In Europe, 76 destinations off the beaten path
Looking beyond Rome, Paris or London? Consider Europe's lesser-known destinations, such as Monschau, Germany, a town so quaint you can hardly believe it isn't a theme park or San Marino, one of Europe's oldest and smallest countries (drive through it slowly).
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St. Petersburg, Russia( Dmitry Lovetsky / AP )
With 350 exhibition rooms and 3 million items in the Hermitage, the guidebooks said it would take seven years to view everything there, even with spending only one minute in front of each piece. So Molly and I decided to visit exhibits that could be seen nowhere else.
For 3 1/2 hours, we walked through history, entering and exiting the palace's elegant throne rooms, living rooms and bedchambers. In the White Dining Room, we saw the mantle clock that is still stopped at 2:10, the early-morning hour in 1917 when the Bolsheviks entered the room and ousted the leaders of the fledgling Provisional Government, changing the course of Russian history.
-- Don Drake
Read more: Roaming Russia: St. Petersburg, with guide and without
Pictured: Visitors walk through Palace Square under the Alexander Column of the Winter Palace.