Meet the Masters: 4 Ways to Learn from the Best as You Travel

Meet the Masters: 4 Ways to Learn from the Best as You Travel

A memorable tour is one that widens your horizons, tickles your fancy and gives you something to think about. In each MIR trip you’ll experience at least one moment when you realize you’re learning something you’ve never known before. It might be about the history or habits of a place, or it might be how to make or do something grand. These moments are precious, and they can happen at any time or place. They will surely happen when you travel with MIR. Read More



4 Must-See WWII Sites in St. Petersburg: The Siege of Leningrad

4 Must-See WWII Sites in St. Petersburg: The Siege of Leningrad

St. Petersburg: Russia’s capital of art and culture, with extravagant palaces, magnificent theaters, world-renowned museums and miles of canals. But during the Second World War, Leningrad (as St. Petersburg was known then) was an entirely different sight. Here are our recommendations for four must-see sights where you can pay tribute to the heroic deeds of this enduring city: Read More


Choose Your Arctic Circle Adventure: Summer White Nights or Winter Northern Lights

Choose Your Arctic Circle Adventure: Summer White Nights or Winter Northern Lights

The lands north of the Arctic Circle are a remarkable study in contrasts. Winters this far north bring long nights, yet offer plenty of festive, frosty cheer. Summertime answers with 24 hours of luminous daylight, luring exuberant throngs of people outdoors. Regardless of when you visit, the changes in seasons allow travelers to see these lands at their most beautiful, whether under a blanket of fresh snowfall, or in full color during the few brief weeks of “White Nights.” They’re also among the few places where you can witness two of the earth’s most photogenic phenomena: the Northern Lights in winter and the Midnight Sun in summer. Now travelers can rendezvous with these celestial sights and more on two luxury rail journeys by private train or one exciting expedition by icebreaker. Whether you’re a polar explorer or a sun-worshipper, a craver of culture or an adventurer, you’re bound to experience something decidedly different as you make your way beyond the Arctic Circle. Read More


Spotlight on St. Petersburg Theaters: Mariinsky II Theater

Spotlight on St. Petersburg Theaters: Mariinsky II Theater

It’s just a walk across a canal bridge from the Mariinsky Theater to St. Petersburg’s newest and most expensive theater, the Mariinsky II. Opening in 2013 and costing $700 million, this 2,000-seat Russian opera house is built to impress – especially with its acoustics. I recently visited the Mariinsky II Theater for the first time. It’s huge! Shaped like a horseshoe, this theater’s auditorium is among the largest in the world. Acoustics are awesome - considered among the world’s finest for a theater. But the lighting is a bit strange: To me they look like those rows of lights inside an airplane, so passengers can find their way in the aisle. 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


Fame, Fortune & Film: LenFilm Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia

Fame, Fortune & Film: LenFilm Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia

A walk through St. Petersburg’s LenFilm Museum is a walk through the history of Russian film, with sets, props, costumes and sketches from its most famous films. The staff of MIR’s St. Petersburg affiliated office recently made a field trip to the museum and shared photos with us. 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


Growing Up Soviet: A Firsthand Photo Essay

Growing Up Soviet: A Firsthand Photo Essay

I don’t remember talking much about communism, growing up. Nevertheless, in school I was a Little Octobrist and a Young Pioneer, both communist youth organizations. In this photo you can see my Lenin pin. It’s 1983 in this photo, and I was 9 years old. Read More


Jewish Heritage in Russia: Travel to Moscow, St. Petersburg, Birobidzhan

Jewish Heritage in Russia: Travel to Moscow, St. Petersburg, Birobidzhan

Russia has changed a great deal since the fall of the Soviet Union. A new generation of Russians is reconnecting with Jewish heritage and welcoming those who want to explore their ancestry. MIR is an expert at hand-crafting itineraries for travelers searching for their roots, or their relatives, in Russia. For those interested in traveling to Russia to explore Jewish heritage, here are some places you could include on your trip… Read More