Ivan Ostankov has been Highland Park’s Brand Ambassador in Russia for two years. We may think of Russia as traditionally the land of vodka, but our whisky has certainly found its way to Ivan’s heart!
Since working with Highland Park, Ivan has fallen in love with Scandinavian legends and culture and, as soon as travel restrictions are lifted, can’t wait to visit Norway and Denmark. It’s not just the ancient castles and churches that he wants to explore but modern life in what he sees as the Viking homeland. Ivan wants to open himself up to a new world of contemporary art, crafts, fine dining and bars, and says it will be one of the best journeys of his life! While this modern day Viking Soul is dreaming of his own travel adventures, we asked him to share his top tips for making memories in Russia. With over 17,000,000 square km to explore, just where do you start?
Sunrise on the Volga
“Here in Russia we have one of the biggest rivers in the world – the Volga. It’s 3,530 km long, which means you can enjoy watching the sunrise over it both in the Moscow region… and in Kazakhstan! For me, however, the best sunrise is near the city of Tver. There you’ll find a sandy beach, the wide water line of the Volga and tall pine forests in the background.”
City breaks, large and small
“One of my favourite cities is St Petersburg and I’d certainly recommend visiting it – along with Moscow of course. In Moscow, start off in the very heart of the capital – the Kremlin. Guides take small groups on tours of the city and tell them the history of Moscow and the Kremlin – the birth of Russia, our wars and our uprisings. A boat trip along the Moscow River is also a great experience – it’s very refreshing and will energise you for new discoveries! I’d also recommend visiting a small town, about 100km from Moscow, called Kolomna. It’s rich in monuments with ancient architecture and old churches – here you’ll find out all about local crafts and taste the most delicious marshmallows, cider and pastries! As all the most interesting places are concentrated right in the centre, you can learn a lot in just one day.
From local dishes to a dram at the end of the week
“I love simple but bright flavours in food and one of my favourite dishes here is a cold soup called ‘Okorcha’. Spiced with mustard, freshly ground black pepper and salt, it contains meat and vegetables and is traditionally served with ‘Kvass’ – a special drink based on rye bread. I like adding sour cream to this soup as it makes a wonderfully refreshing dish during the heat of the summer. I love to cook and use Highland Park in recipes but my favourite way to enjoy it is simply a good dram of neat 12 Year Old VIKING HONOUR at the end of the working week.”