Moscow…journey’s end for all those trains and time to take a breather from travelling for me.
Our first stop was the Mini Hotel Kavartira No. 2. It was somewhere between a hotel and a guest house. My room had everything I needed, complete with dressing gown, slippers, kettle and fridge. It looked out onto trees and was 10 minutes walk from George’s apartment, 5 minutes from the metro and the Kremlin was a walkable distance. Komsomolski Prospect Street was an excellent location.
My priority was a transit visa for Belarus. Four stops on the ‘red line’ of the metro to Lubyanka Square and then a short walk brought me to the embassy. I handed in my paperwork and 2900 rubles. At 4 o’clock I returned to collect my passport complete with visa. A smooth and painless process, far easier than getting it in London.
I love the feeling of setting off to explore a new city. A map is essential, as is getting comfortable with the transport system. The metro was straightforward to use and, once armed with a card loaded for 20 journeys, Moscow was my oyster. By walking everywhere, the city slowly became familiar. The metro gave the reassurance that there was always an alternative for flagging feet.
I saw Moscow under a blue cloudless sky, perfect visibility and the odd evening thunderstorm to clear the air. I walked a lot. My route into the centre was via the footbridge which joins Komsomolski Prospect and Gorky Park.
I’d then wander along the river to the main entrance of Gorky Park. It was always full of activity. Joggers, cyclists, skateboard parks, cafes, boating lakes, ice cream sellers and trees which were just beginning to turn into their autumn colours.
I enjoyed visiting the art galleries. The New Tretyakov gallery has works from the 20th century. It was interesting to see art which had been so influenced by the political climate of the day. The State Tretyakov gallery had a grander setting and older, traditional paintings and portraits. The Krymskaya Naberezhnaya sculpture park, on the banks of the river, was a lovely settings for both modern sculptures and figures from Soviet times.
When I met up with George and Kitija, we had a very nice lunch on the island headed by the mighty Peter the Great statue. We followed it with ice cream in the famous GUM shopping centre.
One evening I headed out on the metro see friends Sergey and Svetlana and had the pleasure of meeting their son and his fiancé, now his wife. It was a lovely to catch up.
The grand finale of my time in Moscow was a military tattoo in Red Square. The visiting bands were mostly from Eastern Europe and Asia. A Scottish pipe band was also in the line up. There was a good atmosphere with people clapping and singing along to popular tunes. St Basil’s Cathedral was lit up in changing colours and a firework display brought the evening to a close.
I liked Moscow and left it leaving plenty to see on a return visit.