Hello from Russia!I think this year I already traveled to my motherland more times than during previous 5 years after I moved abroad. I am currently working for a Russian company which means frequent trips to local branches. My second business trip now included Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod.
I never travelled much around Russia which is a shame. As a kid, I was spending many months in Sochi where my grandparents live; made a school trip to Volgograd once and sometimes visited Samara. I lived in Saint Petersburg during my first university years… and that’s it! So, business trips may be my great opportunity to fill in this gap.
All those who are inspired by traveling tend to go as far as possible. We get a feeling that the longer the flight is – the more different and unusual will be the place, culture, cuisine, people. I agree, it’s somehow true. But I know so many travelers who have been everywhere in the world but are totally missing knowledge and traveling experience in their own lands. I am one of them. The great thing about this trip for me was going to a far-away village for a weekend. I admit, never have I seen the “real” Russia: tiny villages, some still with no electricity (no kidding), with their own customs and sometimes even sharing their own language. This introductory trip was not that wild, it was around beautiful and completely civilized places. But the nature is anyway very different from what one sees around Moscow.
I don’t have much pictures because we were moving around on a all-terrain quadrocycle: it was mostly off-road extreme where you hold on anything you can grab as tight as possible trying not to fall off. Not an easy task to take pics on the way! But if you follow me on Instagram, you must have seen my stories of driving in the wild forest, harvesting endless silky fields and scaring all chickens on village roads. Eating smoked fish from local river and wild boar at a hunter’s house was a unique experience. One day I will travel more of Russia. Probably sooner than I think, with my business trips.
I had few days at our Moscow office, too. I am not an admirer of the capital, but spending several days there to catch up with so many friends that live there is never bad. On average, at least once a year I stop in Moscow for 2-3-day layover during my trips, to talk, walk and eat. And catch up with my favorite people there!
The food situation in Russia is not that vivid after the well-known sanctions, but Moscow has it all! I already have my places where I always go whenever in the city, like Italianets (“Итальянец”) to enjoy Salvatore’s original fusions as well as classical Italian recipes. This time we also tried “dessert from the chef”, which he prepares himself life right at your table – and it is absolute love between a human and a dish! Another place which I like, especially when the terrace is open, is Rybi net (“Рыбы нет”) – one of those rare occasions when you can eat good quality meat in Russia. We always go there exclusively for tartar but, unfortunately, this time they ean out of it (?!) and the waiter didn’t know that when takin our order, so we already got the drinks and had to finish them super quickly and waste money for no joy and walk away disappointed. But like that we tried a new place for me – Wine&Crab. We were unlucky there as well when they forgot our order and would admit that only 25 minutes later. The apology, however, looked like unlimited refill of prosecco, so even I didn’t throw much shit at the fan. I was so overwhelmed and relieved and already a bit tipsy because right then found out that – DRUMROLL – I graduated from the University of Vienna! All my credits got approved and my diploma is ready for a pickup. So, Crab&Wine had me on a lucky hour. Concerning food, I must say everything with crab is awesome! I love crab meat, but you don’t get it much in Vienna, so it’s a must-eat for me every time in Russia. We took pasta and dumplings from the crab menu and were very happy. But meat dish and dessert were nothing special at all, I would recommend sticking to crab things only.
On my way back through Moscow I managed to catch up with my favorite couple, Jane and Rustam, for which I had to leave the house at 6 a.m., and I would only do that for them. They took me to another place new for me – Dr. Живаго, and it’s really worth visiting. To begin with, the view on the Red Square and Russian Museum are indeed spectacular. I had no idea there is a café right across the street from the very heart of Russia with such view. We went at breakfast time (apparently, if I left at 6) and the menu is larger than most of classical breakfast-sets-and-some-egg-dishes menus. The authentic pure Soviet interior and atmosphere are also quite inspiring. And it’s open 24/7! Properly Russian!
Due to my extremely tight schedule, I didn’t have the chance to catch up with anyone else but my sister with her husband and my two closest friends in Moscow. But I have a feeling I will be coming much more often now, so next time, my dears!
P.S.: I also happened to be in the capital for the 9th of May – a major holiday in Russia, the end of WWII. One hell of a spectacular show! March, military planes, fireworks covering entire skies – wow! This is one of those worth seeing, but only once in a lifetime things.
And now… welcome to Nizhny Novgorod. I am not even sure how to spell it, I’d write Nizhniy but they seem to do it differently. A city that I didn’t even know where to look for in a map, just like most of Russian cities. It’s very old and there are plenty of 18th century houses integrated in modern buildings – something different for me, because I grew up in a very new town, just few decades old. But besides the views, Nizhny is quite similar to Togliatti because of almost the same size and also being an industrial hub. People seemed a bit more old-fashioned to me, though. Maybe Togliatti just has more young population, not sure.
What can I say? Cities in Russia are very different from Moscow. The capital could be another country on a different continent. Just 3,5h in train – but you are in a completely different world where everyone thinks, behaves and lives differently. I noticed major differences even better during my work there, watching managers from Moscow and staff from Nizhny cooperate and confront. In Austria, you see the difference between Vienna and smaller towns, too, of course! But in Russia it seems to be not just different in lifestyles, but people from completely different time and space. Now I would be even more different to travel to the far east of Russia.
I didn’t have much time to walk around the city or go out there since I was working A LOT. But the Kremlin and main pedestrian street, Bolshaya Pokrovskaya, are must-sees. There are a lot of cafes and fancy-ish bars. I had a breakfast at Coffee Cake: quite delicious, the combos that everyone loves to have for breakfast are interesting, but they could be bigger and even more expensive would be fine. I wasn’t full enough with one combo, but maybe it’s me not ever being full enough. A place next to it, Mishka, is a small pastry shop with extremely attractive desserts, is definitely worth forgetting about your diet for once. BerЁzka Bar at the end of the same street looks as a place to be for the locals. I had a burger there because the menu is a bit of a weird mix of everything and I couldn’t pick anything: all products seemed fresh, but something was wrong, I didn’t really like the way it was prepared. And last but not least, Mitrich steakhouse, is most likely the best restaurant of the city. I had a chance to go there few times because it’s in the same building where my company’s office is. Russian-style luxurious, indeed delicious food, but the service is way too obtrusive, if you ask my opinion. It is obviously aimed on satisfying business people who are the main audience, so the staff is doing a great job! It’s just that I am a fan of more chilled atmosphere. But I was happy to learn that there is good food outside Moscow.
In general, this trip was just as interesting as it was exhausting. Back to Vienna now, getting some sleep and preparing for Pioneers Festival this week and new trips to come soon!