Dancing in Russia
Unless you are thinking about Ballet, Russia would not be the first country coming to mind when you think about dancing.
At least once a year I travel somewhere, where I have not been before. This year, I decided that this would be Russia.
So, my friend and I decided to hit the dance floor in Moscow and extend our stay there to see the city a little bit. With her, I had the perfect travel buddy, since she was born and raised in Moscow and I was looking forward to her inside tips to this fascinating city. Our main goal was the Kizomba Festival that took place in this old but huge Hotel (Cosmos Hotel) that has been built for the olympic games long long ago. But more of that later, first I need to tell you about the city.
The first days we stayed in little Hotel in walking distance to the red square. Ok, if you know me, everything is in walking distance as I like to explore cities by foot. But this was really only a few minutes away. So of course, the red square was our first stop. This square is famous around the world, everybody has seen pictures of it, the basilica, the museums, the Kremlin…
Arriving at the square, I was surprised to see it mostly closed down because of some festivities t come at the weekend. So it was hard to admire the full beauty of that huge square. The Basilica with these amazingly crafted onion towers and the voluptuously decorated and gold plated interior was one of my highlights. I am not really religious, but I love visiting churches for their architecture and spacious inside features. And here in Moscow you have all the orthodox churches, something I have not been able to see from close up yet.
The Kremlin on the other hand was a little disappointing. I expected it to be a lot bigger than it actually was and the 2 modern government buildings in the middle just don’t fit the scenery at all. Don’t get me wrong, it is still amazing, but of course they don’t let you visit the really interesting stuff. And some parts were closed down toto some ministers from Israel visiting the city.
Having a local with me there was great fun. She pointed out interesting facts and of course knew the culinary hot spots in town. But the most fun was hearing her say „oh that is new“ many times a day. Moscow is a city on the move, it changes a lot. She is there every year but every year, things look different. At the end of our travels, even I once had to state „oh that is new“, when the scenery at the metro entrance we usually walked by changed over night completely.
You could spend days in Moscow just by visiting churches and museums and parks. There are so many of all of them. And there is so much interesting background to most of them. The (today existing) christ the savior cathedral for example was built where there was a monastery that has been torn down to build the palace of the soviet under Stalin. Then that building was torn down and they built a public pool and then in 1995 they started to build what is known now as the central cathedral of orthodox religion and the tallest orthodox church in the world. And an amazingly beautiful one as well. Enter from a bridge across the Moskva river for the best views. Next to that bridge by the way, on a little island in the river, is a little restaurant run by the Streak Institute that I highly recommend. You can sit on the rooftop terrace with direct view to the cathedral. Great Food and drinks and sunset views! (Link on the tips page.)
But how is life in Russia as a european? The hardest of course is the language. While I love languages and speak a decent amount of them, russian is not one of it. And the cyrillic writing is challenging. I tried to learn ist as much as I could. You know some letters are the same, but have a completely different meaning. A restaurant for example is a ресторан. At the end of our trip, I even tried to order in russian… well they understood I think, but it was surely far from being good.
As I said in the beginning. We went to Moscow to dance Kizomba. Kizomba is an african dance. It is usually called the „african tango“ because of the similar leading technique. It is a very close and sensual dance, so not something that comes to mind first thing when thinking of Russia. There was a festival in Hoel Cosmos, 3 days of workshops, parties , etc. The level of dancing was very good, but for european girls, it is not easy to get many dances there, since the girl/guy ratio is about 80/20. It was great fun anyway.
Hotel Cosmos, as I stated before, was built for the olympic games in Moscow in the seventies. It is one of the biggest hotels in Russia and Europe. It still has this seventies soviet charm. Our room for example had a very ancient radio built in (check the pictures). But the location was nice, next to the Metro station VDNH. There is also the cosmonaut museum and the VDNH Park. The park was built with many pavilions as a huge exhibition space. On 520 acres, you find museums, roller coasters, botanical gardens and much more. You can easily spend the whole day in the park and still not see all of it. We had hours of fun just sitting on the pink snail figures behind the space shuttle…
Another nice park is the well known Gorky park. If you know a little bit of rock music, you might know the song „Wind of change“ by the Scorpions. This song was in my head the whole time in Moscow and still now when writing this. One of the main lines in the song is „follow the Moskva, down to Gorky park“. I recommend you to do this, not only because of the song, but because Moscow built a beautiful promenade along the Moskva river all the way down to Gorky park. There are little bistros, museums, huge statues and water fountains. And of course, Gorky Park is gorgeous. It was the first park, built in Moscow in 1927 and it is 1.2 km2 big. It houses ponds, fountains, museums, art exhibitions and restaurants.
But what to do when the weather is bad? We were there in may, so it was not extremely warm yet. And we had a fair amount of rain on some days. But since one of the attractions in Moscow is underground, you can even go sightseeing during rain. Just buy a day ticket for the metro and take all the metro lines in the center. Get out at every station and check the very spacious and beautifully artistic metro stations. But maybe not do it during rush hour like we did…
So all in all, I loved Moscow and I can only recommend to go through all that VISA paperworks to see and experience that beautiful city.
I am a swiss photographer (www.fmphotography.ch),
a travel, wildlife, volunteer and outdoors addict who cares about zero waste, the environment and simply our planet.