An afternoon in Astana

Recently I have been on a journey from Thailand to Moscow and managed to squeeze in an afternoon in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana.

As of 2017 Kazakhstan does not require visa anymore for most EU citizens so I was quickly stamped into the country. The airport is conveniently connected with bus lines 10 and 12 to the centre and only costs some cents but note it needs to be paid in cash in the bus.

After roughly 15 mins we reached the centre where we took a walk through the rather newly build CBD towards Khan Shantyr shopping centre.

The tower has a height of 97 meters and celebrates Astana becoming Kazakhstan’s capital in 1997.

As Astana was planned and built as capital everything is very organised and built in a special style. As per chief architect; to combine traditional Kazakh style with modern architecture.

Unfortunately after a quick walk it was already time to head back to the airport to catch the flight on Kazakhstan’s national airline: Air Astana, which I will portrait in my next post.

Thanks a lot for reading!


Exotic Air Moldova and an afternoon in Chisinau

Hello dear readers,

some time ago I was browsing again flights to Moscow and like often before Air Moldova showed up again as one of the cheapest options. I already took them on the Frankfurt-Chisinau-Moscow Domodedovo route three times before and in my opinion they are a well run small airline. Currently their fleet consists of two A320s, one A319 and three Embraer 190.

This time the interesting fact was, that the flight which would connect immediately within 30mins to the flight from Frankfurt was already sold out, so that left me with a 7 hours transit in Chisinau. Well I have never been to the city, nor knew a lot about it, so I quickly bought that ticket and decided to visit the centre of Chisinau!

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Day trip to Kolomna

Hello dear readers,

today I will take you to Kolomna, a small city in the golden circle. It is located around 100km south-east of Moscow, still in Moscow Oblast.

You can either go there by Elektrichka, which is a local train, but with many stops, so I recommend the bus, which leaves every 30mins from the Metro station Kotelniki in Moscow to Kolomna. It will take around 2hours by bus to get there, depending on the traffic situation in the outskirts of Moscow.

I went there by car and it took around 90mins on M5 motorway.

Screenshot at Mar 12 16-25-58

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No more escalator women in Moscow Metro

Hello dear readers,

this week the news reached out, that the iconic women who guard the escalators in the Metro stations in central Moscow won’t be staying there for much longer as it is planned to remove their small guarding stands and therefor they will completely disappear.

Many people might not even have realised them, but you most likely passed by them every day several times.

I only heard of them when they told over the microphone to keep the left side of the escalator free, but still it was a unique sight…sad to see them go!

What do you think?

Maslenitsa: A Russian celebration

Dear readers,

today I want to tell you a bit more about Maslenitsa, which will take place this year between 20th and 26th of February. It is a traditional celebration at the end of the winter and 8 weeks before the Russian Orthodox Easter celebrations.

The term Maslenitsa comes from Masla ( масло ) and means butter week. During this week, people who take part usually eat the traditional Blinis, or pancakes, made out of butter, milk and flour.

I already took part in the celebrations several times, and next to families, who eat together the blinis at home, there are also a lot of festivals all over Moscow going on and are well worth a visit.


Boris Kustodiev [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons



A trip to Pieter, Helsinki and Tallinn


For some reasons I needed some flights to Moscow and during September Pobeda, the low cost arm of the national Aeroflot Group offered an excellent fare of 60EUR return to Moscow Vnukovo from Frankfurt during a sale. To book that, it took more than one hour as the server was way overloaded, but in the end luckily it went through and some minutes later an e-ticket was in my mailbox. ( The Pobeda flights will be covered in the next report )

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Why is Moscow special? An Interview

On a recent flight on KLM Airlines I read some interviews about cities, so I thought it is a great idea to share some thoughts about Moscow as well, as I spend some time here.

Why is Moscow special?

It’s a vibrant mega city with more than 12 million people, so no matter when and where you go – there will be always a lot around you. Also the city centre has a stunning architecture with its Kremlin and Red Square, which is perfect for a walk. But if you wander a bit further away from the centre you will experience the real Moscow, where the people from Moscow are. The easiest way to see how many people actually live here is to use the Metro during rush hour –  you can see so many different faces and it never gets boring simply to walk around and soak up the atmosphere.

What should we bring in our suitcase?

As it is winter time – the most important is to bring some warm clothes, the winter here is certainly colder as in other European cities with temperatures around -25 to -5. Also bring comfortable shoes, as the only way of getting to know the city is to walk a lot. By a lot, I really mean a lot, as here you can easily walk already 2km until you are at your closest metro station, so for a day of sightseeing 15-20km easily add up. Further on I would also bring some gifts if visiting somebody in Russia, as this is kind of expected and otherwise would be impolite. Also a must is a camera, as there is so much to see and take pictures of.

Your favourite Museum?

I think no other cities has such range of museums like Moscow, but if I need to pick one, it would be the Tretyakov Gallery, as it has 170.000 exponents including everything from very early religious icons to modern art. You can easily spend a whole day here even if only briefly looking at the paintings. Another must for tourists is the State Historical Museum right next to Red Square. It has the most comprehensive collection of important items for the history of Russia, from the middle age to today.

Your favourite locations?

On a nice winter day one of my favourite location is the ice rink in VDNH park. Its one of the biggest and perfect to skate. In winter you will find an ice rink in nearly every park and it is a very popular activity after work or on the weekend.

I also like to go for a walk in the centre (I will soon post an instalment on the nicest walks).

The best restaurants?

For typical Russian food I would go to “Ёлки-Палки” (Yolki-Palki), a chain which has most of the typical Russian dishes. Also recommendable is Stolobaya 57 in GUM.

For people who want to enjoy high quality cuisine, I recommend the restaurant “White Rabbit”. Prices there are higher, but the quality of the food usually excellent and the atmosphere is great.

Any favourite local dishes?

The Russian kitchen is full of tasty dishes, so I think in one go you can’t try everything but a good start are some Borsht soup, some Blinis (pancakes) with caviar and sour cream, some pie with meat, some Sirnikis (small cakes made from cottage cheese).

Your shopping favourites?

For luxury brands it is the big traditional shopping centre GUM, in the centre, directly at Red Square. For normal brands there are many options, but if you want to buy everything at one go, you can go to one of the MEGA shopping centres in the suburbs of Moscow: they have everything you expect in a shopping centre, but probably 3x the size of your average centre in Europe. To go there you can get yourself a taxi or simply by Mashrutka, the very popular mini busses.

Where do you relax?

On cold winter days like now many Russians like to meet up with friends in a café for some tea or coffee, which is very understandable with the current temperatures. For some rather decent coffee you can visit either the Russian chains Shokoladniza or Coffeehouse. For those who like Starbucks –  it is also available at almost every corner.

What should we take home?

I would take home some caviar, as the quality which you can find in Russia for an agreeable price, you won’t find anywhere else. Also very popular a caps for Sauna or homeshoes made from wool.