We awoke to the generous scenery of the Russian countryside on Monday morning. The hockey ladies were already up so there was a sizable queue to the loo. The landscape gradually transformed into concrete, signaling our impending arrival to Moscow. We are greeted by our, very Russian-looking guide, Alexandra and immediately whisked off on a tour since we couldn’t check in to the hotel until later in the afternoon.
We get to see the usual suspects; the Kremlin, Duma, Metro and Red Square before it’s time for GUM. GUM is a large department store built right at the Red Square, supposedly to celebrate the fact that the Red Square used to be a place of commerce in the olden days. I have a hard time seeing the connection though as GUM is the kind of expensive where they don’t bother putting out price tags. Fiercely beautiful place though, very elegant with marble everywhere, just oozing class. We had a surprising breakfast at GUM, both in terms of price and taste, a measly 150 rub (~37 sek) for a mincemeat-filled blini with smetana and a side order of salad and apricot juice. Very tasty indeed!
Some more touring of the Vassily Cathedral (the onion domes, you know) and some additional bussing to see something other than the city center. Observation: They park and drive worse than Italians over here, there’s nary a corner where there isn’t a car parked halfway up on the sidewalk. Sometimes so far up that you can’t even walk past them on the inside. We even saw people parked on the highway onramp!
The tour went on to a lookup spot just by the Moscow university (one of the magnificent seven) and we were treated with a view of the old Olympic stadium as well as a ton of souvenir hawkers. Afterwards it was finally time to go to the hotel, a 2000 room behemoth located at Partizanskaya metro station. I got to bunk with one of the veteran travelers, Kimberly and we kicked back a while in the room with the Captain (Morgan, that is) and some Coke before heading out for some evening sightseeing.
We hopped off a bit before our destination since that particular station was supposed to be one of the of the more beautiful ones. It sure was, those Russians sure know how to build Metro stations! It’s filled with 80 bronze statues depicting Russian life in different ways. We then decided to walk to the Red Square from there, which turned out to be a mistake… For some reason you can hardly find even one Russian who speaks any English at all, it’s like they’re not even trying! And when we got them to point on a map where we were and where we were supposed to go they pointed the wrong way half of the time…
Anyways, a brisk walk later we hooked up with the rest of the guys just on time to go and get a bite to eat. Afterwards we went back to the hotel to hang out in the bar, playing pool (I rocked their socks!) and talk.