Vologda Oblast: Vologda

Who says the Golden Circle has to be a circle? So a long drive took me to one of Russia’s northern provinces – Vologda Oblast. This is deep Russia, without busloads of Chinese tourists, but nonetheless even more spectacular! Vologda. Founded in 1147 along the banks of the Vologda River, the city grew around the medieval Kremlin. The walled Kremlin easily rivals those in Rostov or Moscow, although perhaps less restarted. A spectacular silver-onion domed St Sophia Cathedral stands in the middle with a separate Bell Tower where you can climb creaky wooden spiral staircase for an absolutely surreal panorama from the top of the Kremlin and Vologda beyond. Vologda is also famous in Russia for its butter (which is ultra-yellow and rich) and lace.