Real Russia Blog

International Book Lovers Index
22
July
2019

International Book Lovers Index

The best holiday destinations in the world for lovers of literature

Russian literature is famous around the world as some of the best ever created. From War and Peace and Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, to Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, novels born from the enigmatic, thriving streets of Russia are loved and studied across the world. Even in Russia, books by Russian authors are some of the most prized possessions in households.

That’s why, here at Real Russia, we decided to investigate the deep history of books and the fascination and adoration in which they are held. With our International Book Lovers Index, we set out to discover which countries around the world are best for book lovers to visit.

So, what did the results say?

The number one country in the world for locations booklover’s need to flip through is the USA with a staggering 219 literature events and festivals taking place throughout the year – that’s almost one a day.

The USA soared to the top as the most bookmarked spot in the world, coming in first for number of novelists – with 8,314 authors having been born in the land of freedom.

Russia came flying in at fourth place with an overall book lover score of 29.5, and an incredible 101,981 books published every year.

The top 10 destinations are:

  1. USA
  2. India
  3. UK
  4. Russia
  5. Canada
  6. France
  7. Germany
  8. Australia
  9. Italy
  10. New Zealand

India and the UK both also ranked highly across the board, with the UK playing host to 166 literary festivals every year, and India publishing 90,000 books in that same period. Interestingly, India is also home to 1,118 libraries, compared to just 173 in the UK.

Both India and the UK are home to a number of fantastic literary sites and events to appease any visiting book lover. The UK has the fantastic London Book Fair and the Edinburgh International Book Festival, as well as Jane Austen’s House Museum, and the home of Shakespeare himself in Stratford-upon-Avon. India also has a number of literary events, including the Jaipur Fest, and the Great Indian Film and Literature Festival.

Of course, here at Real Russia we were thrilled to see Russia rank so highly – and it’s really no surprise, given the number of amazing authors that have come from the fantastic country! In fact, books are so well loved that it is customary to gift your hosts a book when visiting for a dinner party or engagement at someone’s house.

The classics include Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, but not all Russian literature is as heavy as this. Indeed, Russia is credited with the first ever dystopian novel – Yevgeny Zamyatin’s famous We which tells of a society wherein individual identity has been eradicated. Just over 300 famous novelists have come from Russia, and they’ve left their mark on the world in a staggering way.

Russia has a complicated and interesting history, and the citizens that lived here used literature to escape and explore what was happening in their society. That’s why there are so many following the turmoil of the 19th century, or exploring the fight for women’s rights, and the disintegration of the royal family in the early 20th century.

Clearly this escapism has worked, as there are currently just over 600 libraries across the country catering to the needs of literature lovers far and wide, and there are 35 fantastic literary events to enjoy. These include the Moscow International Book Fair, while travellers can also enjoy a visit to Tolstoy’s’ Estate-Museum, as well as the Vladimir Dahl Russian State Literary Museum.

The results by continent are as below:

Best country for book lovers in Europe: Russia
Best country for book lovers in Oceania: Australia
Best country for book lovers in North America: Canada
Best country for book lovers in South America: Argentina
Best country for book lovers in Asia: India
Best country for book lovers in Africa: South Africa

How we did it

To create our International Book Lovers Index, we looked at the following factors:

  • Literature tourism
  • Number of libraries
  • Number of novelists
  • Books published every year

Using these categories, we established an overall Book Lovers Score by scoring each country across the elements, and then ranking them based on this. Number of novelists and books published were each given a half-weighted score to balance out the differences in size and population across the countries.

Real Russia Blog

Go Help Charity Rally
31
March
2014

Go Help Charity Rally

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Text added August 2014

In celebration of us winning, ‘Russia's Leading Travel Agency’ at the World Travel Awards 2014 for the second consecutive year, we will be extending our support to Go Help further by making a donation! Thank you for the support from our customers and partners, without their help this award would simply not be possible.

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Original March blog for Go Help – re Chariy Rallies Launch (July 2014)

Real Russia is pleased once again to announce our involvement with the Go Help Charity Rally.

Go Help is a UK based charity where volunteers work with local communities in Central Asia and America in improving access to education and healthcare services.

Plans are well under way, as many voluntary teams are spreading awareness and support for their excellent cause. The teams aim to launch and operate ambulance services in third world countries and it is a cause that Real Russia feel is particularly worthy of support!

Under the ‘Charity Rallies’ name, ‘Go Help’ runs three rallies:

  • 'Mongolia Charity Rally’ – from London to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
  • 'Roof of the World Charity Rally’ – from London to Dushanbe, Tajikistan.
  • 'MesoAmerica Charity Rally’ – from San Diego to Siguatepeque, Honduras.

As Real Russia has assisted Go Help Charity Rallies over the last 3 years, our visa specialists are experienced and understand the timeline for the rallies and the border requirements specific to each route. We can provide support and preparations for visas for the Mongolian Charity Rally and the Roof of the World Charity Rally routes.

If you are a volunteer participating on one of these two routes and would like to arrange your visas, feel free to speak to one of our visa specialists, via email at:

Or by phone at, 0207 100 7370 (Ext 350) – The extension number 350 has been set up on the Real Russia phone line, specifically to help Charity Rally participants arranging their visas.

Please keep in mind that for the Mongolia Charity Rally (Southern Route) to allow enough time for the visa applications for all sections of the route, we have set a deadline of the 4th April 2014.

If you are interested to know more about the ambulance charity events ran by Go Help, see their website at:

Good luck to all teams raising support; hopefully we can help lighten the pressure of arranging the visas!

Keep in touch with us and share your progress with us on facebook, or twitter too – It'll be great to hear how you're trip has gone enroute!

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Real Russia Blog

The visa team – a day in the life

 

18
September
2013

The visa team – a day in the life

 

A seamless and efficient service, we thought you might be interested to know exactly what happens after applying for your visa by spending a day in the life of our visa team..

Opening promptly at 9am the team are ready with their computers on, phones manned and an all important cup of tea or coffee to hand. Based in Islington, London, the team are truly multicultural with an impressive nine different languages (including Russian) spoken between them!

Each member of the team has their individual tasks and they swing into action like a well oiled machine. The first thing is to check all emails for information regarding existing applications, also to capture any new requests. The courier also arrives as soon as the office doors open, delivering all posted applications straight from the post office. Each received application is then logged on our system with an automatic email sent to customers informing them that everything has arrived safely. If there are any issues, such as required documents that have not been included, the team will then specifically contact the customer to let them know (firstly by phone or email if they cannot be reached by phone). Received passports, photos and visa support documents are then collated and separated by either Express or Standard return service level, then by the country the visa is required for, before being sent to the relevant consulate by our in-house courier.

Around midday, standard service visa applications prepared and submitted by the team the previous day are returned by the courier from the Russian consulate, conveniently located just around the corner. Each passport with a visa is then individually checked to make sure there are no errors (checking names, entry and exit dates, if it should be a multiple entry visa, or if there are more than one country to be visited). By approximately 1pm, all other applications from different consulates (Mongolian and Chinese for example) are returned and go through the same checking process.

In the afternoon the Express service applications are returned from the Russian consulate, checked by the team and then returned to the customer by recorded delivery.

The final tasks of the day are to finalise any paperwork for new applications ensuring that all information matches that found on our system. Based on the number of applications, the in-house courier service is then planned for the following day – when the process starts all over again!

Real Russia supports thousands of people travelling to the region with all aspects of travel services including planning unique Trans-Siberian rail tours, booking hotels or other accommodation, transfers from the airport to your hotel, Russian train tickets and Moscow and St Petersburg short tours. All supported by our visa team providing the relevant services to help you gain the visas you need when travelling to Russia.

If you are planning a visit to Russia, China, Mongolia or beyond and would like additional guidance or information, then do not hesitate to contact a member of our travel team who will be pleased to help.

Real Russia Blog

Real Russia are winners at the World Travel Awards 2013
2
September
2013

Real Russia are winners at the World Travel Awards 2013

“Russia’s Leading Travel Agency 2013”

Our MD, Chris Watkins, and his wife attended the WTA ceremony, held in Turkey on Saturday night, and they were ecstatic to be presented with the title. It was a night full of glamour, excitement and celebrations with the whole of Europe’s travel elite in attendance. As Chris remarked, the award is “a great independent endorsement of our staff and their dedicated customer service”.

The category for Russia’s Leading Travel Agency had tough competition from world class organisations, including previous WTA winners. Although the competitors were strong, it was Real Russia’s services that shone through to be voted as the best by our satisfied customers and partners.

We’d like to send huge thanks to our fantastic customers, for taking the time to cast the all important votes. Also to our partners and affiliates for spreading the word about the nomination and encouraging their satisfied customers to speak up. Chris highlighted “this is a great reflection of appreciation as voted for by our customers. Our staff always strive to go above and beyond the call of duty to put the customer first, and it’s wonderful that this has been recognised”.

In celebration, Real Russia are delighted to make a contribution to our chosen charity, The Promise, who have also been a great support. The donation will help the charity, which takes care of orphaned children in Russia, to continue their excellent work.

Back in the 1990’s Chris fell in love with the unexplored beauty of Russia during a personal break. He recognised the unique qualities in the local people and the potential of the breathtaking destinations and wanted to make it accessible to everyone.

Today, Real Russia supports thousands of people travelling to the region with all aspects of travel services including planning unique Trans-Siberian rail tours, booking hotel or other accommodation in Russia, Russian train tickets and Moscow and St Petersburg short tours. All supported by our visa team providing the relevant services to help you gain the visas you need when travelling to Russia.

Winning the WTA means so much to everyone here at Real Russia, especially as the results are based on impartial votes from satisfied customers and members of public. It provides international recognition for our team of dedicated specialists, without whom Real Russia wouldn’t be where it is today.

Real Russia Blog

Lead up to the World Travel Awards 2013
23
August
2013

Lead up to the World Travel Awards 2013

Known as the Oscars of the travel world, this year marks the 20th anniversary and the Real Russia team are excited to find out if we have won. Nominated as Russia’s Leading Travel Agency 2013, we’re looking forward to attending the ceremony in Turkey on the 31st August, alongside the other travel industry greats.

The WTA president, Graham Cooke, highlights just how important it is to be recognised because “during times of economic uncertainty world-class brands come into their own”. Hopefully, the hard work of the Real Russia team will shine through, but either way, we’ll continue to dedicate ourselves to providing the best service and options for you.

Thank you to all who took the time to vote, we really appreciated it. We’ll let you know the results as soon as we do! Watch this space…

If you are planning a visit to Russia or beyond, and would like additional guidance or information, then do not hesitate to contact a member of our travel team who will be pleased to help.

You can rest assured that all of your travel plans will be taken care of efficiently by our dedicated team of experts. If you require visa services, train tickets, accommodation, a professional guide or internal transfers then look no further.

Real Russia Blog

Russian Visas for the PGA
16
August
2013

Russian Visas for the PGA

It is crucial that all the players, caddies, friends and family get to Russia, and so the important job of arranging all their visas has been given to us – the experts. The visa team will also be at the Travis Perkins plc Seniors Masters, held at Woburn on the 30th August to 1st September, to complete any remaining visa applications. We’ve had a great time getting to know all the players – even having a close encounter with the impressive winners’ cup! Real Russia wishes all the guys the best of luck during each of the tournaments.

If you want to support your favourite golfer, why not have a look at our Russian visa services to arrange your application?

Or, if you are planning a visit to Russia, China, or Mongolia, and would like additional guidance or information, then do not hesitate to contact a member of our travel team who will be pleased to help.

You can rest assured that all of your travel plans will be taken care of efficiently by our dedicated team of experts. If you require train tickets, accommodation, a professional guide or internal transfers then look no further.

You can check out the European Seniors Golf tournament and the players by visiting : https://www.europeantour.com/seniortour/index.html

Real Russia Blog

Visa Free Travel Agreement to Mongolia for German Citizens
26
July
2013

Visa Free Travel Agreement to Mongolia for German Citizens

From the 1st September, German citizens will be allowed to travel to Mongolia without a visa, as long as their stay does not exceed 30 days. Until then, the original requirements are still in place and German citizens are still required to obtain a visa to Mongolia before entry.

If you are planning a visit to Mongolia, and would like additional guidance or information, then do not hesitate to contact a member of our travel team who will be pleased to help.

You can rest assured that all of your travel plans will be taken care of efficiently by our dedicated team of experts. If you require visa services, train tickets, accommodation, a professional guide or internal transfers then look no further.

Real Russia Blog

St Petersburg Hermitage voted as Top Museum in the World 2013
12
July
2013

St Petersburg Hermitage voted as Top Museum in the World 2013

The museum was founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great and its collections, of which only small parts is on permanent display, including the largest collection of paintings in the world.

The collections occupy a large complex of six historic buildings along the Palace Embankment, including the Winter Palace which was the former residence of Russian emperors; and other buildings like Menshikov Palace. The collection holds Western European art collections including European paintings, sculpture and applied art from the 13th to 20th centuries, displayed in approximately 120 rooms on the first and second floor of the main buildings. Other collections include Egyptian antiques, classical antiques, and prehistoric art.

Catherine’s original collections included works of art from Rembrant, Rubens, Jacob Jordaens, Raphael, Holbein and others. Throughout her lifetime, Catherine collected over 4,000 paintings, 38,000 books, 10,000 engraved gems, 10,000 drawings and 16,000 coins among many other features and works of art.

If you have planned, or are planning, a visit to St Petersburg or other areas of Russia and would like any further information or guidance, then do not hesitate to contact a member of our travel team who will be pleased to help.

You can rest assured that all of your travel plans will be taken care of efficiently by our dedicated team of experts. If you require visa services, train tickets, accommodation, a professional guide or internal transfers then look no further.

Real Russia Blog

World Travel Awards Europe Voting Closes
12
July
2013

World Travel Awards Europe Voting Closes

Real Russia would like to thank The Promise – our nominated charity that looks after orphaned children in Russia – for helping to actively promote the nomination, encouraging everyone they know to vote. Additionally, a big thank you goes to our partners and affiliates for their hard work with helping us round up the votes. Last but not least, the final thanks goes to all of our staff and who went out of their way to help promote our nomination. Once the winners have been announced, we will let everyone know.

If you would like to find out more about the World Travel Awards, click here.

Or, if you would like to take a further look into our services that had us nominated for these prestigious awards; or are planning a visit to Russia, China, or Mongolia, and would like additional guidance or information, then do not hesitate to contact a member of our travel team who will be pleased to help.

You can rest assured that all of your travel plans will be taken care of efficiently by our dedicated team of experts. If you require visa services, train tickets, accommodation, a professional guide or internal transfers then look no further.

Real Russia Blog

Go Help Charity Rallies Launch
9
July
2013

Go Help Charity Rallies Launch

Go Help is committed to working with local communities across central Asia, to improve their access to education and healthcare services; and is run by a dedicated team of volunteers and professionals. The aim of the rallies is to raise money for charity projects in Mongolia or Tajikistan, by encouraging teams of two to four people driving ambulances and other vehicles to either Ulan Bator or Dushanbe. The vehicles are packed with education and medical supplies and these are left, with the vehicles, as a donation to local health and education services.

The day of the launch started with a meeting at the north side of the mall, where the teams and vehicles were allowed to prepare before moving to Horse Guards Parade. After 11am, everyone moved across to the Parade, where final videos and photos were taken and speeches were made. Shortly after 12:30pm, the two rallies set off and started their journeys.

Our Sales & Customer Services Manager, Mas Lavery, attended the launch and said that the cars all looked great, the teams were really friendly and up for the challenge ahead: “Great teams, great charity – and hats off to them, because I don’t fancy living in a van for 3 months!”

If you would like to embark on one of the rallies in 2014, or find out more information about the charity, visit their website or follow @charityrallies.

Or, if you would like to take a further look into our services that played a large part of the charity rallies; or are planning a visit to Russia, China, Mongolia, or Tajikistan and would like additional guidance or information, then do not hesitate to contact a member of our travel team who will be pleased to help.

You can rest assured that all of your travel plans will be taken care of efficiently by our dedicated team of experts. If you require visa services, train tickets, accommodation, a professional guide or internal transfers then look no further.