Just Back from Moscow!

Night view of street and Kremlin in Moscow. RussiaWe heard from many people who recently visited Moscow: how beautiful this city has become, how great and affordable the hotels and restaurants are and, of course, the museums and theatres. We needed to meet with our clients, so we decided to go.

We booked Peter’s Palace, a hotel for $120 Canadian dollars per night including breakfast for 2 people with unlimited champagne every morning. Unfortunately, we didn’t take advantage of that: we do not drink in the morning, but if that’s your thing, this is the hotel for you. Our flight to Moscow, with one stop in London, was a reasonable $1200 per person.

Cathedral of Christ the SaviourWe arrived to a beautiful weather, blooming lilac bushes and chestnut trees everywhere; kilometres of blooming tulips and stunningly decorated streets.

Moscow is a city of 12 million people and huge territory. When I left Moscow in 1997, the city was in very bad condition. After 70 year of communists, the Second World War, Perestroika, Russia as a whole, but specifically Moscow, were in a terrible state.

Since 2000, they not only completely restored the city and built many new buildings, parks, roads, and subway stations, but they did it with a great taste, using high quality materials to keep it all in the same condition for the next few centuries. The sidewalks are all in granite and every 2 meters, they have installed beautiful benches and street lights. All wires and hydro lines are underground so there is nothing to impede the view of the beautifully landscaped the streets. They widened the pedestrian streets and built safe bicycle lanes, lifting them up from the roads . And they did it all very quickly, adapting to working 24 hours a day.

Now, Moscow is a very clean, not because they clean it more, but It looks like people learned not to litter. They love their city in its beauty and are respecting it.

Restaurants are outstanding! Almost all of them are newly built or totally renovated, beautifully and lavishly decorated. I haven’t seen anything like them, even in Paris or New York. They brought the best chefs from different countries and learned from them how to cook. Each menu is a book, not a page. I do not want to compare these with other cities, but it was the first time I have ever visited that quality of restaurant without breaking my budget. The food is not only international, but also from different regions: from Georgia, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Ossetia, and Belarus. The most famous restaurateur in Moscow is Arkady Novikov. He has 50 outstanding restaurants in Moscow, London, Dubai, Saint-Petersburg and every one of them is an EVENT! My favourites are without a doubt Pushkin and Bolshoi.

Every night, we went to different theatres. First of all, it was very affordable with an average ticket for a seat in the orchestra section at $40 dollars; only the Bolshoi was $200 per person. Usually in Toronto, we pay $250 or more for quality seats at the ballet or opera. This time, we visited Bolshoi theatre. Twice! We saw Sleeping Beauty and the ballet competition. The quality of the performances were beyond all of our expectations. In the Moscow Conservatory, we saw Vladimir Putin! He was sitting just few rows in front of us.

There are 26 pedestrian streets in the centre of Moscow and the city has developed a program to entertain people. Every few weeks, there is a new festival on city squares and streets from morning to midnight, 7 days a week. Fun, food and music everywhere. And I do not think that city is spending a lot of money on it. They designed and decorated beautiful kiosks and allow businesses to sell their products.

One day, we took a walk along the harbour of the Moscow river. We were amazed to see how beautifully built it was. We saw people dancing on the river banks. The city hired dance teachers and everybody could come and learn to dance for free. Every 100 meters, there was a different dance and music.

You may not to be a rich person, but when you live in a city like Moscow, everything around you becomes part of your estate, so to speak; you get it for free. People enjoy a very cultural life and become happier because they touch the beauty every day.

And last but not least, people were so well dressed on the streets. Smoking and drinking are not fashionable any more and many young people are fit and sporty. I hope you enjoyed this short recounting of my last trip: I’m always happy to share these experiences with you!