TripAdvisor has released their annual list of newly popular destinations on the rise for 2016. Among your typical beautiful destinations like Peru, Brazil, Mexico and Colombia, Moscow also made it to the top ten. What is it about Moscow that makes more and more travelers attracted to, myself included?
First, letâ€™s start by saying there is no greater database of travel destinations out there than Tripadvisor.
Tripadvisor is my go-to website when planning any trip or adventure. As of today, I am planningÂ my trip to Guatemala and need to find out what are the must-see places. I have no time to read extensive articles by famous travel experts. I donâ€™t need THE opinion – I need opinions of many who have been there before me, together with their not-perfectly-composed blurry photos. People that just got back and will tell you how to sneak into the National Park to get a perfect sunrise shot. You know, the important stuff 🙂
It wasnâ€™t very different earlier this Summer when I was lured into flying with Aeroflot airline to Europe. They had by far the cheapest connection from LAX to Europe with a stopover in Moscow. I scheduled 4 days in Russia’s capital on my way back to the US, but as much as I hate to admit this – I wasnâ€™t terribly excited about the trip.
Sorting out my visa was one of the most painful visa experiences ever. I had to provide a letter from the hotel I booked who was my visa sponsor. The hotel had to be certified, so I couldnâ€™t do airbnb, I couldnâ€™t stay even a day longer out of my booked stay. The visa was expensive and the Russian embassy staff not extremely helpful.
I arrived at the Scheremietievo AirportÂ with the Moscow-you-better-be-worth-the-hussle attitude.
From the very moment, I was blowed away. The grandiose of the city was absolutely overwhelming. Everything was huge: streets, buildings, stores, hotels.
Moscow felt charming and boutique like a Paris, overwhelming and sumptuous like Dubai and fastly paced like freeways of Los Angeles.
One our first night, we enjoyed a drink at gold-plated Ritz Carlton overlooking the Moscow Kremlin. Despite the prices, the clientelle was mainly Russian business people with more designer clothes on them than a catwalk in Paris.
I used Coachsurfing website to arrange one of the locals Anna show me around the city in exchange for lunch and it was a good call. One time, as we were stopped in traffic for almost half an hour and then saw a government car speed through the lights right into Kremlinâ€™s gates, she told this must have been Putin, but admitted he usually uses a helicopter to move around Moscow.
We visited the splendid Bolshoi Theatre (The Grand Theater). The story has it that the Bolshoi would become the Little Theatre after every tour around the US, with the dancers escaping the Soviet union at every possibility.
Red Square, St Basilâ€™s Cathedal, Moscow Kremlin are definitely breathtaking and unique, but the charm of Moscow is in the fact that everything around the tourist attractions is still splendid and impressive. Moscowâ€™s every building is so enormous and beautiful, I remember keep asking Anna â€œOh wow, what building is this? Looks fantastic!â€™. â€˜Just an apartment buildingâ€, she would reply.
Moscow was one of the biggest and most positive surprises in my travelling career and I am not surprised more and more people want to experience its unique beauty by themselves.
Have you been to Moscow?