Glimpses of Moscow – A Photo Essay

Last month was a magical whirlwind for me. I quit my job, romanced Russia for a week, and returned to India to start at a new workplace… with a promise to return to my new found love. I have plenty of untold stories lined up for you in a series of posts dedicated to Moscow and St. Petersburg. Here is a teaser of all that awaits you… a glimpse of the capital city of Moscow:-

Cathedral of Saint Basil – A Beauty since 1561

The Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed

The Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed

Legend has it that the then Tsar of Russia, Ivan the Terrible, asked the architect of this world famous landmark if he could build such a beautiful structure again. To that, Postnik Yakovlev, the architect, replied, “I will design a hundred such magnificent buildings at your command, my Lord!” Ivan promptly ordered Postnik to be blinded, so there would not be anything like St. Basil’s Cathedral elsewhere in the world.

GUM Mall – Where Heritage meets Contemporary

The enchanting interiors of Gum Mall

The enchanting interiors of Gum Mall

Located at Red Square – the city centre of Moscow, GUM has been in existence for over 120 years. The heritage architecture of the building and the old-style decor on the exterior of the facade will not let you believe that a modern shopping centre flourishes inside!

Old Arbat Street – A Fine Example of Starting Over after all has been Destroyed

A local in the traditional Russian attire on Old Arbat Street

A local in the traditional Russian attire on Old Arbat Street

A posh locality in Moscow, the 600-year old Arbat Street was gutted in a catastrophic fire in 1812. After it was rebuilt, this august street has been home to famous Russian writers, Pushkin being one of them. This street is now a popular shopping area for tourists looking for souvenirs.

Moskva – The River that gave Moscow its Name

The glittering Moscva River at night

The glittering Moskva River at night

The Moskva river flows under majestic bridges that link various parts of this city. Book a cruise and watch Moscow from one bank to another as you float across the city that borrowed its name from the eponymous river. You cannot miss the dazzling Radisson Royal Hotel on your way!

Kremlin and the Icons that make up the Complex

A slice of Red Square

A slice of Red Square – State Historical Museum (centre) and Kazan Cathedral (right)

The Moscow Kremlin is a triangular enclosure that sits on Red Square and houses the President of Russia. It is surrounded by famous monuments – St. Basil’s Cathedral, Lenin’s Mausoleum, the State Historical Museum, Kazan Cathedral, GUM Mall, Iberian Gate and Chapel, Moscow City Hall, and several other prominent cathedrals.

Mementos that will remind you of your Moments in Moscow

Matryoshka dolls gathered in a huddle

Matryoshka dolls gathered in a huddle

Moscow is a souvenir-collector’s paradise. Every little item of prominence is steeped in history and some cultural importance in Russia. The ever-so-popular matryoshka dolls that open up to reveal smaller dolls inside them are symbols of life and womanhood. The doll-in-doll mechanism highlights how every woman has found her life through another – her mother, and how this chain is endless. [Stay tuned for my post on shopping in Russia for some tips and more pictures of all the wonderful things you can buy!]

Tsaritsyno – A Castle in the Snow

Tsaritsyno Castle on a bed of fresh snow

Tsaritsyno Castle on a bed of fresh snow

On the outskirts of Moscow hides the dreamy castle of Tsaritsyno. Away from the madding crowds, this secret is known to few travellers. The palace is surrounded by a forest on one side and lakes and gardens on the other. You will need to come out of your comfort zone to get a real feel of Russia!

Golubtsy – Russia’s Love-Letter to your Palate

Golubtsy - a gastronomical delight!

Golubtsy – a gastronomical delight!

Russia has many gastronomical surprises for you, especially if you are vegetarian (as I am). From flavourful borscht to piroshki stuffed with all things delightful, Russia has a treasure trove of exotic and traditional dishes for you. Your tastebuds will thank you for the variety and bursts of flavour! [Don’t miss the exclusive culinary edition coming soon on my blog!]

Domes that Colour the Skies

The Church of the Holy Trinity at the Borisovo Ponds

The Church of the Holy Trinity at the Borisovo Ponds

Moscow has a number of beautiful churches, chapels and cathedrals. The tranquil atmosphere aside, these structures have intriguing architectures. The spires and domes are intricately carved and painted in a riot of colours. The Holy Trinity Church on the way to Domodedovo International Airport looks spectacular with its blue domes and golden emblems.

4 Levels of Metro – What Keeps this City Moving!

Muscovites taking the metro to work

Muscovites taking the metro to work

Moscow has an extensive metro circuit that extends across 4 levels and connects all of this ‘metro’politan city. The metro-circuits were built in circles, tracing the roads that run above them. The roads were constructed in rings around the city centre, and a new ‘ring’ was added whenever the need was felt to expand the city. This is also why the Mayor of Moscow is sometimes called Lord of the ‘Rings’. 😉

This is the end of today’s post, but the beginning of a journey you all have just embarked on with me. Let me hear all your questions and suggestions for the posts to come! If you are planning a trip to Russia, let me know if you want me to touch on anything specific. I want this virtual globe-trot to benefit you just as much as it titillates you!

Advertisements

Help Oindrila Choose her Stay in Moscow!

I was on top of the world when I found out last month that I won return flights to Moscow! 🙂 I pinched myself five times to confirm I wasn’t dreaming. This news couldn’t have come at a better time as I was really upset with my life and the lack of any foreign travel lately. But the world has an amazing way to surprise you and lift your mood when you least expect it!

One of many magical sights that await me! :-) (Source: burgessyachts.com/en/locations/moscow)

One of many magical sights that await me! 🙂 (Source: burgessyachts.com/en/locations/moscow)

While it is really nice to daydream about the wonderful experiences I’ll be having in Moscow, I must not forget that I first have to sort out my stay! I did a quick search for hotels in that city, and boy, are they expensive! I really don’t want to blow my budget on something I’ll only be using for the night. (I’ll be spending a lot of rubles on sightseeing and interesting restaurants and shopping!) I shut my laptop, and a fantastic thought struck me – Airbnb! This option is perfect for a travel freak like me who loves the authentic local experience. Here are the benefits:-

  • I can stay with a local, and yet have some privacy. (I get my own room! 🙂 )
  • If the host is nice (and has free time), I’ll have company on my outings.
  • I’ll get to practise some Russian with a real Russian! 🙂 (That makes me go “Ура”!)
  • And most importantly, it’s dirt cheap!

Now, you know how indecisive I can get when I have too many lovely options! So, I’m asking you all (my wise and well meaning readers 😉 ) to help me choose my stay. I have handpicked 5 rooms offered by some kind ladies (I have nothing against men, but my parents are paranoid! 😛 ) who live in the heart of Moscow. Now, I need your help to finalize my stay! Are you ready? Here are the nominations (*Academy Award style*):-

1. Cute Pink Room

Pink walls with pictures that tell a story? (Source: airbnb.co.in/rooms/1095147)

Pink walls with pictures that tell a story? (Source: airbnb.co.in/rooms/1095147)

This room is right at the top of my list. I love this one because of the thick mattress I can see on the bed. I’m already dreaming of what I’ll dream about when I sleep on it! The room also has a nice window from where I’ll be able to watch the snow melt. Can you see the three racks of books in that corner? I know I’ll be reading myself a story to bed every night!

2. Drawing-Room-Turned-Bedroom

Pullout sofa anyone?(Source: airbnb.co.in/rooms/3889387)

Pullout sofa anyone?(Source: airbnb.co.in/rooms/3889387)

This is a cosy flat in North Moscow. The host is offering her pullout couch with some pillows and blankets thrown in. This looks pretty basic and neat to me. What do you think? This room also has curtains (unlike the previous one). Then again, I’d really like all the sun to keep me warm in the -7 degrees of Moscow!

3. Free Kitchen Access

Home away from home? (Source: airbnb.co.in/rooms/4123024)

Home away from home? (Source: airbnb.co.in/rooms/4123024)

This host lives with her husband and a little child. She’s ready to give full access to her well equipped kitchen. (What if I want to try cooking a new Russian dish?) The neighbourhood is pretty posh and safe, but the residents will be at work all day, so I won’t have a local to take me around.

4. The Brain-and-Brawn Room

Gym + Library in my bedroom? :-)

Gym + Library in my bedroom? 🙂 (Source: airbnb.co.in/rooms/881796)

The spacious wood-floored bedroom has an entire wall full of books! And as if that wasn’t enough, they stock it with a treadmill an weightlifting bars! If I stay here, I’ll not only be slightly more intelligent from my trip, but also look like the female version of Arnold Schwarzenegger! (Okay, I was REALLY kidding there! A week’s worth of working out won’t even help me burn the pounds I’ll gain gorging on Muscovite cuisine.)

5. Four Poster Bed and Flowerpots

Wood and chocolate room?

Wood and chocolate room? (Source: airbnb.co.in/rooms/3870842)

This host sure has greenfingers because every room in her flat has half a dozen flowerpots! 🙂 It’ll be nice to share my room with another living being (only talking about plants here 😉 ). The room is really small, but the price makes up for it.

Alright! I’m done describing my options. If you were me, which would you choose? Help me decide and I’ll delight you with wonderful stories and pictures from my adventures in the mystical city of Moscow! You can view my Airbnb Wishlist for details of the rooms. If reading this article got you interested in Airbnb, you can sign up with my referral link. I’m giving away Airbnb credit worth Rs.1,549 if you use my link to register! (Thank me by helping me choose my stay, please.)