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Published: October 5th 2007
Moscow hit us like a ton of bricks. It always comes as a shock when you come from the countryside to a huge bustling city. The language barrier (Cyrillic alphabet) makes it even more challenging. We hit the usual touristy spots such as the Kremlin (Armoury; Annunciation Cathedral; Assumption Cathedral); Red Square and St Basil's Cathedral; Church of the Saviour; Sparrow Hills; Kolomenskoye (Tsars' parkland retreat); and the beautiful Moscow metro stations (works of art in themselves, and packed with commuters at all hours). Also did a half-day trip to Sergiev Posad, which is one of the holiest Russian sites. I think you only need 2 days maximum to see the best of Moscow.
Then it was back on the train to St Petersburg. It's a bit of a lottery with the trains; you never know what to expect. The one we had was revolting and the filthiest one of the lot. Thank goodness we were only on it overnight. We were met at the station by our guide Paul at the ungodly hour of 5.30am. After a refreshing brekky Paul took us for a 5-hour city orientation tour until we could check in to our hotel at 12pm.
Showing the wall separating the Kremlin & Red Square with Lenin's Mausoleum below
St Petersburg is a gorgeous city and a breath of fresh air after Moscow. Everyone loved it. A great city just to stroll around, and to soak up the great arts and cultural scene.
We visited the Peter and Paul Fortress (contained the tombs of the Romanov emperors and empresses); Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood; St Nicholas Naval Cathedral; Aurora Cruiser; Peterhof (Peter the Great's summer palace, which looks like Versailles); and caught a hydrofoil across the Gulf of Finland from Peterhof to the fantastic Hermitage Museum.
Our last group night was spent attending a Russian folk show which everyone enjoyed immensely. The group shouted me dinner as a 'thank you', which was a lovely gesture. I also had a few days after the tour ended which I spent walking around the City, and taking a relaxing cruise along the Neva River and canal system. The final day was spent visiting the Russian Museum, and attending a ballet production of "Swan Lake" at the Hermitage Theatre. A perfect end to a brilliant Trans-Siberian railroad trip.
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