Most Important Places to Visit While I Am in Eastern Europe?

Czestochowa, Poland - August 11, 2011 - Pilgrims from Cracow arrive to ...I am really blessed that I have been able to receive a grant to continue my art history studies in Cracow, Poland. It is sort of a convoluted story, but some time ago I met an extremely nice widow from Poland. She shared my interest in Art history and I did some work around her estate outside of New Haven, Connecticut. It never crossed my mind that she would keep track of my studies or have any interest in where I studied. However she provided me with this grant when I graduated and sent me a nice note too. She is not in the country now and I am going to leave for Europe before she returns. Now I am thinking about how I can take the best advantage of the opportunity.

Cracow is one of best places in Europe for a person with my interests, but it shall not be too terribly long before I want to go further afield. Obviously I shall want t visit all of the museums of Italy and France if that is practical and affordable, but I am going to plan some easier trips. Prague is going to be a very easy and obvious choice along with Vienna and Warsaw. I am wondering if I shall be able to travel to St. Petersburg, Russia with no real difficulty. It seems like just a passport will be fine in or out of the European Union. The Hermitage in St Petersburg will probably require an extended visit and I shall have to consider the expense of staying there. Is it true that they have problems with kidnappings in Russia? I have heard of such events, but I had always assumed that it was largely a problem for wealthy persons. However in some countries kidnapping afflicts even the lower classes.

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