If you had three days in Moscow, what would you do? I would do everything possible in the little time available. I must say thanks to my Dad for setting me up with a sweet deal – a place to sleep and a tour guide. My first day, I squeezed in so much that this would be a run-on sentence. My new Russian friend Valya took me, by Metro (which some websites have listed as a sightseeing place, in and of itself, because Lenin/Stalin – I’m sorry to say I get these two confused – thought it more prudent to build majestic public places instead of majestic public housing) to the Red Square.
The Red Square is basically a large, cobblestone open area that is surrounded by historical buildings. There’s the fancy mall that is too pricy on your left side as you enter the newly renovated gates. At the end is the most famous building is Saint Basil’s Cathedral, and then on your right side, there is Lenin’s dead body stored in a tomb-looking building (very appropriate). Then there are more buildings with pretty architecture that I don’t have a clue about, but happily went picture-friendly on.
My favorite thing in the Red Square has to be Saint Basil’s Cathedral. The longer I’ve stayed in Moscow, the more I notice churches. Most churches in Moscow are kept to the original architecture and are usually breathtaking. However, Saint Basil’s Cathedral is unique. As you approach this structure, you can’t help but think that you’ve entered Alice in Wonderland’s fairytale. After all, you don’t understand what people are saying (although there were some American tourists, the majority were of tourists were from everywhere else in the world), the recent Metro ride has you disoriented (it is the second-most heavily used underground system next to Tokyo’s), and this building looks like it belongs nowhere in this world. It’s circular domes recall of an older area of architecture – I believe 16th century. However, there is nothing modest about this structure. Its colors are the palette of clowns and carnivals. Like the bright colors of cotton candy, a painter brushed this icon into existence to forever preserve its historical treasure.
Once you’ve seen the Red Square, the Kremlin, and all the other major sites of the city, you’ll quickly find that Moscow is like any other major city. It boasts a growing population of 19 million people. It is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in. The people are bad drivers. This is an understatement. I would walk down the sidewalk and cars would start coming at me – head-on. Traffic is awful in Moscow and many people try and avoid it by driving on sidewalk or any alleyway they can fit their cars through. Jed, my Australian friend turned Russian resident, says there are no determents for bad drivers. Tickets or illegally parked cars (because many just pull up on the sidewalk) are only a few dollars and there is no towing fee, meaning owners of towed vehicles just have to find a way to get to the impoundment area and retrieve their car.
But if you are smart, you’ll forgo a car and use the Metro, which is relatively cheap and reliable means for transportation. And even as Mowsow woman rush to and fro from the Metro, you’ll always see them in tights and stilettos. As Jed joked, “Russian women would wear high heels to play tennis.” But I do think they would. Russian people are incredibly fashionable (not particularly good or bad, but very unique). Even the men wear skinny jeans paired with name brand tops. To live in Moscow means to be seen in Moscow, and that means everyone is sporting a unique outfit.
Overall, I was astounded by the variety in ethnicity. I never realized that Russians came in so many shapes, sizes, and colors. The majority are thin, and tall, but there are Asians, Caucasians, and everything in between as well.
My tour guide – Maks took me to several parks after Valya had taken me to see the major monuments. We walked down Old Arabat street, which is now a tourist attraction with McDonaldization (ie major brands like Starbucks) everywhere. We went at night and there were street performers – a man doing a headstand on broken glass to comics and artists. New Arabat Street is all commercial and business buildings – similar to the skyscrapers of Manhattan.
The parks that Maks took me to were beautiful and large. His favorite park, which I can’t pronounce or write, reminds of the panoramic views of Sound of Music. It is beautiful. In the different parks we went to, and scattered throughout the city are beautiful churches. Many of the random pictures you see are of old churches that I just thought was beautiful.
I enjoyed Moscow, eating beet soup at My-My (pronounced as Moo-Moo), and my new Russian friends, but unlike Jed, I think Russia is a country for a visit, not a stay. I have so many more countries to go before I settle down.
Onto Mongolia . . . where the drivers are just as bad as Russians except the roads are not finished, with no lines, no rules, no crosswalks, and very few traffic lights.