Snow, vodka, and sloths. In 2015 after a European adventure I headed over to Moscow and loved every second of it! Russia seems to bring up lots of different feelings for many different people, and today I want to share with you my taste of Moscow.
Arriving to my accommodation late in the evening I was greeted by my friend with a bottle of vodka and a hug. After a few glasses of vodka we ended up outside in the mid-calf deep snow jumping around and having a snowball fight before he went back home. The perfect introduction to Moscow really.
The next day I stepped onto the Red Square for the first time. History, beauty, and excitement all hit me at once. I was finally standing an area I had only seen in books and movies! This, to me, is the true joy of traveling. After checking our Saint Basil’s Cathedral, the Kremlin walls, and the changing of the guard, it was time to head inside for a bit of warmth. It was -7oC after all. GUM. A place to shop, eat, drink, and experience capitalism at its finest. Aaaand just across from this Capitalism haven is the resting place of one of the most famous Communists, Vladimir Lenin. I love it. You can find this juxtaposition in other European cities too; For instance in Prague the Museum of Communism is next door to a McDonalds and a Casino.
On this day we also visited Pushkin Museum to see the “lost” gold of Troy. I studied ancient Greece and Rome at University and had also just been around Greece on an epic adventure so I was quite excited to see this gold that had somehow ended up in the hands of the Russians who were supposed to return the gold but you know, didn’t. Ah Russia you beauty.
I’m not going to lie. Communication when my friends weren’t with me was hard. For
example! I decided to visit the inside of the Kremlin. Purchased what I thought was a ticket for inside the Kremlin. And ended up in
side the Armoury looking at some sweet weapons, horse carriages, and traditional clothing. Don’t get me wrong, this was a great experience and one I never would have intentionally gone to, but I was still confused the entire time about when I would actually get to inside the Kremlin walls. Thankfully my friend finished work and came to my rescue. After purchasing the correct tickets, we entered the Kremlin walls. It was amazing! There are many different churches inside the walls you get access to and each one is beautifully decorated with paintings. At the door of each church there are information sheets in different languages to tell you about what you are looking at. There is also a giant broken bell to have a gander at. Inside the Kremlin walls there is pretty much zero traffic. But don’t think you can get away with jay-walking. There are guards scattered about who will whistle at you if you step off the footpath or don’t use the pedestrian crossing. This was probably the most strictly policed road I have ever been on. And also the least busy. Go figure.
While on the topic of police, you cannot drink on the streets as I found out when my friends were caught drinking whisky and taken away by the tourist police. All of this happened in Russian which I don’t speak a word of so I only found out what was going on later when it was all over. Thankfully the boys only had to pay a find and were released. Of course they immediately brought another bottle and started drinking again.
Up next: Moscow zoo. I went here alone, braving the Moscow Metro which by the way is an attraction in itself. Ornate mosaics, statues, stained glass roofs. Stay awhile, look around. Making it to the zoo, language again became a barrier when the lady shooed me away from the ticket booth. Confused I decided to just wander on in. Of course I was shooed away again. So I waited for her to fuck off and someone else to take over the ticket booth. Yay success!! Words cannot describe how odd it is to see a giraffe in the snow. I also saw a polar bear for the first time and a wolf! But the biggest highlight at the zoo for me was the sloth. I love sloths and had never seen one in person before this day! To say I was happy would have been an understatement.
My Russian experience ended on a very cute note at the airport waiting to board. I got talking to an Australian (recognized the accent) and found out his fiancé is Russian. They meet five years ago when she came over to Australia for study but left to go home. They kept in contact and one year he decided to do a Contiki tour across Europe. About half-way through the tour he thought ‘bugger this’ and flew to Moscow instead to see her. And they have been together ever since. Cuteness overload!
Have you been to Moscow? What did you do? What did you see?
Is Moscow on your bucket list??
Let me know in the comments!