We hopped off the train at Moscow Station, the western end of the Trans-Siberian Railway. With our long journey from Asia into Europe behind us, we celebrated with drinks (vodka shots of course!) with our travelling friends, Sophie and Steve.
Taking advantage of a free river cruise from our train-booking agent, Real Russia, we got our first glimpse of Moscow from the water. The city is centred around a sweeping bend in the Moskva River.
The entrance to a canal is guarded over by a giant monument with a ship stuck in it! The Peter the Great Statue, at 98m high, was built to commemorate 300 years of the Russian Navy, which he had established. Interesting that the great Emperor loathed Moscow and instead moved the capital to St. Petersburg. It seems the locals are not a fan of this either, having been voted one of the world’s ugliest buildings!
Further around the bend we passed the outer walls of the Kremlin on our way to witness one of the infamous Seven Sisters, a group of seven skyscrapers designed in the Stalinist style and arranged across Moscow. These imposing buildings are each topped with a Stalinist tower and loom over their surroundings.
Back on dry land, we explored the GUM department store. Facing Red Square, it is a massive shopping mall of designer shops and cafes under an impressive glass roof.
Slightly quirky inside, it was originally a trading centre, but rebuilt after the 1812 Fire of Moscow. The elongated shop galleries are crossed with innovative bridges making for a fun shopping experience.
There was much to see on foot. Far too much to cover in a few days as the city is a massive sprawling metropolis, as one might imagine Moscow to be.
We walked around enough to get a sense that Moscow was a proud mix of old and new, Soviet and European-influenced, dreary and over-the-top.
Visited 4th to 5th September 2014.