Moscow

We arrived into Moscow on Monday afternoon, arriving into a busy city was great. First we wanted to get to our hotel and as we had a fair bit of luggage we thought we’d get a taxi. Unfortunately aside from the dodgy guys who offer you a taxi on the platform itself there didn’t seem to be an official taxi rank at the station. So we went on the metro instead. The metro itself has very attractive and expensive looking stations with rickety old trains and even wooden escalators. This leads to be bit of a contradiction actually. Anyhow after making our way to our hotel we settled down and I read a copy of the London Times, which seems to be a total joke these days. Before settling down to dinner in the hotel. The dinner was excellent and the food was well worth the price – so it wasn’t £100 for a small omelette or anything like that! After that we went to bed early and it was nice to be sleeping in a real bed rather than on the train for a change.

The next morning we got up bright and early at 7am and after breakfast we made our way into the centre of Moscow. At this point we first tried to get into the Kremlin, but it was too early so we headed up to Red Square to see if we could have a look at the stuffed Lenin as you have to do that early in the morning, unfortunately like Mao in Beijing he was undergoing “refurbishment” so we had to give it a miss. Red square is an interesting site however with the Gym (Gum) shopping centre on one side, the Kremlin on the other and St Basil’s cathedral at one end – now that is surprisingly small more on that later on.

Anyhow as Lenin was shut we made our way back to the Kremlin and after leaving our bags we made our way into the armoury to look at some of the arms and armour and other gifts the Russians had been given by various ambassadors as well as the stuff they’d used themselves which was very impressive as well as looking at the cathedrals around the Kremlin itself. These were fairly opulent Orthodox cathedrals that were well worth looking at. We also tried to look at the bell tower, but it was unfortunately “shut for lunch”.

After this we headed out of the Kremlin to see if we could get some ballet tickets, but they were a little more expensive than a cliched small omelette at about £60 each so we decided it was too expensive and gave it a miss, so we instead headed to a nearby mall to have some pizza for lunch, this was excellent until they brought the bill which seemed to take absolutely ages. And they also bought a fake 100 rouble note with it as the paper felt wrong. I of course asked for a real one instead. On the way we saw the one and only official taxi in Moscow, it is surprising that there are so few that even hotels like ours which wasn’t exactly a hostel didn’t even suggest the possibility of using one to get anywhere – even the airport.

After lunch we went back to Red Square and looked at the Gym shopping centre briefly which was good before we headed to St Basil’s cathedral which was nice, but actually pretty damn tiny. There is no large worshipping space inside the cathedral itself which was a definite surprise. It is very tall inside however.

After this we left and as we had a few hours and weren’t heading to the ballet we instead went to Tretyakov Gallery which had a lot of Russian art which was interesting. We saw the top floor which is about 30 galleries of good art before getting bored. It did seem that much of the older Russian art on display was quite constrained as it was all commissioned by the imperial family and the newer stuff was definitely better. After that we headed to a tastefully themed Russian restaurant for some dinner, I had some Salmon caviar but it wasn’t actually that tasty, but the main course which was another traditional Russian dish was great.

The next day I had to help my dad get to the airport and get to St Petersburg myself so I didn’t really manage to do any more in Moscow.