Moscow is Carola’s favourite destination, but not just because it is a city of fascinating contrasts. The crew usually has a 24-hour stopover in Moscow, which gives her time, every now and again, to explore the city in more detail. Carola flies short-haul flights, and because a long stopover like this is something of an exception on short-haul flights, Carola enjoys it all the more.
Moscow isn’t only the capital city, as with around 11.55 million inhabitants, it is also Russia’s biggest city. Traditional and modern exist side-by-side in Moscow. Both locals and visitors are enchanted by the diverse attractions of the city, including numerous churches, theatres, museums and galleries. As the temperature can fall as low as -20 degrees Celsius in winter, Carola recommends exploring the cosmopolitan city in the summer. «The temperatures are pleasant then. You can expect many hours of sunshine and it gets dark very late in the evenings.» SWISS flies to Moscow (DME) daily from Zurich (ZRH).
After a quick breakfast at the hotel, it’s straight off on a sightseeing tour. The best way to explore the city is by metro. You will do well to find a metro system that is more magnificent and decadent than the one in Moscow. «Not only is the metro super-fast, it is also gorgeous!» Patterned floors and marble columns decorate the stations, turning the public transport system into something that is quite magnificent and almost luxurious.
Little pointed towers and colourful ornamentation. The Izmaylovo Kremlin lies to the north-east of Moscow and is a very popular setting for photos. «It looks like a fairytale castle from the outside. Lovely and colourful, almost like something you’d find in Disneyland or Universal Studios.» A flea market is held in the attached park, where you can buy anything from old porcelain, to stamps, to matryoshka nesting dolls.
All this gazing and browsing makes you hungry. Carola stops for lunch in Fresh – a vegetarian/vegan and rather hip restaurant. «There are a lot of unusual dishes that I can highly recommend to non-vegans/vegetarians as well.» Carola found her favourite meal on the menu relatively quickly. «I love the fresh ginger shot – watch out, it’s hot! – the vegan California Classic Salad with pecans, avocado and the best dressing ever! And a fresh smoothie to go with it. Unbelievably tasty!»
Time to get to know the city from a rather different perspective. «The Moscow in this district reminds me a little of Dubai. Its skyline is a huge contrast to the many historical buildings seen everywhere else in the city.» The Imperia Tower viewing platform gives a wonderful view of the skyscrapers. «You almost get a 360 degree view over Moscow. It’s incredibly impressive!»
Although she has visited Moscow many times before, Carola keeps coming back to to world-famous Red Square and Saint Basil’s Cathedral. «Walking around here makes me feel as if I have stepped back in time. I always pull out my camera and takes lots of photos.» If you are lucky, you can even watch the changing of the guard. The Moscow Kremlin, which houses the biggest bell and canon in the world, is also found here.
Pure luxury! Even if this shopping Mecca is too expensive for ordinary mortals, it is still worth taking a bit of a stroll around it. «Because the décor is always changing, GUM is a unique experience. It is a very impressive place, and the flowers and lovely music make it worth hanging around.» You feel like Alice in Wonderland, surrounded by colourful ice cream stands and fountains, it’s as if you are in a kaleidoscope. «I am particularly keen on the food department downstairs. You can actually buy designer foods from all over the world there. Bizarre!»
If you want to admire Red Square and the Kremlin from above, you had best grab yourself a spot in the Ritz Carlton rooftop bar. «I love enjoying the sun and the view in the outdoor area in summer.» Not a very cheap undertaking, but it’s always worth it.
«I know it’s a bit of a contradiction, going out to eat sushi in Moscow. But the Tanuki Japanese restaurant is just around the corner from our crew hotel, it’s open 24 hours, and the sushi tastes fantastic!» The Tanuki Japanese restaurant has a great selection of vegetarian/vegan dishes. Carola’s recommendations: «You must try the avocado rolls and the home-made teas, made from hot juice and fresh fruit. A real culinary delight!»