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November 18th 2009
Published: December 7th 2009
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I loved Moscow. I didn't know what to expect before I arrived, and to be honest I didn't really think it would be a place that I would love, but for some reason, the golden domes capping the skyline and the pedestrian streets made a good impression on me.

Woken up at 03.15, our train drew into Moscow! After 4 nights on board, we had made it across this massive country! Still dark, we went to the Metro station and waited for it to open. We'd got off the train to a very grand antique looking station at about 04.45. The Metro opened at 05.30 with a very unorganized crowd of people scrambling to get to a ticket window...the Moscow Metro has yet to get ticket machines. The Metro system was very cool, retro with art deco ceilings and marble floors. Nothing was in English so we had to match up Cyrillic letters and follow carefully how many stops we had made! We found our hostel in the dark and had a much needed shower!

Once daybreak occurred we headed out to see Moscow with fresher eyes and cleaner bodies! It was great to be in a city again, having so much around to catch my eye. All the buildings in Moscow are very grand and ornate, it is a well looked after city and the snow capped trees just added to the romantic feel of it!

Sadly the Bolshoi theatre was closed for renovations, but I couldn't resist posing for a ballet photo anyway! I proudly did a jeté in front of the fountain! The weather was a big relief from the bitter cold of Irkutsk, we could cope with this zero degree weather no problem! From the Bolshoi theatre we continued in the Kitay-Gorod district taking in the beautiful buildings, churches and cathedrals on the way. The skyline is dotted with bright golden domes of religious buildings.

It hit me that I was in Moscow when I was feeling lost, map in hand, wondering where abouts I was, when Ben said "just walk in that direction for ten steps and you will know exactly where you are!" Sure enough, I peered round the corner and gasped at the stunning St. Basils cathedral in all its colourful glory, right in front of me! I was actually a bit taken a back I was so impressed! I had not really thought about seeing it, and had only ever seen small, amateur pictures of it, so to see it in real life was great.

A visit to the Armoury was interesting (although expensive at 700 Rubles), and the free audio guide took me round at the right pace so that it didn't get boring. It gave me enough information without going into details about the grandmother of the man who built the gilded bible in cabinet one! I particularly liked seeing the famous Fabergé eggs, having learnt about them as a child. One of them had a Trans-Siberian train inside to commemorate the first train to travel on the new railway. Quite fitting as we had got off such a train that morning.

Red square is home to the dead body of Lenin, so we visited him in the underground crypt. That's Mao and Lenin I have seen dead now. Not sure who is in better condition! Visiting Mao was definitely much more moving in terms of watching the local people adore him in his mausoleum. There was much less of a respectful atmosphere at Lenin's Mausoleum.

A visit to the history museum was less exciting, with all the descriptions in Russian, it would have been worth investing in an audio guide had we not been traveling on a budget! The building itself was impressive, but the content didn't do much to interest me. Perhaps I have seen too many pre-historic stones and tools after traveling for 5 months!

Going inside St. Basils cathedral was worth the ticket price, it is actually made up of seven different churches, one of which was built over the tomb of St.Basil. It was interesting that none of the churches we visited had seats in them, it seems that orthodox churches are places to visit and light candles rather than attend a service from what I have seen. Even very large churches did not have chairs, but were still very ornate and beautiful.

Red square and the Kremlin were nice to walk around, and the buildings impressed me. The interiors of some of the Kremlin churches are very decorative - lots of looking up at ceilings! Arbat street was also a lovely pedestrian area. Red square was gearing up for Christmas, which would be a nice time to visit. We were sad the ice skating rink was not up and running yet.

We spent our last evening attending the Moscow state circus, which I have to say did not amaze me that much, particularly as I was not impressed at the animals on display in the foyer and the use of seals and a panther in the performance. The human acts, on ice were impressive and I enjoyed them, but maybe I have been spoiled by previous Cirque du Soleil shows. I was glad I paid no more than 350 Rubles for my ticket.

After a few hours trying to stay awake in the hostel we caught the last metro train so we made it in time for our 2am train to St. Petersburg. Again we were in the platzkart (3rd class), but this time it was not very social as we all just fell asleep!

J x

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3rd August 2010

Orthodox churches
Orthodox churches don't have seats: people attend mass (at least 1 hr) standing :) Love your blog - so interesting!

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