Magnificent Moscow

Warm days, welcoming Muscovites.

Warm days, welcoming Muscovites.

Moscow. Pictures supplied

Phil and Sue Newdick continue along on their journey of Russia and head to Moscow where they find more of that warm Russian hospitality.

Our arrival in Moscow late in the afternoon was almost overwhelming. As anticipated, the Moscow Metro was a challenge, we waited patiently for the number 5 train — it never showed. Then, rather than get it wrong, we decided to take a taxi and sort the metro out another day. As we were climbing the stairs, we approached two policemen who did not understand a word of English, but realising we needed help, they questioned the passing commuters until they found one who did.

The fellow they found was patient enough to make us understand that we needed line 5, not train 5. And as all the trains that travelled past (there was one every couple of minutes) were on line 5, any one of those would be fine for us. Then as line 5 is the central circle line, it was just a case of working out which direction to take, to travel the short side of the circle. Not a big drama surely? Yeah, right!

Our Google Maps translated all the names into a form of English, whereas at the Moscow Metro, everything was written in Cyrillic. So that was a challenge.

One of the best Metro systems in the world

But once we started to think like Russians, the Metro proved to be just as wonderful as the critics claim.

It really is one of the best Metro systems in the world. Opened in 1935, with one 11-kilometre line and 13 stations, it was the first underground railway system in the Soviet Union. As of 2017, the Moscow Metro, excluding the Moscow Central Circle and Moscow Monorail, has 207 stations and its route length is 349.4km, making it the sixth longest in the world. The system is mostly underground, with the deepest section 84m underground.

Impressive works of art

Each station we visited was another work of art: the platforms and ceilings are as impressive as any cathedral.

The Metro carried us daily to the points of interest we found. With a bit of help from Google Maps and our very-smart phone, we were getting around like locals.

We certainly came to Moscow from the right direction. If we had travelled west to east, we would have left this vibrant city to travel through 9000km of what, although never to be missed, would have been a bit of an anti-climax. The buildings, government, religious, commercial and private, reflect how a large population (16 million) can erect and maintain iconic buildings.

The amazing thing is that, in spite of despotic monarchies, Socialist governments, world recessions and the ravages of time, so much has been saved. The maintenance of these icons is in itself no mean feat; however, the effort is being made and it shows.

Architectural diversity

We were attracted to Russia by the pictures we had seen of the “Onion” domes; they are wonderful, but only a small part of the architectural diversity that is Russia.

Our apartment was very well-appointed and reasonably priced. Although not central, it was handy to the Metro, which enabled us to plan our days without worrying too much about the availability of transport. The first venture was of course back into the central district, a visit to The Red Square and St Basil’s, the impressive multi-domed cathedral that dominates The Square.

The diversity of this city, made even an excursion to find a post office, to post our traditional postcards from, a discovery of unexpected sights.

Researching what we saw gave us a far better understanding of Russia, its people and their culture.

The weather was reasonably warm, but we found that no matter what the forecast and no matter how the days started, right across Russia, there was a good chance that the afternoon would include, a sometimes very heavy shower. We have been informed that the summer had been “different” but the green swampy look of the countryside gave the impression that wet summers, by our standards, are the norm.

If there is a patron saint of travellers, we think that saint’s disciples live in Russia and he sent them in the form of Russian Angels to guide us on our way.

It seemed that every time we took a wrong turn, hopped on a wrong conveyance, or even just needed to take the weight off our feet, there was one of them who, even if we couldn’t understand a word they said, would steer us in the right direction or give up their seat on a crowded train.

To be continued.

Phil and Sue Newdick continue along on their journey of Russia and head to Moscow where they find more of that warm Russian hospitality.

Our arrival in Moscow late in the afternoon was almost overwhelming. As anticipated, the Moscow Metro was a challenge, we waited patiently for the number 5 train — it never showed. Then, rather than get it wrong, we decided to take a taxi and sort the metro out another day. As we were climbing the stairs, we approached two policemen who did not understand a word of English, but realising we needed help, they questioned the passing commuters until they found one who did.

The fellow they found was patient enough to make us understand that we needed line 5, not train 5. And as all the trains that travelled past (there was one every couple of minutes) were on line 5, any one of those would be fine for us. Then as line 5 is the central circle line, it was just a case of working out which direction to take, to travel the short side of the circle. Not a big drama surely? Yeah, right!

Our Google Maps translated all the names into a form of English, whereas at the Moscow Metro, everything was written in Cyrillic. So that was a challenge.

One of the best Metro systems in the world

But once we started to think like Russians, the Metro proved to be just as wonderful as the critics claim.

It really is one of the best Metro systems in the world. Opened in 1935, with one 11-kilometre line and 13 stations, it was the first underground railway system in the Soviet Union. As of 2017, the Moscow Metro, excluding the Moscow Central Circle and Moscow Monorail, has 207 stations and its route length is 349.4km, making it the sixth longest in the world. The system is mostly underground, with the deepest section 84m underground.

Impressive works of art

Each station we visited was another work of art: the platforms and ceilings are as impressive as any cathedral.

The Metro carried us daily to the points of interest we found. With a bit of help from Google Maps and our very-smart phone, we were getting around like locals.

We certainly came to Moscow from the right direction. If we had travelled west to east, we would have left this vibrant city to travel through 9000km of what, although never to be missed, would have been a bit of an anti-climax. The buildings, government, religious, commercial and private, reflect how a large population (16 million) can erect and maintain iconic buildings.

The amazing thing is that, in spite of despotic monarchies, Socialist governments, world recessions and the ravages of time, so much has been saved. The maintenance of these icons is in itself no mean feat; however, the effort is being made and it shows.

Architectural diversity

We were attracted to Russia by the pictures we had seen of the “Onion” domes; they are wonderful, but only a small part of the architectural diversity that is Russia.

Our apartment was very well-appointed and reasonably priced. Although not central, it was handy to the Metro, which enabled us to plan our days without worrying too much about the availability of transport. The first venture was of course back into the central district, a visit to The Red Square and St Basil’s, the impressive multi-domed cathedral that dominates The Square.

The diversity of this city, made even an excursion to find a post office, to post our traditional postcards from, a discovery of unexpected sights.

Researching what we saw gave us a far better understanding of Russia, its people and their culture.

The weather was reasonably warm, but we found that no matter what the forecast and no matter how the days started, right across Russia, there was a good chance that the afternoon would include, a sometimes very heavy shower. We have been informed that the summer had been “different” but the green swampy look of the countryside gave the impression that wet summers, by our standards, are the norm.

If there is a patron saint of travellers, we think that saint’s disciples live in Russia and he sent them in the form of Russian Angels to guide us on our way.

It seemed that every time we took a wrong turn, hopped on a wrong conveyance, or even just needed to take the weight off our feet, there was one of them who, even if we couldn’t understand a word they said, would steer us in the right direction or give up their seat on a crowded train.

To be continued.

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