SHOPPING in Moscow:
Yulia and Inga are twins. The two Muscovites have a passion for travelling and meet dozens of people around the world. But it's not just anybody they meet - it's young designers whose creations they provide a platform for in their store Twins Shopp in the historic part of Moscow. At the same time they tell their story there: it's about discoveries and expectations, but also disappointments. Apparently, the lively sisters have also been travelling to alpine regions: the massive wooden wardrobe in the store looks like a rustic alpine treasure chest. The friendly living room atmosphere is part of the twins' concept - the green velvet fauteuil also fits perfectly. In between there are the racks with the pieces: garments for women and men, shoes, bags, and accessories. Delicately presented in front of a white brick wall, put into the right light by orange sphere lamps. By the way - the building in which the store is located is also quite impressive - from an architectonic point of view. And after your shopping spree you can keep your new clothes on and go to the in-house club or the restaurant.
For a long time Russia didn't have its own designers. Fashion was limited to grey wool fabrics and uniform clothing but that's different today. Apart from Slawa Saizew, the star of the Russian designer sky, another Phoenix is rising from the ashes, creating eccentric and very colourful fashion. Valentin Yudashkin has made it: His fashion is not only famous in Moscow but also on the international catwalks. The store in Moscow has become a real institution for all those that work little and spend a lot. Especially Yudashkin's accessories are hardly suitable for the office. It's pretty hard to lift a file with a jewellery-studded watch on your wrist. Typing is impossible if you wear a knuckleduster on your finger. And while the extraordinary high-heels are incredibly chic, you can hardly walk more than ten metres on cobblestone in them. Be it as it is, the Haute Couture by Yudashkin makes every woman feel like a princess.
Here's another bloodsucker: While the Transilwanija sells its CDs at top prices, you are confronted with pure nostalgia here. But first you have to find the store as it is well-hidden in the backyard of the Crab House restaurant. The search pays off as you will spend at least as much time there (you can't get through 50,000 CDs that easily). But don't worry: the stuff is well-assorted and you won't search long if you know what you want. The system is based on countries, so look for New German Music, Old German Music or Very old French Music. Above all fans of old CDs will get their share. Scandinavian World Music and Old US Rock complete the musical roundtrip and get us to the titles. The Transilwanija's offer includes hits from the GDR as well as Japanese pop, rare electronic music as well as very rare electronic music - and if you get lost, you can still ask the profound shop assistant for help.
EAT in Moscow:
What sounds like a second-class porn is actually Russia's most popular classic: The movie White Desert Sun was THE culture hit in 1969. Here's the summary: A Red Army soldier on the way home to his fiancée is forced to take care of six women freed from a harem. You can anticipate what comes next - or visit the theme restaurant of the same name. The film look of the restaurant makes you feel right in the middle of the movie. The ingredients of the film - action, drama, comedy and music - are part of the restaurant as well. At the entrance Petrucha, a character from the movie carrying a rifle, welcomes the guests and shows them to their tables. And the latter alone are worth a visit: Handmade carpets from Syria and Uzbekistan, ancient weapons and musical instruments make up the set which is highly devoted to depicting the characters as precisely as possible. One table resembles the hulk of a ship, in another room guests find themselves in a dream of 1001 Nights. The look of the restaurant is as wild as the film itself. And meals are a colourful mix of Uzbek, Chinese and Arabian influences, perfectly matching the interior, the stunning atmosphere and the evening's program: There is belly dance for dessert.
The three girlfriends Anna Bichevskaya, Aliona Ermakova and Liya Mur select 20 guests once a week to put on their guest list. Chosen from a pool of members of the closed Facebook group Stay Hungry. Also the cook who devises the culinary aspect of the evening in a grand, yet modern apartment is carefully selected: a food blogger, a friend or Elena Zaeva, an amateur cook who brilliantly prevailed against a professional cook on a Russian cooking show. Apart from a delicious dinner Bichevskaya, Ermakova and Mur - founder of iknow-travel, PR consultant at icon-Food and owner of a catering company - especially bet on the social aspect of the event: counteracting the solitude of the metropolis, introducing friends to friends, having nice conversations and afterwards adding friends on Facebook that you actually know in real life.
At Correa's they know how to turn walk-in clients into regulars: The fact that the menu changes every week attracts curious gourmets again and again. What doesn't change are the regional and seasonal classics conjuring up light meals from the otherwise so heavy Russian cuisine. Fresh mint, fresh lettuce from the garden and fresh fruit juices are the cornerstones on which culinary pleasures thrive - in addition to a restaurant that is as basic as its ingredients. The Correa's has done away with all redundant stuff and kept only what's really necessary. Instead of superfluous pomp visitors are confronted with a plain modern ambience in the style of an American trend café. Any occasion fits - be it breakfast, lunch or dinner. And while the menu is changing, you will also find the one or other fixed element in it. Here's my suggestion: The chocolate cake goes completely without flour and still has a heavenly taste!
SIGHTS in Moscow:
Can you take a joke? If so, Nikulin Circus is the right place for you. There, not the lions but the clowns are the stars. Yuri Nikulin was one of the most famous Russian clowns and for a long time the number-one joke producer of the circus of the same name. If you want to train your risible muscles you've found the right spot. Never before have you seen so many gimmicks, so much white make-up and so many huge shoes. But not only the clowns make a good show, also the tightrope walks set your pulse racing. What acrobats show us here has to be trained many years - and only from watching them one gets dizzy. And once the lions are out in the ring one wonders whether the big cats are as tame as they look. But let's get back to the clowns: Those who make it to this circus are really good and really funny. So come by and have fun. You won't regret it.
Moscow's most creative workshop accommodates all those that make art and fashion or want to learn making both. The Winzavod is definitely a place to be. In the past the red factory produced wine but now the visitors get intoxicated on the art shows. The Winzavod houses four renowned galleries, after all. Where once the glasses were refilled, you can experience Russian art today. Photos, videos, installations, multimedia, performances and sculptures invite you to a discovery tour. The site of 20,000 square metres offers ample space for any type of art. The galleries introduce young artists; a photographer's studio, an artist's studio, an advertising agency, an avant-garde boutique, a bookstore and an art café make the offer complete. And if you have seen enough artworks you should make a detour to Cara & Co: Here, shopaholics' cravings are satisfied by Ksubi, Tim Van Streenbergen and Paco Rabanne. And then we recommend a magazine, a CD, a perfumed candle and an espresso at the Café - you won't be disappointed: Furniture from Napoleon's era meet illumination from the forties in industrial ambience - you can't be more stylish. You simply can't.
The Novodevichy Convent owes its riches to cronyism. The daughters and women of noble families were sent to the convent, eagerly donating to the honour of God. Some of them did not come on their own accord though. Peter I sent his half-sister to the convent because she had an eye on the throne. The tsar also did not trust his first wife and sent her behind convent walls. How convenient! But on your own accord or not, living behind these strong walls is not half as bad as it sounds. The buildings were constructed in the style of Moscow Baroque, with gold-trimmed iconostases, onion towers and magnificent interior. In addition, visitors may find salvation in several churches and cathedrals. The spacious area includes the Cathedral of Christ the Savour, the Ambrosius Church, the Protection of the Virgin Gate Church, the Cathedral of the Dormition and the 16th-century Smolensk Cathedral. And if you have inhaled enough incense you can cross yourself three times at the beautiful graveyard - in honour of the daughter of Ivan the Terrible who is buried here in the good company of Nicolay Gogol and Boris Yeltsin. Our tip: Have a dictionary on you; otherwise you will discover the famous ones only by their busts.
STAY in Moscow:
Quite astonishing what hides behind the 19-century facade. Instead of redundant opulence the hotel impresses with apple trees. Inside, the hotel features avant-garde elements. While the colours of the rooms are rather masculine, stylish stools and designer lamps set colourful contrasts. The bathrooms are laid out in marble, there are accessories by Philippe Starck and the Loft Suite even features its own kitchenette. You don't need the latter though, not being able to compete with the international restaurant anyway. Here's our suggestion: Come for dinner in the evening as the restaurant will have a special surprise for you then alongside with Russian cuisine. In the evening, the blinds will go down and the apple trees will be projected onto the blinds. Our conclusion: With his minimalist style, the Canadian designer Raphael Shafir has created a boutique hotel of chrome and much colour, attracting a clientele with a preference for trendy styles. Double room from approx. 200 euros.
If you step into the hotel you wonder whether the rooms were furnished during the fitted-carpet era. Or is this en vogue again? You can't tell from the furniture as it is classical and of finest design, as new as stripped from the plastic cover only recently. And there are modern warm shades, there's underfloor heating in the marble baths and there are Bulgari amenities wherever you look. Being in line with tradition and therefore authentic is always en vogue, after all. But the hotel features state-of-the-art technology as well: remote controls for the DVD players, the flat-screens and the curtains. If you feel disconnected now, you luckily have W-Lan available, but if you get too confused just ask your butler! He will help you press the right button or plan the perfect day at the spa for you: hot-stone massage at 10:00, fitness centre at 11:00, rain shower at noon and fresh calorie uptake at the Restaurant Caviarterra thereafter. And don't miss enjoying the view of the Kremlin on the terrace - you won't need a butler for it.
Cheap accommodation in Moscow? Well, there are not many options. You either reside in the centre at high prices, or you reside on the outskirts, which means one-hour travel to the sights and sleeping in the outdated ambience of Soviet times. We have found an alternative, something in between so to speak. The apartment New Arbat Pearl Suite is located close to the centre, it's newly furnished and rather cheap. Seen from outside the grey building offers nothing to get enthusiastic about but inside a surprise is waiting. The holiday apartment has everything you need: a washing machine, a fully equipped kitchen, bright and friendly furniture and a beautiful bath. But there is only one room, so forget about your friends and just come with your spouse. There's a supermarket just around the corner but if you feel like eating visit the district that comes next. The New Arbat Street is brimming with noble boutiques, casinos and pubs. One night at the apartment cost 149 Euros.