Lo­cal’s Guide: Moscow

Nike mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions lead Anna Do­batk­ina takes us to her top places to eat, drink and be merry in Rus­sia’s fas­ci­nat­ing cap­i­tal.

Virgin Australia Voyeur - - DECEMBER - As told to ANDY LEWIS

103 Mar­ket­ing ex­ec­u­tive Anna Do­batk­ina leads us around the hotspots of the Rus­sian cap­i­tal.

ANY­ONE WHO SPENT TIME in Moscow dur­ing the FIFA World Cup this year will have ex­pe­ri­enced some­thing truly spe­cial. I was born in Moscow, have lived here on and off my en­tire life, and can hon­estly say that it was the city at its best, shin­ing brightly when it was just so vi­tal to do so. The night of 1 July stands out. Rus­sia had beaten Spain at the Luzh­niki Sta­dium to reach the quar­ter-fi­nals and what fol­lowed was one of the most ju­bi­lant par­ties in the his­tory of Moscow. What re­ally made that night so sig­nif­i­cant was the sight of foot­ball fans from all over the world bond­ing with Rus­sians and join­ing us to cel­e­brate our vic­tory. I was al­ways con­fi­dent vis­it­ing sup­port­ers would em­brace Moscow and that this was an op­por­tu­nity to al­ter per­cep­tions. I wit­nessed this hap­pen on the streets right in front of me, and hope­fully now more peo­ple will be en­cour­aged to visit.

Through­out the World Cup, fans made the city’s historical cen­tre their home, just as any vis­i­tor should. There you will find the im­pe­rial Moscow of the tsars, early-Soviet con­struc­tivism, Stalin’s Moscow and modern-day Moscow rub­bing shoul­ders. Each guise can be spot­ted in the heart of the city, known as the Gar­den Ring, and it makes no sense to stay any­where else.

If you have the bud­get, base your­self at Ararat Park Hy­att Moscow, which has ex­cep­tional ser­vice and fa­cil­i­ties. An­other very ap­peal­ing — and brand­new — op­tion is the StandArt Ho­tel Moscow, and the MOSS Bou­tique Ho­tel, gar­nished with orig­i­nal art and idio­syn­cratic in­te­rior de­sign, is su­perb. All three are within walk­ing dis­tance of your Moscow es­sen­tials: Red Square, the Krem­lin and St Basil’s Cathe­dral.

Walk­ing across the cob­ble­stones of Red Square is like step­ping into a men­tal post­card of Moscow you didn’t know you had stored away. At one end is the State Historical Mu­seum, the other the Asi­atic onion-shaped domes of St Basil’s, while the mag­nif­i­cent square is flanked by the Krem­lin and GUM shop­ping cen­tre. You should be able to tick these off in a day, even if GUM’s bou­tiques suck you in, or mor­bid fas­ci­na­tion com­pels you to join the in­vari­ably mam­moth queue to en­ter Lenin’s Mau­soleum.

How­ever, if mum­mi­fied po­lit­i­cal icons aren’t your thing then per­haps more shop­ping is, and at KM20 or Be­lief you will find streetwear from both in­ter­na­tional and home­grown Rus­sian de­sign­ers. The Tsvet­noy Cen­tral Mar­ket, a 20-minute walk from Red Square, is like Moscow’s equiv­a­lent of Sel­fridges.

Go un­der­ground for an­other great at­trac­tion — the Moscow Metro. The city’s sub­way sta­tions are beau­ti­ful, built un­der Stalin’s or­ders. He was de­ter­mined to con­struct the world’s finest metro sys­tem and claim a tech­no­log­i­cal and ide­o­log­i­cal tri­umph for the Sovi­ets. High­lights are Ploshchad Revolyut­sii, Mayakovskaya, Kievskaya, Ok­tiabrskaya and Kom­so­mol­skaya. Sign up for a metro tour or try to fit them in around your plans.

Ok­tiabrskaya is the near­est sta­tion to Gorky Park, which in the past decade has be­come Moscow’s an­swer to Cen­tral Park. Just as the city has flour­ished, so has the park. The stale fun­fair rides and 1980s vibe has been swept away, re­placed by im­mac­u­late green spa­ces, mu­se­ums, gal­leries and cafe cul­ture. The area is also a ma­jes­tic set­ting for a run.

At the park’s heart is the Garage Mu­seum of Con­tem­po­rary Art, built and paid for by Ro­man Abramovich, the owner of English Premier League foot­ball club Chelsea. Yes, the Mul­ti­me­dia Art Mu­seum, Mu­seum of Cos­mo­nau­tics and Schu­sev Mu­seum of Ar­chi­tec­ture are all worth your time, but I would pri­ori­tise a visit to Garage. The per­ma­nent ex­hi­bi­tion charts Rus­sian art from the 1950s to the present day.

Op­po­site Gorky Park, you can also check out Muzeon Art Park, a col­lec­tion of more than 700 stat­ues and sculp­tures. Most are de­funct relics of the Soviet age which have found their home here. Be­lieve me, it’s a sur­real ex­pe­ri­ence hav­ing dozens of con­crete Lenin heads eye­balling you in uni­son. Talk­ing of Soviet icons, few are grander than Stalin’s ‘Seven Sisters’, and these Baroque/Gothic-in­flu­enced sky­scrapers are worth a visit.

No Euro­pean city break would be com­plete with­out a trip to a huge church. In Moscow, that would be the Cathe­dral of Christ the Saviour. The orig­i­nal cathe­dral was de­stroyed by the com­mu­nists in 1931, but plans to re­place it with a Soviet palace never ma­te­ri­alised and the site even­tu­ally be­came home to

the world’s (then) largest out­door swim­ming pool. Boris Yeltsin or­dered the re­build­ing of the cathe­dral in the 1990s. It was here, in Fe­bru­ary 2012, that an im­promptu per­for­mance by Rus­sian ac­tivist group Pussy Riot earned them global at­ten­tion — and prison sen­tences.

Af­ter a long day of sightseeing you’ll need to unwind and in Rus­sia we do this at the banya (sauna). The San­duny in cen­tral Moscow, es­tab­lished in 1808, is a su­perb ex­am­ple of a tra­di­tional banya.

The bathing rit­ual in­volves be­ing hit with bunches of dried tree branches, but don’t let that put you off, it’s healthy, re­lax­ing and au­then­tic. Trust me, there’s noth­ing more Rus­sian than work­ing up a sweat beat­ing your friends with a stick.

Af­ter the banya it’s time for eat­ing. Moscow’s restau­rant scene has boomed in re­cent years. You will be amazed at how cheap it is to eat at top restau­rants. A main course at a num­ber of top eater­ies will only cost around $15. Sev­eryane is my favourite, able to hit the sweet spot be­tween a re­laxed night out with friends and fine din­ing. Meat dishes will be pre­pared in a tra­di­tional Rus­sian oven — both the duck main and beef ten­der­loin are pop­u­lar, but I al­ways or­der the pump­kin and shrimp starter. Else­where, Tehnikum is very cen­tral and a fine choice for break­fast, lunch or din­ner, as is Dr Zhivago just a block from the Krem­lin. The seafood at sushi restau­rant Cut­fish is ex­cel­lent, as are the modern Euro­pean menus at Fahren­heit or Pinch. For an au­then­tic Rus­sian fine din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence head to Cafe Pushkin, while DADA Cafe of­fers a su­perb se­lec­tion of Ge­or­gian dishes.

If you are look­ing for a more re­laxed din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, the Danilovsky Mar­ket’s ven­dors sell crab, cold cuts, pho, pel­meni (Rus­sian dumplings), khinkali (Ge­or­gian dumplings) and more.

As for get­ting a drink, the De­nis Si­machev bar is kitsch and cool and packed at the week­end. Voda bar’s min­i­mal­ist con­cept makes it stand out from the crowd, Bam­bule gets loud and fun, and Noor Elec­tro is the ul­ti­mate spot for a well-made cocktail.

But my favourite is Strelka Bar, which is a great mon­u­ment to where Moscow is right now. Es­tab­lished in the derelict for­mer head­quar­ters of a Soviet-themed cho­co­late com­pany known as Red Oc­to­ber, Strelka is an ar­chi­tec­ture and de­sign school (the Strelka In­sti­tute) by day and a lively bar and restau­rant by night where prof­its are fun­nelled back into the teach­ing pro­gram. You can sit up­stairs and drink cock­tails or vodka shots with a view over the Moscow River to the Krem­lin, or head down­stairs where the coolest of DJs work the crowd well into the early hours in the shadow of the Pa­tri­arshy Bridge.

3

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.