Delhi to Moscow has been my longest continuous flight till date. Engrossed in my dream book series, six and an half hours didn’t seem too long to a Potterhead like me ! Hence with my glasses half on my nose, I was deep in Harry’s tales of Hogwarts when I heard the announcement to fasten the seat belt for landing. It’s then I peeped out to a lovely bird’s eye view of the Moscow city. Moscow, the current capital of world’s largest country Russia, was named after the picturesque Moskva river which meanders through it.
From the Sheremetyevo airport we took an airport express to Belorussky train station to reach our hotel. We had a booking for three nights at Holiday Inn Lesnaya. We found the location of the hotel to be ideal for tourists. If you just have backpacks like us, the distance between the station and the hotel can be easily covered by foot.
Very near to the Belorussky train station was the Belorusskaya metro station, so popular sight seeings were just a metro ride away. Moscow subway system is worldwide famous for its rich art and 44 out of 200 subway stations are rated as cultural heritage sites. Its undoubtedly one of the most beautifully constructed underground metro. The paintings, statues and fountains make it the most accessible art museum ever. Even if metro is not your most favoured conveyance you must visit this cleanest and efficient underground world with cultural significance. Its steep elevators and incredibly fast but economical rides will leave you amazed.
We took a 48 hour metro travel pass and hopped on and off at popular sights, malls and flea markets. All beautifully connected to each other using a circle line for the city centre and radial lines connecting the centre to the suburbs.
Since we spent our early mornings and late evenings in central Moscow, where our hotel was located we could explore it more than the other areas. Adorned by high-rise buildings and churches this business district had enough cafes, eateries, pubs and salons suiting every pocket and temperament. Departmental stores for snacks and knick knacks were scattered all over the area.
Moscow is an architectural paradise with palaces, churches, fortresses, high rise buildings and mammoth bridges. It is also considered as one of the most expensive city in the world. You can spot hundreds of Hummers and Bentleys on the road and high end malls like GUM and TSUM exhibits luxury brands with stunning architecture. GUM mall is also one of the best looking malls in the world.
When it comes to shopping Moscow is pretty diverse too. If you are looking for budget options there are plenty of malls which sell street wear fashion at throwaway prices. We also bought clothes in sale from the Swedish brand H&M at lower rates than our home country. So if you know where to look, Moscow is full of such hidden treasures. Try Okhotny Road mall on Kremlin (opposite to Four Seasons hotel).
Izmailova flea market near Partizanskaya metro station is an all year round market which sells souvenirs at cheap rates. If you are looking for Russian matroska dolls or Soviet army brooches, then this is the right place to buy them in bulk. We bought handmade bottles to be used as showpieces.
With a mere 72 hours in Moscow, we took a 1 day unlimited hop on hop off bus tour with a 360 degree panoramic view of the most popular sights. With some additional charges a boat tour could also be added to this bus tour to get a different view of the sights from the Moskva river. There are red and green colour buses which takes you to 18 and 27 attractions respectively. Board any of them or keep changing according to your convenience and time. Though we immensely enjoyed hopping on and off at sights but we recommend using public transports since it gives you the liberty to roam on your own. Also these tours depend entirely on the discretion of the driver and they sometime stop for long hours without any valid reason forcing tourists to board other red/green buses. In our case the reason was technical break.
On our bus tour and in between walks, we witnessed Moscow’s popular sights which define the city for us. The Grand Kremlin Palace would be one of them. Former residence of the Royal prince, Kremlin is now home for the President of Russia. Built in the 14th century using local pale sandstone, Kremlin is a UNESCO world heritage site.
Up next was St.Basil’s cathedral, the most impressive site in Moscow with its onion shaped domes. History of this legendary cathedral is much similar to the story of Taj Mahal, on its completion the then ruler ordered the architect’s eyes to be cut out so he could never create a masterpiece like it again.
There is so much to see and do in Moscow that any number of hours or words cannot do justice to it. I have highlighted only the most popular and impressive works of art which has left an indelible mark on our mind. I am sure there are many other wonderful places to explore in Moscow, we shall return again and write about the rest in details. Until then, we boarded a yellow cab just like the ones in Kolkata and left for the airport.
Have you been to Moscow? Which other places would you like to add to the list ?