FROM MOSCOW WITH LOVE
You might have seen it on my Instagram or Facebook: I’ve been on an amazing trip to Russia together with dortundhier! We started in a city with more than 11 million inhabitants – thus Moscow is Europe’s biggest city! Since there are no direct flights to our final destination, Lake Baikal, a stopover in Moscow was inevitable. We obviously did not only spend some time waiting at the airport but rather opted for a three day stopover to explore the city! As it was my first visit, I had no idea what to expect from Moscow and Russia at all. My only expectations were classic stereotypes like everybody drinking vodka and driving as crazy as in all those dashcam-youtube-videos (like this one). In fact, we did not see anyone drink vodka and – even more surprising – we did not witness even a single crash. Not even a burning vehicle. How lame!
Where to stay
Back to Moscow: We stayed at a hotel near Kiyevskaya railway station – that is definitely not the best place to stay in terms of people you would want to meet but it’s only one stop from red square by metro and the hotels are quite affordable in this area. If you expect a fancy neighbourhood with trustworthy people all around you, Kiyevskaya might not be the best option for you 😉 Still I think it was a good decision to stay in this area, as it’s great to have Red Square only minutes away. Using the metro in Moscow is generally a good idea: First of all, the traffic in the city is crazy – not in terms of driving but rather in amount of cars and thus traffic jams all day. The metro is also quite photogenic as the stations are old and luxurious looking – we did not have time to explore the metro stations this time, but it’s definitely something you should do! Tip: Buy a troika card and top it up with money for some fares, otherwise you will have to buy a ticket for every ride and the vending machines are working really slowly.
St. Basil's Cathedral
What to do
1. Red Square
The most impressive sight in Moscow is obviously Red Square. With the Kremlin, St. Basil’s Cathedral, the old shopping center GUM and Lenin’s mausoleum all within sight, this is also the main attraction for every tourist. I can highly recommend going there as early as possible to avoid the whole place crowded. Especially for photographs it is perfect to witness the sun rising at red square – we did just that twice within three days because it really is stunning! Be aware that Moscow’s metro is jam-packed in the morning so you might want to budget a few more minutes for the ride 🙂 The mausoleum of Lenin opens at 10 am and I would recommend getting there a little bit earlier too as there is always tourists queuing. You might also want to take a stroll through the quite famous shopping mall called GUM – it’s worth it for the architecture alone!
2. Cathedral of Christ the Saviour
Strolling along Moskva river (you’ll get there by just passing by St. Basil’s) you will see the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour which is located just a few minutes from the Kremlin. The remarkable church sits enthroned on an enhancement, thus looking even more spectacular. A pedestrian bridge is getting you from the church to the other side of Moskva river and also provides a few interesting perspectives.
3. Red October Chocolate Factory
The famous chocolate factory “Red October” moved out of the city a few years ago and the old factory area is now occupied by artists and hipster-ish cafes and restaurants. It’s not far from the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, we just walked along the river Moskva – you’ll get there in about 10 minutes. Especially on weekends and in summer there should be much more going on – we just had some tea and found some great spots to shoot a few frames. There is also a center for photography located in the factory which regularly stages retrospectives of photographers – unfortunately we had not enough time to visit it this time.
4. Moscow City
In complete contrast to the older parts of the city which reflect both communism and tsarism the Moscow International Business Center (mostly called Moscow City) is a commerical district currently under construction. It currently features 19 buildings, most of them skyscrapers – more are going to be built over the next few years. Moscow city is quite stunning and photogenic – especially from the other side of Moskva river, at a street called Tarasa Shevchenko, you’ll get a perfect view of the skyline. Many locals enjoy their summer sunsets here – as local Instagrammer @zephyrich reported. The easiest way to get to Moscow city is by using the metro to Kutuzovskaya, Vystavochnaya or Mezhdunarodnaya. In winter you can also witness ice fishers on the river Moskva in front of Moscow city which makes up for an extreme contrast.
5. Gorky Park
Thanks to the Scorpion’s Wind of Change many might have heard the name of Moscow’s central park. Being another summerly sight we did not spend too much time there but you are able to ice-skate in the park or visit the Garage museum of contemporary art. That’s exactly what we did and I can only recommend investing the 3€ (student’s price) and stroll through the museum. The hipsterish cafe located inside the museum is also highly recommended despite being on the more expensive side.
To be continued: In the next blogpost I’ll show you the adventurous part of our journey – Siberia!