Riley Wagner, Cartan Global
The 2018 World Cup is now less than a year away and to get ready for the upcoming tournament, some of the Cartan Global team ventured off to Russia for the 2017 Confederations Cup to check on the progress being made, experience the environment of a major soccer tournament, and ultimately, garner a perspective of what to expect come 2018. While in Russia this past week, we met with the hotel directors, transportation and catering providers, and as aforementioned, went to witness the atmosphere surrounding the Confederations Cup.
Hotels: The first day there we met with the sales director of the St. Regis team. The St. Regis is a top of the line hotel with magnificent architecture, and a striking view. The hotel boasts many amenities such as a full time personal butler, lavish rooms, and a stellar spa so that visitors can relax at their leisure. Other luxuries include being a five-minute walk to the world renown Red Square, and the metro is right on the property. It’s a magnificent and extravagant option that will make one’s stay all that much more special. The other hotel we will be providing is the Holiday Inn Tagansky. This hotel is much more quaint, calm, and relaxed. Unlike the St. Regis, the Holiday Inn is a bit farther from the city, but is only two metro stops away. One plus to staying at the Holiday Inn is that it’s close to a small shopping center, which has a cell phone shop where you can purchase a sim card. The convenient location makes it easy for someone to simply walk out, and purchase it without the hassle of trying to find the nearest shop instead.
Food: When it comes to dining in Russia, I first suggest checking out these 5 different restaurants to please whatever your taste buds desire, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner options, with various types of dishes. Continuing onto our second day in Russia, we decided to visit Bolshoi, an upscale restaurant which was extremely satisfying. The shiitake mushroom risotto was amazing! The texture was great, super flavorful, and made us feel as if we were in Italy while eating it! Additionally, we met with the head of the Ginza Project. The Ginza Project owns a myriad of well-established restaurants, 65 in total, and can cater any type of event that we may decide to organize, as well as be a top-notch service for all of our clients.
Stadiums & Transportation: A big focus for us was to visit the stadiums that will be utilized for the World Cup. More specifically, Spartak Stadium, a relatively new stadium having been erected in 2014, is the stadium for the Confederations Cup holding a capacity of around 44,000 people. It’s a well-constructed, decently sized stadium that is right next to the Spartak Metro Station. Additionally, we went to look at another venue, the Luzhniki Stadium. The Luzhniki Stadium, locked down as the host for the 2018 World Cup final match, still isn’t finished but the surrounding location is stunning with ample foliage, and a river clear as day that only adds to the already captivating location. Regarding the tour and our guide, she was impressive with her vast knowledge of Moscow and its surroundings, and we saw multiple different locations such as the Bolshoi Theatre, the Kremlin, the Red Square, and the Moscow River. Yet, transportation was definitely the biggest hurdle, because the traffic during peak times made traveling a struggle. With that being said, the metro is certainly the more viable option. Not only is it quick and cheap, but the surrounding art and statues that encompass the various stations are highlights of riding it as well. Moving on to when we got picked up from the airport separately, we all had relatively the same experiences with our specific drivers. They helped us with our luggage, opened the door, knew where to take us, and were delightful the whole ride. Only downside was that many didn’t speak English, or very little at that. Even though communication was tough for us during this visit, a benefit to choosing Cartan Global for your World Cup travels is that we can provide you and whomever you are traveling with someone that can speak English, Russian, and Spanish, to assist you with the daily activities. All the signs are in Russian and a vast majority of people speak it as well, hence why a guide will be necessary to allow you and your travel mates to enjoy the trip to its full potential.
People/Environment: The ambiance of Russia during such a big event is palpable; everyone there, although rooting for different teams of course, was friendly, and excited! Contrary to popular belief, the locals welcomed us with open arms, despite the fact that many of them didn’t speak any English or Spanish. A great analogy when referring to Russians is that they are similar to oranges; you have to peel them to get to the good part. At first glance, they may seem stern and serious but once you engage them, have a chat and they establish you as a cordial tourist, it’s much easier to interact with them. For example, one of our team members, (Rony Epelbaum), had met some Mexicans at a restaurant while watching the Mexico v Portugal game. They then headed to Spartak Stadium on the metro to catch a firsthand glimpse of the atmosphere, when a few Russian locals came up to them during the ride and asked to take a picture. Why? One of them had been wearing a sombrero! Additionally, once they arrived, none of them had tickets and they all decided instead to walk around the stadium and revel in the event. After a couple of minutes, the same Russian locals from the metro gave them tickets! That right there backs up the analogy and goes to show that they were all generous, no matter where anyone was from, and were jovial about their home country hosting the Confederations Cup.
Final Thoughts: All in all, our visit was fantastic! The team got to witness a live match, eat some of the best cuisine there is to offer, meet and connect with fans from across the globe, see beautiful landmarks, view the masterful art in the subways, and overall, enjoy the heck out of Russia. The trip was successful, we landed back safe, and are thankful for the opportunity to travel to Russia for the 2017 Confederations Cup!
(Pictured from left to right: Daniel Berditchevski, Macherie Higueros, Vanessa Tinoco, Barbara Melo, & Rony Epelbaum).
Now that you’ve read this blog post, I’m sure the FIRST thing that crossed your mind was something along the lines of “are travel packages available?” Yes, if you simply click here, this page will show you everything you need to know about the 2018 World Cup, and if you click here, you can fill out an inquiry form so that one of our qualified, personable sales agents can put together just the right package for however many travelers you intend to go with. It’s a spectacle you won’t want to miss, especially in a country as beautiful, welcoming, and vibrant as Russia. Lastly, don’t forget to follow our social media accounts for more news regarding the World Cup in 2018! #WorldCup2018