As I mentioned before, the first time I ever left the US/Canada was exactly 25 years ago, when I headed to the USSR on a student exchange program. Now, 25 years and 146 countries later I was finally headed back to Russia, and a very changed Moscow!
Although I didn’t get to the hotel until maybe 9pm, I thought I’d still go for a short wander and find dinner, to try and get a little bit of an impression of the city before playing tourist. 10 minute walk away was Mayakovskij Square:
Which was a little more welcoming in daylight the next morning:
First thing I had planned was to see Red Square and the surrounding area. It was maybe a mile walk which normally wouldn’t be a big deal, but it was -10C outside, and lightly snowing. No worry, time to walk!
First stop was the Tomb of the Unknowns:
A monument to those who died in Leningrad in WWII:
General monument to WWII, aka the Great Patriotic War:
Heading into Red Square:
Waited in line nearly an hour to get inside, which is free, however, the scam is you have to check your cell phones, cameras, etc, which they get a bit over $1 (and another line) each for. A picture of Lenin’s tomb from the outside, since you can’t take pictures inside. Yup, he still looks dead.
St. Basil’s Cathedral:
After spending a couple hours in Red Square and the Kremlin, next up was the former State Department Store, aka GUM. Last time I’d been there, it was filled with random stuff most people didn’t want, mostly of poor quality. Well, GUM has changed more than a little bit in the last 25 years. Note the Emporio Armani Café:
By this point, I wasn’t recognizing anything in Moscow other than Red Square, and even that was different because it was filled to the brim with people. But inside GUM, a familiar site that’s still there…the ice cream stand. Even more familiar…there was a long queue, because there was no ice cream…and nobody knew if more would come. But, they waited in line anyways…and eventually some came. And there was only chocolate…so everyone had chocolate. It was a great memory of the USSR where if product arrived, you took it and didn’t question the shape, size, colour, or flavour!
Champagne $1000 and up? Yup, definitely a different GUM!
Finally got on the Metro, and headed to the Church of the Ascension. Meant a nice long walk through the park in the snow:
Smaller church nearby:
Church of the Ascension, a UNESCO World Heritage site:
Back into the metro, and some great Soviet-era murals:
After a day of walking around, took the metro to another station near my hotel to walk back a different way. The Belorusskij Train Station:
Snow kept going well into the evening:
Headed out again the next morning, for more sightseeing:
Stopped at the Garden of Fallen Monuments, where many old Soviet-era statues have been arranged in an exhibit:
More metro art:
As it was nearing sunset, decided on another walk through Red Square at sunset:
GUM all lit up at night:
On my final day, got up early to try and see Red Square at sunrise…and failed. This is 10am…and the sun is just coming up.
Giftwrapping snow princess in GUM:
Lubyanka, aka the KGM…even LOOKS grim outside:
Walking to work, at 9am…still dark.
Finally got to experience Metro at rush hour…where it can take 20 minutes to get into and out of stations because they are wall to wall people and there’s just nowhere to move.
Next up, Moscow to Vienna!