Modern travel is pretty amazing. In one day, you can experience the dry and dusty heat of Beijing and the crushing cold of Moscow. If we were talking a hundred years ago, fifty even, that journey would take you about a week by train. In our case, it took eight hours.
As you’ve already guessed, this Moscow summer wasn’t particularly warm. In fact, it was a mediocre 16 degrees and cloudy for the first day of our stay. That’s not to say that the Muscovites felt any different in their shorts and t-shirts, but hey, it’s all relative!
We came across a festival in the beautiful Gorky Park on a Saturday afternoon and walked along the banks of the Moskva river which were packed with people skating, singing and even rollerblading. We had dinner on Arbat street which is a lively place to be for tourists and locals alike.
We spent an afternoon on a walking tour of the Kremlin, the political centre of Russia and learned so much about the tumultuous history of this small piece of land. At one stage there were more than 37 churches situated in the Kremlin, now a total of four remain. Our guide showed us around the Assumption cathedral, which was where the Tsars of Russia had been crowned and it was covered, floor to ceiling, with murals and icons of saints.
We also visited Red Square and found, like most of our time in Moscow, it was not as we had expected. St Basil’s was impressive but the square was much smaller than we thought it would be. The cobblestone square was lined with the magical buildings of centuries past and it was truly a great place to visit.
Overall, we enjoyed Moscow but we still don’t know what to make of the city itself. One factor in this is of course the language barrier, one not overcome easily! I managed to learn a few phrases and recognise some words in Cyrillic but our visit was probably limited without more Russian! There are probably lots of ways to see Moscow but in order to really get a sense of the city you will need to speak Russian or know someone who lives there.
Perhaps now that that travel has become so easy and accessible it has made us somewhat unprepared for what we find at the destination.