RUSSIARussia is, without a doubt, one of world’s richest cultures. Public perception sees the country as a very cold territory, with heavy drinkers and a freezing, empty Siberia. The beauty of its women is never contested, as many models on the catwalk have a Russian surname. Vilified in movies, Russians may also appear violent, short-tempered and uncivilized. However, these are just prejudices.

A prejudice that seems to be true is national pride. Russians are indeed proud of their country and won’t accept others to badmouth it. They can be very loud, so don’t interpret a raised voice as a sign of aggressiveness, it can actually mean they’re happy to greet you. Don’t bring yellow flowers and don’t even think about baby showers. If a pregnant woman receives a gift before giving birth, it attracts bad omen. Also, accept tea invitations. It’s a socializing opportunity and a chance to make some small talk with your peers. They prefer black tea, served from a samovar, but this is usually not possible at the workplace and close friends usually talk in the kitchen.

RUSSIARussians love to know the person they’re working with and will side-eye colleagues that are too formal. Going out for drinks is a good way to break the ice. Drinking is often a human bonding habit and Russians are quite famous for enjoying alcohol. In recent years, in the summer, there have been more deaths due to swimming while drunk than because of the high temperatures. Also, since they have a low birth rate, a program in one of its regions was to celebrate a ‘sex day’, exactly 9 months before the National Holiday.

The Baikal lake, the Russian Stonehenge, Kremlin or the Red Square in Moscow, Saint Petersburg or the Trans-Siberian (that includes more than 5 time zones) are just a few attractions that Russia has to offer. Memorial houses for its renowned writers, palaces that once belonged to its tsars, ruins from military conflicts speak of the Russian culture. So pack your bags, get rid of your stereotypes and prepare for an amazing journey.

Hotel de Paris Monte Carlo Review

The Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo is breathtaking. Located on the world famous Place du Casino, this 257-room luxurious hotel is a must visit even if you can’t afford it. At least take a stroll through the hotel. Situated right along the beautiful French Riviera coast, the Hotel de Paris is host to celebrities and dignitaries who appreciate the high end spa treatment, the private designer pool and direct access to the beach.

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Wows and Woes

This hotel was once a palace, and you will be treated as royalty if you are fortunate enough to stay here. However, it costs a lot of money to be regal, and the Hotel de Paris is one of the most expensive places in Monaco.

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Insider Tips

The hotel currently has a classic two-night package that offers two nights and breakfast at the hotel for 690 Euros through January of 2010. New packages come along yearly so check the hotel’s Website before booking for the best deals.

Bottom Line

You will feel transported in time to a place where kings and queens lounged lazily in the sunshine while sipping sherry.


ANGOLA Angola is a Southern African country renowned for its oil reserves, its desert, diamonds and amazing landscapes. The giant sable antelope, an endangered species, lives in the Angolan forests. Much of Angola’s nature remains unaltered by humans since the war of independence (Angola was a Portuguese colony) and the Civil War slowed the evolution of the country. Due to its history, Angolan culture is an interesting mix of European civilization and Bantu cultural heritage.

Angolans are famous for being highly superstitious. Impoverished due to colonialism and war (although it experiences a fast recovery), many diseases haunt the country’s population. To better paint a picture, 1 child in 5 won’t make it to his or her 5th birthday. This has caused a number of superstitions. Angolans take very seriously accusations of witchcraft. If a child is sick, there might be a need for an official house blessing. Otherwise, the family will get sick too. Family, community, tribe – these are keywords for any Angolan. If one is accused of witchcraft, the entire family will be isolated. It’s not uncommon to exclude that person from the family. Also, if you see a dead snake on your way, you will die. While these superstitions might sound fun, so many of them are related to death because famine, HIV, malaria and postnatal death are common, so don’t joke about it.

ANGOLADon’t fall though under the impression Angolans are uncivilized and savage. They are actually very formal and respectful. They usually greet each other with a handshake, but if a senior member is present or a superior, they show their utter most respect by gently bowing. People don’t always think about death and sickness. Friends hang out with each other and love dancing. Semba (its ‘descendant’ is samba) is an Angolan upbeat and romantic music style. The youngsters enjoy playing basketball. When coming here, you might like the fact you don’t have to tip. If you want to, you can leave something small, cigarettes or candies, as a sign of appreciation.

As for travelling around, you have a