From Russia with Love

I have been forever curious about life behind the red curtain, being such a long-time admirer of Russian art, food, and culture. I have always associated Russia with its pre-Soviet history so full of splendor. A few years ago I worked on an exhibition of Kremlin treasures and was bowled over by the lavish diplomatic gifts exchanged between the Russian tzars and Iranian and Turkish ambassadors in the 16th and 17th centuries. These days, London is full of Russians and it’s no secret how over-the-top and ostentatious they can be – I was expecting lots and lots of glitz and bling. So I packed the most dazzling designer frocks I could rummage from my wardrobe and grabbed my passport for Moscow!

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I arrived at Moscow Domodedovo in the afternoon and went for a quick post-flight snack at a breezy terraced Georgian restaurant, Jonjoli in the Tverskaya district. Got hooked early on the signature dish, khachapuri – doughy bread filled with suluguni cheese.

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After a quick change, my friends and I headed out for an evening at Manon, a cafe/restaurant that morphs into a club when it gets late. River views of Moscow glittered in the pale pink evening glow, as we sipped bubbly at our cushy sofa table on the terrace.

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We finished dinner and arrived at Soho Rooms just before midnight. This was an opulent night spot dotted with glittering bars, lithe lingerie-clad models swaying solicitously in the window wells, and a house singer grooving on stage in the main room as gold ticker tape showered from above.

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The vodka was flowing, the music was passable – it was just the crowd that put me off a bit. Lots of leering men making little to no effort to disguise their creepiness, and gobs of young, beautiful, single women in the prime of their lives looking utterly miserable. The resounding attitude here was overtly misogynistic, and frankly, I was disappointed. When I go out, I want to look around and see everyone around me throwing their heads back with laughter, tossing inhibitions aside – not judiciously surveying one another for a mutually beneficial arrangement. Ewww!

Counting on Day 2 of this city to be a little bit more enlightening, or I’ll be back in another heartless bar like this surrounded by the same numb Moscow mules…

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