FIFA World Cup 2018 – Rush to Russia

The FIFA Football

 

In addition to being a sports-loving nation, the passion to watch FIFA World Cup certainly exists in india. The Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) stages this mega event every 4 years. The put-up for this event is done in different countries to promote tourism, economy and explore opportunities globally. The 21st edition of month-long FIFA World Cup will be held in Russia starting June 14 this year.

Being a travel platform, I will tell you about the bouquet of panoramic cities you can explore. Apart from traversing the length and breadth of Russia, travellers can explore unheard places of the giant nation as they play host to a number of matches.

 

High Five Moment:

As a FIFA tourist to Russia, you get to use the public transport services free-of-cost on the match day, along with visa-free access to the country till the duration of the World Cup, provided you have a document named ‘Fan ID’. Consequently, you get multiple entry/exits to/from the hosting country unlimited times right from Day 1 till the Final match of the tournament (July 15).

 

FIFA fever is gripping everyone!

FIFA fever is gripping everyone!

How to go about for FIFA World Cup 2018 Fever?

Step 1: Decide which matches to go for by looking at the match schedule

Step 2: Go to FIFA.com, register yourself and follow the procedure to buy your tickets

Step 3: At this point you have your FIFA Ticket numbers handy

Step 4: Visit the Fan ID Website, input your personal details along with the Ticket Number.

Step 5: Fill in the details very carefully, as any mismatch will lead to re-iterations and spoiling your experience.

Step 6: Once the Fan ID is generated and you have an email, take a printout.

Step 7: You can collect your Fan ID directly at any of the Fan ID Distribution Centres across cities in Russia or request at any Russian Centres of Science and Culture globally or at VFS centres in your specific country. (You can select a method for the way you want to receive your Fan ID, it takes 45 calendar days from the date of request to reach you)

Important: A Fan ID will not be issued until you have a match ticket, vice-versa a Ticket number is mandatory to apply for a Fan ID. No FIFA Spectator is permitted inside the stadium without this, Fan ID is basically a replacement of Visa till the duration of the tournament.

On reaching Russia, make sure you register with the immigration authorities within a day. As a rule if you stay at a hotel, the hotel does it for you. For more information, click here.

 

Book FIFA Train Tickets

Book before it’s gone!

How to book free Public Transportation?

Public Transportation here includes additional trains run by authorities, city buses, trams, metros and any other public transport not mentioned, excludes taxi/cab.

You need to book only for trains through a website, follow the steps listed below.

Step 1: Visit Train Reservation Website

Step 2: Create an account (ideally keep the credentials same as the one you used for creating an account with FIFA, for easy remembrance)

Step 3: On the homepage, you will see a grid showing cities on left, dates at the top, with match schedules in the grid boxes.

Step 4: Select the one for which you have got your tickets.

Step 5: Upon selection, you will see a list of trains before and after the match, make a selection according to the time that is convenient for you. (Book early to avoid paying, as they have limited inventory)

The matches have been majorly scheduled towards the European part of Russia or West Russia to reduce travel time.

As a FIFA Visitor, do keep in mind:

To enter the country, you need Passport and (Laminated Fan ID or Electronic Format of Fan ID)

For Free Travel, you need a Passport, Laminated Fan ID and Match Ticket

To enter the stadium, you need a Match Ticket and Laminated Fan ID

 

Which are the Hosting Cities & Stadiums?

All-in-all, FIFA World Cup 2018 will be hosted across 11 Russian cities in 12 stadiums. You can also watch matches at the FIFA Fan Fest spots located in all the host cities during match days.

 

City 1: Kaliningrad: An exclave of Russia, implying, it is a part of Russia but not attached with the Russian mainland, separated by Latvia and Lithuania in Europe. In 1991, it came into existence post the collapse of Soviet Union. A rich heritage city, the connections to this land (military or civilian) pass through special travel agreements between Latvia, Lithuania and Russia.

A google map screenshot showing Kaliningrad Oblast of Russia

(In Pic Above: A google map screenshot showing Kaliningrad Oblast of Russia)

Distance from Moscow: 1,264 kms South West

To Visit: Regional Museum of History and Arts, Kaliningrad Amber Museum, Puppet Theatre, Königsberg Cathedral, Juditten Church, King’s Gate, Friedrichsburg Gate

Transportation: Airport, Rail, Tram, Public Buses

Temperatures: Min 8° C, Max 20° C

Venue for FIFA Matches: Kaliningrad Stadium, max capacity 35,000

Venue for FIFA Fan Fest: Central Square, max capacity 15,000

 

City 2: Kazan: Situated at the confluence of River Volga and Kazanka, is the 6th most populous city of Russia.

Distance from Moscow: 816 kms South East

To Visit: Kazan Kremlin (World Heritage Site), Kazan Riviera, National Museum of Tatarstan, Palace of Agriculture, Pyramid Concert Hall, Temple of all religions, Palace of Marriage (Chasha), Qolsarif Mosque, Annunciation Cathedral

Temperatures: Min 9° C, Max 20° C

Transportation: Airport, Rail, Metro, Tram, Public Buses, Bicycle-sharing services

Venue for FIFA Matches: Kazan Arena, capacity 45,000

Venue for FIFA Fan Fest: Family Centre Kazan, max capacity 25,000

 

A beautiful sunset in Moscow showing Kremlin along the banks of River Moskva

(In Pic Above: A beautiful sunset in Moscow showing Kremlin along the banks of River Moskva)

 

City 3: Moscow: On the banks of River Moskva lies the capital of this huge (literally yyyuuggeee) country! This most populous Russian city, is also one of the 3 federal cities in Russia after St. Petersburg and Sevastopol. Apart from being the power of political seat, it is the cultural, economic and scientific capital of the nation. Having a cover of 40%, it is one of the world’s greenest capitals, also featuring world’s deepest metro system. The subway stations are designed intricately to reflect the Soviet-era style of living, making way to some of the most magnificent stations on the planet.

Distance from Moscow: NA

To Visit: Moscow Kremlin, Red Square, Lenin’s Mausoleum, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Bolshoi Theatre, St. Basil’s Cathedral, Pushkin State Museum, State Tretyakov Gallery, Gorky Park, Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

Temperatures: Min 10° C, Max 20° C

Transportation: Airports (4), Rail, Tram, Monorail, Metro, Public Buses, Trolley Buses, Taxi / Cabs, Car / Bike Sharing Providers

Venue for FIFA Matches: 1) Luzhniki Stadium, capacity 80,000; 2) Spartak Stadium, capacity 45,000

Venue for FIFA Fan Fest: Vorobyovy Gory, capacity 25,000

 

City 4: Nizhny Novgorod: Located at the picturesque confluence of Rivers Volga and Oka, a centre for river-tourism in Russia, Nizhny is the 5th largest city population-wise and the administrative capital of Nizhny Novgorod Oblast.

Distance from Moscow: 417 kms North East

To Visit: Bolshaya Pokrovskaya Street, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, 16th Century Novgorod Kremlin, Chkalov Stairs

Temperatures: Min 10° C, Max 20° C

Transportation: Airport, Rail, Public Buses, Tram, Taxi / Cab, Trolley Buses

Venue for FIFA Matches: Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, capacity 45,000

Venue for FIFA Fan Fest: Minin and Pozharsky Square, capacity 15,000

 

City 5: Rostov-on-don: The administrative capital of Rostov Oblast, this strategically located port city serves as the logistic hub for the country. Located just 32kms from the Sea of Azov and on the banks of River Don, the city serves as a natural and commercial waterway. With plenty of green parks, this city is also one of the rising cosmopolitan’s of Russia.

Distance from Moscow: 1,076 kms South East

To Visit: Rostov Academic Drama Gorki Theatre, Rostov Zoo, Rostov-on-don Circus, Don riverside, Nativity of the Virgin Cathedral

Temperatures: Min 14° C, Max 28° C

Transportation: Airport, Rail, Public Bus, Trolley Bus, Trams

Venue for FIFA Matches: Rostov Arena, capacity 45,000

Venue for FIFA Fan Fest: Theatre Square, capacity 25,000

 

The world's largest museum - Hermitage Museum as seen from Palace Square on a majestic evening in St.Petersburg

(In Pic Above: The world’s largest museum – Hermitage Museum as seen from Palace Square on a majestic evening in St.Petersburg)

 

City 6: St. Petersburg: Dubbed as “The Venice of North”, welcome to the “Beer Capital” of Russia. One of the most modern cities apart from being the cultural capital. Situated on Baltic coast, it is one of the biggest port cities and second largest city of the country, serving a gateway to Europe. Also, it is one of the 3 federal cities. River Neva flows through the city.

Look for the most poetic phenomena, White Nights (nights with daylight), in the city from mid-May up till mid-July, when you join in the city for FIFA fever! This happens typically because of the geographic location of the city on the globe. (Similar to Oslo, South Greenland)

Distance from Moscow: 709 kms North West

To Visit: Hermitage Museum (Largest Art Museum in the world), Palace Square, Church of the saviour on Spilled Blood, Field of Mars, Peter and Paul Fortress, Winter Palace, Mariinsky Theatre, Smolny Cathedral, Peterhof

Temperatures: Min 12° C, Max 23° C

Transportation: Airport, Rail, Sea Port, River Port, Tram, Metro, Public Bus, Trolley Bus

Venue for FIFA Matches: St. Petersburg Stadium, capacity 67,000

Venue for FIFA Fan Fest: Konyushennaya Square, capacity 15,000

 

City 7: Samara: The capital of Samara Oblast, the south-eastern city on the banks of River Volga is an important business and cultural centre for Russia. The city played host to EU-Russia summit in May 2007.

Distance from Moscow: 1,050 kms South East

To Visit: Samara Academic Opera, Samara Embankment, Samara Cosmos Space Museum, Stalin’s Bunker

Temperatures: Min 14° C, Max 25° C

Transportation: Airport, Rail, River Boats, Metro, Tram, Public Buses, Trolley Buses, Car Sharing

Venue for FIFA Matches: Samara Arena, capacity 45,000

Venue for FIFA Fan Fest: Kuibyshev Square, capacity 15,000

 

City 8: Saransk: The capital city of Republic of Mordovia is also its financial and economic centre.

Distance from Moscow: 649 kms South East

To Visit: Mordovia State National Drama Theatre, Cathedral of St. Theodore Ushakov

Temperatures: Min 11° C, Max 22° C

Transportation: Airport, Public Bus, Trolley Bus, Rail

Venue for FIFA Matches: Mordovia Arena, capacity 44,000

Venue for FIFA Fan Fest: Sovetskaya Square, capacity 20,000

 

The altitudes of Caucasus range makes it a perfect spot to have skiing resorts in Sochi

(In Pic Above: The altitudes of Caucasus range makes it a perfect spot to have skiing resorts in Sochi)

 

City 9: Sochi: Dubbed as ‘Summer Beach Resort’, a city in Krasnodar Krai, host to Winter Olympics in 2014, this place has gained notable importance on the global map. Located off the Black Sea, and serving as a seaport, the area landscape is dotted with Caucasus Mountains, providing altitude for Ski Resorts.

Distance from Moscow: 1,622 kms South East

To Visit: Sochi Seaport, Winter Theatre, Sochi National Park, Roza Khutor (Ski Resort), Dolphinarium Riviera

Temperatures: Min 15° C, Max 27° C

Transportation: Airport, Public Bus, Cab / Taxi, Sea Port

Venue for FIFA Matches: Fisht Stadium, capacity 48,000

Venue for FIFA Fan Fest: South Mall of the Seaport, capacity 10,000

 

City 10: Volgograd: The administrative capital of Volgograd Oblast, situated along the banks of River Volga and the city which resisted ‘Battle of Stalingrad’, this place is sometimes also referred as Stalingrad. Volgograd is home to the world’s tallest woman statue ‘The Motherland Calls’. Volgograd River port is Europe’s largest river port.

Distance from Moscow: 969 kms South East

To Visit: Mamayev Kurgan War Memorial, Panorama Museum, Volga-Don Navigation Canal

Temperatures: Min 12° C, Max 28° C

Transportation: Airport, Rail, River Boats, Public Bus, Trolley Bus, Trams (Russia’s only underground tram system), Cab / Taxi

Venue for FIFA Matches: Volgograd Arena, capacity 45,000

Venue for FIFA Fan Fest: The 62nd Army Embankment, capacity 15,000

 

City 11: Yekaterinburg: The administrative capital of Sverdlovsk Oblast, is also the 4th largest city of the country. It serves as headquarters for Central Military District. It is one of the largest financial and industrial cities in Russia having highest average monthly wages. The cost of living is marginally higher than other developed Russian cities with a population over 1 million. The city has a thriving catering scene, having a huge market of restaurants, bars welcoming guests. The city acts as a starting point for the exploration of Ural Mountains.

Distance from Moscow: 1,784 kms North East

To Visit: Rastorguyev-Kharitonov Palace, Yekaterinburg Zoo, Church of all saints, Aqua park Limpopo, Museum of Architecture and Design, Boris Yeltsin Presidential Centre

Temperatures: Min 12° C, Max 22° C

Transportation: Airport (2), Rail, Metro, Public Bus, Trams, Trolley Bus

Venue for FIFA Matches: Ekaterinburg Arena, capacity 35,000

Venue for FIFA Fan Fest: Mayakovsky Central Park of Entertainment and Culture, capacity 17,000

 

Weather: Summers start from June until August with temperatures ranging from 18°C to 22°C (pleasant temperatures to watch matches in stadium). Autumn stays from September until October (for a very brief period, Temperatures range 10°-15° C) post which the tough winter sets in from November until February, completely blanketing the country into crisp white snow (high probability of a white Christmas!).

The temperatures in winter range between -10°C to 5°C (yes, it is chilly, but you’ll love wearing those fur cardigans and warm jackets amidst endless snow). March onwards the temperatures start rising a fair bit to nudge in spring with some showers until May.

 

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(In Pic Above: Interiors of a metro station in Moscow, they themselves are worth a visit!)

Tip: Avoid Metro in business hours from 8am-10am and 5pm-7pm!

Clothing: Warm, leather, multi-layers are recommended, as temperatures might seem pleasant, but you may feel the chill as sun goes down. Cardigans, Jackets, Woollens are a must.

Driving: Right side of the road, Left hand drive

Currency: Russian Ruble (1 RUB = INR 1.08 approx. at the time of writing)

Visa: Not required if you have a Fan ID. For non-FIFA visitors, check your visa rules here

Fact: No other country in the world has as many time zones (11) as Russia

 

Last2

(In Pic Above: A bridge opens in St.Petersburg to let ships pass amidst lowly-lit backdrop on a white night)

 

The White Nights: The sun blesses this nation with over 18 hours of abundant sunlight (literally)! This experience can be seen at the time of FIFA World Cup, where the phenomena of ‘White Nights’ kicks in, posing nights as days with different hues on horizon.

 

Guys, I have tried to cover the FIFA World Cup 2018 details in its entirety. Should you need any assistance in details or any particular information, just comment below or send me an email directly, would be happy to assist you.

 

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Travel PitStops – May

Beach Summer

 

Hello readers! Hope all of you are enjoying your holidays.

I hope my first article of Travel PitStops series – April ignited your travel souls.

Here I am with my 2nd article of the Monthly Travel Pitstops Series with 2 new cool destinations to think on. (Trust me, its scorching heat across the country, I am travelling too!) But still there are a lot of places on our beautiful globe to satisfy your travel buds and make you wear winter clothes (atleast a jacket or 2).

Within India:

Munnar

One such natural destination to visit in the southern part of our country is Munnar. Situated in the beautiful state of Kerala at an altitude of 1500 metres above sea-level, this place is comfortably a summer-escapade. The lush green covers of forests and tea plantations will enthral you. This place used to be a hangout for the British elite in erstwhile days of British Raj.

Munnar is also known by the name ‘Kashmir of South India’!

Munnar

(In Pic Above: Fresh-looking Tea Plantations in the hills of Munnar)

How to Travel?

The nearest airport is Cochin (110 kms north-west) & nearest railway station is Ernakulam Jn (130 kms westwards, Station Code: ERS). After reaching the nearest points, one can travel by road and enjoy the scenic elevated road trip towards the forests where the traveller will be greeted by fresh air and nature treat.

What to do & visit?

Munnar is blessed with abundant flora and fauna that mesmerizes the nature lovers. A blue-coloured flower named Neelakurinji (Neela means blue, kurinji means flower) blooms every 12 years. (The next bloom turning hills blue, is this year from July to October, so don’t miss!).

The altitude of Munnar allows tourists to do trekking at the south-india’s highest peak, Anamudi, at a height of 2700 metres. The peak is situated inside Eravikulam National Park. The park is spread across 95 sq kms of area and houses some rare animals and birds.

Tourists can visit Mattupetty (13 kms from Munnar) to see the dam and lake and enjoy swift boating.

One can also visit Chinnakanal, where water falls from 2000 metres and they are also known as Power House Waterfalls. To visit fresh tea plantations, visit Anayirangal (22 kms from Munnar). Also visit Anayirangal Dam, surrounded by tea plantations and superb forests.

A visit to the Tea Museum in Nallathanni estate is a must. It showcases rich heritage and legacy of tea plantation over the years, with evolvement of machinery and methods of cultivation.

Munnar is commercially known for its tea-plantation, significantly operated by corporate giant Tata.

Tip: Being a hill station, take your sports shoe, as you might have to do a lot of walking!

Clothing: Carry light layers to protect from breezy evenings which get a little cold by night.

Temperatures: Range from 15oC to 22oC

Fact: This place got its name from the confluence of 3 rivers: Muthirappuzha, Nallathanni and Kundala

 

Outside India

Mongolia:

Remember, in our childhood days, we used to hear stories about Changez Khan. Decades later the iconic name has not been forgotten. A Mongolian ruler, who found the largest empire (his empire extended over 33 Mn sq kms) in history is actually spelt as Chinggis Khan!

Mongolia

(In Pic Above: The 130 feet tall Chinggis Khan statue in the outskirts of capital city Ulaanbaatar)

This picturesque destination is sandwiched between Russia in North and China in East, West and South. It is world’s second largest landlocked country. Mongolia is also one of the world’s least densely populated country!

The major religion is Buddhism while widely spoken language is Mongolian. Many Mongolians still live a nomadic way of lifestyle which has evolved over history. They stay in ‘gers’, a compact-portable camp house made of wood and leather. The whole equipment can be carried on just 3 camels!

How to Travel?

The national domestic airlines fly to other cities within the country and are well-connected with the capital Ulaanbaatar. Aero-Mongolia, MIAT Mongolian Airlines are few of the domestic airline operators.

The capital city has direct connections with Asian peers while they have transit connections from other parts of the world through hub and spoke model. MIAT Mongolian provides its services from India too.

What to do & visit?

Mongolia offers a variety of adventure activities owing to its rugged landscapes and untouched waterfronts. Horse Riding, Mountain Trekking, Camel Trekking, Wildlife watching and Hiking are a few activities. Road-tripping Gobi Desert in the south is a spectacle not to be missed. It is a cold desert with vegetation and sand.

Khovsgul Lake in the north is one serene place to visit. A calm quaint natural treat, ideal for staying and camping. The lake can be reached from the town of Murun. Gorkhi Terelj National Park north-east of the capital city is a dense expanse of virgin forests.

The major cities of Mongolia are Ulaanbaatar, Erdenet, Murun and Darkhan. Due to 250 cloud-free days in a year, Mongolia is also known as the ‘Land of Blue Skies’!

Naadam festival is one of the most celebrated events in Mongolia which happens in July. (This year it is being held from 11th to 15th July). The event includes 3 main sports: Horse Racing, Wrestling and Archery.

Tip: Buy maps of Mongolia from Map Centre near Gandan Monastery

Clothing: Keep winter clothing like jackets, woollens, gloves as it gets really chilly after evening.

Temperatures: Range from -0.3oC to 15oC (Amazing)

Currency: Mongolian Tugrik (1 MNT = INR 0.03 approx. at the time of writing)

Driving: Right side of the road, Left hand drive

Visa: Check visa rules & fee for your country here! It may vary depending on the type of passport you hold.

Fact: The capital city of Ulaanbaatar is home to approx. 45% of the country’s population!

 

Guys, this is all about this month’s Travel PitStops Series.

Let me know your thoughts about the blog. If you want me to add any other details going forward in this series, just comment below & don’t forget to subscribe! Kindly share with people who are intending to travel to these destinations.

 If you are travelling to any of these destinations, i would love to hear your experiences and stories.

Want to know about other travel destination? Read about Travel PitStops April edition

Continue reading “Travel PitStops – May”