How did that happen ?- Russia Tour
To the land of Czar, Stalin, and Lenin of the Russian revolution of 1917, Russia had a deep-rooted impact on my mind since childhood. I remember reading Russian stories in school, bunked classes to visit the library pretending to be studious, I would Russian tales. Decades had gone by and now it was the time to experience the real Russia. I booked Aeroflot flight Delhi-Moscow right after a month of my Malaysian tour, regretting to blow all my savings for a while, but the thought just faded away. I was ready to embark another journey, this time to the most historically significant country in the world , – My favorite country Russia.
The day I arrived and the first impression
I landed in Moscow on Aug 04 of 2019. As I stepped out of the airport, I saw big roads, trains, gardens, monuments everywhere- all so gigantic. I could distinguish how the country had emerged from its turbulent past to the hosting of the FIFA World cup 2018. For a while, Time took me back to the Soviet era and the Gulf war of 1991.
While I was heading to a supermarket to buy some essentials, I observed serenity in the whole environment and the calmness in people. They appeared to be reserved but helpful and friendly by nature. I could see the innocence and a sense of respect they carried for an individual or even for a foreigner . Language had been a hindrance, but the rest of all became an incredible experience.
One day, I was having lunch at a restaurant in Moscow, a Russian man approached me. I was a bit skeptical to interact at first being a foreigner, but then he just greeted and talked about India, Ramayana, and Mahabharata. We became friends and stretched our talks over a few drinks.
I am sure people have seen all sides of life and they have a story to tell as Russia’s social structure is classified into upper, middle and lower-class. The society remained oppressed during the division of Soviet Union and then series of economic setbacks apparently created the differences in rich and poor. All I know is- Russians are presentable and welcoming to the world. They are strong, loving and lovable.
During the 19th century, Russia was ruled by autocrats, czars, who ruled with absolute power and their signs can be seen in every corner of the city. Interestingly, All so-called cathedrals, monuments have turned into offices and museums.
The historic cities, idyllic countrysides, incredible train journeys of the vodka-fulled country is an unforgettable life experience.
The reviews are based on the travel Itinerary.
- Gorky Central Park of Culture and Leisure
What a nice leisurely park, enormous in size and clean. Several military events happen there on special occasions which makes it significant and popular among localities and tourists from around the world. Gorky Park has some open bars and cafes to offer where you can cool off and relax in the lap of nature. Floral beautification is incredible, you will see playing courts, lakes and people boating there. The end of the Gorky park touches banks of the Moskva river. The place is ideal for capturing some stunning views of Moscow river and the city. It is safe to visit.
I took a taxi (Yandex) from Christ the Savior church to Gorky Park costing 160 rubles. I recommend this place to visit.
Nearest metro station: Park Kultury.
2. Cathedral of Christ the Savior
What a marvelous, lively and colorful looking architecture. The church is located opposite to the Kremlin Moscow and 1.5 Km away approximately. The traffic is fast but there are sufficient walkways to cross over to the other side of the Kremlin. The entry to the cathedral is free of cost. It is captivating and fascinating in every sense and it offers striking views of the Moskva river to catch from its roof top, costing 400 rubles. All Payments are accepted by cash and cards.
Be prepared to climb the terrace using stairs. They do have provision for lifts however, it seems they don’t go directly to the top. There are several options outside the cathedral to buy tickets for cruising the Moskva river.
3. Arbat Street
Quite a happening place, always vibrant and colorful. Assorted street musicians and street artists bring liveliness to the whole atmosphere. One of the important landmarks in the Moscow downtown, Arbat street is touristy and a great place to hangout for some serious shopping. There are several souvenirs shops, apparel stores, cafes, and bars so do not skip it from your travel itinerary. For more action visit in the evenings. Nearest metro station:-Arbatskaya
4. Red Square
The colors, contrasts, and vibrancy of the old marvels is awe-inspiring. The trip to Moscow is undone without visiting the iconic square. It is peaceful despite the heavy footfall of tourists from around the globe.
As you step inside, you will see St. Basil Cathedral erected at end of the square. On your left, few yards away is the Gum Mall. On your right, Kremlin wall, Kremlin museums, diamond fund armory, and Lenin mausoleum. Souvenirs are expensive, though sellers are not pushy to sell things to customers.
You need the whole day to explore all major places within the Red square which are worth visiting. Please make sure that you carry plenty of water as you will need to walk a lot and stand in long queues.
- State historical museum
- Lenin mausoleum (Must watch)
- GUM shopping mall (Must watch)
- St. Basil Cathedral (Must watch)
- Kremlin wall Kremlin museums (Must watch)
- Diamond fund armory (must watch)
Nearest metro station: Okhotny Ryad
5. St. Basil’s Cathedral
The iconic cathedral in the heart of Moscow has represented the country for several years. It was a captivating experience to see the beauty of a marvel. The crazy colors and contrast of the whole Red Square and amid standing St. Basil Cathedral was indeed a good and joyful experience. It evoked the feeling of being in a fairy land.
The entry ticket to the cathedral is 700 rubles. Photography/tripods are not allowed inside. If you explore the backside of the church you will experience more interesting views of the Moscow city. Saint Basil is a gift to Russia.
6. GUM Shopping mall
Gum is one of the prominent malls in Moscow and located in the heart of Red square. The aesthetically beautiful looking mall is bright, bustling with hundreds of fancy showrooms and cafes with immense action. One thing which reminds me the most is fantastic ice creams stalls around the corners of the mall. They are awesome in taste, reasonable (100 rubles), and attracts many visitors craving for yummy softies.
GUM has electronics stores on its top floor, food courts and cafes on second floor, and supermarkets and apparels on the ground. One of the most expensive and tax-free malls in Moscow GUM is a must-visit mall. Toilets charge 50 rubles and the most expensive toilet service will cost you 150 rubles approx.
7. Гастроном № 1
I give it a five star. The grocery store caters to all kinds of daily and luxury products. The store is huge in size and sophisticated. The thing I liked most is diverse range of products it has to offer to consumers. You will need a good amount of time to explore the whole of it. I recommend visiting this elegant, peaceful, and ambient superstore located inside the GUM mall, Red square.
8. Lenin’s Mausoleum
Lenin reminds us of Russian revolution 1917 a truly adorable man and admired by many around the world. He died of a massive stroke on 22 January 1924 (aged 53) and the mausoleum was established to preserve his body as a holy relic.
The Mausoleum opens at 10:00 am. You are advised to reach 2 hours before it actually opens, as there are chances of encountering long queues of mourners and tourists. You will spot graves of some famous Russian personalities including Josef Stalin, Yuri Gagarin (Astronaut) resting before entering the mausoleum. The entry to Mausoleum is free of cost thus attracting people in large numbers. Security checks are strict and constantly being monitored by security guards and Russian army officials. Photography is strictly prohibited inside the mausoleum .
It is advised that you do not stay longer inside because of huge footfall behind. Do not stare at the preserved body, maintain silence, bow your head to pay respect. Closed on Mondays.
9. The Moscow Kremlin
I explored the more of touristy side of Kremlin museums. The ticket price is 700 rubles approx, giving you access to some of the most beautiful and magnificent cathedrals turned museums.
More things to see- State Kremlin palace, Czar bell, Dimond-fund armory, and beautiful views of the Moskva River.
Kiosk machines are installed to buy museum tickets and there are separate ticket counters for Diamond Armory. You can use both English/Russian languages to operate the kiosks, however, there is no one to monitor the queues of people waiting to procure tickets to Kremlin museums. It is advised that you arrive early to experience the best of diamond fund armory and the Kremlin museums. Also, visit its souvenir shop.
The place is highly recommended to visit.
Nearest metro station: Okhotny Ryad.
10. Pamyatnik Marshalu G.k. Zhukov
A gateway to Red Square and Kremlin the surroundings are picturesque . The place is illuminated during the night and looks dazzling and full of action. Perfect place to hang out casually with friends. Four seasons hotel, mall, and metro station is nearby.
11. Skver Na Bolotnoy Ploshchadi
Nice and big park between Kremlin and Christ the Savior Church. It’s a local park but looks incredibly beautiful.
Other places you can visit:
Pushkin Museum, Novodevichy Convent, VDNKh, Kolomenskoye, and Bolshoi Theater.