Daily Escape

Great Wall of China

Photo by Christopher Herwig / Aurora Photos

Great Wall of China

Gansu, China

In case you need a refresher on one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World, the Great Wall of China, which ranged from 5,500 to 13,171 miles (depending on various archeological studies), was built to protect the Chinese Empire from invading countries and nomadic groups. The Jiayuguan or Jiayu Pass (pictured), located in northern China, is one of the Great Wall’s best-preserved military fortifications. The series of gates and turrets, built of mud bricks, was feared by invaders and the Chinese alike: When citizens were banished from the empire, they were pushed out through Jiayuguan’s gates.


You Might Also Like

Star Ferry
Go Stargazing

Go Stargazing

Get an amazing skyline view from the Star Ferry, which takes you to the Kowloon Peninsula. When you debark, walk the Avenue of Stars promenade, a harborside walkway modeled after Hollywood?s Walk of Fame that honors Hong Kong?s cinematic stars. Bonus: Stay after dark to watch the Symphony of Lights, a music and laser light show that plays in Victoria Harbor every night at 8 o?clock (weather permitting). 960 1280

Getty Images News  

Say Hi to Mickey

Say Hi to Mickey

The last thing you might think to do in Hong Kong is visit an outpost of American culture, but Hong Kong Disneyland, on Lantau Island, features several ?lands? you won?t find in any other Disney theme park. In Toy Story Land, you?ll shrink down to the size of a toy and wander through bamboo meant to represent blades of grass. In Grizzly Gulch, reminiscent of Disneyland?s Frontierland, you can explore an abandoned mining town overrun by bears. And Victorian-era Mystic Point is home to Mystic Manor, an enchanted mansion in which everything inside it has come alive. 960 1280

Reuters/Paul Yeung  

Dine in a Floating Restaurant

Dine in a Floating Restaurant

If you really want to say you?ve ?done? Hong Kong, you must enter the Jumbo Kingdom. Located in the middle of Aberdeen Harbor and reached by a free shuttle boat, the attraction includes both Jumbo and Tai Pak Floating Restaurants, longtime icons of Hong Kong?s dining scene. You might not have your best meal in Hong Kong at this tourist mecca, but skipping the city?s famous floating restaurants is like visiting New York and not eating a hot dog. 960 1280

The Image Bank/Getty Images  

Find Serenity

Find Serenity

Smack dab in the midst of high-rise apartment buildings, you?ll find nearly 9 acres of solitude in Nan Lian Garden. Lotus ponds, scented trees and banyan groves cover this public park, landscaped according to strict regulations. Connected to the garden, you?ll encounter Chi Lin Nunnery, a temple complex whose dark wood and stone contrast with the steel and cement of the city surrounding it. 960 1280

Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images  

Dive in the Ocean (Park)

Dive in the Ocean (Park)

Disney may have the greater brand recognition, but Hong Kong?s Ocean Park gets more visitors. Covering 226 acres, the park offers something for everyone: 4 different roller coasters and other thrill rides, a 650-foot observation tower, the world?s largest aquarium dome, a walk-through rainforest, and all manner of animals from giant pandas and killer whales to walruses and monkeys. 960 1280

Universal Images Group / Getty Images  

Go Island Hopping

Go Island Hopping

Visitors who fly into Hong Kong arrive via Lantau Island, site of Hong Kong International Airport. Most continue on to the city proper, but Lantau offers many reasons to hop back over for some sightseeing. One of the biggest?literally?is the Tian Tan Buddha, or ?Big Buddha,? an 85-foot bronze statue at the Po Lin Monastery. Getting there is part of the adventure: the 3.5-mile-long Ngong Ping Cable Car ride ascends from Tung Chung Bay up the side of the mountain, offering more stunning views of the islands and sea. 960 1280

Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images  

Climb the Dragon's Back

Climb the Dragon's Back

A nature hike may seem out of place in one of Asia?s densest urban centers, but some 40 percent of Hong Kong is set aside as protected parkland. Within this open space, you?ll find Dragon?s Back Trail, often called one of the best urban walks in the world. Along undulating hills, you?ll get stunning views of the island and surrounding South China Sea. Less than an hour via train or bus from central Hong Kong, you can easily do this excursion in half a day. 960 1280

Mat Booth  

Visit the Peak

Visit the Peak

Whether you go to check it off your list or to get your bearings before exploring the city, head straight to the top of Victoria Peak when you arrive so you don?t leave without doing it. Like looking down on Rio from Corcovado or gazing down into the Grand Canyon, it?s one of the world?s most jaw-dropping views. A funicular train takes you to ?the Peak,? where you can explore nature trails, tourist attractions and, of course, a spectacular view of Victoria Harbor and Hong Kong?s countless skyscrapers. 960 1280

Robert Harding World Imagery / Getty Images  

See the Skyline

See the Skyline

The skyscraper-studded skyline is arguably Hong Kong?s most iconic feature. To see it from the water, go the uber-traditional route and climb aboard an authentic, red-sailed Chinese junk boat. The Duk Ling, operated by the Hong Kong Tourism Board, sets sail multiple times a week. Or go straight up to the 118th floor of the Ritz-Carlton and stare at the city from the OZONE bar, reputed to be the highest watering hole in Asia. 960 1280

AFP / Getty Images  

Explore the Markets

Explore the Markets

Shopping is near the top of any list of things to do in Hong Kong. To get a uniquely local shopping experience, seek out one of the city?s many street markets. If you simply wander, you?re likely to stumble upon one, but the Temple Street Night Market is one of the best. You?ll find everything from menswear and electronics to opera singers and fortune tellers. Other markets worth a visit are the Ladies? Market on Tung Choi Street and Stanley Market on the south side of Hong Kong Island. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Ice Hockey
Ice Hockey

Ice Hockey

We love the Russians for their sportsmanship and fan spirit. Here in the US, we’ve adopted their love for ice hockey, but there are other popular sports in Russia, including basketball, football, gymnastics, wrestling, boxing, rugby, skiing, rugby and bandy -- a “cheaper” version of hockey where skaters use sticks to direct a ball into the opposing team’s goal. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Moscow Royal Ballet

Moscow Royal Ballet

Russia is known for its excellence in fine arts. We love watching dancers from the Moscow Royal Ballet, accompanied by the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, perform to Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake.” The country has also cranked out several unforgettable artists, including ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov and composer Igor Stravinsky. 960 1280

Karim Sahib/Getty Images  

Matryoshka Dolls

Matryoshka Dolls

Visit any Russian souvenir shop and you’re sure to find matryoshka dolls, a set of wooden dolls of decreasing size placed one inside the other. The first nested doll set was carved in 1890; today, they don’t always follow the traditional peasant girl theme. Some themes vary from fairy tale characters to Soviet leaders, yet artistry in the painting of each doll remains a constant. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837)

Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837)

We love that Russian authors and poets are honored all over the world. In Medellin, Colombia, a statue of Alexander Pushkin was donated by the Russian Writers’ Union to the University of Antioquia. Pushkin was a Russian author of the Romantic era whom many consider the greatest Russian poet and the founder of modern Russian literature. Other popular Russian writers include Leo Tolstoy and Anton Chekhov. 960 1280

RAUL ARBOLEDA  

Caviar

Caviar

What better place to taste some of the world’s best and freshest caviar than in Russia? Sample sevruga, the least expensive caviar, or beluga, the most expensive, followed by ossetra. We recommend sampling the sevruga caviar served with buckwheat pancakes at Café Pushkin in Moscow. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Sochi

Sochi

We love the fact that Sochi, Russia’s largest resort town, located on the Black Sea coast near the border between Georgia and Russia, will be transformed into the host city for the 2014 Winter Olympics; it will also be a host city for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova

We admire Maria Sharapova’s stamina and competitive edge. Although the Russian pro tennis player has lived in the US since 1994, she is the top Russian player, winning 29 WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) singles titles, including 4 Grand Slam titles. And as of September 2013, WTA has ranked her the third-best woman tennis player in the world. 960 1280

Reuters  

Milla Jovovich

Milla Jovovich

We love Russian actors like Yul Brenner for his Broadway performance in “The King and I.” And on the opposite end of the spectrum, we love Milla Jovovich. You may recognize Milla as the take-charge women who kicked butt in the popular sci-fi movie franchise Resident Evil. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Chicken Kiev

Chicken Kiev

We enjoy eating chicken Kiev, a breaded cutlet dish of boneless chicken breast pounded and rolled around in cold garlic butter with herbs. This popular Russian entrée can be fried or baked. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Alexander Ovechkin

Alexander Ovechkin

Fans of the Washington Capitals love their Russian hockey winger and captain, Alexander Ovechkin. Prior to playing in the NHL, Alexander played for the HC Dynamo Moscow of the Russian Superleague for 4 seasons. To date, he has racked up several prestigious awards, including 3 Hart Memorial trophies (Most Valuable Player), 3 Lester B. Pearson Award/Ted Lindsey Award (Most Outstanding Player), NHL Player of the Year and the Wayne Gretzky Award (MVP). 960 1280

Getty Images  

Saint Basil's Cathedral

Saint Basil's Cathedral

We love Russia’s unique architecture, as you’ll see when visiting Saint Basil’s Cathedral, located in Moscow’s Red Square. The cathedral, built between1555 and 1561 on the orders of Ivan the Terrible, commemorates the capture of Kazan and Astrakhan. The building was an influential precursor to the great age of Russian national architecture in the 17th century. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Beef Stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff

We love Russian cuisine, including goulash, chicken Kiev, birsch and kvass, but beef stroganoff is yet another tasty dish we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention. This delicious dish consists of sautéed pieces of beef sometimes served over a bed of rice or noodles with sour cream. 960 1280

iStock  

The Kremlin

The Kremlin

We love sightseeing in Russia and visiting Hermitage Museum, Valley of Geysers, Lake Baikal, Red Square, St. Petersburg and the Moscow Kremlin (pictured). Overlooking the Moskva River to the south, the Kremlin is a historic complex that features 5 palaces, 4 cathedrals and the enclosing Kremlin Wall and towers. It is the official residence of the President of the Russian Federation. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Kizhi Island

Kizhi Island

Take a boat ride to explore Kizhi Island. Located on Lake Onega, Kizhi has become part of an open-air museum with more than 80 historic wooden structures, moved from parts of Karelia for preservation purposes. Dating back to the 17th century, Kizhi Pogost is the most famous historic site, built only of wood. It includes 2 large wooden churches and a bell tower inside a fence. Kizhi Pogost is a UNESCO World Heritage site; it’s also listed as a Russian Cultural Heritage site. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Vodka

Vodka

We love vodka! We couldn’t have our tasty cocktails like a bloody Mary, screwdriver, white Russian, Moscow mule or a vodka martini without this distilled liquor and the proper mixers. According to legend, a monk named Isidore from Chudov Monastery, inside the Moscow Kremlin, made a recipe for the first Russian vodka in 1430. Some popular Russian brands of vodka include Russian standard and Stolichnaya. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Doctor Zhivago

Doctor Zhivago

We love the forbidden love story that unfolds in the 1965 movie Doctor Zhivago, starring actors Omar Sharif (right), Geraldine Chaplin (left) and Julie Christie. Based on the novel by Russian author Boris Pasternak, the movie follows the life of a Russian doctor/poet who, although married, falls for a political activist’s wife and experiences hardships during the Bolshevik Revolution. 960 1280

Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images