We loved Moscow. It was easy to love for a couple of reasons. Firstly we had amazingly good weather – clear sunny days, with the sun setting around midnight. This is not the normal Moscow experience. It is cold for most of the year and often rainy in June.
The city is alive and celebratory in summer. People stay out on the streets til late at night and it is the season for parties and music festivals. On the day we visited Gorky Park – Moscow’s equivalent of Central Park – it was packed with people for a free music festival People were dancing salsa by the river, doing yoga, playing football and computer games or just chilling out on large outdoor sofas listening to music and soaking up the party vibe.
Our hosts Dmitry and Tatiana
Added to the great weather was the fact that we were very well looked after in Moscow. I had organised to do some teaching at Ashtanga Yoga School Moscow, and the regular Mysore teacher Dmitry and his wife Tatiana were wonderful hosts. Not to forget Mikhail who drove us to the train station at one in the morning for our train to St Petersburg!
The sign at the entrance of the yoga school
Moscow hotels and hostels are notoriously expensive – around $25 for a bed in a dormitory! We were incredibly lucky to be able to stay in a room at the yoga school. It was in a brilliant location – around the corner from the fashionable Arbat Street and walking distance from the Red Square and the Kremlin. In Beijing we stayed around the corner from the yoga school, but actually staying in the Shala took convenience to a whole new level!
The Red Rquare
Passing the Kremlin on the river cruise
We were also spoilt with a stunning cruise down the Moscow River and driven to some great spots in Moscow that we would never have gotten to by ourselves, from Victory Park and Moscow University to a delicious Indian vegetarian restaurant – I ate palek paneer for the next three days (very happy to be eating spinach!).
Dmitry and Oleg in the enormous and very cool Soviet-style building that housed the Space Centre
For Roberto the highlight was probably the visit to the Space Research Centre organised by one of the students for a personal guided tour of Russia’s first satellites and other space technology. It was a rare opportunity, novel for even our Moscow friends.
I had read that Russian people are reluctant to smile at strangers and so was expecting to encounter fierce scowling faces. But this was not our experience at all. It seems that the world over, when the winter ends and the sun comes out, people can’t help but enjoy themselves!