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Contiki Russia Plus: Days 9, 10 & 11 – Moscow, Russia

Our time in Moscow was amazing & it exceeded every expectation.  We arrived after a very, very long drive and stayed in our hotel that evening.  It was one of my friend’s birthdays, so we had room service deliver a cake and had a mini-birthday party in her hotel room.  We even played the Australian version of Cards Against Humanity and I can honestly say about 20% of it went over my head!

The following morning, we departed our hotel for a bus tour of Moscow where we got a first glimpse of the famous Saint Basil’s Cathedral.  I’d been waiting the entire trip for that moment, so I felt like I was at Disney World and saw the castle for the first time!

Our tour guide then brought us up to an overlook where we were treated to a wonderful panoramic view of the city of Moscow!

The overlook was located by Moscow State University, which was the epitome of communist architecture!  As our tour guide mentioned, the communist era buildings were still functional, so it did not make sense to tear them down just because they were built in a specific style of architecture.

Our next stop was a statue park where a lot of the old statues from communist times were stored.

Our tour guide told us that she was concerned because the government is starting to restore some of the older statues which were erected as monuments to public figures like Lenin & Stalin.

The next stop was what I was most excited for – the Red Square.  The bus dropped us off about a block away from the Red Square, so we walked through an archway to enter the square.  After walking through the archway, we were engulfed by the the massive, world famous Red Square.  At the opposite end of the square was Saint Basil’s Cathedral.  Our group walked towards the cathedral & took various pictures along the way.

The Red Square had a lot of other gorgeous buildings around its perimeter, too!

After the Red Square, we met back up with our tour guide and headed for a tour of the Kremlin, the government epicenter of Russia.  Unfortunately, I did not run into Mr. Putin, but I was impressed by the grounds.  Everything was immaculate and very orderly.  We were given a tour of the various churches that are located on the grounds of the Kremlin before walking around the Armory.  The Armory was massive & had a lot of Russia’s national treasures including very ornate carriages and suits of armor.  We weren’t allowed to take pictures, but the intricate level of detail was very impressive.

After the Kremlin, we walked to our included dinner where I had chicken kiev, a famous Russian dish.

We then headed back to our hotel to change into better clothes before heading to the rooftop bar at the Ritz-Carlton which had a stunning view of the Red Square.

After the Ritz-Carlton, we walked around downtown Moscow to get a better feel for all the city has to offer.

The following morning, our tour guide took us on a Metro tour of Moscow where we were able to visit a few of the beautifully designed metro stations that were built during the communist era.  The detail was amazing & the communist themes were consistent throughout.  

We ended our tour at the Metro station closest to the Red Square where we all had the opportunity to wait in line to visit Lenin’s Mausoleum. While I may bleed Red, White & Blue, that does not diminish the fact that Lenin was a polarizing figure in modern history and an opportunity to see his body should not be wasted. It was very dark and eerie inside the mausoleum, but I did see Lenin’s body. My friends and I debated whether or not it was actually his body as it appeared a bit too waxy, but it may be the fact that the body is being preserved. After the mausoleum, we grabbed a quick bite to eat and took a few more pictures of Saint Basil’s Cathedral.

We then got back on the metro to visit the Museum of Contemporary History where we learned about Communist Russia.  Our tour guide gave us a brief overview of Russia from the February Revolution of 1917 when Russia began to become communist through the present day with Vladimir Putin.  It was very, very informational and put our whole trip in context.

After the museum, my friend and I decided to head down to the Moskva River to take a boat cruise and experience the city from a different perspective.  It had a guide in English, but we couldn’t understand a word he said, so we just enjoyed the view.

We ended our afternoon at the Red Square where we met up with a few of our friends to go into Saint Basil’s Cathedral.  The inside of cathedral is nowhere near as impressive as the outside & is very fragmented.  There were various little rooms, but no rhyme or reason to the organization of the interior.  It felt more like someone’s house than a church!

Our evening ended at the Aquamarine Circus, a traditional Russian circus with clowns and other acts.  The circus was actually a bit disappointing as it catered more towards children and the juvenile nature of the show was a bit hard to follow.

After the circus, we headed back to our hotel where we relaxed for the rest of the evening.  We did have an amazing view of fireworks from our hotel balcony!

The following morning, we woke up relatively early and boarded our bus for Belarus!

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