Moscow, Russia: Magical Moscow

Trip Start Jul 28, 2013
Trip End Feb 06, 2014

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Flag of Russia  , Moscow,
Saturday, September 7, 2013

Moscow - On first glance it could easily be mistaken for an ugly duckling but with time we found it blossom into a vibrant, beautiful city which captivated us. If only the same could be said for our accommodation which wasn't big enough to swing a dead mouse in let alone a cat. It was in a good location and we had a private room, oh and the staff were nice - they were the pros. The negatives were a few resident cockroaches, walls were as thin as paper and there were only two toilets and two showers for the whole place. Ahh the joys of backpacking. At least it was a million times better than some of the places I stayed in India. Urrrgh bad times.

So it was called the "Simba Hostel" although you wouldn't know that walking down the street as they have no sign. Really helpful when you've just been on a 6 hour train from St Petersburg with next to no leg room, navigated a metro all written in Russian (Sam did, I just followed) and walked up and down a darn street for half an hour looking for it. Finally Sam found it through a key pad door and up some pigeon pooped stairs. Marketing obviously hasn't hit their budget yet.

The room itself.... hmmm how do I explain this. If you opened the door and laid our two backpacks side by side (not length ways) and stepped over it there would be just enough room to stand before hitting the wall... but instead of a wall you would hit a staircase that went up to the double bed, half of which was over the top of where our bags were and the other half was back over the corridor... if that makes sense. It was bloody tiny. I'm currently sat on the top bunk of an overnight train carriage which has four beds per cabin and I'm finding this spacious. It was however, only 30 quid a night.

Our three days in Moscow seemed to fly by. We walked for miles and I think managed to see all the major sites although some things were blocked off on the first day due to voters going to the polls to elect Moscow's new Mayor. The Kremlin was for some reason not as I imagined it. Less intimidating I think but still very impressive. St Basil's Cathedral was certainly grand but not as awe inspiring as The Church on Spilled Blood in St Petersburg. Red Square was overtaken by a grandstand for some military tattoo but over the days things were dismantled so we were able to get a feel for the place whilst sipping pink champagne in the Bosco cafe opposite.

The shopping centres - now they were amazing both architecturally and for the fact they contained every fashion label imaginable. Try as I might to convince myself that there was indeed space in my pack for a pair of Manolo's I managed to restrain myself and walk on. Will power!

As beautiful as the city was during the day it took on a whole new level at night. Stunning! From the floodlight walls of the Krelim to the glowing Bolshoi Theatre and golden fountain. Everything sparkled and looked as if it had come straight out of a pop-up book. It was definitely the best time to see the city.

The street along which our hostel was located also came to life at night and was crammed with thousands of people shopping, eating, drinking and watching street performers. Unlike St Petersburg one thing that struck me was the number of American chains and diner themed restaurants. Starbucks, Auntie Annes, Hard Rock Cafe, Johnny Rockets, Dunkin Donuts - you didn't see any of those in St Petersburg yet here they were everywhere. Despite embracing all things American we found a lot fewer people spoke English. It was also more expensive than St P and it was for that reason (and the fact I didn't have a killer pair of heels with me) that we weren't able to sample some of the finer wining and dining establishments that we had read/heard about. Shame as I'm sure they would have been incredible.

As our train to Kiev wasn't due to depart until 10pm we thought we might be bored on our last day however we were anything but. With so much to see and do we were kept running until the final hour so my advice is, if you haven't been to Moscow, GO!

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