Back in the beginning of 2016 I realised that I had a week’s worth of holidays from work yet my husband did not…what else to do but make a girl’s trip and visit my friend, Katya?! We had met in university back in America but she was from Moscow and had since gone back to live and work there. Now was the perfect chance to catch up and experience something new as well!
I realise it’s been nearly a year since I took this trip, but as it’s coming around to the same time and I’m posting in the hopes that these images might inspire someone to brave a trip there in the winter.
So please, if this has peaked your interest; read on and browse the images of my great adventure in Москва́.
One response I always get is… FEBRUARY!? why!? It must have been so cold, and let me tell you…by day two I was wearing a dress and tights, no base layer needed. When in Moscow, do as the Muscovites do. It may have been chilly to say the least, but without that how would I get to see the monuments with a magical dusting of white snowy powder, how would I get to ice-skate in Gorky park (a must if you go at this time of year!).
We gave Lenin’s tomb a miss, who has time to queue when there’s so much else to experience! Saint Peter’s Basilica, on the other hand, was totally worth it on the other hand. Like many famous works of art (i.e. the Mona Lisa) it is much smaller than you might imagine, but the ticket is budget friendly and every inch is covered in artistry and craftsmanship. My images only capture a fraction! And the ethereal sounds of a trio of singers in the centre is not to be missed.
It’s expensive to travel anywhere near the Christmas season, but if you’re a fan of the festivities you’re in luck as the holiday markets are still open in February! You can get your fill of treats, souvenirs and warming alcoholic honey drinks..I’m closing my eyes and savouring the memory of that last part.
Just around the corner is Moscow’s oldest shopping mall, GUM, which stands for Glávnyj Universáĺnyj Magazín, or main universal store. It has a bit of everything and a fascinating contrast of new up and coming Russian designers, the global luxury brands and old-timey nostalgia like the Soviet-era soda fountains with colourful syrups and soda-jerk girls with frilly aprons and caps.
Due to the winter weather we took plenty of breaks to sample food and drink. My current obsession with vegan food inspired us to try a few places, namely: Jagannath na Kurskoy (Pictured below…which i believe was the one located next to the metro Kurskaya…there are 3 around the city) and Fruits and Veges (a cafe in a staggered cinema space in an awesome industrial building complex called Artbox) both I’d highly recommend!!!
Art box is a bit hard to find if you haven’t got a local with you in my experience, and wifi is not always so easy to access; so when on a mission to find a place like this on my own I’d say to map it out in advance and take plenty of screen-grabs of each intersection to help you on your way.
And of course we had to have a few drinks. What’s a trip to Russia without a spot of Vodka!? We aren’t as big of partiers as we used to be in university but a quiet drink in a cosy bar hits the spot and there are plenty around. I can’t remember the name of this place but I’ll update if I find out as it had both a bustling upstairs with a forest theme and a cozy and quiet downstairs and some awesome pizza.
As my friend had to work on some of the days we took several night walks which were awesome! Cities take on an extra air of magic when the twinkling lights are out!
Tea break! Nestled in-between typical Russian architecture is a bright and wonderful oddity that seems like it appeared from a dream. The Perlov tea house on Myasnitskaya street is one of its oldest tea houses and you could seriously spend hours smelling all of the teas and deciding which to take home.
Monuments are a big thing around here and it’s definitely worth it to have a stroll down to victory park where you can gaze upon the Triumphal Arch, a massive obelisk and some of the striking relief sculptures that the communist era was famous for.
This part is where knowing a local is pretty much key, though you could probably just step on and off the metro at random too as there are some amazing mosaics and stained glass artworks from Stalin’s time. The stained glass panels are the work of Latvian artists which I thought was pretty cool (a. because my husband is Latvian and b. because it shows a glimpse of the former empire’s outer reaches)
Another place you might not expect is…Hamley’s toy store! There’s one in London but this one has an awesome…and can I shout?… FREE viewing deck! You can check out the city from up high and even if you don’t have kids you can keep yourself entertained checking out the toys and events (like the lego building competition we witnessed) and well fed at the food court.
One of my favourite experiences of the trip was a visit to a museum. I kind of have to say that again to myself as I usually hate museums. In university I pretty much saw the inside and out of every museum in London…if not Amsterdam and Paris as well… I was museum-ed out or so I thought until I went to Center Mars. They had a variety of interactive and experiential exhibits of light and sound. After these long days of walking and wandering I happily lost myself laying on a bean bag under a dome of fractal-like projections and a soothing voice that apparently was talking about multiple dimensions in Russian. Who knows, maybe I’m still there…
Last but not least, the ice skating in Gorky Park. BEST.ICE.RINK.EVER You don’t have the embarrassing and open boring old circular or oval rink…nope, here you get pathways and choices to go round, and if you like you can hop off mid-way at a restaurant or bar to grab a warming drink. I hadn’t been ice-skating in…probably 8 years, but here I felt comfortable to try and like I had enough space to get my ice-legs but enough of a challenge to keep myself focused. In short, loved it!
I can’t say thank you enough to my friend who put up with me for the week and was the most patient tour-guide ever! I’d definitely want to go back again to experience the contrast of the summer season. I’ve heard very good things about Gorky Park picnics and the ambiance of art box as well. You haven’t seen the last of me, Russia!
Please let me know if you have any questions about my trip! Should I go into detail about getting a visa? Metro cards?
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