My introduction to Russia was through Moscow. I flew into the Domodedovo Airport, met Vlad, and we jumped on the Airtrain into the city center. The 45 minute Airttrain ride was my first opportunity to actually hear people speak Russian which is an impossible language to understand. I loved looking out the window at the dense forest, old factories, and graffiti.
When we arrived in the city center of Moscow we entered a whole new world. It was like other big cities, but the people had a different vibe. Moscovians seem like a hardy people and slightly depressed. It was a hot day in Moscow and I was incredibly jet lagged, so the first day was a blur.
After some sleep I was incredibly excited to see Red Square so Vlad and I took the subway, which was an amazing experience. The subways are deep underground and you take the longest escalator I’ve ever seen.
I absolutely loved all the artwork in the subway stations – next time I go to Moscow I want to spend an entire day photographing the subway stations.
We made it to Red Square, which was nothing like I expected. The square is not red. I always thought the Kremlin was the multicolored building with cool roofs, but it turns out that building is Saint Basil’s Cathedral. The Kremlin is a huge walled off area with buildings inside that are the center of Russian government. Right in front of the Kremlin is Lenin’s Tomb with a sloppy looking police officer guarding it. I just could not believe that the father of the Soviet Union who has a huge tomb in front of the Kremlin was guarded by one sloppy soldier. I expected Vladimir Putin with a machine gun, not this guy.
On another side of Red Square is a shopping mall. Across the square from Saint Basil’s Cathedral is the Russian State Historical Museum. There were tons of tourists and 3 wedding parties taking photos.
We spent a couple days in Moscow and had some fun adventures. We walked around the city and Vlad taught me about Moscow and Russian history. We saw plenty of drunk people, which makes sense because they sell beer on the streets next to ice cream stands. We enjoyed some wonderful restaurants and ate Vlad’s favorite, Caucasian food. I thought that meant white person food, but it turns out there is a mountain region called the Caucases and they have wonderful food.
Moscow is also where Vlad started one of his funniest habits. He would turn to me and start talking in Russian. It was fun to watch him speak Russian with others around the city. I think he felt at home speaking his native language and at times he would turn to me and say something that I could not even begin to understand. This went on for the next few weeks and always made me laugh inside.
Some highlights were Balshoy Theater, the building that Yeltzin stormed with a tank, Lenin’s Tomb, and that cool church.
After Moscow we went to Siberia for 2 weeks, which was drastically different. On our return trip home we had a few more days in Moscow where I stated to feel more comfortable getting around so I focused on learning the Cyrylic alphabet. Vlad took me to see much of the city and helped me pronounce words that I would see at stores and on street signs. My favorite was Starbucks Coffee.
When we left Moscow I was sad to say goodbye, but hopefully I’ll be back soon enough.