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June 2nd 2017
Published: February 25th 2019
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Moscow Metro TourismMoscow Metro TourismMoscow Metro Tourism

(I can't remember which is which station!)
R: Friday was all about the transport. You may already know that the Metro system in Moscow is prized as a jewel of the city. The stations are intricately decorated with chandeliers, statues and embossed detail. Lonely Planet had a "Metro tourism" tour, so Cate led us around as we criss crossed the network looking at the finest underground system in the world. After my initial difficulties moving around, we had now found our feet. We headed around through Arbatskaya, to Plotschad Revoluski, Kievskaya to Mayaskaya. Each station had its own specific theme and statues, many of which appeared to be lucky as areas of them were shinier than others where they had been rubbed clean. The Russians have decided to leave the evidence of communist past in the relevant places - there were plenty of hammer and sickle emblems and many of the stations had a "workers" theme to them. One of the stand out things about the Moscow metro is cleanliness, but also the number of staff. They have staff on every platform, at the gate lines and even one in a little booth at the end of each bank of escalators.

We breaked in a cafe that had a honey mint beer to try. Word of advice ; don't try the honey mint beer. At this point Cate and I headed to the Church of the Assumption while Clare and Richard headed off for other explorations. As we got closer to the church of the assumption, we noticed a general increase in foot traffic, and we got funneled into a queuing system, which eventually crossed the road. All along the road were coaches full of disembarking passengers. We were very confused. As the crowds got too much, and it was clear we were in a long queue for some airport style security, we turned around and wrote it off as a bad job. By now it was time for our trip to the Kremlin.

We grabbed a bit of lunch first - at McDonald's just outside the Kremlin which seemed a bit conspicuous. The tickets are timed so we had to wait until our slot. As this approached, the heavens opened. The queue to clear security surged forward until we were squeezed between hundreds of Chinese tourists. You enter over a crenulated bridge which is quite dramatic. The security centre opened up into a large courtyard surrounded by numerous churches and palace buildings. The Kremlin is sort of on a hill above Red Square so you get great views over the city and the river. Only some of them are open to the public, so we toured a rather dull museum that contained french icons, before heading to the Armoury which is the jewel in the crown of the Kremlin. It contains amongst other things, numerous Fabergé eggs, but also large sledge carriages to be used to pull the Tsars through the snowy streets of Moscow, as well as child armour and helmets. It made for a good explore.

Dinner that night was at a Kazakhstani Restaurant that had a very gregacious owner who had talked Richard into coming in. What he hadn't mentioned to Richard was the raucous party that would be going at the same time. It didn't matter - we had a great dinner of lamb kebabs and prosecco, followed by drinks in our hotel bar, as this was our last day all together.

The next day started with a final shower - I was conscious this would be my last night in a proper bed, and my last use of running hot water for some time. We had a lazy breakfast and then headed all together to Paveletsky station. We put Clare and Cate on the Aero express train to the airport for their flight to Brussels where they had about 4 hours connection to go into town and explore.

From there Richard and I went for a walk, following the line of the Moscva River until we found the National Music Centre which had a glorius location on the river, a stunning glass building with a treble clef on the roof. We approached a bar feeling like it was time for coffee and got beckoned in by the owner. However, this was quite an odd choice as they were clearly setting up for a wedding, and it was very dark inside. The walls were covered in portraits of various musicians, including hung over the toilet. We walked on and got a great snapshot of the less touristed areas of Moscow including lots of soviet skyscrapers. We happened upon the Church of the Assumption again and once again were forced back by the crowds. It turns out that there is a travelling relic from Tsar Nicholas I in there at the moment that people are flocking to touch!

Richard and I split up for the remainder of the afternoon. He went to seek out some peace and quiet before the grand adventure began, and I headed into a random Moscow suburb to go to a area of "traditional buildings and markets" which was in a grand soviet kind of area. It was called Izmaylousky and was a sort of Russian Disneyland with pretty painted buildings, churches that had been transplanted from other places, and came with lots of monuments to Russian life - including a Vodka museum (no tastings available) and various street food stands. If you crossed over a bridge at the back, you ended up in a two story wooden market which was full of bric-a-brac and Russian 2nd hand things including lots of soviet war memorabilia and Russian hats... I decided I didn't really need one of these for the train, but am now slightly regretting it. Finally, I found myself in Gorky Park, a green space next to the river where all the big Soviet monuments were removed to after the fall of the USSR. This included statutes of Lenin and other Soviet brass - not considered suitable for the streets of Moscow, but fine as a historic record.

I rejoined Richard to prepare for the off. The trans-Siberian left at 23:55 hours, so we had a little time to spare. Richard wanted to catch the Champions League final so we went out in search of dinner - ending up at a place that gave us a menu, but refused to serve us anything other than one item from it, and only one beer, despite the array of taps available at the bar. Needless to say we were unimpressed so headed somewhere else. Then it was time for supplies; we visited a local supermarket to but things to keep us going for the next few days, which were mainly bread, cake and noodle based, however Richard also bought a bottle of vodka for the journey which seemed very appropriate.

We settled into the hotel bar once more for the Champions League final, and at about 22:00 we picked up our bags and headed off to the station

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