• gautami2007

Moscow~ The land of marvelous architecture, UNESCO heritage sites and the center of Communism.

Updated: Nov 25, 2021

When I decided to visit Russia, I was a bit apprehensive, because I had absolutely no, nada, nyet knowledge of the Russian language. But still I decided to give it a go and test my limits. I will start from the very beginning.

Visa:

I applied for a visa from the Russian Consulate at Gorky Sadan, Kolkata. To visit Russia, I would need a letter of invitation, which I obtained from the website http://www.ivisaonline.com for a payment of about 30USD. The LOI came in a couple of days.I booked a stay in a hotel through booking.com(did not make any payments). Armed with the LOI, the hotel booking and my passport, I visited Gorky Sadan. I was made to wait a couple of minutes and then a consular officer came in the room and asked me my purpose for visiting Russia and cities I would be visiting. Then I handed over the LOI, the booking voucher and the visa fees and she told me to collect my passport after two days. That was it! after two days I went back and got my passport with a brand new Russian visa attached to it!!!

After I received my visa, I cancelled my hotel reservation I had made earlier. I purchased direct flight from Delhi to Moscow with Aeroflot. It was pretty cheap. One way price was only around 15k. Then I booked an apartment through airbnb. The apartment was located in a residential building on the main road, only a kilometer away from the Red Square and it was pretty cheap too, less than 1500INR per night. It was a 2BHK apartment.

Arriving in Russia:

The flight duration was nearly 6 hours. I was bursting with enthusiasm. For as long as I could remember, ever since I read Anna Karenina by my favorite author Leo Tolstoy, I wanted to visit Russia. And I was finally on my way! After reaching Moscow, immigration was a breeze. The officer didn’t even ask me any questions and even gave me a smile! All the other immigration officers had stern, cold look.

(Tip: At immigration you will be given an entry card which you will have to show on departure. Keep it safe and don’t lose it or you may have to pay a hefty fine)

I collected my luggage and followed the signage to the train station that was adjacent to the airport, I withdrew some money from the ATM from my Thomas Cook travel card(which I had previously loaded with about 500 USD) and bought the ticket at the window for 500 rubles. After about 40 minutes, I reached Belorussky train station from where I asked a security guard for directions and he pointed me on the right way. My apartment was at a walking distance from the train station. I just had a backpack on me, so it was no trouble at all. I had messaged my airbnb host at the airport using the wifi there that I would be arriving in about an hour. When I reached the location of my apartment, which I had marked on my downloaded offline google map, I already found my host waiting for me. He showed me the apartment which was on the 7th floor and no lift!!!! But the view from the window was stunning!!! After showing me the apartment the host left and I was finally free.

Since I was tired from the flight, I took a nap for a couple of hours and woke up fresh and ready to explore. As I went exploring I saw the statute of Lenin everywhere. I started a fun game of counting the number of statutes I saw in a day!!!

Since It was nearly evening, most of the museums and other attractions were about to close. So, I decided to grab a coffee and walk to the Red Square and visit the GUM departmental store(a very famous and must visit place) and get my dinner at one of the restaurants in the Square. It was quite chilly so I layered on as many clothes as I could and went out to explore. I noticed I was the only brown skinned person about and I was getting some curious looks from the people on the street. Not hostile, just curious! Nevertheless, I went on my way, explored GUM. Everything there was so expensive and fancy. I did a lot of window shopping!!! And got an ice cream for myself!!! That was all I could afford there. Then I headed back home and on the way I saw an Indian restaurant, Ganesh Restaurant. I decided to check it out. There was nothing Indian about it apart from the name though!!!! I came out and went to a small local restaurant and got some thick cheese soup( super yummy) and chebureki (too delicious) for dinner. After that I walked around a bit(never felt unsafe) and then headed back to my apartment for the night.


Train from Sheremetyevo airport to Belurussky station

Night view of Moscow

Night view of Moscow

In the train

cheese soup and chebureki

At GUM Departmental store

Day 2The next day I woke up feeling fresh and ready to head out. Made some coffee which the host left in the apartment and headed straight out. First stop, Starbucks, just opposite the road from me and grabbed a sandwich. Then I walked back to the Red Square once again. This time I started by visiting St Basil’s Cathedral. It was so majestic and colorful, it looked like something from a dream. Since I went quite early, the place was relatively empty and I had ample time to marvel at the beautiful interiors of the church. After coming out of the cathedral, I went to visit the state historical museum. In general, I hate museums, they bore me(yes, Kill me museum lovers!!!!) I did not spend much time there. I came out and saw a man pestering tourists to take a picture with one of his pigeons. Many did. When he asked me, I waved him away. I had no desire to click a picture with a pigeon on my head/hand! Thereafter, I queued outside to visit the Kremlin Cathedral square(I had purchased the tickets online before at tickets.kreml.ru for 700 rubles). I had no desire to visit the armory. I do not like seeing different types of weapons and did not want to waste money on it. I went inside and visited the Grand Kremlin Palace(most of the rooms were closed to visitors). Apparently, the Russian President stays here. The architecture was simple mind blowing though!!!!

After coming out of the Kremlin, I grabbed some lunch at one of the overpriced cafes on the Red Square. Then I walked around on my own and walked around the perimeter of the Kremlin grounds. It is so huge that my feet started hurting. I sat down to rest at one of the bus stops dotting the city. After my pain subsided, I crossed the Moskva River to the other side to get some ariel view of the entire Kremlin grounds. Its so huge. From my vantage point, I could see the Kremlin, the GUM, the St Basil Cathedral as well as the Red Square. It looked spectacular from up that bridge. I was already hungry again from all that walking around so I walked back to the Red Square, grabbed a sandwich from subway and with my tummy full, I went to the Alexander Park located along the western wall of the Kremlin. There were several Muscovites strolling in the garden. seemed like a popular place for a stroll in the evening. Spent quite a bit of time here until late evening, talking to some people and then headed back towards my apartment. On the way I stopped at the safe small local restaurant I had last night and had some borscht for dinner.


Me at the Red square

In front of Kremlin and the Moskva river

The red square

St Basil’s cathedral

St Basil’s cathedral

St Basil’s cathedral

St Basil’s cathedral


Alexander Garden

Day 3– began with a hurried shower and walking straight to the nearest metro station from my apartment (Mayakovskaya Metro station). I had read that Russian metro had spectacular architecture. So, I purchased a day ticket for about 200 rubles for unlimited ride on the metro. even though there were signs of “No Photography allowed” inside the metro stations, I still managed to click a few. The first thing I noticed about the Russian metro was that it was very very deep underground. It seemed like forever to reach the platforms. Some of the trains were new. Most looked like it belonged to the previous era. I got down on random stations and marveled at the architecture, before moving on the next. I spent most of my day taking random trains along random lines and getting down to marvel at the architecture. Finally, after hours of Subway hopping, I returned to the red square and went to visit the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. I could have taken the metro, but I chose to get down at Mayakovskaya station and from there walk along the boundary of the Kremlin, along the Moshkva River, resting in between at the bus stops. The Cathedral was huge and imposing and majestic. After visiting the Cathedral, I had an early dinner at one of the nearby cafes and then walked back to my apartment where I fell asleep the moment my feet touched the bed!!!! it had been an interesting but exhausting day.

Pro tip: some of the metro stations that should not be missed are Dostoyevskaya, Ploshchad, Mayakovskaya, Prospekt Mira, Komsomolskaya, krasnnye Vorota, Park Pobedy, Taganskaya, Kievsakaya, Pushlinskaya, Dinamo, Kurskaya, Strogino, Kurskaya, Rimskaya…the list is practically endless.

Outer boundary of the Kremlin


Moshkva River

just taking a moment by the riverside

Resting at a bus stop after all that walking

view of the entire red square

view of outer boundary of kremlin

Cathedral of Christ the saviour

In front of the Cathedral

Resting somewhere on the road back

entering the subway

metro old coaches

metro station

subway

subway

subway

new coaches of the subway

subway

subway

Day 4– There was a lot of sight seeing to do today. I started the day very early and I bought another day pass for metro. I started by visitng the Church of Ascension. Took the metro to Kolomenskaya metro station. From there it was another approximately 3kms walk. It was quite chilly, so I welcomed the walk. It is quite an ancient Church located a bit away from the city. It was built in 1532 to celebrate the birth of the prince who was to become Tsar Ivan IV (‘The Terrible’). The estate is quite large so it took a lot longer than expected. After than I walked back to the metro, grabbed some sandwich from a supermarket adjacent the metro and continued to my next destination, Novodevichy Cemetery. Had to change lines twice and the ride took approximately an hour. Got down at Sportivnaya Metro station and from there walked one and a half kilometer to the cemetery. The cemetery was hauntingly beautiful. I expected it to be grim. But it was otherwise. It lies adjacent to the Novodevichy Convent. The cemetery can be divided into two sections:”new” and “old”. It is the final resting face of many famous Russian personalities, including Anton Chekhov. A brief stroll around the cemetery, I found the grave of one of the most notable non-communists buried at Novodevichy,Boris Yeltsin, the first elected president of democratic Russia. Many of the gravestones have riddles on them. Its a really interesting place to visit. After this, I took the Bus and went to the third destination of the day, Donskoy Monastery. Got down at the Stasovoy street and walked 800 mts to the Monastery. It was built in the year 1591. There were very few tourists there. The place was peaceful. I spent quite some time in the grounds, lighted a candle inside the monastery and then headed back to my apartment. It was an exciting day for me. Saw so much, but ate very little and I was starving. So, I went to a restaurant in the street in which my apartment was located and had Chebureki(again), borscht and some salad!!!! Ate like a Mormon that night!!!!

Novodovechi Convent and Cemetery

Novodovechi Convent


Novodovechi Convent

Novodovechi Convent

Novodovechi cemetery

Novodovechi Convent

Novodovechi cemetery

Novodovechi cemetery

Novodovechi cemetery

Novodovechi cemetery

Novodovechi cemetery

Novodovechi cemetery

Novodovechi cemetery

Church of Ascension

Church of Ascension

Donskoy Monastery

Inside the Monastery

Walking around randomly in the adjoining neighbourhoods

Day 5– I was pretty excited today. I was going to see the Leo Tolstoy House Museum. This Musuem feels as if it still contains his spirits. Many of his belongings and works were displayed here, including the original script of Anna Karenina, my favourite book of all time. I walked to the museum from my apartment, approximate 5kms away. It drizzled the entire way and it feel good to be stretching my legs. Tolstoy lived here with his family from 1882 to 1901,but there was no other tourist apart from me there. Its not a tourist draw, but I cannot fathom why. I spent hours browsing everything. There was a kind lady working there who explained to me everything in broken english. While leaving, I even bought a Russian copy of Anna Karenina for keepsake. After visiting the museum, I went to the Pushkin Museum. On the way, I grabbed a cup of starbucks coffee(delicious!!!!). A international musical festival, December nights, is held here every year since 1981. Moscow University professor Ivan Tsvetaev founded the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in 1896. The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts boasts one of the richest collections of foreign art in Russia, numbering about seven hundred thousand works of art! I spent several hours inside this museum as there was lots and lots to see. It was a huge labyrinth with so many artworks that it would take several days to see all!!! But sadly, I did not have several days. After coming out of the museum, I walked to the Bolshoi Theatre, the most famous theatre in Russia and probably the world that holds Opera and Ballet performances. I did not have tickets to the Opera and it was very expensive as well. Just when I was about to turn back, I was approached by this burly man who was selling tickets in the black for quite cheap. I did not know if I should trust him or not. The price quotes(1000 rubles) seemed suspiciously low. But I took a risk and bought a ticket. I went back to my apartment after having an early dinner, changed my dress to a more formal one and went back to the theatre and there witnessed my first opera performance. Needless to say, the seat was at the top most tier from where the performance was barely visible!!!! The opera was quite unique. But I was not enamored. I just wanted to see the inside of the famous theatre and I had done so. Mission accomplished!!!! It was quite late when I went back to my apartment, which was just a stone’s throw away and fell asleep immediately. Tomorrow was my last day in Moscow and I decided to spend the entire day shopping!!!!

At Leo Tolstoy museum

At Leo Tolstoy museum

Leo Tolstoy museum

Leo Tolstoy museum

Leo Tolstoy museum

Leo Tolstoy museum

At Pushkin Museum

Artwork at Pushkin Museum

Artwork at Pushkin Museum

Artwork at Pushkin Museum

Artwork at Pushkin Museum

Artwork at Pushkin Museum

Artwork at Pushkin Museum

Artwork at Pushkin Museum

Artwork at Pushkin Museum

Artwork at Pushkin Museum

Bolshoi Theatre

inside Bolshoi Theatre

inside Bolshoi Theatre

inside Bolshoi Theatre

Day 6– Since it was my last day here in Moscow, I was feeling pretty sad. I didn’t want to leave this gorgeous city so soon. Pampered myself with a breakfast of caramel latte and spinach sandwich at Starbucks and then walked to the Red Square for one last time. Visited the GUM store again and did some more window shopping. Around noon i took the metro to Izmaylovskiy Bazar, a popular flea market in Moscow. Since it was raining, most of the shops were not open properly to my dismay. Even then, I bought a fur hat for my dad and several Matryoshka dolls for my friends, family and colleagues. Bought a nice woolen scarf for myself. All of it quite cheap. After spending a couple of hours here, I went back to my apartment as I had to pack since I needed to get to the airport quite early for my 9am flight to St Petersburg. After packing was completed, I went back to my usual haunt for some dinner and got two chebureki (one mushroom and one lamb) and had my fill of both. Then it was back to my apartment. I spent a couple of hours sitting by my window watching the traffic below and feeling quite sad. But it was time for my next adventure!!!!


Izmaylovskiy Bazar

Izmaylovskiy Bazar

Izmaylovskiy Bazar

View from my window at the apartment

I hope my readers enjoyed this detailed blog on my Moscow adventures. Please like and comment and give your valuable suggestions.


#moscow #russia #solo

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