LEISURE Newsletter, July 2016

Summer time - long sunny days, short nights - the most relaxing time of the year! Cold "okroshka" soup is just what one needs on hot summer day. Please find other Russian cuisine dishes that are very popular here in our new section - "Taste of Russia". We would also like to remind you about Golden ring of Russia - one of the top regions booked by our guests this year. Please find the information on new hotel in St Peterburg.

Helen Isaeva

Taste of Russia

Russian cuisine is traditionally nutritious, delicious and diverse. You probably have already tried Bliny (pancakes) with caviar or Pelmeni, but there are many more things to try in Russia. Russia is the country where each of the four seasons of the year is different to the following one. So, seasonality in cuisine is also present.

In the summertime one of the most popular dishes is Okroshka. Okroshka is a cold soup, made of diced raw vegetables and boiled meat, traditionally served with Kvas - a Russian fermented drink made of black rye, and sour cream. Most probably the origin of the soup goes back to medieval times.

Borsh is a very popular soup in many East European countries. You can recognize it by its reddish color and sour-sweet taste. In Russia Borsh is known for hundreds of years. Borsh was the favourite soup of the emperors Catherine the Great and Alexander II. It was loved by the writer Gogol. Even ballerina Anna Pavlova was fond of this high-calorie soup. Among many different recipes, the main ingredient of this soup are beets. Traditional borscht is cooked with meat or possibly poultry, but you can also find vegetarian versions of this soup. The other vegetables include cabbage, carrots, potatoes, onions and tomatoes. Borscht is traditionally spiced with herbs and sour cream.

Another interesting option to try is Sirniki. It is a popular dish in Russian cuisine. These small and thick pancakes, made of cottage cheese, are popular for breakfast or as a dessert served with jam, sour cream any time of the year. The name "sirniki" derives from the word "sir" which means "cheese" in Russian.

Vinegrette is a traditional Russian salad made of boiled beets, potatoes, carrots, pickles and sauerkraut. It is easy to cook and remains very popular all the time. The salad was first mentioned in the early 19th century during the reign of Tsar Alexander I. The name of the salad comes from the French "vinaigre" (vinegar), as at that time the salad was dressed with vinegar with olive oil and salt. The salad has no meat so in the past it was ideal during numerous religious fasts.

Rostov Veliky

The Golden Ring of Russia

Amid plains, lakes and marshes of vast country are scattered these old Russian towns. Known collectively as the Golden Ring of Russia, they actually form a circle which extends from Moscow towards the north-east. Each of these towns played an important part in the history of the Russian State, both in its early period, when the Russian lands and principalities were being united under the sway of Moscow, and later, when the independence of the country was at stake. While the architectural monuments of these towns are the stone chronicles of the country's history,it is also an area which has preserved many old artistic traditions particularly the painting of the beautiful lacquer boxes for which Russia is so famous. Life here is completely different from the big cities and for an opportunity to see true Russia, this is a tour worth taking.

Vladimir was founded by Vladimir Monomakh, Grand prince of Kiev, in 1108 as a fort in the Rostov-Suzdal principality. The city witnessed its heyday in the 12th century during the reign of Prince Andrey Bogolubsky, who strengthened its defences and welcomed architects, icon-painters, jewellers. The most significant building made during his reign is the Assumption cathedral. The oldest murals in it date from 1161. In 1408 it was frescoed anew by the greatest of old Russian painters Andrei Rubliov.

Suzdal is one of the most beautiful ancient cities of Russia, possessing more than 50 examples of church and secular architecture dating from the mid-12th to the mid-18th century. During the tour one can't help getting absorbed in the quietness and tranquility of the town, whose main features are numerous domes of medieval churches and wooden houses of local people.
The highlight of a visit is the Kremlin which contains several streets of houses, some churches, the beautiful Nativity of the Virgin Cathedral, with its blue/gold domes and sumptuous frescoes. Of interest is the Saviour Monastery of St. Euthymius - Suzdal's biggest monastery. The monastery was founded in 1352. By order of Catherine II a prison was built inside Assumption Refectory church. Most of the prisoners were those who had committed crimes against the church. More recently the German Fieldmarshal von Paulus was held here for some time after his capture in Stalingrad in 1943. The prison is a museum now.

Kostroma, originated in the 12 century, is situated on the left bank of the river Volga. The city is known as the "cradle of the Romanov dynasty". In 1613 an All-Russia Council for the election of the new Russian Tsar met in Moscow. On the 14th of March that year the whole council, headed by boyar Fyodor Sheremetyev, came to the Ipatiyevsky monastery in Kostroma, where the young boyar, Mikhail Romanov, had come with his mother, a nun, called Marfa, from their family estate. They were hiding from Poles and numerous other groups of outlaws, who were roaming Russia at the time. After daylong talks with his mother, who was against the idea of her son ruling the country, Mikhail finally consented to take the crown and thus became the first Tsar of the Romanov dynasty.

Yaroslavl is a large, quiet old town, and much more metropolitan than the other cities on the Golden Ring. The town was founded in 1010. Legend has it that Yaroslavl the Wise, a Kievian prince, was interested in a trading post here; the locals responded by setting a sacred bear on him, which Yaroslavl killed with an axe, and then founded a town on the spot. The symbol of the bear was then included in his coat of arms. Of interest are the Monastery of the Transfiguration of the Saviour, founded in the 12th century, and one of Russia's richest and most fortified monasteries by the 1500's.

Rostov Veliky (Rostov the Great) was first mentioned in chronicles in 862. It is a sleepy old town with some magnificent buildings next to a lake. The focal point of the town is Kremlin. Its churches are good examples of Russian 17th century architecture. The 4-domed belfry (1620) of Assumption cathedral is 32 m long and 17 m high. It has four arched openings and its 15 bells, audible 15 km away, play 4 tunes. Famous composers Stasov, Mussorgski, Berlioz came to listen to the chimes.

Moscow-Golden Ring FIT itinerary sample (2 pax)

Moscow-Golden Ring-St. Petersburg group itinerary sample (20 pax)

Hampton by Hilton St. Petersburg ExpoForum 3*
Hilton Saint-Petersburg ExpoForum 4*

On June 23 in St. Petersburg was officially open the first hotel of Hilton Worldwide chain. It is a Hampton by Hilton St. Petersburg ExpoForum 3* with 207 rooms.

The General Manager of Hilton Hotel cluster in St. Petersburg Francois Morvan, who has been working in Russia since 2009, says that Hampton by Hilton is the first hotel of this chain in St. Petersburg and the 19th in Russia. The 20th is coming soon. It will be Hilton Saint-Petersburg ExpoForum 4*, which will also be a part of ExpoForum (Congress Center), located not far from Pulkovo Airport. According to the words of Francois Morvan the opening date of the second Hilton Hotel in St. Petersburg has not been chosen yet. But the hotel will open its doora for guests by the end of 2016.

St. Petersburg is the most popular destination in Russna and requires more budget modern hotels with high quality services.