MOSCOW - RUSSIA: Follow The Moskva down to Gorky Park
Updated: Oct 9, 2021
Well guys, I don't really know from which point to begin and where to stop writing about Moscow. It was a long delayed wish of mine to travel to Russia, especially Moscow. So much history and myths, so much pride, rich architecture, art, music, food, colors and of course, the fascinating temperament of Russian people. Who might seem a bit strict at the beginning, but once you start talking to people, you might be surprised by how polite and pleasant they are. We had some very interesting conversations with locals who we came across.
Me and my friends Dena, Koula and Andreas, at the beginning of 2018, decided that we should travel to Russia. Five days in Moscow and five in St. Petersburg. We did our homework, booked the tickets and in August 2018 our journey began. I don't claim to be super experienced, but I will write down my experiences and thoughts of this lovely journey we had in Moscow. So let's get right into it. Where should you go, how much money will you need, when should you go etc.
Season - Summer
Well, you know that Russia is a cold country, in general. Moscow is not that much in relation to eastern areas of Russia but still, the most comfortable weather to walk and explore, is during summer. We did it during August and it was very pleasant and everything ran smoothly. It was crowded sometimes I will admit, but it was easy to move around, not worrying about cold, rain or snow. I guess each season has its advantages and beauties, but since we wanted to explore and enjoy as much as we could in 5 days, we chose summer.
Money & Staying
In my understanding, staying in Moscow gets cheaper, as further from the city center you stay. Not meaning that the quality of your stay will be compromised. That's just the way it is. Now, don't worry about transportation because Moscow Metro is one of the most amazing, user friendly, high quality systems in the world (if not the best). So, if you are on a tight budget, don't worry, just pick a hotel a bit far from the city center and use the closest metro station (where you can find everywhere). We stayed at Hotel Katyusha (which I suggest), that was 10 minutes walking distance from the VDNH metro station, where you can go anywhere you want from. VDNH metro station is also next to VDNH Park which is a definite must.
I summarized some of the ‘’important’’ places we visited and the things we did and the places to eat and drink. Of course, those are just my opinions according to my taste & likes and our strict 🙄 time schedule. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to comment below, cause we are definitely traveling back some time (maybe soon) and any suggestion is more than welcome!
EAT & DRINK
Now, about the food and drinks , I'm not the kind of person that I get into details about them and also our trip was two and a half years ago, long before my website came to life. So I don't want to make a description of foods I tasted that long ago. That said, I will not be getting into details, but i prepared a small list of places we tried and we really enjoyed.
Food & Drink Trucks in Gorky Park
Tap & Barrel Pub
Cuba Libre bar
Burger Heroes Food Truck
Teremok fast food chain (very good for fast food)
Visit and Do
‘’Follow the Moskva , Down to Gorky Park, Listening to the wind of change’’. What a beautiful place to wander and get lost. Gorky Park opened in 1928 and since then, thousands of Muscovites visit it every day. It covers an area of 300 acres. There is always something going on, either an organised event, either young people working out, playing ball, friends and couples walking around enjoying the fountains and the mesmerizing Moskva river. Now listen to this, within Gorky Park you can find a museum, Monuments, gardens, ponds, cafes, food trucks etc.
That being said, it's obvious that you can spend your whole day there, without feeling remorse that you wasted time on your trip. I suggest that you combine your visit to Gorky park with a river cruise to the Moskva river. In front of the park you can find piers with different boats and a variety of routes from one to three and a half hour tours. We enjoyed a 2 hour route and it was delightful!
Kremlin Fortress and Red Square.
The Kremlin and the Red square might be the most touristy places in all Russia. Not for no reason, in my opinion. The whole area is filled with so much history and beauty. I can still remember the moment we walked up the stairs of the Metro and saw the monument of Marshal Zhukov and the monumental building of the State Historical Museum with its deep red color and the flawless architectural details. That prepares you for of what is coming next, because while you are walking next to the State Museum, you enter the Red Square and the Kremlin Fortress wall appears on your sight.
The Kremlin is a fortified complex in the heart of Moscow. Moskva River it’s on its south, Saint Basil's Cathedral and Red Square to the east and the Alexander Garden to the west. Around the Kremlin walls you can visit Lenin's Mausoleum, Alexander Garden and one and only St. Basil's Cathedral.
Within the Kremlin fort you can see the Armoury Chamber museum, the Assumption Cathedral (Dormition Cathedral), The Cathedral of the Annunciation and the Cathedral of the Archangel, Ivan the Great Bell Tower. All the above, apart from their content and historic significance, are absolute architectural wonders and an overwhelming sight. I was so surprised by how well preserved all the structures are and you get a feeling that you are entering into another century.
To enter the Kremlin fort, there are various ticket options depending on which buildings you will enter, so make sure to make a small schedule beforehand. Find everything you need about it here. (since we are still in covid-19 period there are no ticket info right now)
Museum of Cosmonautics
On Oct. 4 of 1957, the Soviets launched the first artificial satellite - Sputnik 1, into space. Four years later on April 12, 1961, Russian Lt. Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit Earth in Vostok 1. From then on continued to evolve and race with the U.S to conquer more of the space. So, would you like me to say more before you decide to visit this museum? :)
Have in mind that the museum is next to the VDNH park entrance, so you might wanna arrange your schedule accordingly, to visit both if you like. (More Details about VDNH bellow)
‘’Museum exposition gives a retrospect on how Soviet space science evolved starting from first man-made satellites subsequently followed by the first manned space flight, first space walks, Moon exploration programs, Solar system exploration programs and international space research programs.’’ click here for more info, from the official website.
I believe that every single person on this planet must be educated about the world wars. The second world war changed and shaped our planet in so many aspects. The fact that we speak freely, write freely, express ourselves, coexist without fear of our race and religion is an outcome of the winning of the allied forces. The role of the Soviet Union was major. A lot historians believe winning Hitler and the Nazis couldn't be achieved without the Soviet Union Army. The Victory museum is a memorial complex which serves to eternize memory of Soviet people valour, heroism and courage during the Great Patriotic War (as it is called by Russians).
It’s a huge museum, well organized, with tons of informative material, museum items and military equipment used during the war, dioramas, galleries and virtual excursion. I found this experience very eye opening and even moving and upsetting sometimes and I'm glad we didn’t skip it over something else. Find the museums location here.
Info: Have in mind that the area just before the entrance of the Museum is full with monuments that might interest you, so conclude that on your schedule.
VDNH Park - Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy
‘’The Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy is the largest exposition, museum and recreational complex in the world, one of the most popular public spaces of the capital city of Russia. Each year, it is visited by about 25 million people. The Exhibition was opened on 1 August 1939.’’ From the official website here.
The decision to build the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition (VSHV), was made in 1935. Today, the ‘’exhibition, museum and recreational complex’’ consists of Pavilions which are outstanding architectural masterpieces, Soviet era monuments, fountains, an amusement park, a Cosmonautics museum, a rocket for goodness sake and even a Buran spaceсraft, a super Oceanarium. Some Pavilions are dedicated to ex soviet republic countries. This thing is so huge, that there are three thematic routes described on the official website. It might be the largest exhibition, museum and recreation complex in the world.
I could write about this for a whole day, so check the official website and find out more if you want, but most importantly if you are in Moscow give it a visit and make sure you have plenty of time.
Floating Bridge (Zaryadye Park)
We discovered the floating bridge by accident. We didn't know about it, as it was new I suppose. It is within Zaryadye Park and stretches out and floats above Moskva River. It offers nice views of the Red Square, the Kremlin and off course the Moskva River. Now the Park offers various amazing things apart from its natural beauties. Underground Archaeology Museum, Ice cave, Concert Hall, Great Amphitheater and a media center with cinema halls, multimedia room etc. Most of those were not ready so I’m just mentioning them for you to check them online and decide yourselves.
The open amphitheater though was functional and a beautiful event was taking place during our visit. Many lovely elderly couples were dancing to the sounds of an orchestra and hundreds of people enjoying the spectacle from the amphitheater. Imagine what a pleasant surprise it was , when we accidentally came across that image. I instantly thought about my grandparents and imagined them dancing over there.
The Moscow subway is considered as the most beautiful in the world. 44 of the 200 stations are listed as cultural heritage sites. Every station we used was more beautiful than the last one. You just can't pick your favorite. There are tenths of statues, monuments, stained-glass panels, granite and marble walls with themes, dedications to writers and poets. IT IS AMAZING. There are even paid guide tours for visitors to explore the metro to its fullest.
If you live far from the city center, do not worry. Just drop by your nearest metro station , get in and until you reach your destination, make as many stops as you can. Just try this and you will remember me. There are various ticketing options (click here) with fair prices. We chose an option of the three days ticket by metro, monorail, ground transport etc , which costs approximately €5. You can use the ''yandex.metro'' app on you mobile phone, to find the appropriate routes to use.
- During World War II airstrikes , the Moscow subway became a shelter during bombing. Half a million people found shelter underground.
- Rasskazovka Metro Station is dedicated to writers and poets and among others there are displays of QR codes, allowing passengers to download books for their journey.
Free walking tour
I left this last, but it is the first thing I suggest that you do. THIS IS MY TOP TIP.
Free Walking tour! Where? Click here for more info.
There are a couple of options for free walking tours. On our first day to Moscow we tried this tour option (click here), which included the Kremlin and red square - which I mentioned above and even more. It was a 2,5 hour walk with a young local guide with a small group of people, that pretty much gave us a generic understanding of the city. Even if you don’t want to plan a thing before you visit Moscow, you can take a free walking tour like this.
During and after the process, you will know what you want to see & explore in Moscow. Our guide was very polite, helpful and after the tour, she answered all our questions and gave us the best information about the city sights, the local food etc. On the free tour guides like this one, It is customary to leave some money if you want to the young local guides, as they do this voluntarily. We did that with pleasure and I REALLY REALLY HOPE you do this too.
That's it guys. That was my experience in Moscow. I’m glad that I finally wrote this post and shared my experiences with you. Moscow is one of the cities that I will be travelling back to, even for a weekend experience. There was so much to see and experience and 5 days weren't enough. I also met some locals that claim that even though winter is very cold and it is difficult to wander around, the scenery has a unique beauty and different kind of vibe. I am thinking about it and i’m still not sure about the season, but surely I can’t wait to visit Moscow again.
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Until the next post .. Cheers!