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My ST. PETERSBURG highlights Having lived in this beautiful Russian city for many years, Karine Hagen, Executive Vice President of Viking, shares her top tips 80 VIKING.COM EXPLORE MORE 2020

TRAVEL Q: How long did you live in St. Petersburg? A: I lived in the city for about ten years, on and off. I first lived there when it was still called Leningrad. Q: What do you love most about the place? A: Its people. The kindest, most cultured people I know. Q: Where are your favorite places to eat in the city? A: I love Russian food, and one of my favorite dishes is borscht. I recommend trying it cold. Q: Which are your favorite museums and galleries? A: St. Petersburg is my top art destination as it has so much choice. I am particularly impressed by the storage facilities at the Hermitage. Viking guests can take a Privileged Access: The Hermitage Behind Closed Doors guided tour for exclusive access to these secured vaults to see the many treasures within. My talisman, and the piece of jewelry I have worn for the past 20 years, is a gold Scythian stag—a replica from the Gold Room and a symbol of the Hermitage. Q: What do you like to do in the evenings? A: I go to the Mariinsky Theatre, especially if my good friend Xander is performing. The first British dancer to sign with the Mariinsky, he rose quickly to become a soloist and was recently honored by the Queen with the rank of OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) for his service to United Kingdom and Russian cultural relations. Q: Do you have a favorite place to walk in the city? A: I love the Field of Mars—it is peaceful and symbolic of everything that the city has had to live through. An eternal flame burns in the center, commemorating the victims of the 1917 Russian Revolution. Q: What is your top tip for the first-time visitor? A: I would take a canal trip. There are around 100 canals and tributaries in the city, and over 800 bridges. As many of the grandest buildings are situated along the banks of the canals, it is the best way to see the city! Clockwise, from top right: The Church of Our Saviour on Spilled Blood is a landmark in the city; symbol of the Hermitage and Karine Hagen talisman, a gold Scythian stag; a bowl of borscht; visiting the ballet is a highlight; Karine Hagen in front of the world-famous Hermitage Museum Go online: Watch a video of The Hermitage Privileged Access tour at EXPLORE MORE 2020 VIKING.COM 81