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And then we went to Moscow

June 7, 2008

Since the train from St. Petersburg to Moscow is about 8 hours, we decided to do an overnight train. We’ve taken many overnight trains around Europe for a few reasons.

  1. You save money because you don’t have to get a hotel room.
  2. You save time because you work a full day or do something else on departure day.
  3. You arrive early in the morning and have the whole day in the destination city.

Let’s see…for this trip to Moscow:

  1. We definitely saved money considering how ridiculously expensive our hotel rooms in Russia were.
  2. On departure day, we did spend the full day touring in St. Petersburg rather than waiting in an airport.
  3. We did arrive early in Moscow, 6:00 am early. But it turns out that this advantage only applies when you actually sleep on the train.

This was the most unpleasant overnight train experience we have had so far. For those who have been on overnight trains, you know how it’s usually a 2, 4 or 6 person cabin with a door that closes. Well, this was just an open floor plan. There was no shutting off the noise of the other 50 people in the car. That, actually, was not the biggest problem. Josh and I were in beds 1 and 2. This means that we were right next to the door to go out of our car which happened to be where the bathroom and smoking car were located. The whole night people were walking right by my head going out the door to the bathroom or to smoke. And this was not a little door. It slammed every single time. The noise from the door and the smoke made it almost impossible to sleep.

I think that Josh and I might have gotten a total of one hour of sleep if you add up 10 minutes here, 5 minutes there, etc.  This didn’t go as planned. We were so out of it. We couldn’t possible do anything until we took a nap. However, our hotel wasn’t ready until noon. We hung out in a coffee shop for a couple of hours. Once we felt like we were overstaying our welcome, we grabbed a Moscow Times and headed to a park and sat in the sun reading a free English newspaper. About 11, we went back to the hotel in hopes that our hotel room might be ready early. Nope. We just sat in the lobby in a daze until about 12:30 when our room was ready. We took a nice 3 hour nap and we were good as new.

On to the sites:

The Metro: The Metro itself is like a museum with gorgeous architecture. It was so beautiful but I didn’t take any pictures because I wasn’t sure how they would turn out with the disposable since the light wasn’t so great.

Walking Tours: We did our own walking tours that I printed from Fodor’s. We went around the Arbat, Kitai Gorod and Gorky Park.  However, I must say that Moscow is not much of a walking city. It’s like trying to walk around a city in the US. It’s just not meant to be. As much as we tried to walk, it’s just not enjoyable. Things are really spaced out and there is tons of traffice. This has to be the most crowded city I have ever been to.

The Cathedral of Christ Our Savior: This church is beautiful. The inside was an exhibit for the reconstruction of it which wasn’t that exciting, but I could have looked at the exterior for hours.

Kremlin, Red Square & Alexander Garden: We did an organized tour of this because we were so excited about it. I loved it. LOVED it. It was so fascinating. Our tour guide was very anti-soviet and extremely knowledgeable.

The Kremlin Cathedrals were also beautiful.

St. Basil’s Cathedral: It’s what you think of when you think of Russian Orthodox churches. It’s what my favorite church, the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, was based on.

Stalin Skyscrapers: We were on the lookout for these as we walked around the city.

Izmaylovo Market: This is THE place to go for souvenirs. There were so many matrioshkas (the Russian nesting dolls) and hand carved Santa statues! Of course, we got one of each plus a cute little ornament of a Russian woman with an elaborate headdress.

The sights of the city are amazing and we’re really glad that we went. We just wish that we could say that about the people and the city in general. We found it to be a very unfriendly city, but awesome sights more than made up for it.

After three days in Moscow and 25 days travelling, we were ready to go home.

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