"Russia, really, why?" is what I got a lot when I established my travel plans. We do not see it for so much it is. The country of ballet, lake Baikal, white nights, magic bridges, shawerma, surreal metro stations, and what not- Russia has more to offer than its vodka. And no, it does not snow there all the time. In fact, Summers bring with them the festival of White Nights in St. Petersburg, carnivals on the street of Moscow, and of course, a lot of Sun.
Let me begin with White Nights. Ever woke up at 3 am and witnessed a sky so bright, you had to check your watch to actually believe it? That's what the cities of Russia savour in the month of July. The 'white' nights are accompanied with Ballet shows, fireworks, and overflowing merriment.
The cultural scene of Russia is just as overwhelming, with it's gorgeous buildings, stunning metro line architecture, gigantic museums, and spellbinding cathedrals. While I was there, I must have visited a minimum of 10 cathedrals, but by the end of the trip, I felt like I was still not done. Had I been there for longer, I would've probably found myself hopscotching from one cathedral to another and one metro station to the next, just for the sake of appreciating their finesse, glory, and beauty.
The picture above shows Arbat Street, a place which doubles as a daily archive of many lives that reside in Moscow. You’ll find an artist sketching a Japanese lady in all her poignancy while a teenager happily announces all the shawerma flavours on his food stall just 50 meters away. Lovely old women sell handmade jewelry; whereas across them, a group of school-going boys and girls blast music and dancing in all merriment. The opulent take a brunch while sipping wine on the exterior of an extravagant restaurant with perfectly dressed waiters, and just a young man’s jump away, a mother and a child enjoy swinging on the roadside next to a car parking. At such moments, I can't help but wonder; amusement resides everywhere, do you look eagerly?
Where should you stay in Moscow?
If you are visiting Moscow, Arbatskaya is where you'd like to stay. A posh area very much in the middle of the city, the place makes for a perfect exhibit of Moscow's fast, lavish, and carefree lifestyle. If you are on a budget, you'll find hostels in the area. I stayed at Bear Hostel, which was pretty good.
How many days should I spare for Moscow? Well, to see, 4 days should be enough. In 4 days, you'll be able to cover most of the places that you'd find highlighted on the city maps. However, to explore, well- take as long as you have.