I will admit, I go to Russia for a number of reasons, primarily to see relatives and buy shoes and 100% cotton socks, no, not the thick sporty ones, but real nice, even dressy cotton socks. 0% of synthetics. Obviously we fly in Moscow first. Throughout the years I kind of tuned out of Moscow (I hate Moscow's insane rhythm, bat-shit crazy traffic and size), yet here we are, after St. Petersburg becoming Europe's top tourist destination for a few years in a row, Moscow came back with a vengeance and won Tourist Oscar as world's most desirable destination:
The Russian capital has beaten stiff competition to emerge as this year’s ‘World’s Leading City Destination.’ Moscow triumphed over the British and French capitals, as well as 16 other cities, including St. Petersburg.The World Travel Awards (WTA) red carpet ceremony took place in Muscat (Oman), awarding leaders in the tourism, airline, hotel and hospitality sectors.Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin expressed gratitude to all those who voted for Moscow in the nomination.
Here is the list of finalists. Honestly, I am not surprised at all, because in the end Moscow is simply stunning. Moscow this year (without December) handled 19.5 million tourists, plus 45 million one-day visitors for excursions. This is insane. But it all adds up, especially after a triumphant World Cup 2018, when the world saw Russia's in general, and Moscow's in particular, level of development, safety and architectural beauty. But Moscow is an Imperial City and she knows it: glitz, grandeur and scale must not only show off but attract--this is how great Empires rule. A foreigner who gets to Moscow today for the first time is usually stunned by the scale, and, indeed, grandeur. This is not a tawdry nouveau riche cheesiness, this is a real deal--Moscow has a 870+ years long history to back all this grandeur up, it is all a real deal. That is why Moscow as a main city of Russia is also hated by many who throughout the centuries tried to subdue Russia. They failed.
But St.Petersburg wouldn't be St. Petersburg if it wouldn't give Moscow the run for her money by winning the title for its stunning Scarlet Sails festival. I know, for some people--a cognitive dissonance of unimaginable scale, after all, Russia is supposed to be dying out and be a grim ugly place. Well, Russia surely has her share of problems, some of them serious, but reality, of course, is much more complex and it is reality of the first world, not the third, not even second. For everything else--there is a Wall Street "statistics". As Russian saying goes: better see it once, than hear about it seven times.