Moscow: reanimated Luzhniki, apartments for 250K and football gusto

Moscow, as a capital should be, stands apart on the list of the WC host cities. Two stadiums at once will be used here for official matches. And biggest number of games (12) will also take place here. And, of course, Moscow will become the window of the global sports event for the first time in the last 38 years.

Matches

The World Cup will begin and end in the capital of Russia. The opening match of Russia against Saudi Arabia (Luzhniki Stadium) on 14 June is probably not the most jaw-dropping lettering. But the first game is always provided with increased attention. At Otkritie Arena stadium on 16 June, Lionel Messi together with Argentinean compatriots will play against the national team of Iceland, which made a lot of noise at latest Euro.

But, in general, especially intriguing group stage matches aren't expected in Moscow. Germany and Mexico will meet here on 17 June, Poland and Senegal – on 19 June, Portugal vs Morocco will be on 20 June, Belgium vs Tunis – 23 June, Denmark vs France – on 26 June and Serbia vs Brazil will be on 27 June.

The play-off will be different, without doubt. Moscow matches of Russia vs Spain and Poland vs England are possible in the quarterfinals. In addition, the capital will host one of the semi-finals and the final. As we see, the capital misses the quarterfinals when the most interesting WC matches often happen.

Stadium

The changes that happened to Luzhniki (head architect of Moscow Sergey Kuznetsov projected the reconstruction, which has been the second one), aren't very noticeable at first sight. But, actually, they are considerable. First of all, the arena with 81,000 seats finally got rid of running tracks and became designated only for football. While the pitch became half and a metre lower, old stands were completely taken away, so that temporary metal constructions had to be installed for wall sustainability. The new stands became a bit cooler, the roof's peak augmented, so that lower seats will be closed from rain too.

By the way, there was an option to demolish the old stadium and build a similar area in its place. But to conserve the historical legacy, it was decided to conserve the walls built in 1956.

There are some questions about the use of the arena after the WC. The main football clubs in Moscow – Dynamo, Lokomotiv, Spartak, CSKA – have their own namesake stadiums, so that fans tell jokes that Luzhniki turned out to be small for Torpedo (it's a joke because Torpedo is the least popular Moscow club). In addition, the comeback of running tracks to the stadium, for instance, in case of Olympic Games in Moscow, will cost huge money. However, Mayor of Moscow Sergey Sobyanin assured everybody once that the arena wouldn't stay empty: ''Luzhniki has always been used not only as a sports site but as a place to hold big cultural events. So will it be in the future.''

Otkritie Arena/Spartak Stadium, which was built in 2014 and accommodates 45,400 people, will host five games. It was already used in the Confederations Cup last year.

Stadium stop

The comfiest way to get the main stadium of the championship is to go by metro – Luzhniki station of the Moscow Central Ring opened in September 2016. It's possible to pass to Sportivnaya station of Sokolnicheskaya Line. Like in the Confederations Cup, FAN ID owners will be able to use any public transport in Moscow free.

Spartak Stadium is 10 km away from the city centre to Tushino. Spartak metro station of Tagansko-Krasnopresnenskaya Line is the closest metro station (just 300 metres). One can reach the stadium by land transport too: Buses 88 and 248 and Public Taxi 456m go via Moscow Channel stop.

Where to stay

It goes without saying that in this case, the number of options is huge – more than 1,000 hotels operate in the capital. However, the majority of the rooms in them was booked by March already. So according to Booking.com, ''91% of accommodation options were unavailable'' on the page in the middle of March for Germany vs Mexico match day (17 June). And those that are still ''available'' are quite not cheap – it's mainly a segment of 14,000 rubles and higher. It's mostly rooms for from 25,000 rubles to, for instance, 250,000 in apartments in the city centre. There are hostel options too. But their number is considerably less. The cheapest is just 400 rubles per night within 15 minutes on foot from Sviblovo metro station (9 km from centre) with free Wi-Fi and kettle.

Sightseeing points

We won't tell about well-known sightseeing points of Moscow – we will just about the most recent ones. Firstly, Luzhnetskaya Embankment will be close to fans at least geographically. It will be widened and equipped with bicycle, skates and other rentals and even shower. In addition, there will be launched cable cars more than 700 metres in length from Sparrow Hills to Luzhniki.

Football fans will probably want to see other big Moscow arenas: VTB Arena Park ( Dynamo's home stadium), which also goes through a big reconstruction; relatively new stadium of CSKA VEB Arena (built in 2016); RZHD Arena (Lokomotiv's home stadium reconstructed in 2002).

There is also sense in climbing the 58 th floor of Empire tower of Moscow City international business centre with a viewing platform – the capital of Russia is plain to see here (excursion is from 500 rubles). And probably every foreign tourist who respects himself should have a look at Vladimir Lenin's body in the mausoleum in the Red Square – perhaps, it will be the last opportunity, who knows. But it is open not every day and from 10 to 13 o'clock.

Where to eat

According to tripadvisor.ru, Expedition (Russian cuisine, average bill is 5,500 rubles), chain of Butcher steak houses (average bill is 3,500 rubles) and SAVVA (European, Russian, Scandinavian cuisines, average bill – 3,500 rubles) are at the top of the rating of Moscow restaurants. Top100.resto.ru says GOODMAN (average bill – 1,500-2,500 rubles) is the most popular chain of steak houses in Moscow.

Among fast food, KFC (American cuisine, average bill is 300, Wi-Fi), McDonald's (American cuisine, average bill is 250, Wi-Fi) and Kroshka Kartoshka (Russian cuisine, average bill is 300 rubles) have the biggest number of points in the capital. If someone suddenly wants to combine edible things with unusual, you probably should go to In Darkness!? (average bill is 2,400 rubles). The establishment promises lunch with no light. The meaning is to help blind people to find their place in life – blind waiters will serve you. It is said people eat in darkness in a different way – they talk more and they are merrier. But don't forget to leave your belongings in the safe!

Highlights/specifics

The specifics of Moscow, first of all, is in its scale. You will need to think out the logistics of your movements here more carefully and often than, for instance, in Saransk. Take into account that there might be problems with land transport due to the flow of VIPs. Use trains of Moscow metropolitan – it's good that it already has 212 stations (for instance, Kazan has 10), 44 of which are cultural heritage sites and more than 40 are architecture landmarks, and they simply very comfortable to use. Probably, it is the highlight of the capital.

By Rustem Shakirov