Saturday, 14 February 2015

A week in Moscow in winter.

I remember when I was very young, at primary school, looking at a picture of a multi-coloured cathedral with candy-striped, ice cream swirl domes and thinking it was something from a fairytale. 

St Basil's, The Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed, Moscow, Red Square

When I was about 10 my dad and eldest brother went to visit St Petersburg and I brimmed with envy, loving their stories about the gallery-like metro in the land of Disney's Anastasia. This planted inside me a seed of curiosity about Russia that grew...

When I was in the sixth form at school I had a choice of "enrichment" subjects to study. So I jumped at the chance to learn beginners Russian, one of only about eight people in our year to do so, and I dedicated far too much time to memorising the Cyrillic alphabet and such useful phrases as "The postbox is on the fifth floor".

After an extremely cold, snowy holiday in Latvia about 3 years ago I declared that this was just the beginning: one day soon we will go to Moscow. And we'll go in the winter. The only problem was it was really, really expensive.

Then a few things happened: Easyjet starts flying to Moscow and the Ruble crashes. And best of all one of our best friends gets a job at the British embassy in Moscow and has a spare room. The perfect storm! I invite us to stay with and take the bold decision that we're going to go hard or go home and visit at the coldest time of the year. What's the point in going to Russia unless you're going to see people wearing loads of fur?

We stayed for a week and actually it wasn't anywhere near as cold as it could have been. It was definitely colder when we visited Latvia! But I'm not complaining, we had all the benefit of the beautiful snow and icicles without the take-your-breath-away freezing air.

We had a truly memorable time in Moscow. I loved the food, the architecture, trying to speak the language and spending time with great friends. I could write pages and pages (in fact I have in my diary) about where we went each day but I won't bore you. Unfortunately some of the most memorable things we weren't allowed to take photos of: like Lenin, inside the cathedrals and a chaotic food market. Or moments of bizarre contrast that no photos could do justice: standing at Stalin's grave whilst crazy music blasts from a carousel, feet away; watching people skate to Pet Shop Boys "Go West" under the gaze of Lenin's bust; wondering around a desterted 80s theme park, not sure what it really is....

I've tried my best to pick some of my favourite photos from the couple of hundred that I took - it was a hard task, I hope you like them!

 Cannon and churches within the Kremlin walls, Moscow
Inside the Kremlin
St Basil's, The Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed, Moscow, Red Square
St Basil's
Changing the guards at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Moscow
Changing the guards at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier
State Historical Museum, Red Square, Moscow
State Historical Museum
Golden domes of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour
Cathedral of Christ the Saviour
Ornate chandelier on the platform at Kiyevskaya metro station, Mosco
Platform at Kiyevskaya metro station
Ismailovo Kremlin, Moscow
Izmailovo Kremlin - a kind of theme park without the rides
Paintings for sale at Ismailovo Kremlin, Moscow

A bride and groom, just married at Ismailovo Kremlin, Moscow

Church and Kremlin tower, Red Square, Moscow

GUM state department store with Christmas decorations, Red Square, Moscow
GUM state department store
St Basil's cathedral and a merry-go-round at the Christmas marker, Red Square, Moscow

Church domes at Novodevichy convent
Novodevichy convent
Frost on the church windowpane

Catching huge snowflakes on my gloves

Standing in Red Square, Moscow

Steam rising and a winter sunset in Moscow

Busy traffic junction outside the Kremlin at night, Moscow

Cathedral and holy water at Sergiev Posad
Sergiev Posad
Cathedral domes at Sergiev Posad, Russia

A huge thanks to Rob for putting us up, we hope to come back soon!