I have to admit to a little bit of nervousness about visiting Moscow…especially with Russias sometimes negative impact on world affairs. And the hastle of getting a Visa…needing to be invited by your booked hotel. On the morning of our flight to Moscow from Berlin our accommodation was cancelled which lead to a rushed search for an alternative place to stay. And the associated concern about whether this would affect our entry into the country. And then the plane trip, on Utair, a budget Russian airline that had serious space issues, and everyone clapped when it landed safely.
But we got through customs quickly and easily. And then a dodgy taxi ride to our last minute accommodation which turned out to be almost perfect in a very central location. Just minutes from where we had our best meal of the trip so far! At a Georgian Restaurant. (A lady we met randomly at Berlin airport recommended we try Georgian food…and the flavours blew us away! We are going back tonight!)
After a comfy night in the best bed so far, with the best pillow, we set off into the pouring rain to explore.
We are less than ten minutes walk from the Kremlin, so we head there. We get waylaid by some seriously persuasive well dressed tourist scammers who demand money from us to take our photo with them. We are caught a little unprepared so fall for the trap and feel obligated to give them some money…not quite as much as they were demanding but enough for there efforts!
I am intrigued by the western fast food joints directly opposite the Kremlin…at last they are discrete!
We are saturated and cold so head for the nearest museum, which turned out to be the Museum of the Patritric War of 1812. Not really my thing…but it was dry and warm. And I did learn a thing or two…it was the war between Alexander of Russia and Napoleon of France. The best thing was having a hilarious conversation with the toilet lady, we both had no idea what the other was saying but we just kept speaking in turn and laughing… it was all to do with the toilet door not working and her busting in on me.
The rain was reduced in heaviness when we returned outside and there was a seafood festival happening. Lots of stalls selling fish products and snacks. We had some fried sardine type fish. And then a spiced Turkish coffee heated in sand. The girl who made it was charming and spoke good English, we chatted away about coffee and Harry Potter and fish. We returned later for a blini with honey and nuts.
We then decided to head around the corner to the massive and elaborate shopping centre GUM, built in the late 1800’s. After the Revolution it was set up as a model shopping centre to but failed in its goal to build communism through capitalism and was closed for a while and used by Stalin as offices. It reopened in 1958 and as the only shopping centre that didn’t have shortages it always had long queues. We took the opportunity to eat our sandwiches here out of the rain.
Then it was out into the Red Square to wander with the other tourists, snapping pics as required. I do love St Basil’s Cathedral…it is iconic…it was built in 16th century but no longer operates as a cathedral. The Red Square was full of workers erecting a massive stage and marquees for the upcoming football Word Cup in about two weeks. We also witness the changing of the guards at the memorial to the unknown soldier.
Another delicious Georgian meal this time consisting of mushroom soup, eggplant rolls, khinlavi (dumplings), bean stew and, a chicken and mushroom bread thing. Lucky all the servings are small so we can share and taste a few things…mmmm
We went for a rather longer evening walk than we anticipated because we got distracted by all the lovely lights…