From Russia With Love: The Less Treaded Gems
From Russia with Love is a series of 4 blog posts capturing my experience of spending 3 months in Russia. Before I went there, I tried to find out how Russia is in terms of people and culture, and to my surprise, a majority of those painted the country in an unfavorable color. Read on to find out whether my stay was any better or worse.
But first, let’s introduce 3 places which will fascinate and amaze you regardless.
Suzdal: When a Painting Comes to Life
Suzdal is the definition of hidden gem. Amongst all the glory and history of Moscow tourist spots, there lies a small town in Russian country-side, which definitely is one of the must-see destinations for all.
This picturesque town lies just 200 km away from Moscow and is part of the famed Golden Ring. The best way to reach Suzdal is by train which takes you to Vladimir. From there, buses are available at regular intervals to Suzdal. I would recommend taking an express train from Moscow in the morning and while returning, you can opt for the high-speed ‘Lastochka’ trains. The trip can be completed in a day if you start very early from Moscow, but it’s better if you can stay overnight.
There are a lot of spots in Suzdal waiting for you, including a Kremlin of its own. But what fascinated me the most is the scenic yet simple beauty of it. Every corner seems like it has been built by an artist. It is very hard to explain the feeling in words. But when I was returning, I felt new energy running through my body from the sun-soaked greenery and perfumed fresh air of Suzdal.
Old Arbat Street: A Mile to Remember
If you want to feel the free-thinking artistic spirit of Russia, Old Arbat street is the place. At the heart of Arbat district in Moscow, the cobblestone streets of Old Arbat is the historic haunt of artists, musicians, and street performers.
The best way to reach Arbat street is via Moscow metro. The Arbatskaya station drops you right in front of old Arbat street. The best time to go there is just at the start of the evening when the street performers gather one by one. However, you can go early as well to take peeks into the souvenir shops and enjoy different kinds of food. Many local artists also come here to sell their paintings and some of them are really good. If you want, you can have your own portrait drawn right their.
The main attraction is always the street performers. From magicians to dancers to singers, Arbat fills to the brim with the sound of life and music during those hours. I spent almost 3 hours just wandering, and just when we were leaving, we saw this –
Along with all of this, you can also take a look at the Pushkin Apartment Museum and Museum of Perfumes, if you want and if time permits.
Izmaylovsky Market: Shopper’s Stop
Surrounded by a huge ‘tsar’s palace, Izmaylovsky is the ultimate destination for souvenir shopping. It almost feels like a theme park with its 2-leveled market, restaurants, and museums.
Izmaylovsky lies a little outside from Moscow, but the best way to reach is, again by Moscow metro. The nearest metro station is Partizanskaya, from which it is 2-3 minutes straight walk.
As mentioned above, this is the place to buy souvenirs. This market is huge and diverse in terms of offerings and there is nothing else that can be found elsewhere. So, go in and take your pick. You have to bargain quite a bit to get your desired price and do not buy anything until you have reached the end of the market combing through all the shops.
While you are there, don’t miss the famous grilled shashlik.
So, here are three places which are not mentioned frequently, but are no less beautiful and interesting than the others. Hope you have enjoyed this post. Please let me know your feedback in comments and do not forget share. See you in the next post.