Moscow, the capital of Russia, is the twelve most populous city in the world, and the largest city on the European continent. Four nights worth of exploring such a marvel of a place isn’t anywhere near enough time to have visited all on my list. I particularly enjoy discovering at night, when the temperatures fell to -6 degrees: crisp, dry and exhilarating.
Besides the incredibly arresting landmarks pulsating around Moscow’s core, being underground appealed to me just as much as being on top. Moscow’s metro is a life-changing experience! Public transport that is never delayed. Can you even begin to imagine what that must be like? The Moscow Metropolitan is the world record-holder for on-time departures and arrivals. According to the Moscow transport department, its accuracy equals 99.99%. Impressive! considering that the interval between trains during rush hour is only 90 seconds. Having the station names in both English and Russian goes a long way, following the number (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc.) of the lines instead of the colours will allow you to breeze through to any desired destination below ground. Known as the most beautiful subway in the world, the Moscow metro’s 44 out of 200 plus stations are listed as cultural heritage sites. Some of the brightly coloured murals on its walls should be protected in museums.
Hats, scarves, mittens and coats off to Pyotr Baranovsky, the passionate architect who designed St. Basil’s – officially called “The Cathedral of the Intercession of the Virgin by the Moat” – who refused categorically to have the building prepared for demolition. Due to St. Basil’s hindering Stalin’s plans for mass parades on Red Square, he ordered Baransovsky to demolish the legendary landmark. After the courageous Baranovsky sent the Kremlin a bitterly-blunt telegram the cathedral remained erect and he spent 5 years in prison.
An opera, or anything really, viewed at the glistening Bolshoi Theatre is worth trudging along in the snow to marvel at. At halftime, everyone exits the building with their coats from the cloakroom to puff on cigarettes. You are only permitted to enter the theatre after checking in your coat. The Bolshoi building, which for many years now has been regarded as one of Moscow’s main sights, was opened on 20 October 1856, on Tsar Alexander II’s coronation day.
Still connected to the past, retro cafes and clubs provide a taste of the Soviet past with canteen style establishments serving gourmet food in tin dishes and glass jars.
Providing the best of Russia’s farm-to-table produce, Danilovsky Market is a great place to spend a morning people watching, being entertained by the friendly Russian and Asian traders and sampling delicious artisan creations.
Every street corner turned a sweeper cleared white powder snow from the streets and sidewalks before it even had a chance to turn to slush and hazardous.
DID YOU KNOW?
After New York and Hong Kong, Moscow has the third largest number of billionaires residing within its rich city walls.
The Moscow Kremlin is the world’s largest medieval fortress.
When at the airport seeking a taxi into the city, do not accept first price offered. Haggle and haggle again. The taxi scout came down from RUB800 (apparently this was business class) to RUB600 to finally RUB400. Always get a fixed-price taxi and not a metered one as the traffic along the embankment, just outside Moscow city, is diabolical. Consider this a RED ALERT.