Moscow – World Cup 2018

Sunday was Russia’s world cup final… An amazing outcome with France and Croatia fighting for triumph… France won its second star… Croacia will be forever remembered for the amazing football it played on this cup….

I am so glad I had the chance to attend, for the first time, to this amazing event… I expected it would be fun but it way outperformed my expectations…

First, I was returning to Russia after being there 18 years ago… In the early 2000, Russia was still in transition from communism to what is today and I was looking forward to seeing what transformations had really occurred… I tell you… Moscow is AMAZING… In my opinion it has become a lot more interesting than many European capitals… So much to do and see… English can still be a problem as I noted that not many people speak it but technology has helped immensely with UBER and Google translator.

The trip started with a visit to St. Petersburg… but it will be subject of another post… as I decide to break this trip into 4 different posts:

  1. Moscow – the one I am just writing.
  2. St Petersburg
  3. Kazan – Dont miss this one…. Amazing place
  4. Sunday Brunch in St Petersburg – as part of my series….

Moscow was the second place we visited in this trip and to get there we took the high speed train from St. Petersburg to Moscow’s train station. It was the right choice, the train was clean, fast and service was impeccable.  As you may know, Moscow has 5 airports around it and all of them are quite far from the city center. If we were to take a flight from St. Petersburg to Moscow, it is likely that the journey from the airport to the hotel would take twice as much time as the flight time… whereas by train you arrive in the middle of the city… it is perfect and convenient…

10 minutes after disembarking, we took our UBER to the hotel, where we arrived about 10 minutes later… That is not bad for a city like Moscow. Alternatively we could have taken the subway… but with luggage, we decided to play it easy…  However Moscow’s subway is an attraction on its own and deserves the visit…

A curiosity about it is that they are very deep underground… I mean really deep down… it takes several minutes in the escalator to get to the bottom of it and the reason behind it is because the communists had in mind that the transport system needed to survive in case of bombing and the further deep it was, the greater the chances to survive an atomic attack… well, a lot of us were being born at the time of the Cold war and for us that fear is almost non existant, but at the time, nobody really knew if the war would break out or not….

So, dont miss to visit the following stations: Teatralnaya, Belorusskaya and Komsomolskaya, amongst others…

Moscow was a pit stop between St. Petersburg and Kazan. We came to the city as tourists and not to see any match… however it was really impossible to ignore that the city was surrounded by people of all of the world…

We stayed at the Ritz Carlton hotel which is 5 steps way from the Red Square, just behind the hotel National (which is a landmark and the most exquisite in town). Nevertheless, the Ritz Carlton is stunning and the top restaurant bar  – the O2 lounge has the 360 degrees view over Moscow.

My husband and I reserved a table to have dinner and see the sunset. The restaurant was full and the vibe was all around the world cup. We were given an amazing table which frontal view to the square. Sunset over the square  was a moment which will probably stay in my mind forever. Some places and moments have more impact than others… this was some magical moment which I dare to say felt like a second honeymoon.

In terms of visit, as we were 2 steps away from the red square, it was obvious to start the visit there. The read square makes boarder with 4 landmarks: the Kremlim, the Historical Museum, Gum the UBER shopping center and the St. Basils Cathedral. Also, within the square, it is situated Lenin´s mausoleum.

On this trip, a huge world cup fan zone was constructed in the middle of the square, where tourists could enjoy the games and also participate in the various activities that the cup sponsors had put in place.

It took us a couple of hours to visit the square and we finished it with a visit to GUM. As I mentioned GUM is supposed to be a shopping center but it is more than that, it is a stunning building full of arcades which is place for most luxurious local and international brands…. Under communism regime this place was expropriated and turned into governmental offices… However, this time seems quite remote when one stroll around the luxurious corridors of the mall.

When visiting a city I like to walk and we decided to go behind the square in the direction of the river…. A long stroll that gives incredible views of the Kremlin and the St. Basil Cathedral.

St. Basil´s Cathedral is more than a landmark. Not that you would be able to miss it when visiting Moscow.

Moscow has been completely renovated to prepare for the world cup. The parks and buildings were absolutely spotless.

Another place that we aimed to visit was the Bolshoi Theatre. Unfortunately we could not see a ballet. The day we had a night free was a Monday and the ballet does not perform on Mondays. I had gone 18 years ago and I would have liked to go back. Nevertheless it was possible to visit the building to grasp some of its grandeur.

In terms of eating, we enjoyed the sushi and the Asian cuisine at O2 Lounge, as I mentioned before, but we also had the chance to go and try one of the trendiest pizza places of Moscow… at Bocconcino…. The pear and gorgonzola pizza was just delicious… a great place to visit and full of locals…

Also… a stroll around Tverskaya can be very pleasant… it is the commercial street which has a lot of history to it… full of shops and cafes… its back streets are calm and pleasant… Great place to observe locals and architecture.

2 days for this magnificent city was just not enough…. It took me 18 years to come back for the 2nd time… I feel now that it will not take another 18 years for a return.

xx Valentina