still doesn't cover the most important part: how to score tickets! (Otherwise you’ll just be hanging around watching the Today show on location, and that’s not really worth the trip to Russia.)
CoSport is the only authorized Olympic ticket reseller in the United States, and they just announced some new ticket and ticket package options. Their website does a good job showing off what’s available, but just don’t get your heart set on anything in particular—some stuff is already sold out.
Kitty cats. They rule the internet and, whether we realize it or not, pretty much the world too. Ever noticed how cats sometimes stake out the coolest spots in a city? This new featureTravel Catfocuses on exactly that. Submit a photo to be featured by tweeting or Instagramming it to us (details below).
Travel Cat spotted in: Ekaterinburg, Russia
This week's Travel Cat is from Instagrammer @aksayulia, who shares this kitty sitting on a window sill somewhere in this fourth largest city in Russia. Ekaterinburg sits north of the Kazakh border but still far enough away from Siberia to allow this kitty to have a nice springtime sunshower.
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A Russian region once shunned as the site of the world's third-worst-ever nuclear disaster, in which hundreds of people were killed, has now become a potential tourist destination because it was hit by a giant space rock that injured thousands of additional people. The local tourism board is actually talking about making parts of the territory into a "Meteor Disneyland," a reference to last month's Russian meteor.
It’s not exactly Universal Studios Russia just yet, but it sounds like some of your favorite theme park characters will be going on a bit of an international road trip. The critters from movies like Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda—and of course there’s Shrek too—have applied for the necessary passports and visas, and they’re ready to depart.
DreamWorks Animation has licensed out many of their fictional characters, as they’re hoping that they can cash in when a couple new theme parks are constructed in spots like St. Petersburg, Moscow, and Yekaterinburg. No need to book your tickets just yet, however, it sounds like the goal is to have the turnstiles swinging for the first time at some point in 2015.
Organizers are promising that the new parks will be some of the continent’s largest indoor fun zones, and that entertainment won’t stop there either. It’ll all be part of a bigger construction project featuring movie theatres, concert halls, hotels, and of course plenty of stores to spend your extra rubles.
[Photo: AIMS Productions LLP]
[Photo: AIMS Productions LLP]