The idea of the Karelian vacation has been slightly transformed by the local tourism companies, which present the region to potential clients as exotic or even extreme tourism. However, Karelia is far from dangerous. About the worst thing that could happen is falling off your raft during a river trip.
Those who prefer to sightsee rather than enjoy nature will also find something to love in Karelia. It is home to a wide variety of old Russian churches and monasteries, including the famous wooden church on the island of Kizhi, which was reportedly built by one man with an axe using not a single nail. Legend holds that when he had finished his work, the architect threw his axe into the surrounding lake so that such a beautiful church could never be built again. The guides will tell you that there are, indeed, some nails holding the decorative panels on the roof, but this is no reason to miss a visit to this magnificent building, which tries to fool guests with its history.
The region is worth a trip in both summer and winter, when possible activities include riding in a sled behind a dog team and running from the banya to an ice hole and back. Summer hikers can visit the Kivach waterfall or the Demon's Chair plateau. And it is possible to drink the salubrious waters of Marcial Springs all year long. I would also recommend trying local fish – being close to Finland, Karelians have learned the best ways of cooking it – and have maybe even beaten the Finns at their own game.
After spending only a few days in this incredible place, you'll suddenly find Karelia returning to you in your dreams. That's also a line from the most popular Russian song about Karelia.
Where to stay in Karelia:
The Severnaya ("North") Hotel in the city center remains the most comfortable and popular place to stay, with single and double rooms at $60 to 100. As an alternative, all tour operators offer a choice of city hotels or inexpensive accommodation at their own cottages and guest houses.
Where to eat in Karelia:
Petrovski Restaurant is situated in the historical heart of the city, built in the early 1700s. They specialize in Karelian and medieval Russian dishes.
What do you prefer--folklore shows, jazz, opera or rock concerts? Make sure your visit coincides with one of the many festivals and venues held in Karelia throughout the year.
Speaking of Russian women, they are exceptional. The Karelian spirit and Karelian women are united in their northern researve, beauty and intelligence.
Russian women, women from Karelia
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