Arrival in Russia

Trip Start May 12, 2009
Trip End Dec 22, 2009

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Flag of Russian Federation  , Central Russia,
Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Moscow....Wow! We actually made it! After all the dubious work we put into getting our visas, and then flights, and then arriving at the dumpy Soviet airport, we made it past customs no problem! We'd been really excited for a while about arriving in the country, and it did not disappoint!

Getting to our hostel (one of very few in the huge metropolis) was actually not so bad, and neither was registering our passports (another part of the visa rules...) The metro we took to get there went so deep down, with some of the longest escalators we'd ever ridden. It was nice to see Cyrillic writing again, and we were pretty quick at reading the signs, thanks to our travels in Bulgaria and Ukraine.

As soon as we'd settled into our room, we headed straight for Red Square, minding the police, who we'd been repeatedly warned could hit you up for bribes...and there were many of them. It felt pretty terrible walking around, knowing about this corruption, but we didn't have any problems in Moscow.

Red Square was something else...and very unlike other squares in Europe. It felt like a square mainly for tourists, or for big state parades or demonstrations. It was certainly not the kind of square many people went for coffee, to stroll, and good luck trying to busk! But it was still very impressive...St Basil's church at one end, the State History museum at the other, Lenin's mausoleum to one side, and capitalist GUM shopping mall across.The red brick walls of the kremlin loomed in the background, giving a very epic feel to the area.

Over the 4 days we spent there, we visited each of the aboves sites. The church had a really gorgeous interior, though we could only sneak photos. The state history museum was really chock-full, while Lenin's mausoleum was quite bare as we filed past the preserved, apparently brainless, corpse. GUM shopping center was really lovely inside and out, and so were the churches and museums in the kremlin. All in all there was really a lot to take in, without even visiting the city!

But we did make it around Moscow, mainly on foot...which was quite diffcult given the wide roads. We visited another art gallery, the mayakovsy museum, the cathedral of christ the saviour, and the moscow art theatre (in addition to strolling in some of the nicer areas, and few pedestrian streets). It was quite tiring, but it's hard not to be excited by little discoveries here and there, like champagne-pomegranate ice cream, a Russian Mr. Burrito, pay portapotties, and countless traces from Soviet times.
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