Reluctantly we left our beloved Petersburg on a train to Mookba (Moscow). There was some farming in the countryside, but mostly we passed thru dreary factory towns with identical concrete apartment blocks. Evidently the modernization of Russia hasn’t caught up in the countryside, and the vast majority of Russians live in cities.
After all our beautiful weather in St. P, it poured buckets in Moscow. Our brave attempt to take the Metro to our hotel was the wrong choice but ultimately we achieved our goal. The Metro has signs in only the Cyrrilic alphabet so it was like travelling blind. Several kind gents added a helping hand with my suitcase on the many stairs, without making me let go of my bag. Chivalry lives in Moscow!
Saturday was rainy and we encountered long lineups at the main attractions. The day was saved by a wonderful dinner at Cafe Pushkin, one of Moscow’s best restaurants about a block from our hotel. Cosy and old-fashioned, there were lots of Muscovites celebrating various occasions. Shirley went for it and had beluga caviar with blinis, a local fish presented like a shark, and Russian honey cake. Since it was, despite its name, a french restaurant, I opted for cured salmon and duck with cherry risotto. It was a lovely meal and a great way to end our trip together to Russia.
Sunday was dry but threatening and we made our way to Red Square and the Kremlin. Our visit to the Armoury was thrilling: Catherine the Great’s wedding and coronation dresses we had seen in photos and never dreamed we would ever see for real, Faberge eggs and the carriages of the empresses, described accurately by one ambassador of the day as “little castles.” Truly amazing. I was underwhelmed with the rest of the Kremlin – an old drab brownish-red church is the first thing you see, and Red Square was filled with construction and scaffolding so you really couldn’t imagine this was the square that was the site of so many of Russia’s triumphs and cruel history. We wandered GUM, the famed department store filled with expensive designer shops.
I must admit I was not crazy about Mookba, land of Mr. Takes His Shirt Off-alot (if you don’t know who I mean, youtube it along with the name putin, it’s hilarious). No-one smiled and they eyed you with suspicion if you smiled at them. I was not there long enough to really appreciate it and wasn’t able to take in much of the culture there.
However, I loved St. Petersburg almost as much as Paris. A gorgeous city with stunning architecture down elegant streets, glittering canals, rivers and statuary – I would go again and there would still be much to see. And there were many kindnesses, even from the occasional FSL (former Soviet landlady)!
Sadly Shirley and I had to say our goodbyes – what experiences we shared and what a great friend and travel companion! Looking forward to our next movie or event all the way back in Victoria….
Now turning the next page….
PS I didn’t take photos in Moscow because it was raining and photographs weren’t allowed at the Armoury.