Exploring Moscow…The Kremlin

The Kremlin Palace

The Kremlin Palace grounds

After a wonderful night’s sleep in our hotel beds and a yummy buffet breakfast in the hotel restaurant, we met the guide I had hired for a half-day tour of the Kremlin. Natalie walked us over to the nearest Metro station. Moscow’s metro is one of the best subway systems in the world. You can get to within easy walking distance of almost anywhere in the city and each ride is only about a buck. The metro was one of the few bargains we found in what is one of the most expensive cities in the world.

Moscow metro station

Moscow metro station

The only problem with navigating the Moscow metro is there are no English translations for anything – all the stops are in Cyrillic – so it can be a challenge when you first try to get around. I’d recommend that you get a metro map in Cyrillic. Once you get used to the maps and metro stations, it works great.

Artwork in one Moscow metro station

Artwork in one Moscow metro station

In addition to being convenient, the metro stations are works of art and have to be seen! We’ve even heard of city tours that stop in several of the more impressive stations. Each station has a decorative theme.

Government offices (where the President of the Russian Federation, Mr. Medvedev goes to work)

Government offices (where the President of the Russian Federation, Mr. Medvedev goes to work)

Upon arrival at a metro station near the Kremlin, we followed our guide through the main gates of the Kremlin Palace complex and into the Armoury Museum. The Armory is home to Moscow’s oldest and most prestigious museum which contains a staggering collection of Tsarist artifacts (including several Fabergé eggs), Russian and foreign jewelry, coronation robes and other clothing, and even equestrian-related artifacts, including a fleet of carriages and coaches used to carry the Tsars and their families. I highly recommend hiring a tour guide for the Armoury – they are very knowledgeable and can help you make your way through the overwhelming collection of artifacts in an orderly fashion. They speak great English as well.

Cathedral of the Annunciation in Kremlin Palace

Cathedral of the Annunciation in Kremlin Palace

After touring the Armoury, we explored the Kremlin grounds including a visit inside the spectacular, gold-domed cathedrals, once the personal churches of the tsars and final resting places of Russian rulers.  The Kremlin grounds are beautiful. Because this Sunday was a big celebration day in Moscow, Red Square was packed with crowds. We decided to return the next day to explore Red Square and the grounds just outside the Kremlin walls.

Moscow flea market

Moscow flea market

After the tour, some of us decided to get back on the Metro and look for the Moscow Flea Market. We enjoyed a nice lunch at a local bar and then wandered around until we found the flea market – just the place every tourist needs to explore! The flea market had an odd, dilapidated “Disney World” look to it from the outside. Inside, it looked just like you would expect a flea market to look and included all the usual tourist traps and bartering! We spent a better part of the afternoon shopping for souvenirs. They had everything from nested matryoshka dolls to watercolor paintings of city sites, authentic and fake military regalia, amber jewelry, and t-shirts. It wasn’t long before our feet were starting to get tired. So, we hopped back on the Metro and headed back to the hotel.

Roger's fabulous flea market find!

Roger's fabulous flea market find!

The hotel was located is a fairly quiet area of town and didn’t have a lot of dining opportunities nearby. We checked with the hotel desk and they recommended a nearby Uzbeki restaurant. The decor was awesome and the food was pretty good as well. Then it was time to hit the sack – we were feeling quite a lot of jet lag with the 9 hour difference between Kamchatka and Moscow.

Does Mike look authentic?

Does Mike look authentic?

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About Mike

I have a passion for adventure travel that began in 1989 with my first overseas trip: climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Having never been to a foreign country, Africa felt like being on another planet; I knew then and there I was hooked on travel. Since that time, I have visited all seven continents and dozens of countries. I’m using the experience I’ve gained in planning my own trips to help my clients plan their own adventures through my adventure travel company (http://www.offtrailtravel.com). After working as a firefighter for the US Forest Service in California and Wyoming for three years, I moved to Durango, Colorado where I graduated from Fort Lewis College with a degree in accounting. After graduation I moved to the Denver area where I worked in a Big Eight accounting firm to obtain my CPA license; soon afterward I began a career as an auditor with the Colorado Department of Education. My background in accounting helped me develop detailed-oriented skills that have been extremely useful in researching and planning my own travel over the years. I think this provides a unique asset to my clients in putting together their adventure travel plans. I currently live in Golden, Colorado with my wife Valerie, who shares my love of adventure travel. I’m an active member of the Colorado Mountain Club where I lead trips for club members and have taught ski lessons in their Telemark Ski School. I enjoy skiing, mountain hiking, trail running, photography, and astronomy. I take any opportunity I can get to explore new places, whether it’s on the other side of the world or just down the road.
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