Magical Moscow

Trip Start Nov 15, 2004
Trip End Nov 10, 2005

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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The last leg of the classical 'trans-siberian/mongolian' journey was pretty uneventful and by this stage we were a bit sick of trains so we just wanted to arrive. There were lots of delicious berries for sale along the way though and at one particular stop one could purchase rather kitsch glass chandeliers and vases as there was a glass factory in the area. One of our 'cabin mates' set a record for sleeping no less than 28 hours of the 29 hour journey.

We arrived in Moscow and managed to easily find our hostel thanks to the initially overwhelming but remarkably efficient and amazingly decorated metro train system (complete with 154 stations). We arrived about midday, so had enough time to indulge Kate in a vegetarian restaurant (she had been living off salad and mushroom soup and so now finally got to try Russian borsht) and visit the Red Square and the somewhat bizarre St Basil's Cathedral. Spectacular, but a little reminiscent of a cake decoration. The next day, after a frustrating and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to buy train tickets, we did the full Kremlin tour, which was more about cathedrals and museums rather than giving us any insight into this seat of power. That night, after another frustrating 'experience' of Russian queues and 'customer service' we finally managed to get train tickets to St Petersburg (in a Russian queue you can tell the last person in the line that you are behind them, and then come back (hours) later when you are closer to the front). (The customer in Russia seems to be a hindrance that any average (frowning, grumpy and rude) attendant would rather do without - you can get things done if you don't mind being ignored, then snapped at, verbally abused and finally served with a healthy dose of disdain).

We visited the 16th century Novodivechny convent and the adjacent cemetery, so Kate could find the graves of Checkov and Stanislavsky (theatre icons) and had a cheaper feed (sandwiches) by the Moscow River, before heading to the showcase of Soviet Socialism, the All Russia Exhibition Centre or VDNKh. The long wide boulevard is lined with majestic buildings and statues commemorating the revolution and the workers, and previously held exhibitions on the Communist idealism. Ironically it now houses shops and bargain stalls, as well as being the place to hire rollerskates, eat ice cream and do just about anything that involves spending money including gambling.

Our final day in Moscow we travelled into the outer suburbs to visit the former Royal Estate at Klomenskoe. The area is a peaceful park housing the old orchards, residences, church and other relics. It made a nice break from the hustle and bustle of Moscow's ten million people (and seemingly one million police - who randomly check foreigners passports and extort 'fines' - luckily we have thus far (we leave in five hours) escaped this but have seen many victims).
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ernyruff on

Off to Moscow in October, have heard stories of the Police checking tourists for passports - do they fine you if you have not got them on you???? scared now.

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