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Kel&Cez’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 24 Jan 2006

Location: Moscow, Russia


Well we've just finished the Moscow leg of our trip (three days and nights) which was absolutely fantastic and we definitely recommend it as a place everyone should visit, especially in Winter! After a typically warm Russian reception at Moscow customs where a single smile was surprisingly nowhere to be found, we were met by a representative from the company through who we had organised our tour. We had decided a local, english-speaking guide would be a far better option than trying to gain an understanding of and interpreting the Cryllic alphabet and Russian language entirely by ourselves. It was definitely a wise choice! The one hour car trip from the airport to our hotel was almost enough time for Kelly to thaw out from the 100 metre walk from inside the airport to the waiting car - it was a balmy -23 degrees!

Our hotel (Hotel Ukraina) in Moscow was in great location being directly across the river from the Russian Whitehouse and came to being during the period of Lenin's unquenchable fetish for concrete. The thing is monstrous! We saw all of the usual sights including:

- the metro which was so elaborately decorated with treasures appropriated from cathedrals raised to the ground to make way for Lenin's 'grand vision' it was almost disgusting but so beautiful at the same time. Also, amazingly efficient - only 60-70 seconds between each stop and reaching speeds upwards of 80km/h.

- the famed red square including St. Basil's Cathedral, the GUM shopping arcade (similar to the QVB in Sydney but on a much larger and grander scale - except for the toilets which were awful), the execution platform and Lenin's tomb (we were fortunate enough for this to be open. Quite an experience seeing this supposed preserved corpse up so close).

- a tour inside the Kremlin walls and armoury which included ... no, you will have to go yourself! But definitely more than worth braving the below freezing temperatures and biting wind! An extremely impressive compound.

- almost being run over by a speeding Putin and his entourage when leaving the Kremlin whilst being admonished with very intimidating gestures and tone of voice by some important looking men in army uniforms!

- numerous cathedrals but none could compare to the Holy Trinity (apart from St Basil's) with its Golden onion domes. Spectacular and the choir, phenomenal!

- a traditional Moscow Circus which was held in a purpose-built arena. Fantastic apart from the bears who had patchy fur/hair (?) and looked to be not too well treated.

- the monument to Peter the Great which was actually originally meant for Colombus!