Everyone loves to, or at least dreams of travel, but did you know travel can actually be good for you? Sure, travel can have its downsides, delays, lost baggage and other stresses, but for the vast majority of the billions of people who travel every year, this is not the case. The vast majority of travellers whether travelling for business of pleasure have few stresses if any at all.
So why is travel beneficial to your health? Travel can boost your immune system. It sounds bizarre, but travel helps your body fight infection and illness. Travel acts like a probiotic because your body is exposed to so much. Exposure to the dirt and germs of other countries is good for you and builds up stronger antibodies inside you. This, in turn, boosts your immune system.
An expanded mind improves brain health. Travelling introduces your brain to new experiences. New people, new cultures and new sites, sounds and smells. Hearing a new language and challenging yourself to learn and speak it is just an added boost to brain health. Studies have shown that there is a definite increase in creativity, cultural awareness and growth in a person generally. Good brain health leads to emotional stability, and in many cases, a more fulfilled life.
Lessen heart disease and increases fitness. Some people who have stressful trips may disagree with this, but in general, travel reduces stress in a person and everyone knows that reduced stress is good for the heart. Studies have shown that people who travel at least once a year on vacation to rest are less likely to have a heart attack. Sure, a lot of travelling means being sat on a Boeing at 39,000 feet for hours on end, or could mean just lounging on the beach soaking up the sun. But travelling to new places encourages people to explore, and exploration means getting up and getting active. Travel can provide an opportunity to try new things such as an extreme sport or it may just be that you walk around the city you are in more than you would at home. Travel is, for many, about exploring and doing new things, of course, there will be days of rest but it is getting to see the sites and sounds that really makes travel special.
Healing places. Some people travel for healing or at least upliftment, and there are many places around the world where people go just for this. Spas, springs and places of energy relax or uplift the body and soul. There are energy points that some believe in, such as Stonehenge in the UK or the pyramids of Egypt. Only by travelling can you find these healing places. Don’t forget certain foods found in some countries offer many health benefits, sometimes it is just the fact the fruit, for example, is picked off the tree by you and its freshness is what makes it better
Travel is really good for you. Most people enjoy it and to really gain more out of the experience, a language makes things even better. Speaking the language of the country you are visiting will make you feel more at ease and you will relax. A language can also help you communicate with locals and perhaps find out an age-old remedy, health boosting food or habit that could change your life forever. However you look at it, there is nothing wrong whatsoever with travelling, so, go on, get out there, explore and be healthy.
St Petersburg is one of my favourite cities - as many of you know my lovely husband is Russian and he has shown me his city through his eyes, which is why I might be slightly prejudiced!!
The first thing we do when we arrive in St Petersburg is walk through the city streets and reacquaint ourselves with the city. Many people don’t realise that St Petersburg is a city built on the delta of the River Neva (it is built on over 42 islands) and so is characterised by waterways and bridges. It is called Venice of the East, but in my opinion is more beautiful. To walk around the city and peer into courtyards can fill hours of time. Some buildings are spectacular, exuding history and some look like they are about to fall down. St Petersburg is a city full of contrasts. But the streets buzz with activity at all hours (especially during the summer months) and you can feel the energy pulsating in the air.
If you are in St Petersburg walk through the Mikhailovsky gardens towards the church on a summer’s day and then have a look through.
Another great thing to do in St Petersburg is to go on a boat trip around the canals. The canals in the city centre are the Moyka, Fontanka and Griboyedova. You can easily book a tour from the many sellers on Nevsky Prospekt but it is wise to ask what their itinerary is before paying. You will see a different side of the city on the water..
The Hermitage is another must. Even if you are not interested in museums and art galleries – it will impress you. I couldn’t believe that I was standing directly in front of a Rembrandt painting. No crowds, just me and Rembrandt. I have been to the Hermitage twice and still feel that I have only seen a small amount of this beautiful palace/art gallery. You can only absorb so much beauty in one sitting. My advice is to wear comfortable shoes and go wherever you feel.
During the summer months St Petersburg experiences White Nights (Mid-June to the end of July). During this time, the night is like twilight and it only gets dark for one or two hours. Stay up one night and watch the bridges open from 2.30am to 5am to let the big ships come into the harbour. It is a spectacular sight.
I look forward to hearing if you’ve been to St Petersburg and your thoughts about my favourite city……
Russia is the largest country in the world and offers a broad range of travel experiences, from treks up the slopes of glacier-capped mountains to strolls along the shoreline of Earth’s oldest lake. Historical sites and cultural activities in the country’s great cities abound as well. Whether you’re exploring the grounds of Moscow’s Kremlin or wandering through the steppes of Mongolia, a visit to Russia is an adventure not soon forgotten. (www.touropia.com)
St Petersburg hosts many wonderful sites which include the Hermitage, with its baroque and rococo styles, Voltaire’s library, which was bought out by the educated Catherine, and the Kunstcamera museum is a must for visitors to St Petersburg. Palace Square is at its best at night, whereas the interiors of Saint Isaac’s and Kazan Cathedrals look better in daylight when rays of light play on the mosaics and paintings. However, the best mosaic collection is in the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood. For a true feeling of the city, you should try to see a ballet in Mariinsky Theatre.
Another interesting place to visit is Mount Elbrus which is in the Caucasus Mountain Range in Southern Russia. At 5,642 meters (18,510 ft), Elbrus is included as one of the Seven Summits, the highest summits on each of the planet’s seven continents, attracting both experienced and novice mountain climbers. While the mountain was formed from a volcano, it is considered dormant, with no recorded eruptions. A cable car system can take visitors as high as 3,800 meters (12,500 ft), facilitating ascents to the summit.
As the capital of Russia, Moscow is a very common place to visit. In contrast to St Petersburg, Moscow is a city of wide avenues and massive Soviet buildings – from the Lenin Russian State Library which has 275 km of shelves, to Stalin skyscrapers representing Stalin’s Empire style. All tourists, however, go to see the Kremlin and Red Square first. Having originally been a market and an execution yard (the place of bread and circuses), Red Square is now the first port of call for foreign and local tourists alike. Even today, it is the centre of Moscow life, allowing you to plunge into the history of the city quickly and easily.
If you are planning a trip to Russia, consider learning the language before you go! Contact VLLC to commence one of our individually tailored courses to suit you.
Travelling is an exciting opportunity which can be enhanced by learning the language before you go. This blog contains some interesting articles about language and travel.