Recently, Russia celebrated the 62nd birthday of President Vladimir Putin with a series of reimagined portraits depicting the leader in a variety of standard weekend pursuits, like capturing a bull, slaying a dragon and generally being the polarizing mega leader that many Russians love and hate, depending on whom you ask. But, in addition to Putin’s topless activities, the capital city of Moscow has boasts unique delights including caviar and vodka. Onward!
Where To Stay
The beauty of an international hotel chain is consistency and good quality. The downside is that they are the travel equivalent of a Starbucks and can be carbon copies. Thumbs up to the Intercontinental Moscow (Tverskaya ulitsa, 22, Moscow, Russia, 125009) for incorporating some Russian stylings (read: more bling than a 90’s rap video) into their property with a modern touch. And while Moscow hasn’t quite put its fur-coated arms around the boutique hotel market yet, those seeking local charm can find it at the The Sretenskaya for a more familial vibe.
What To See
The St. Basil’s Cathedral is the iconic vista by which most people will recognise Moscow. While the garish colours and relatively unique architectural features have a slight disneyish feel, it really is spectacular against a blue Russian sky. It’s home the vast and windy Red Square is gorgeous. Surrounded by Parisian style pavement cafes with the obligatory small groups of Russian babushka grandmothers, there are hours to be spent walking the wide pavements.
What To Bring Home
The Russian Matryoshka Dolls are actually of Japanese origin but the Russians have adapted the wooden doll inside a doll with more elaborate decorative painting. Pick up a figurine in one of the smaller shops surrounding Red Square rather than the more expensive ones inside the department stores. When choosing, don’t skimp on the keepsakes’ quirky humor and flair because nothing says ‘I’m just back from vodka’s motherland’ like a wooden doll painted to depict Bob Marley, U.S. President Obama or a variety of American basketball players.
Where To Eat
The Russian palate is tricky for some but Moscow has some incredible, unique restaurants to experience. A proud expression of its cultural heritage is Petrovich, a hybrid club-restaurant that makes a nod to the cheery period of Stalin’s Russia with Soviet memorabilia and classic local dishes including herring. Russian food is renowned for being heavy and filling so keep the portions small then move it onto the dance floor.
And as always, don’t forget the vodka!
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