To Moscow, to Moscow, Can’t get enough of this magical place !!!
The next morning with a heavy heart we bid goodbye to St Petersburg a majestic and fabulous city, we checked out of the hotel at about 11.15 am the bus dropped us some distance away from the Moscovsky railway station in St Petersburg.We had to walk with our luggage as parking of buses were not allowed near the railway station.We reached the station at about 12 pm.After scanning our luggage twice which was very smooth and fast.We reached platform no 11 from where we took the Sapsan Bullet train.This time our coach no was 4.The Train was already there on the platform and after the attendant checked our passports we boarded the train.We got comfortable window seats.The train left at its scheduled time of I pm.Traveling by the Sapsan train was an amazing experience and we were lucky to travel by it twice.We enjoyed a cup of coffee during the journey,which was of 4 hours and we reached Moscow at 5 pm.Our local guide Michael was there to welcome us.Porters were arranged to carry our luggage to the bus.Chilly winds and rains greeted us at Moscow.
According to the itinerary we were to visit the Tretyakov State Gallery but due to the weather conditions it was postponed to the next day.We reached Hotel Crown Plaza at 5.45 pm for dinner. After dinner at about 8 pm we left for Hotel Vega our home during our stay in Moscow.By the time we settled in our room in the 22nd floor it was past 10.30 pm.The view from the room was very beautiful.After freshening up we hit the bed at 11.30 pm, looking forward to the next day in this historic,mysterious and intriguing city.
Moscow, on the Moskva River in Western Russia, is the nation’s cosmopolitan capital. In its historic core is the Kremlin, a complex that’s home to the President and Tsarist treasures in the Armoury. Outside its walls is Red Square,Russia’s symbolic center. It’s home to Lenin’s Mausoleum, the State Historical Museum’s comprehensive collection and St. Basil’s Cathedral, known for its colorful, onion-shaped domes.
Moscow is a major political, economic, cultural, and scientific centre of Russia and Eastern Europe, as well as the largest city (both by population and by area) entirely on the European continent.Moscow is the seat of power of Government of Russia being the site of the Moscow Kremlin, a medieval city-fortress that is today the residence for work of the President of Russia. The Moscow Kremlin and Red Square are also one of several Heritage sites in the city. Both chambers of Russian Parliament (the State Duma and the Federation Council) also sit in the city. Moscow is considered the centre of Russian culture, having served as the home of Russian artists, scientists and sports figures and because of the presence of museums, academic and political institutions and theatres.
The city is served by a transit network, which includes four international airports nine railway terminals, numerous trams, monorail system and one of the deepest underground rapid transit systems in the world, the Metro system the fourth-largest in the world and largest outside Asia in terms of passenger numbers, and the busiest in Europe. It is recognised as one of the city’s landmarks due to the rich architecture of its 200 stations.
We woke up to a rainy morning and since we had a busy day, so after a hearty breakfast we started early at about 9 am,our first stop was Kremlin.We had heard about the Moscow traffic but experienced it first hand,the traffic just crawled and we just covered 5 km in an hour.Our guide suggested that we get down from the bus and take the metro, so at about 10.30 am we alighted from the bus.We wore our ponchos/raincoats before getting down as it was raining.We alighted at Independence Square and took the metro to Revolution square which is very close to the Red Square.
About the Metro system of Moscow
The Metro System is the heart of the city of Moscow.It reaches almost every part of the city.It is one of the most heavily used metro systems in the World. The Moscow Metro system is more of an art deco design project than transportation hub.Sure,it ferries somewhere in the vicinity of 9 million people a day (fourth only behind Tokyo, Seoul, and Beijing in terms of daily riders), but the logistics are really beside the point. What’s the real draw here is the design of the metro stations themselves Stalin had the vision to create a metro system that would resemble peoples palaces.The plans for a Moscow Metro system date back over a century but were only realized in 1935 with one line and 13 stations. When the metro opened in 1935 this was a victory for socialism and extensively celebrated.There are now 15 lines if you count the new opened center line too and 244 stations.Much of the design and artworks depict the Soviet Unions greatest achievements and historical milestones.
We took the escalator to the metro station which was quite steep after getting on the train we alighted at Revolution Square.We were fascinated by the grandeur of the station. It hardly looked like a metro station.It is one of the most famous metro stations and one of the closest stations to Red Square.It is one of the most impressive stations lined with life size bronze sculptures depicting the people of Soviet Union workers,peasants,soldiers,artists and children.There are 72 sculptures in total. The most famous amongst the sculptures is the dog which accompanies a frontier guard. It is believed to bring good luck if you rub its nose. We also rubbed the nose of the dog and also saw a lot many doing it while waiting for their trains.
We clicked some photos and made our way to the Red Square we didn’t stop here but made our way to the Kremlin after security screening we went inside where two of the local guides were waiting for us .We were advised earlier not to carry any sharp objects in our bags which we had complied, so there was no problem at the gate.Our group was now divided into two and our group had a cheerful old lady who we affectionately addressed as “Mamma”.We started the tour of the Kremlin at 1 pm.
The Kremlin is one of the most iconic sights with an incredible history.The Moscow Kremlin, or simply the Kremlin, is a fortified complex at the heart of Moscow, overlooking the Moskva River to the south, Saint Basil’s Cathedral and Red Square to the east, and the Alexander Garden to the west.Kremlin symbolises both Russian and Soviet power and has served as the official residence of the Russian President
The Kremlin occupies a large territory of 27 hectares. A large part is accessible to tourists. Basically, there are two separate types of tickets:
1) One to visit the exterior grounds of the Kremlin and the Cathedrals Square
2) Another to access the Museum in the Armoury
The ticket price for the Cathedrals Square is 500 Roubles and the Armoury 700 roubles.
The most important elements on the Kremlin grounds are:
- The Cathedral Square, a spectacular collection of 4 cathedrals in the same plaza. This plaza is famous for being the site of the coronations and funeral processions for all of the Russians Tsars. In this day and age, it is used in the ceremony for the inauguration of the President of Russia.
- The Tsar Canon.
- The Tsar Bell
Visitors are not allowed to walk on the street,they have to walk on the pavement. It was raining and very cold and we took shelter under a beautiful tree.The entire area was resplendent with different hues of the fall.I took many photographs of this beautiful sight.
Our guide first took us to the Tsar Bell.The famous Tsar Bell is one of the highlights of Moscow Kremlin ensemble; it’s the biggest bell in the world. It weighs about 200 tons, but no one has ever heard its ringing. The bell was broken during a big fire and it was never lifted on a bell tower
Next we moved on to see the Tsar Cannon.The Tsar Cannon is a large early modern period artillery piece (known as a bombarda in Russian) on display on the grounds of the Moscow Kremlin. It is a monument of Russian artillery casting art,cast in bronze in 1586 in Moscow, by the Russian master bronze caster Andrey Chokhov. The cast-iron balls of impressive size are at the foot of the Tsar Cannon, but they are also decorative because of their weight, 1.97 tons (twice as heavy as stone balls)
After clicking some photographs we visited the magnificent and historical Assumption Cathedral.We listened to the guide with full attention as she narrated the history of the Cathedral.One has the feeling of Spirituality,Grandeur and admiration as one steps inside the Cathedral.It is a place of coronations, important royal weddings and the burial place of the Heads of the Russian Church. Like many great edifices, the Assumption Cathedral had several predecessors. Its history started in 1326, to be exact, when the first church of the same name was built on the Kremlin grounds.It was the time when the Russian metropolitan Peter moved his residence to the Kremlin. He required a beautiful stone church in his residence and vigorously took up the construction. That church had stood for about 150 years, until there came a time for replacement A nearly finished new church suffered a setback, while the second attempt to resurrect the cathedral proved successful. It took 5 years to build the church, 1479 became the year of completion of the Assumption Cathedral we are enjoying today.
The 17th-century frescoes accomplished by the most talented Old-Russian painters all over the Cathedral wall (including the ceiling) left us spellbound.
Inside the domes of the Church you can see different images of God. The upper parts of the walls contain illustrations of the Gospel. In the two lower levels of the Southern and Northern walls one can “read”, like a book, an illustrative story of Mary and Jesus’s lives. The story is interrupted on the Western side, which depicts the monumental composition of “The Judgment Day”. For everyone entering the most important Kremlin church though its Western portal there comes a view of an impressive Iconostasis (icon-stand).
It separates the altar from the main part of the church. This five-tiered icon-wall is nearly 16 meters tall and comprises about 70 icons (holy images painted on wood). The truly grandiose ensemble was created in just 9 months by the most talented artists of the time – there were about 20 of them.There are praying seats of the royalty as well as Burial places of Metropolitans and patriarchs.We all listened attentively to the narration by our guide as she pointed to us the beautiful pieces of art.Photography is permitted without flash.After an enriching experience we bid goodbye to our elegant Guide who is a feisty 80 year old lady.
After being spell bound by the impressive art of the Cathedral we proceeded to the Armoury.You can visit the Armoury Museum and the Diamond Museum.We had tickets for the Armoury Museum.One has to buy a separate ticket for Diamond Fund which is another 500 roubles. Opening Hours: Daily except Thusday, admission at 10.00,12.00.14.30 and 16.30.
We had to remove our coats and rain wear before getting inside the Museum.Mobiles are allowed but photography is prohibited.There are guards everywhere and the museum is under surveillance.So dear readers I could not click any pictures of all the exquisite articles on display.
Armoury Museum – Part of the Great Kremlin Palace complex, the Armoury is home to Moscow’s oldest and most prestigious museum, which boasts a staggering collection of Tsarist artifacts, Russian and foreign jewelry and armour. Although the museum has been open to the public since the mid-19th Century, the current collection was established as recently as 1986, which means that display techniques are relatively modern, the layout is clear and coherent, and there is even plenty of labeling in English.
The Armoury covers two floors, the lower dedicated to artifacts directly linked to Russia’s rulers. The first hall on the lower floor contains court dresses and religious vestments, including Catherine the Great’s glorious coronation dress, the saccos (ceremonial robe) of Peter, Moscow’s first Metropolitan, which dates back to 1322, and Peter the Great’s high boots and cane. The next hall contains state regalia and ceremonial objects, which means thrones such as Ivan the Terrible’s beautifully carved ivory throne and the exotic gold and turquoise throne given to Boris Godunov by the Shah of Persia, and crowns – most notably the Crown of Monomakh, purportedly a gift from the Byzantine Emperor Constantine Monomachus, and used to crown all the Tsars up until 1682.
The last two halls of the ground floor contain equestrian-related artifacts: decorative saddlery and state carriages. The most impressive pieces are the two gold harnesses that were presented by the Sultans of Turkey to Catherine the Great, and the carriages include one given by James I of England to Boris Godunov, and Empress Elizabeth’s coach with paintings by the French artist Francois Boucher.
Upstairs, the first two rooms contain Russian gold and silver from the 12th Century onwards, a sumptuous collection of jewelry, tableware, icons and decorative objects. The large case of Faberge eggs, presents exchanged between the Tsar and Tsarina every Easter, is probably the highlight of the collection, including the famous Siberian Railway Egg. However, the most beautiful items are those from earlier centuries, when Russian craftsmen developed their own techniques and styles, rather than taking their cue exclusively from Europe. Traditional Russian decorative art reached its peak in the late 16th and 17th centuries, and there are scores of examples in the collection illustrating the styles of the schools that developed in different cities of Russia.
The collection of weapons, also divided by hall into Russian and foreign examples, is equally impressive, as befits the building. Mikhail Romanov’s ornate, jewel-encrusted arms case and quiver, and the splendid dagger presented to him by the Shah of Persia, are particularly noteworthy.We finished the tour by 1.15 pm.It takes 2 hours to cover both the floors.
Other attractions in Kremlin are the Grand Kremlin Palace,The State Kremlin Palace, The Presidential and Administrative Buildings(off limits to tourists).The first two you can see on invitation by the Russian President or by arranged private tour for a quite a hefty fee 🙂
We now proceeded to the Red Square.The national heritage and UNESCO site,Red Square remains, as it has been for centuries, the heart and soul of Russia. Few places in the world bear the weight of history to the extent that Moscow’s central square does. From the 16th Century St. Basil’s Cathedral – one of the most famous pieces of architecture in the world – to the Pyramid of Lenin’s Mausoleum, Red Square is rich in symbols of Russia’s turbulent and intriguing past.Moscow’s Red square is known for political symbolism but was actually named for its beauty. Krasnaya or red meant beautiful in old Russian.
There is a lot to see here St Basil Cathedral,Lenin’s Tomb,The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier,State History Museum.The Square was rain washed and resplendent with the different hues of the fall.I happily clicked many pictures of the trees.
St Basil’s Cathedral.
This most recognized symbol of Russia fascinates with its unusual forms and architecture. It seems everyone who has seen it at least once in a life time, wants to come here just to see it in their own eyes and get pictured with the cathedral behind. Though it is the most popular Russian church, it is the most unusual church in Russia.The Cathdral is closed on Wednesday.Its open from 11 am –6 pm. The entrance fee is 350 roubbles. Unfortunately we visited on Wednesday hence the Cathedral was closed and so we could not see the this beautiful Cathedral from inside.We however satisfied ourselves by taking umpteen number of photos and also a group photo with the Cathedral as the backdrop.
Next we visited Lenin’s Tomb.Lenin’s Mausoleum, also known as Lenin’s Tomb, situated in Red Square in the centre of Moscow, is a mausoleum that currently serves as the resting place of Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin.
We took some photographs and next visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Situated right at the base of the Kremlin walls near the entrance to Red Square,is a war memorial dedicated to the Soviet soldiers killed during World war II. it is a very elegant memorial with an eternal flame guarded by ceremonial soldiers. The changing of the guard on the hour is very spectacular.
We spent about an hour at the square an about 2.30 pm we reached the place from where the bus was suppose to pick us up.It was still raining ,the bus was no where to be seen supposedly stuck in the traffic.So a word of advice plan your trip to Moscow with the traffic in mind !!!
After waiting for an hour in the rain,my friend suggested we take shelter in the subway.We passed time chatting and playing dumb charade.At about 4 pm we gathered and decided to have coffee in a near by mall.The warm coffee and change of my wet socks was certainly comforting.We did not have lunch as yet and we missed the visit to the Tretyakov State Gallery.
While we were having coffee our bus arrived but we didn’t leave,as we were now waiting for the lunch to be delivered in the bus.At about 5 pm the lunch arrived and we finally moved We were excited like small kids for we were now going to watch the famous Russian Circus (the highlight of the evening), on the way we hungrily gobbled our lunch.
The Russian Circus( PC:-Geetanjali)
We reached the Big State Circus on Prospekt Vernadskogo at 6.30 pm, the show was to start at 7 pm.We however got seated and enjoyed the ambience of the auditorium.We were mersmerised for the next 3 hours.The clown and other performers kept us amused with their funny acts while the acrobats kept us holding to our seats.The synchronisation of the animal and human performances was marvelous.The acts by the lions,tigers,bears,dogs,horses and monkeys kept us enthralled.Video and cameras were prohibited so dear readers I am unable to share any pictures.I could only take a picture of the grand finale.
The show ended at 10 pm,we there after proceeded to the hotel Talk of the Town for dinner.
After dinner we went shopping to the 24 hour shops near our hotel for a bit of champagne hunting 🙂 Though I didn’t get the brand I was looking for I nevertheless bought two bottles costing 360 and 600 roubles each.We also bought some chocolates.
We reached the hotel at about 12 am.We now had to do our final packing.Between cups of herbal tea and snacks and lots of chatting we completed our packing.Travelling makes one happy but when you have good company it becomes the icing on the cake – a perfect holiday. So was this trip a perfect holiday.Suddenly we checked the time it was 4 am !!! we quickly went to sleep.Bleary eyed and sleepy we pulled ourselves from the bed at 6 am, as we had an early start to the airport.Yes all good things come to an end and with a heavy heart we got ready.We left at 8 am for our last breakfast in Russia and we made most of it by tasting almost everything from the lavish spread out.
We set out to the airport at 8.45 am and reached the airport around 10.30 am.The counters were yet to open.They open at 11 am.We finished checking in by 11.30 and by 12 pm security and immigration was over.We had lot of time to browse around bought a few knick knacks,my favourite fridge magnets 🙂 and proceeded to our gate at 1 pm we still had some roubles left so used the slot machine and added some more chocolates to be taken home.The flight departed on time and yes we were again flying by Air Arabia.We landed in Sharjah 7 pm local time.The flight duration was of 5 hours.Our connecting flight was at 12 am.Security would start at 10 pm so again we had lot of time.We strolled into Victoria’s Secrets and found lot of discounts so we grabbed the opportunity and bought perfumes for our daughters.After a cup of tea we proceeded to the gate.The flight took off in time and we landed at 03.50 hrs after 8 hours of flying time.After immigration and collecting our bags we started from the airport at 5 am with a bagful of memories and wonderful experiences.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”― Mark Twain
1) Carry woollen jackets,sweaters,caps,socks and gloves
2) Carry an Umbrella better than a raincoat.Its more convenient(I found wearing and removing the poncho and raincoat cumbersome).
3) Wear Comfortable footwear.
4) Travel light don’t overpack.
5) Plan your trip early, you get good discounts from travel Companies.Travelling on your own will be a bit difficult as you will face language problems a travel guide is necessary.
6) I would advice to carry Roubles as per your requirement.
7) Carry a small backpack or a cross bag with all your essential items( passport/wallet/medicines)you can also carry small packets of snacks in case you get late for lunch or dinner
8) Keep two full days of Moscow sight seeing.Choose a itinerary where you get 2-3 days for Moscow.Keep the days in mind while selecting the itinerary, St Basil Cathedral is closed on Wednesday and the Armoury is closed on Thrusdays.
9) You can take a direct flight to Moscow by Aeroflot the Russian Airline.
Source: Wikipedia & WikiTravel