The Best of Moscow- 5 Day Itinerary

Red Square, Moscow
Red Square, Moscow

Welcome back!

As I mentioned in my last post, since we were visiting a friend, we stayed at her suburban flat in Fruktavaya Street which is not the usual tourist stop and hence made the use of metro to reach to most of the tourist destinations.  Using the metro could be a little tricky as there is hardly any signage in English, so would suggest to download  a Metro map which has stations name both in English and Russian and keep it as a print or as an image on your smart phone.

Use google maps before hand and get accustomed to the routes and the metro station’s names.

The nearest stations to us were Nakhimovsky Prospect and Varhsavskaya which were both well connected to all the touristy spots.

Day 1 – Red Square and the Kremlin

Highlights – Red Square, St. Basil’s Cathedral, Gum Mall, Kremlin & Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.

Lunch – Korchma Taras Bulba (Check the Menu here)

Kremlin is open on all days from 10 AM till 5 PM (except for on Thursdays). You can buy the tickets online here or through the ticket offices inside the complex. If you wish to visit the Armoury then we would suggest buy the tickets online as it is time specific.

Kremlin, Moscow
Kremlin, Moscow

Once you are inside the Kremlin you can make use of any of the guided tour apps available and visit around to see Assumption and Archangel Cathderals, Ivan The Great Steeple and the Bell Tower, Tsar Bell and Tsar Cannon, The Grand Kremlin Palace, Alexander Gardens, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Armoury.

Cathedral of the Annunciation, Kremlin, Moscow
Cathedral of the Annunciation, Kremlin, Moscow
Tsar Bell, Kremlin
Tsar Bell, Kremlin
Tsar Cannon, Kremlin
Tsar Cannon, Kremlin

We spent a good 3 hours inside the Kremlin and took an exit from Red Square side to be greeted with a breathtaking view of the St. Basil’s Cathedral.

St. Basil's Cathedral, Moscow
St. Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow
Gum Mall, Red Square, Moscow
Gum Mall, Red Square, Moscow
Gum Mall, Red Square, Moscow
Gum Mall, Red Square, Moscow
Kazan Cathedral, Red Square
Kazan Cathedral, Red Square

A couple of hours later we headed straight to a Ukranian Tavern restaurant which was highly recommended by a friend- Korchma Taras Bulba, which proudly stood high to its name/standards and also our expectations.

Food @Korchma Taras Bulba
Food @Korchma Taras Bulba

From there we took a short metro ride to reach Christ the Saviour Cathedral which by far is the most beautiful church I have ever seen. The entry is free but conservative dress is a must. The Church is huge and if you feel the exterior of it is jaw dropping then just wait to enter inside and see the fresco covered interiors! Sadly taking pictures inside is not allowed, but we were lucky enough to witness a prayer session which was absolutely divine.

Christ the Saviour, Moscow
Christ the Saviour, Moscow

Day 2 – Kolomenskoye Historical and Architectural Museum and Reserve

Highlights – The Wooden palace

Lunch took our own picnic basket and enjoyed a picnic at the huge grounds.

We had kept a trip to Kolmenskaye towards the end of our trip, but our local host insisted that we visit it before going to St. Petersburg as that would help us in understanding the marked difference in the architectural style that took place over the years.

Great Wooden Palace, Kolomenskoye
Great Wooden Palace, Kolomenskoye

Kolmenskaye is a huge estate which houses a replica of the erstwhile wooden palace of Tsar Alexis and two very old churches – one of which was built to commemorate the birth of the crowned prince, the future Ivan the Terrible.

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Ascension Church, Kolomenskoye
Ascension Church, Kolomenskoye

Day 3 – Moscow State University, Sparrow hill, Stary Arbat & Bolshoi Theatre – many of the cafe’s at Stary Arbat.

Lunch – Shokoladnitsa (Шоколадница)

We chose the weekend for our trip to the magnificent Moscow University (which btw looks just out of the world!) and it was followed by a visit to the Sparrow Hill to get some spectacular views of the city. We also took a stroll through the Stary Arbat, a toursity street with many cafes, buskers and souvenir shops. Bolshoi Theatre was also nearby and we wanted to watch the Opera but sadly tickets weren’t available, so I would recommend you book early or rather buy them online here if you don’t want to be disappointed like us.

Moscow State University
Moscow State University
Old Arbat Street, Moscow
Old Arbat Street, Moscow
Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow
Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow

Day 4 – Gorky Park and a River Cruise on the Radisson Royal

Lunch – Flotilla Radisson Royal

This was our completely ‘relaxing day’ with no running around, where we got to enjoy the greenery and relax like locals at the massive Gorky Park. The highlight of the day for us was an awesome Lunch date in the floating restaurant @ Flotilla Radisson Royal.

Flotilla Radisson Royal, Moscow
Flotilla Radisson Royal, Moscow
Flotilla Radisson Royal, Moscow
Flotilla Radisson Royal, Moscow
Delicious Food @Flotilla Radisson Royal, Moscow
Delicious Food @Flotilla Radisson Royal, Moscow

Day 5 – Tsarytsino open air history and architectural Museum

Lunch- once again carried a picnic basket and enjoyed at the marvellous gardens.

Tsarytsino palace, Moscow
Tsarytsino palace, Moscow

Another one of those beeeautiful days where the Sun was out and shining bright, but the clouds kept playing hide & seek!

It’s said that the original construction wasn’t liked by Catherine the Great and was demolished and the new construction was interrupted by Catherine’s death. Sadly, her successor didn’t show any interest in completing the construction until very recently, but still for us this was a gorgeous palace, opulent and breathtaking!

So this was all about Moscow (well, almost all!)….hope it helps out those of you who are planning to visit anytime soon 🙂

Two Weeks in Russia

Visiting Russia (well Moscow in particular) has been in our bucket list for a very long time. Ever since I was a little kid I have been fascinated by the architecture of St. Basil’s Cathedral and needless to say it was a dream to visit it!

This year as Ankita and I sat to plan our holiday, we both had Russia on our minds… her willingness to visit was on an all-time-high as her best friend from school hails from Moscow and they both had been wanting to meet each other for around 4 years now. So we finally decided for a good 2 week long holiday to Russia which included a 10 days stay in Moscow and 3 days in St. Petersburg.

Here’s a sneak peek to our visit…hope you’ll see the beauty of these cities through our eyes!

St. Basil's cathedral and the Spasskaya Tower.
St. Basil’s cathedral and the Spasskaya Tower.

Visiting Russia for a holiday is still considered a bit offbeat and to be really truthful it is slightly tiresome for the usual tourists… reasons being that 1) it involves a tedious Visa procuring process and 2) the fact that language could be a big problem.

In our opinion – yes, it can get challenging…BUT very much achievable and trust us – totally worth the effort! Through this post I’ll try to simplify the Visa procurement process, how you can get a hang of the Cyrillic alphabets, highlight the absolute must do’s in Moscow as well as St. Petersburg and last but not the least, share the beauty of these two wonderful cities through a series of photographs. Let’s get started then, shall we!?

View of the Moscow City
View of the Moscow City

Visa Processes
If you are travelling for leisure there are two options, one is the normal tourist visa and the other option is if you have a host there in Russia you would need to apply for a private visa. For any of these two visa you would need an invitation which would be provided to you either by your hotel or by your host and the same needs to be submitted for Visa procurement in original hard copy.

Once you have this invitation the whole process flows really smoothly. There are a few agencies in India you can get in touch with for the visa process, such as Vamana (vamanaindia.com) and then there is Russian visa center – IFS (Indra Visa Fiduciary Services) (india-ifs.com), you can refer to their websites for further information on the documents requirement and the Visa fee.

Russia - A Two Week Long Sojourn

Learning Cyrillic Alphabets
Learning Cyrillic Alphabets is a must. You would find very few sign boards in English in Saint Petersburg and even lesser in Moscow. So in order to understand and gauge routes, etc. through the metro map and decide route plans you must have a knowledge of Cyrillic alphabets (unless you are going with a private tour and have a guide with you all the time).

Another alternate is to use Google translate’s new function which converts Russian (or for that matter any language) letters to English (or any other desired language). We used this app extensively and felt it was really cool and useful to read menus, however not very effective to read sign boards which are way above you eye level.

There are several tutorials available on Youtube, the one in particular which I liked was rusianpod101.com, you can follow the link for it and can also buy/download a lot of lessons with a basic one month subscription at very nominal fee. If you would like to learn a bit more or if you have a knack for learning languages you can even go for their advanced courses.

State Historical Museum, Red Square, Moscow
State Historical Museum, Red Square, Moscow

Moscow Highlights
1. Kremlin & the Red Square
2. Cathedral of Christ the Saviour
3. Kolmenskaye
4. Moscow State University and the sparrow hill
5. Gorky Park and the river cruise along the Moscow river.
6. Stary Arbat
7. Tsarytsino open air history and architectural Museum

Christ the Savior Cathedral, Moscow
Christ the Savior Cathedral, Moscow

St. Petersburg Highlights
1. Catherine’s Palace
2. Nevsiky Prospect & Church on the spilled blood.
3. Peterhof Palace
4. The Winter palace and the state hermitage
5. St. Isaac’s cathedral
6. Boat ride along the canals and the bridge opening at night.

View of the Church of the Savior on Blood, Saint Petersburg
View of the Church of the Savior on Blood, Saint Petersburg

Well thats’s all for now, but we promise to be back soon with more info on how to plan your Russia holiday with details about the above mentioned attractions, where to eat and what to shop :). Yes there is a lot more to Russia than you’d have expected.

Do svidaniya!!!

Saint Basil's Cathedral, Red Square, Moscow
Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Red Square, Moscow

Exciting News!

 

Today is a great day & I’ve got some really exciting news to share with you all…

A picture clicked by us has been featured in the Lonely Planet Magazine for the August 2015 Edition and we couldn’t be happier!!!

 

Lonely Planet India August 2015
Lonely Planet India August 2015 – Issue 7

 

Featured in the August 2015 Lonely Planet Postcards!
Featured in the August 2015 Lonely Planet Postcards!

 

Windmills of Poland
The Original Picture

 

Little things like these give you that rush for exploring more and travelling …. and I can bet that’s all that’s going to be playing on our minds for a while now ;P

We would love to hear from all of you… what’s the last place you travelled to?… what’s next on your bucket list?… where’s the one place you could go time & again? … where would you recommend we go next!? … hit us with your thoughts, stories & comments 🙂

Cheers!

Ankita & Karan

Finding Peace…Within and Around

 

‘The human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged by the hand of man.’

-Anonymous

Finding Peace within and around at the tree of life himalayan hideaway lodge rishikesh

 

So last night we were chilling in bed, curled up and looking through pictures from our recent trips together… reminiscing the glorious moments that we will forever cherish…when one particular trip took us back to that feeling of pure Zen… and I knew that’s what I wanted to share with you here on the blog.

We always try our best to plan our trips wisely, so we can make the most of them, explore the max, see and do everything that’s possible within the time frame… making our trips very ‘activity-heavy’, with maybe a day (max) to take it easy, kick back and relax. However, the last time we visited home (our hometown), Karan decided to surprise me with an unexpected 1 day trip… not very far from where we live.

I was excited, yes!… but at the same time also wondered WHAT it could be that we hadn’t explored yet, keeping in mind it was just an hour’s drive from where we’ve lived all our lives. So we packed light and our journey began early morning…we hopped into a cab that took us through the most Beautiful and Spectacular journey of my life! We drove for a little over an hour through roads that were surrounded by hills on one side and the beautiful Ganges rives flowing in all its glory on the other side…a moment I will never forget!

tree of life himalayan hideaway lodge rishikesh
The view all the way …

We checked into a quaint little place called the Tree of Life Himalayan Hideaway … a calm, serene, tranquil little hideaway that truly took our breath away! The place has beautiful cottages surrounded by lush green forests and the breathtaking Holy Ganga flowing below.

The minute we stepped in we knew this was not going to be anything like our usual getaways. Well, to begin – there is no cellphone network (maybe one odd spot on the entire property where you’ll get a weak signal), no internet and best of all – NO TV!

tree of life himalayan hideaway lodge rishikesh
Reception Area @ The Tree of Life Himalayan Hideaway Lodge
tree of life himalayan hideaway, Reception Area
Soaking in the Sun!

This place ensures that you rest, recuperate, be with ‘just yourself’, let go off to-do-lists and unfinished business and really become one with nature. I think Karan and I found the perfect place for a day to kick back and relax…because it was unbelievable how calm and at ease we felt after all the madness we go through in Mumbai….we truly found peace – within and around!

I think I’ll stop the rambling now and let you see for yourself why i’m smitten with this place ❤

Entrance to the cottage, tree of life himalayan hideaway lodge rishikesh
Cottages @ The Tree of Life Himalayan Hideaway Lodge
Our Cottage
Our Cottage ‘Herman Buhl’ @ The Tree of Life Himalayan Hideaway Lodge… all cottages are named after Mountaineers
tree of life himalayan hideaway lodge rishikesh
View from inside the room …@ The Tree of Life Himalayan Hideaway Lodge
tree of life himalayan hideaway lodge rishikesh
On our way down to the Ganges ❤
tree of life himalayan hideaway lodge rishikesh
On a trek down to the water…hubby boy carrying yoga mats!!!
tree of life himalayan hideaway lodge rishikesh
Taking a BREAK!!!
tree of life himalayan hideaway lodge rishikesh
Spot for Rafting
tree of life himalayan hideaway lodge rishikesh
In AWE of the surroundings!
tree of life himalayan hideaway lodge rishikesh
I sat there for hours in an attempt to capture the beauty around…
tree of life himalayan hideaway lodge rishikesh
Camp site on the other side of the river…great if you like being outdoors and love camping:)

tree of life himalayan hideaway lodge rishikesh

tree of life himalayan hideaway lodge rishikesh
Time to reflect…
tree of life himalayan hideaway lodge rishikesh
Not wanting to leave 😦
Sundown...by the Beach
Sundown…by the Beach
tree of life himalayan hideaway lodge rishikesh
…to a beautiful new morning!

tree of life himalayan hideaway lodge rishikesh

tree of life himalayan hideaway lodge rishikesh
Morning Tea with a view for the soul!
tree of life himalayan hideaway lodge rishikesh
…and some Yoga! ❤
tree of life himalayan hideaway lodge rishikesh
Our favourite corner….called ‘The Circle’ ❤

 

I think they ought to put a board here that reads:

finding peace... within and around

 

With that my lovely people, it is time to say goodbye…until we meet next…

 

Much Love,

Ankita & Karan

xoxo

Dubai DIY 6 Days Itinerary

 

Dubai is one of our favourite holiday destination, we can come back again and again and it still seems to amaze us every single time. Every time we come here we feel we  haven’t explored it all and on top of that there are always billboards and advertisings about what’s opening next in Dubai. For instance, this time around we noticed that soon there will be a Dubai Opera and Dubai Safari. Good enough reason to return back, isn’t it? I say Absolutely!

Umm Suqeim Beach
Umm Suqeim Beach

 

Dubai has the widest variety of touristy offerings and we love how it has adopted the new and has still kept its culture intact…so a traveller can experience the charm of both worlds.

Here’s a DIY 6 days itinerary which we followed … hope it would help you guys to plan your own personalised, customised itinerary.

 

Day 1

Though it’s a very short flight from India and you could plan a bit of action on your arrival day itself, but do keep in mind that the immigration would consume minimum of an hour of your time. Another thing to bear in mind is that you’ll probably spend time at Duty free, since you won’t find no pints of beer in departmental stores here in Dubai, so it’s best if you pick some from duty free. Do check out the rates and country wise allowances here.

Dubai Duty free
Dubai Duty free

Another bit of task which you can complete here at the airport is to buy yourself a tourist SIM card, and my suggestion would be to choose DU mobile’s Visitor Mobile Line, worked just fine for us.

 

Click HERE to read the full article

 

Dubai City from Top of Burj Khalifa – Night View

 

From the Earth to the Sky…

…. in less than 60 seconds!!!

 

This is by far one of my most cherished memories from our Dubai Trip… The Night View of Dubai City from On Top of The Burj Khalifa… ❤

 

Words cannot describe the feeling….trust me….for you must experience this for yourself…a feeling so surreal and yet so calming! …

 

This truly is the most Spectacular View I’ve ever witnessed till date ❤

 

 

The Burj Khalifa At The Top
The Most Spectacular View … EVER! @ Burj Khalifa At The Top

 

This isn’t just a tall structure… this IS the World’s Tallest Structure… and a magnificent one!

 

Until we meet again Dubai!!! ;P

 

Much Love,

Ankita

xoxo

 

Coming Up – DUBAI!

 

Hi friends…welcome back!

 

Hope you’re all having a wonderful week 🙂

 

Here’s a little sneak peak into our most recent trip to one of our favourite holiday destinations, D-U-B-A-I ❤

 

 

We’ll be back soon with more updates on the absolute must do’s, where to stay, customised itineraries and of course SHOPPING!