Moscow was our first serious foray into a place where people speak Russian and therefore an exciting point in the trip for both of us. Sean would get to practice his Russian out in the “real world” and I was the “guide” into the Russian-speaking world.

Moscow is a beautiful city, one of the world’s largest, dating back over 800 years ago. It is a very lively city, with an astounding amount of things to do. Moscow has an endless amount of museums, very commanding and handsome architecture, and a surprising number of places in the city are interspersed with trees or little gardens. Moscow is where my mom grew up and where my dad studied, and has always dazzled me with how big and grand it is.

The Sights

The best part of being in Moscow was walking along the streets and looking at the many beautiful buildings, that tend to be very well-maintained. The images of these places speak for themselves.

We were joined by my friend Misha on our first day and we started our tour of Moscow with the infamous Red Square and St. Basil’s Cathedral.

Then, we wandered into “GUM”. It is an expensive mall featuring very fancy stores, but it is lots of fun to walk through as a pretty “museum”. There were big posters that said, “Yey! Summer Vacation!” and lots of activities for kids to participate in.

We walked through the expansive and gorgeous Gorky Park as well as along the Moskva River.

In the Park of Arts (Парк Искусств), we got to see statues and monuments from the Soviet-era and contemporary art. It’s a very weird and unique experience to walk through a beautiful park and have statues all around you.

We walked through Old Arbat Street (Старый Арбат), one of the oldest streets in Moscow, dating back over 500 years. To our unending amusement, some of the beautiful old buildings are now occupied with famous American brands, written out in the Russian alphabet, like

Dunkin Donuts

and Cinnabon.

We visited the Tretyakovka Gallery and saw many beautiful paintings. Many famous Russian paintings are housed there (Boyarina Morozova, Girl with Peaches, Bogatyrs), including Morning in the Pine Forest which you can see both in the Gallery and on the wrapper of one of Russia’s most popular candies (Мишки).

Morning in the Pine Forest

On our last day, we took a boat ride along Moskva River with my friend Misha and he gave us a running commentary on what we were seeing.

Following the boat ride, we headed up to see one last sight: VDNKh (ВДНХ). VDNKh has held a myriad of things throughout history, including an exhibition center, a central place for trade, museums, and an amusement park. Currently, it serves as a beautiful spot with many pavilions with beautiful fountains and stately architecture. Here are a couple photos we took from our walk there.

Unexpected Fun Activities

Times and Epochs Festival

One day, after a quick stop at Starbucks, we walked over to Tverskoy Boulevard. Tverskoy Boulevard is one of the most famous boulevards in Moscow, and provides a nice tree-lined boulevard to walk along, in one of the most central parts of Moscow. As we walked over to Tverskoy Boulevard, we saw people dressed in strange, old-timey costumes, and old weapons that looked like they may have been from World War I or II. Intrigued and confused, we started wandering down the boulevard and continued to see more and more exciting things. Eventually, we realized that Moscow was hosting the Times and Epochs Festival, and Tverskoy Boulevard was just one of dozens of locations around Moscow that had activities as part of the festival. On Tverskoy Boulevard we saw many people that were dressed in costumes, some from the 1800s, others from the early-to-mid 1900s. We saw a stunning photo exhibition, which took contemporary, famous Russian personalities (actors, journalists, singers, etc.) and pictured them in moving scenes depicting World War II (a war in which Russia lost over 20 million people, according to some estimates). We saw bird-handlers showing off owls and falcons; we walked by people waiting in line to shoot bows and arrows. There were people play jousting and some playing gypsy music and dancing. It was exciting and a very unique experience.

Mikhail Zhvanetsky Concert

Я получила морe удовольствия на концерте Жванецкого. Публика его очень любит и он, в ответ, относится к ней с огромным уважением. Было очень приятно слушать его юмористические наблюдения про жизнь. Еще мне было очень приятно то, что когда я покупала билет на концерт, кассирша даже не заподозрила, что я иностранка, хотя я ни дня не жила в России.

Bonus Material

In general, we avoided places where we had to get visas ahead of time to visit, but in this case, Sean had to get a visa to visit Russia, which was something we quickly organized in the middle of the trip. The benefit of this was that we got to see Sean’s name written out in Russian: Снайдер Шон Майкл.