My trip to Moscow

Image courtesy of Jesse Tomlinson

“Why go to Russia? It will be freezing” they said.

Yes, Moscow is a very cold city but when it only cost two people £500 for flights and an Airbnb for six days, we would have been stupid to listen to the haters. Anyway, what is wrong with wrapping up like a Swiss Roll? That’s what we did. After adding a modest four more layers, we were ready for what the Russian climate threw at us. Luckily for my girlfriend and I, it had been one of the warmest winters on record, with highs of 1 degree Celsius, so not freezing at least.

Despite keeping at the back of our minds the Russian Cold War stereotypes, we endeavoured to explore as much of Moscow as possible. As it was during the Christmas period, the city was decorated and lit up like a real-life winter wonderland – stalls galore, filled with plenty of souvenirs from Russian dolls to magnets of President Putin.

Much can be said on Putin and his politics. However, what should be said is that Moscow, is very tourist friendly. From the Kremlin, to St. Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow is filled with awesome things to do! Just don’t try and bring Vodka to Gorky Park ice rink; this was a mistake of ours and we were told by security to hide it in a bush. We found that after skating the bottle had mysteriously disappeared. Was it the security guards? Or is there a Russian vodka fairy we didn’t know about? Then again, paying £5 for a litre bottle of Russian Standard isn’t a big deal. I hope they enjoyed it!

One of the main highlights of the trip was meeting a Russian named, Bogdan, a fellow globalist, who is involved in the Moscow music scene. We met early in the week in the bar that was below our apartment, and soon became comrades. The night before the flight home, he invited us to his apartment where we celebrated with a bottle of Ballantine’s Finest Whiskey. He then showed us his Louis Vuitton balaclava, along with a Philipe Patek diamond clad watch. Bogdan surprised us even more by showing us a video of him and his friend - the world known artist, the late, Lil Peep. The Russian high life was certainly a memorable moment of our trip, the key to travel is to communicate with locals because you never know what will come from it – global friendships at the very least.

A Recommended Moscow itinerary would include:

Head into the centre by metro (download MAPS.ME for accurate and helpful direction.)

Image courtesy of Jesse Tomlinson

Check out the Kremlin, a historic royal /presidential landmark. Explore with a tour guide and get a ticket that allows you to go into the Kremlin as well as the Armoury. Here you will see incredible gold and silver artefacts of the Russian Royal family that have accumulated over centuries.

Image courtesy of Jesse Tomlinson

Then head to the neighbouring Red Square, known for Cold War military parades of lockstep marching soldiers with AK-47’s, but more importantly known as the back yard for rulers from Ivan the Terrible to Vladimir Putin.

Image courtesy of Jesse Tomlinson

Check out the ever so colourful onion domed Cathedral of St Basil, definitely a cool place to grab a selfie or two. Luckily, the walk isn’t far as St. Basil’s sits at one end of the Square, to the left of the Communist icon Lenin’s mausoleum, which is also worth checking out!

Image courtesy of In Your Pocket

The Gulag museum is an interesting place to see if you want to gain an image of the oppressive Soviet system, and the extent of how many people were forcibly sent away to work in far provinces. (Approximately 2,000,000, in order to sustain the Soviet economy - most died.)

Image courtesy of Jesse Tomlinson

If you’re into art galleries, then the famous Tretyakov gallery is for you. Originally set up by a Moscow Merchant in Tretyakov who collected art on his travels and business trips, it includes pieces such as the Girl with Peaches and the Trinity, some of the most famous Russian religious art.

Image courtesy of Moscow Urban Adventures

Go for a walk around Gorky Park and the VDNKh (the Russian Exhibition Centre for Achievements of National Economy) where you can see impressive structures celebrating Communist rule. If you want a more light-hearted experience, in the winter you can ice skate in both parks, which hold titles as some of the largest rinks in Europe.

Image courtesy of Jesse Tomlinson

Take a few hours to see the beauty of the Moscow metro. Locals say that they are like palaces, with chandeliers hanging from high ceilings. After a while you will forget that you are hundreds of feet underground.

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First published in 1965, InQuire is the University of Kent student newspaper.

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