Trip Start Sep 09, 2015
Trip End Jul 01, 2016

Flag of Russia  , Moscow,
Tuesday, September 15, 2015

We spent 3 days in Moscow. The city is very different to St Petersburg, much busier and more international. Muscovites are very proud of their city. Everything is 'the biggest' or 'the best', they are a bit obsessed with it. Everything has to be about strength and power, you know what they say about a man with big shoes after all.... ;)

While being here we have learnt so much about the history of the city. From Ivan the Terrible (Ivan IV - first Tsar of Russia) to Napoleon's invasion and finally to Communism and its downfall, it seems Muscovites have been living a tough life for centuries. They are really positive about the future though and hope the country will go through better times. Everyone we spoke to dislikes Putin but only passively speaks about it when asked.

We already mentioned the communist tour - that was brilliant and the highlight of our visit. Hearing about how the people loved Lenin and the success of that period to the period of 'terror' under Stalin. We also visited the Lenin mausoleum (his actual visible dead body on show) which is the creepiest place I have ever been to! I felt so sorry for the poor man and his family with thousands of tourists gawking at his dead body every day.

We also went to the Kremlin which was a bit of a disappointment really. You can only go inside the churches and none of the official buildings, it's definitely them and you which is to be expected, but if you experience it you really see it's just a money making exercise and not about education. They are also very secretive about the information they give about what goes on there generally - although to give you an example of the total power Putin and his PM have, in 2008 they fancied having a private gig with U2 in one of the churches, so they just cracked on with it paying U2 a fortune to turn up and play a private gig inside a state building.

We also went to lesser known areas of Moscow. We visited a run down building that has been taken over by hipsters and turned into speciality coffee shops, clothes shops, dance studios and restaurants. Also in the same area we found derelict buildings owned by the government which have fallen into disrepair - think Shoreditch location and feel, but derelict buildings and homeless people - no doubt they'll be fancy flats in the next decade.

This is a city of serious contrasts. Loads of young oligarch style money driving around the place, coupled with gypsy looking old people pottering around, people who lived in Communist Russia and now live in oligarch heaven. We have seen more Porsche Cayenne cars then anywhere else in he world - and that includes London!

The above may give you the impression that we did not like Moscow - actually it is quite the contrary. Moscow is a really cool place and very similar to London - sometimes it's just hard to reconcile the old from the new and we couldn't not feel affected by the Kremlins view on homosexuality, the Ukraine and democracy in general.

In conclusion, we would highly recommend Moscow to you, our only advice, it's not perfect, it's not fair but it sure is excited and vast so come eyes open and well read. We'll definitely be back again for the Bolshoi Ballet :)

Off now for a 27 hour train journey to Yerkaterinburg

R&L xx

Ps photos to follow later when the internet is better
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