For the next 12 days I am going to be in Russia on a trip for school. Before meeting up with the whole group in St. Petersburg, a few people in our group are going to Moscow on our own. We figured we’ll probably only be in Russia once, so why not see Moscow too? So москва (that’s Moscow in Russian) here we go…
Our flight from BOS to LHR was delayed for about 20 minutes because Airforce 1 was also taking off from Boston at the same time, really Obama? You couldn’t wait until my plane left? However, we had a great flight, the plane was basically empty and CL and I each took a row, stretched out and slept! Once in London we got a quick coffee and boarded our Flight to Moscow. Once landed we followed Marc’s explicit instruction on how to get a taxi and off we went to the Marriott Grand Hotel Moscow.
The hotel was just great, and Tiffany had gotten there before us and worked her magic to get us a nice corner suite. It was about 4pm, so there was really no time for a nap before dinner, but fortunately there was a Starbucks right next to the hotel. Yeah yeah, I know, going to Starbucks when you’re in Russia, but this girl wanted her soymilk (and they had it, I win), so about USD $7 later I had a soy latte, pricier than the US, but NEEDED. Then we met up with Elena and Dasha, two lovely Russian girls who a friend put us in touch with and went off to dinner at a steakhouse in one of the business areas of the city. We had some chicken kebabs, homemade beer and veggies, then braved the Moscow metro, one of the largest in the world, and crashed early.
The next day it was time to be tourists. Our hotel was only a 15 minute walk from Red Square, so we headed straight there. Our first stop was Lenin’s tomb, it was supposed to open at 10am, but to our dismay it was closed, no reason why of course, just a “nyet, closed, perhaps tomorrow.” But that’s okay, we just walked on over to the State History Museum and I was the first person of the day to buy a ticket!
The museum was filled with everything from fossils to a 14 carat diamond ring (hint, hint, my BATNA is 12 though, I’ll take that) and the building itself was decorated inside to look like different periods in Russians history.
Then we stopped at the small Kazan Cathedral, it was rebuilt in 1993, because the structure from the 1600’s was destroyed in Commie days because it impeded foot traffic during parades, whatevs, in the way, goodbye, nyet.
Our next stop was some church, recognize it?
It was very weird inside, a lot of little rooms, St. Basil (the office name is actually Intercession Cathedral), is comprised of domes that are actually their own little chapels, hence the little rooms. It actually looked smaller in person than I thought, weird, however, from far away it’s pretty awe-inspiring.
Our next stop was GUM, the old Soviet store that people used to wait in line after line at to just get a pair of shoes or a banana, but now it’s an upscale mall. We walked around a bit to warm up, and had lunch. Luckily the menu was in English and Russian. I ended up with a baked potato topped with some sort of eggplant puree, as well as a salad and a cranberry juice, delish!
After lunch we headed to Cathedral of Christ the Savior. It was destroyed under Stalin, cause what proletariat cares about religion, it’s the “opiate of the masses”and the world’s largest swimming pool was built in it’s place. Swimming or church, the choice seems obvious right? But, luckily it was rebuilt in 1997.
After churchie we headed next door the Pushkin Museum of Art and checked out their modern collection, which was basically the Impressionists up to Picasso-ish. They had a decent collection that included some good Monet’s, Degas, a Gauguin or two, Cezanne, Renoir and a few others including Van Gogh and Picasso.
Then, Tiffany, CL and I braved the metro back to the hotel. The metro you see, is only written in Cyrillic, no English anywhere. Armed with a map (we knew our stop) we made it back, after asking a few Russians for help. Everyone was super nice, not a “nyet” in sight!
That evening we headed out again with our Russian friends Elena and Dasha. This time to one of Moscow’s first clubs, named Propoganda. The name was fitting as it was pretty basic inside, with exposed pipe and brick. We ordered dinner, a bottle and a half of vodka (for 6 of us mind you) and then hit the dance floor. On the way home we took some “cabs” but after midnight in Moscow any car is a cab, so with help from Elena and Dasha, who rode with us, we got a nice tour on the way home from a Russian literature student who drove us by the houses of Russian authors we didn’t know…
The next morning we got up a little late (no it wasn’t from the Vodka, I swear) and headed over to the Kremlin. I was told that it was hard to get in and the lines would be long, but we walked right up (no line) and got student tickets for half the price! We walked by some state buildings and a cannon, but didn’t see Putin, oh well.
Then we went into like 69 churches in Cathedral Square. This is the oldest part of the Krems, where they had lots of churches and a Patriarch’s Palace, I’m not too sure what a Patriarch is, but it sounds impressive, right?
Next we hit up the Kremlin Armory, probably the most impressive spot on the trip. It housed treasures ranging from the silver services of the Tsars, to Faberge Eggs (like dank, Faberge DID NOT mess), crowns, and Peter the Great’s boots (that he made himself, impressive), unfortunately, no photos allowed inside.
After that we headed to dinner at a Georgian restaurant per recommendation of the New York Times. The place was called Khachapuri, which is the name of the traditional Georgian cheese bread (their signature dish). It’s basically like a thick crust pizza with just cheese, AMAZING. We also had some dumplings filled with meat, this amazing bean soup, salads, cheeses and kebabs. Basically we just asked the waiter what to order and he brought us a feast, and at about $40 USD a person, not bad at all. Thanks NYT!
Once finished with dinner we headed back to the hotel, grabbed out bags, and headed to the train station where we boarded an 8 hour night train to St. Petersburg. CL and I shared a cabin, it was somewhat tight with our large suitcases, but we managed to get an okay sleep, though we did wake up a lot due to the bumpy ride. You would think the train would just lull you to sleep, but unfortch it was a bit bumpy, oh well.
All in all Moscow was a great city, no trouble at the tourists sites and the people were not mean at all, stereotypes negated! We can’t wait for St. P.