It only cost me $300 in visas, 10 nights on trains and too many bottles of vodka to county to finally make it here, and it was worth all the effort. Moscow, I’d heard, was in the top 5 most expensive city in the world, so when I managed to find a hostel for $15 a night I was delighted, let the sight seeing begin….
I only had 3 days in Moscow so I had to be fast. My first day was on the back of my epic 81 hour train journey from Almaty, Kazakhstan so although I’d like to tell you all that I was a trooper and powered through the entire day as if I had been sleeping sound in my own bed the previous night, that wasn’t the case! After my first shower in 4 days, a quick nap and a footlong meatball in Subway most of the day was gone but there was still enough time to squeeze in my dream, St Basil’s cathedral.
Anyone who has ever dreamt about visiting Moscow has envisaged setting your eyes on this, one of the most unique and beautiful buildings in the whole world, it’s an icon and I felt like a kid on Christmas morning when I finally laid my eyes on it. Huge bucket list item checked!
The next day we hit the sight seeing hard. First up was our second visit to Red Square, the huge area in front of St Basil’s. We arrived before midday and paid a visit to Lenin’s mausoleum. Despite his wishes to be buried in St Petersburg, Russian first premier is embalmed and on show (for free) every morning from 10am until around 1pm. It’s a pretty surreal affair to be honest, but very cool nonetheless.
Next up was the Kremlin, I paid using my Khao San Road student card (75% off thank you very much) and wondered in. The Kremlin is a huge area, and it’ll take you at least a couple of hours to wander around. There are some amazing orthodox churches to check out, amongst which Ivan the Terrible is resting. The actual government buildings are there too, as is the Armory which is an epic collection of Russian treasure from over the years. Most of the secondary places, like the armory, require extra admission fees so if you don’t have a student card to see everything costs about $45, with an ISIC card, it’s about $15.
After the Kremlin, I headed over to another UNESCO world heritage site, Church of Christ the Saviour (after Red Square, this was my second UNESCO of the day, no big deal, whatever). My mate Stalin knocked this entire place down once before, replaced it with what used to be the world’s biggest swimming pool, only for that to be knocked down and re-replaced (?!) with the Church of Christ the Saviour for a cool $360 million. Not very efficient urban planning, but an awesome church.
Next up was a 20 minute walk to a gargantuan statue of Peter the Great, sitting loud and proud on top of his disproportionately sized boat, which he is about 100X the size of. A few snaps there and you’re good to go.
I hit up a former Cold War nuclear bunker, Bunker 42, , built in the 60s, but has since been transformed into a museum. We had a Russian guide who wasn’t the US’s biggest fan, if you make it here you can watch all the Cold War information from the other side, which was really cool.
Also, there was a school outing the same day and one of the activities the kids did, red by the Russian guide, was to pretend to launch a nuclear attack on the US, complete with movie clips and everything. Madness!
My final stop was the Novodevichy Convent & Cemetery. This place is where Peter the Great imprisoned his sister so he could seize control of Russia. It’s an impressive complex that fully warrants it UNESCO World Heritage Site status, and it’s only $2 to get in. Bargain.
The cemetery next door is a who’s-who for important dead Rushkis, Boris Yeltsin is probably top of the list.
The day was almost up, in the evening I managed to pay a visit to the Moscow circus (read about that here), and had a very enjoyable evening at a gay Russian bath house (not as dodgy as it sounds, honestly). Happy travels!