Russia: Moscow

Moscow! Well, I’ve now technically reached the end of the Trans Siberian railway line. Since Beijing I’ve covered 9,001 Km by train, and I still have St Petersburg to go!

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As I write this I have a few hours left in Moscow before heading up to St Petersburg. I’ve been in Moscow for around five days. It’s one of those places where you can fill a couple of days up with a lot of sightseeing and tick off a lot of the major ‘must-visits’ as a tourist, but you could also be here for weeks, or even months, and still have hundreds of other experiences to cross off.

I knew there was no way  I was going to see absolutely everything here, so I made sure to check off the must-do’s as well as take some chill out time and not be in too much of a rush.

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I got recommended to try this restaurant out, called Grably. It’s what Valentines in New Zealand wishes it was. It’s a bufffet style joint with excellent food, and what’s even better is that at 9pm the list prices are slashed in half.

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No trip to Moscow would be complete without checking out the area in the centre of the city home to Red Square and The Moscow Kremlin / Cathedral Square. Unfortunately the weather was shit house most of the time I was in Moscow but there’s not really anything I can do about that, so I got wet.

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The outside of Red Square. The buildings in Moscow are pretty impressive.

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This is easily my favourite sight in Moscow – Saint Basil’s Cathedral. You can stand there for a long time just staring at it. If it’s not raining there are always artists hanging around making paintings of it.

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Every hour the guards at The Kremlin change around which is pretty cool to watch. Check out a short video I took here.

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This is the Mausoleum where Lenin’s body lies. The line to get in was huge and I couldn’t be bothered waiting in line for hours to be rushed through in two minutes so I skipped it this time.

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This is Red Square. The big building taking up most of the photo is a shopping mall called GUM. It’s one of the most expensive arcades, with pretty much every top of the line brand to be found inside. You go through a security frisk to get inside.

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My photo sphere isn’t perfect, but you get the idea…

Next to Red Square is The Kremlin and Cathedral Square. It costs 500 Rubles to get inside and walk around. The inside of the churches remind me of visiting the Vatican.

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Stumbled across this restaurant; if you know, you know, and if you don’t know, you don’t know.

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You can spend days just walking around Moscow taking in the sights and appreciating the architecture. There’s a lot of money in this place for sure, but there’s a big gap also. Beggers and homeless are common.

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I spent one day walking around the city visiting a few record stores. One of them was in part of this complex which was also home to a meat restaurant, a craft beer bar and an arcade. You could drink beer and play Grand Theft Auto 5 or FIFA on the projector. Pretty cool!

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At another record store I visited, Dig, I got chatting to the owner Andrew and he told me about a boat parked down on the river next to Gorky Park which might be of interest to me. I took the metro there the next day and found a sweet complex inside, which was home to a number of shops and coffee joints as well as a couple of record stores, event rooms, bars, and a studio. There are also regular record and equipment fairs held on board, including one that day which was awesome!

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Moscow has a great metro system. A lot of the stations are very impressive, with huge marble pillars and granite floors. Most of them are quite far underground too; sometimes you’ll be on the escalator for 3 minutes before getting to the platform. I like the old-school trains too. Much cooler than the modern ones you see elsewhere.

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I visited the Izmailovsky markets, which are a great place for buying souvenirs as well as pretty much anything that you may find in your grandfather’s shed. You can find anything from Putin coffee mugs to records, propaganda and ancient Pioneer CDJ-200’s.

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A major bonus of getting further west is regaining access to good coffee. I’ve spent a fair amount of time trekking between renowned coffee joints and sampling the different styles they have to offer. My record for coffee in a day is 11. Probably not good.

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The one below is a traditional Russian coffee with ginger in it. It’s quite good. Different, but good. I feel it’s the type of coffee that needs to be done perfectly otherwise it’d probably be shit.

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It’s the time of the year where the days are getting really long. St Petersburg will be mostly light all the time when I get there, but even in Moscow the sun’s coming up before 4am.

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It’s been quite a nice change to not be on the move and to just be in one place for several days, taking my time and trekking around at my own pace. I’m off on an overnight train tonight to St Petersburg, where it’ll be mostly light 24/7. Got a few new things to try out over there which I’m looking forward to!

Thanks again for reading!

Damo

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