Days 4-8: How Russia stole my heart (Part 2)

Hello from Vilnius, Lithuania! We just crossed the border from Belarus a couple of hours ago. I’ll have those details, along with our travels in Minsk, soon. In the meantime, as promised, here are some highlights from our short stay in Moscow. Three nights is hardly enough in this city.

While we were in St. Petersburg, I was convinced I wanted to stay there forever. It was so beautiful. All those grand buildings and canals make you feel like you’ve stepped into a postcard. But Moscow — now that’s a city that makes you feel alive!

Just one example of the a Moscow Metro station.
Just one example of the a Moscow Metro station.
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You can find Lenin immortalized all over the place, but when it comes to Stalin, there’s only one mosaic.

The Moscow Metro is a sightseeing must in itself. Coming from Toronto, I’m not easily impressed with subway systems. I associate them with dark, dirty, rat infested tunnels perpetually filled with that mysterious warm breeze. (Ever notice how every subway system smells exactly the same? Always that weird warm stale metallic smell…) But not so in Moscow! Each platform is different, some with stained glass, others with mosaics or statues, and nearly all of them are lit up with chandeliers!

So clean and bright! Every platform demands to be photographed.
So clean and bright! Every platform demands to be photographed.

But of course we didn’t come to Moscow just for the Metro. At the top of my list of must-sees was St. Basil’s Cathedral. If this doesn’t scream Moscow, I don’t know what does.

So beautiful, even -- nay, ESPECIALLY -- by night.
So beautiful, even — nay, ESPECIALLY — by night.

Right across from St. Basil’s is the famous GUM (pronounced “goom”) mall. It’s basically the Harrods of Moscow — ridiculously expensive but fun for window shopping.

GUM looks more like a train station than a mall from the inside.
GUM looks more like a train station than a mall from the inside.

What trip to Moscow would be complete without a visit to the Kremlin? Funny enough, I used to think the Kremlin was a single building, kind of like Parliament Hill in Ottawa. It’s actually an entire inner walled city.

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Kremlin actually means “fortress.” So it includes everything inside that red brick wall.
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I never knew there were so many churches inside the Kremlin walls, each with those iconic domes. The one on the right is called a helmet dome, the style that precedes the famous onion variety.
Of course I had to take Puny Putin to his office.
Of course I had to take Puny Putin to his office.
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The star on top of the tower is actually on a ball, so it can turn depending on whatever direction the wind happens to be blowing.
This is the building I associate with the Kremlin. It's where state leaders meet with Putin when they come to Moscow.
This is the building I associate with the Kremlin. It’s where state leaders meet with Putin when they come to Moscow.

Everyone knows St. Basil’s Cathedral and the Kremlin, but here’s an attraction I had never heard of before this trip. It is definitely worth seeing.

The Panorama Museum features a 360-degree painting, depicting the Borodino Battle between Russia and Napoleon's France in 1812.
The Panorama Museum features a 360-degree painting, depicting the Borodino Battle between Russia and Napoleon’s France in 1812.
The foreground blends so seamlessly that it's hard to tell where the painting begins.
The foreground blends so seamlessly that it’s hard to tell where the painting begins.

I used to think Moscow was something to check off the bucket list, but from the minute I set foot in the city, I knew I’d have to be back. So much about this city fascinates me. I can’t imagine going the rest of my life without ever returning. Moscow, you have complete and utterly won me over. We shall meet again!

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