Witnessing the Fall of the USSR: Doug’s Memories of August 1991

Witnessing the Fall of the USSR: Doug’s Memories of August 1991

It's been 28 years since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. We're marking the anniversary with eyewitness accounts from MIR colleagues and contacts. In this installment, Doug shares his memories of the fateful days of the August coup in 1991, and his travels from Seattle to Moscow to Kamchatka in the Russian Far East. Read More


Why Move Eastern Europe to the Top of your Travel Bucket List?

Why Move Eastern Europe to the Top of your Travel Bucket List?

How about choosing destinations your friends have never been to, or even considered? How about discovering people in places totally off your travel radar that nevertheless are happily going about their business in a dimension you are unaware of? How about joining “Journey to Eastern Europe,” a MIR Private Journey that has been opened to travelers who are ready to go beyond the familiar? Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Serbia, Kosovo and Macedonia strut their stuff on this wildly different one-time-only itinerary. Read More


Super Poland: 7 Reasons to Visit Poland Now

Super Poland: 7 Reasons to Visit Poland Now

For years Poland has been one of the top 20 most visited countries in the world, according to the UN World Tourism Organization. Few countries lay claim to such a wealth of architectural treasure and natural beauty as Poland. Lonely Planet designated it #7 in the Top Ten Countries to Visit in 2016, writing, “If any country in Europe can boast superpowers, it’s Poland.” Here are seven of its super charms. Read More


“Primitive” Prymachenko: National Artist of Ukraine

“Primitive” Prymachenko: National Artist of Ukraine

Born in 1909, Maria Prymachenko spent her long life in a Ukrainian village with the humble name of Bolotniya, which means marsh or swamp. As a girl she came down with polio, which interfered with her schooling and left her with a painful limp. But her vivid imagination and irrepressible use of color made her a giant in the Ukrainian art world in spite of, or perhaps because of, the limitations she encountered. Her fantastical paintings of imaginary beasts, birds, flowers and ordinary villagers doing everyday things brightened the walls of Kiev’s Art Arsenal earlier this year in a first-ever retrospective of more than 300 of her works. Read More


Witnessing the Fall of the USSR: The August Coup, 1991

Witnessing the Fall of the USSR: The August Coup, 1991

It's been 28 years since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. We're marking the anniversary with eyewitness accounts from MIR colleagues and contacts. This installment is from Annie Lucas, then tour manager and now MIR’s vice president. She was leading one of her first few MIR tours to Russia. In her early 20s, she had done this several times before, but it was still new to her. And on this trip, her own father (Bud Lucas, who kindly let us use his photos) had signed up to be one of the participants, making it even more important to her that the trip go smoothly. As Annie and her group of travelers packed for the coach ride into Russia, they heard the news on Finnish TV: Mikhail Gorbachev, leader of the Soviet Union, was said to be ill and confined to his dacha. A State of Emergency had been declared and an Emergency Committee formed to take the reins of government while he was recovering. That was all anybody knew. Read More


A History Buff’s Guide to Lesser-Known World War II Sites in Western Russia

A History Buff’s Guide to Lesser-Known World War II Sites in Western Russia

It's been more than 70 years since of the end of World War II in 1945, and lately there’s been renewed interest in visiting some of the historic sites of the Great Patriotic War, as Russians call it. Here are some lesser-known sites that should also be on the radar of any military or history buff traveling through Western Russia. Read More


6 Hands-On Fun, Fascinating and Educational Travel Experiences

6 Hands-On Fun, Fascinating and Educational Travel Experiences

Are you one of those people who prefers to learn by doing, rather than by watching? You like to jump right in and get your hands into the paint, or the flour, or the dirt, to put on a hardhat and go where the action is. You can take the heat in the kitchen – in fact, you go looking for it. As it turns out, quite a few of MIR's intrepid travelers are this type of bold and action-oriented person. And we like to keep you happy learning to do things you may have never done before. Here’s a roundup of six fascinating and perhaps challenging hands-on experiences you can have on our small group tours. Read More


Underground Palaces: Moscow Metro Magic

Underground Palaces: Moscow Metro Magic

On Monday, February 15, 2016, the Moscow Metro opened its 200th station, Salaryevo. Passengers were reflected in its polished stone floors, and Mondrian-like color blocks covered the walls beyond the tracks. More modern and streamlined than the elaborate stations in the city center, Moscow’s latest addition to its enviable metro system ties the southwest suburbs into the spider’s web of the city’s underground routes. The Metro first opened in 1935, and today there are more than 200 miles of track in a system that serves nearly 2.5 billion travelers each year. Join us as we take a look at the beauty and variety of Metro stations - all unlikely underground treasures. Read More


6 Reasons to Visit Svaneti – Georgia’s Undiscovered and Unrivaled Mountain Region (video)

6 Reasons to Visit Svaneti – Georgia’s Undiscovered and Unrivaled Mountain Region (video)

Svaneti is a ravishing mountain region of Georgia, home of the self-sufficient Svan people, whose traditions and culture have survived for thousands of years, thanks to the region’s remoteness. Tell anyone down in the capital that you’re on your way to Svaneti and they get a far-away look in their eyes and admit they wish they could go with you. As untouched as it has been until now, Svaneti is beginning incrementally to change and modernize. The time to visit is now, before these changes sweep away the rituals and practices perfectly suited to an isolated and challenging environment. Here are 6 reasons Svaneti is an unrivaled favorite – in Georgia, and among discerning travelers... Read More