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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.