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(caption)The Red Square from the O2 Lounge

Moscow may seem like an unconventional destination for a holiday at first glance, but trust us in the world of travel it’s definitely picking up. Just crowned one of the most expensive cities in the world, Moscow is no cheap thrill.

Home of the fabulous St. Basil's Cathedral which most people mistakenly call the Kremlin, world class renown ballet, and endless museums that house the jewels and wealth of the overthrown Romanov Tsars, Moscow has everything to offer for vacationers interested in history, culture and the arts.

The architecture is breathtaking yet reminiscent of times gone; giving one the feeling that time has actually stopped in this beautiful city where cobbled stones and vintage buildings stand side by side amongst amazing cathedrals built in that one of a kind Russian style which seem to be like something out of a Disney cartoon or fairy tale.

The best time to visit Moscow is in the summer or fall before temperatures start dropping below 0 degrees, and when the city is coated with cold. Despite saying that, summer is not as warm as one may perceive with the weather changing on a whim several times a day (sometimes dipping to low temperatures that are similar to our mild winters here in the Gulf, so its best to pack a jacket).

Hotels in Moscow: Our pick is the Ritz Carlton. Set in an impeccable location just minutes off the Red Square and smack dab in the middle of Moscow’s shopping district. The hotel is everything one would expect of this marvelous luxury hotel chain.

Things to See and Do:

    * The Red Square: One of the most beautiful squares in Europe, the Red Square is a pavilion that is open to the public which overlooks St. Basil's Cathedral (that famous multicolored breathtaking Cathedral that is symbolic of Moscow), a couple of historic buildings, a high end mall, and views of the Kremlin (the official Moscow Government building).

    * The Kremlin: True, it’s an official Government building and place where the President goes to work at everyday, but its also a tourist hot-spot. Enclosed within this beautiful former stronghold, is a couple of Museums more distinctly of which is the Armory Museum (which houses the late Tsars wealth of clothes, carriages, antiquities and a couple of rare Faberge Eggs) as well as the Diamond Fund (houses a collection of the states diamond collection some of which were former Tsars and Emperors such as Catherine the Greats Inaugural Crown and Jewels; Russian Bling).

    * Lenin’s tomb: Found in the Red Square, what seems to be the resting place for the corpse of the  Father of Communism. What makes it so special? You can actually see him laying there. Mummified and protected by gases, he seems like he is just laying there resting and not actually dead.

    * The Cold War Museum: Known as Stalin’s Bunker even though there is no proof that Stalin actually stayed there during the many air raids, the Museum is an actual old war bunker that was an active Military bunker in the Cold War. To enter the museum you go down 16 floors underground and find yourself in a series of tunnels and rooms all set to safeguard former Military from air raids, and even a nuclear attack. Astonishing, eye opening and brilliant, the museum is good fun (especially when you dress up in Russian Military Regalia). Not for the fainthearted though.

    * When in Russia, do as the Russians do and catch an Opera or a Ballet at the World round famous Bolshoi Theatre. We recommend you see Swan Lake, the luminescent white costumes worn by those delicate yet capable ballerinas that flutter around on stage will fool anyone into really believing they were watching beautiful Swans floating around a lake, and best of all it’s a love story (who doesn’t love a happy ending after all?)

Places to Dine:

    * Bosco Café: Beautiful café with superior location literally on the Red Square where one can watch the world go past in one of the most beautiful squares in Europe.

    * Café Pushkin: Set in an old historic building complete with a fresco overhead, dining in this restaurant gives one the impression that they have travelled back in time. With waiters performing like they just came out of the old times, complete with a bow when they serve you and a hand behind their back when they walk around, this restaurant is an experience you won’t get anywhere else. Its also a local hot-spot so be sure to book your table before hand.

    * O2 Lounge: Perched right on top of the Ritz Carlton, this lounge/restaurant offers the best views of the city and the Red Square from above, an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

– Khaleejesque. Images: Ritz-Carlton
(caption)The Ritz-Carlton, Moscow

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