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We alighted from the bus just across the street from the famous Bolshoi theatre – what a bonus to be able to see and photograph this amazing iconic building. Our group meeting point was opposite the theatre at the Metropole hotel so Trev, Sal and I were given strict instructions to return there by 3.30pm to collect our luggage from the bus and wait for the taxi that would take us to the station.
With our guide leading the way we walked ...
... very tight. After we had both rested we went for a stroll back to where I now knew the Metro was. We walked through a delightful park and emerged at the large shopping complex. After stopping for a drink and people watching, we tried to find a supermarket and eventually came across a small one directly opposite the hotel At least we finally got there. It did not stock tonic though!! We bought a couple of cans of beer instead.
Back at the hotel our friend ...
... shed, where large hydraulic lifts raised each carriage one by one to change the bogies underneath (the Chinese railway operates on a standard gauge which is 3 and a half inches narrower than the 5ft gauge in Russia and Mongolia) and we played naughts and crosses through the train windows with the French boys opposite!
By the time the bogie changing process was finished, we were tired and hit the sack, unaware of the awe-inspiring scenery that was ...
... were to see in other Cathedrals, is a common theme with the Russian Orthodox Church. We left St Basil's and quickly looked inside GUM, the huge department store on Red Square which is now the favourite shopping area of the rich Russian oligarchs. We then went to look at the Arbatskaya area which was originally occupied by the Tsar's artisans. The street is now home to souvenir shops, cafe's, artist's stalls and KFC and other take aways. We did buy ...
... 20 years. I could see myself breaking something if I tried to do ice skates besides I really never much liked it when I was a kid and nimble! So settled into my very odd room. We were staying at the Courtyard Marriott which normally is a pretty good hotel but perhaps they had been a bit overwhelmed by us and conventions. My roommate and I got a room which had windows onto the conference ...
I found the apartment on Noviy Arbat #16 via Lonelyplanet.com and reserved through the website. On the confirmation, it provided a telephone number to call to arrange access. Thankfully, my girlfriend is fluent in Russian, as neither the lady doing the check-in nor the contract were in English. The contract has some tricky clauses that my girlfriend quickly singled out, and with a little discussion these were ultimately altered in writing before I signed.
The apartment we got, was actually a different apartment we had booked (so #16 is not the apartment we stayed in, but can't remember the actual number). Somehow, the apartment we had booked was not available. Our apartment was a little further from the centre (but on the same road) and bigger. For the 2 of us, it was huge, although the furniture was old, it was in a pretty good condition apart from the bathroom that suffered from leakage from the apartment above.
Our worst experience was on the last night, when we found the key not to be working late at night. After repeated attempts, we finally got hold of someone at the leasing agency. This took us hours. When he also could not open the apartment, we were finally offered an alternative close by. By then, it was early morning, but we slept okay in that place. They next day, we could retrieve our luggage from the original place and they agreed to a late check-out.
All in all, it was not a bad experience as it provided a much better deal then a hotel, but the service was dismal.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TravelPod member and not of TravelPod.com.