Travel Passengers dine in the restaurant car of the Red Arrow to St Petersburg

For 150 years the railway line between Moscow and St Petersburg ran as straight as an arrow for 403 miles. Straight, but for one big bend near Novgorod. The story goes that Tsar Nicholas was so fed up of officials dithering over the route that he plonked a ruler on the map and drew a straight line between the two cities, accidentally drawing around his finger in the process. Too terrified to point out his error, the builders constructed the railway with the Tsar's bump in place.

Get me out of here: Madrid, St Petersburg, Reykjavik

Now... Departing on 6 August, there's a three-night city break to Madrid being offered by easyJet Holidays for £149 per person. The price includes flights from Gatwick and B&B at the smart, centrally-located Petit Palace Alcala Torre hotel, close to the lively cafés and upmarket shops of the Gran Vía. The Royal Palace and Almudena cathedral are within reach nearby. Holidays.easyjet.com

Catherine the Great's influence felt at new Edinburgh art show

Empress Catherine the Great demonstrates her powerful and enduring cultural influence over Russia in a new art exhibit at Scotland's National Museum that opened today.

The Queen of Spades, Grange Park, Hampshire
Così fan tutte, Holland Park, London

This impressive staging of Tchaikovsky's opera manages to be both playful, and deadly serious

Ksar Char Bargh, Marrakech: 'It was an oasis of elegance and tranquillity. The hammam was unforgettable'

Marina Salye: Distinguished geologist who became a vociferous opponent of Putin

Marina Salye was a geologist of considerable repute, locating mineral deposits in the furthest and least hospitable reaches of the Soviet Union and producing dozens of academic papers and six monographs. But she came to prominence as a pugnacious and eloquent leader of the perestroika-era democratic movement in Leningrad, and as a sharp critic of Vladimir Putin ever since she uncovered gross financial malpractice in his St Petersburg office in the early 1990s.

Gay rights activists protest in St Petersburg with banners reading 'Homophobia is a shame on the State'

St Petersburg: Gay communities living in fear

As Russia launches a new legal crackdown, homosexuality is becoming a love that dare not speak its name

St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra / Temirkanov, Barbican Hall, London

When you are arguably the greatest violinist in the world a four-year “time out” from the public arena can seem like an eternity.

Madonna at the Super Bowl

Madonna pledges to speak up for gay rights

Madonna faces a showdown with the Russian legal system after she promised yesterday to speak out against a new law prohibiting "homosexual propaganda" in St Petersburg.

Madonna vows to fight anti-gay laws in concert

Madonna faces a showdown with the Russian legal system after she promised today to violate a new law that prohibits "homosexual propaganda" in the city of St Petersburg.

Foreign Secretary, William Hague, has denied that he opposed the health reforms

Russia vote 'needs investigating' says William Hague

Foreign Secretary William Hague called today for allegations of irregularities in Russia's presidential elections to be "thoroughly investigated".

Leading article: Mr Putin must not stifle this chance for change

When a misty-eyed Vladimir Putin celebrated his election victory with supporters in Moscow on Sunday, he said: "We have won in an open and honest battle." That is not what the OSCE observers concluded. In their preliminary report, they said that while the actual voting was well organised and efficient, the campaign was "clearly skewed" in Mr Putin's favour, "and the process deteriorated during the count due to procedural irregularities". Golos, an independent Russian election watchdog, said the polls could not be considered "fair and open".

Thousands contest Vladimir Putin's victory at Moscow rally

Thousands of Russians gathered today for a massive rally to challenge Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's victory in Russia's presidential election, chanting "Shame!" and "Russia without Putin!"

Britain 'keen' to see Russian election reports

Britain is awaiting the reports of independent election observers “with interest” after Vladimir Putin claimed victory at the Russian polls.

Britain 'keen' to see Russian election reports

Britain is awaiting the reports of independent election observers “with interest” after Vladimir Putin claimed victory at the Russian polls.

Army of volunteer monitors is mobilised to help make vote-rigging a thing of the past

The calls came every few seconds yesterday to the headquarters of Citizen Monitor, where dozens of telephone operators sat in booths hired from a call centre for the weekend. The operators were all volunteers, as were the 4,000 or so monitors that the organisation had posted around Moscow to watch over the vote at various polling stations.

Latest stories from i100
Career Services

Day In a Page

A
Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 15 May 2015
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy