We made it! It was 4 below zero on a sunny March afternoon. Moscow, a city that boasts a rich history and the centre of renowned decisions, was covered in snow. Muscovites were dressed in fur coats and ushankas (Russian fur cap), like it was the national uniform, to fight the brutal cold weather. Whether they were artificial or made from cheap sheepskin or rabbit fur, it portrayed life in Moscow.
We left the metro station, known for unique mosaics and chandeliers and began our walking tour to the historic center. We crossed the half frozen Moskva River and gazed at how intimidating the Kremlin was behind the Red Walls. From the bridge, we could see one of the Seven Sisters, (Vysotki) contributed by Joseph Stalin as part of his efforts to modernize the city with massive skyscrapers. We walked towards one of the masterpieces of Russian architecture, the colorful St Basil’s Cathedral and missed out on Vladimir Lenin’s Mausoleum, at the center of the square, because it was closed (closed on Mondays & Fridays). Facing the square was the largest state department store, GUM, which housed opulent fashion brands and a vintage Porsche exhibition. Under the medieval structure that was once nationalized, used as an office space and a supermarket, and temporarily used as a display of Stalin’s wife’s body, the modern department store was a classic product of capitalism.
Through the Resurrection Gate we walked towards Theater Square to observe the new and old Bolshoi theater on broad avenues and roadways. What amazed me the most about Moscow was how the city could tell you stories of its past through the various architectural styles in buildings, monuments and streets.
Much to my dismay, we couldn’t attend a concert or stay another day in Moscow because the sole purpose of this trip was to get on the train and travel east. We then headed to Yaroslavskij train Station to start our two week journey to Beijing.