Moscow: Hello Again My Commie Friend

Trip Start Dec 12, 2010
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Trip End Dec 16, 2012


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Flag of Russia  , Central Russia,
Sunday, March 3, 2013

As children we remember seeing the famous Red Square and Saint Basil's Cathedral on the news. It was a place that was so far away from the Western world, so taboo to travel to, so communist. Well, as times changed and Russia came out of the Soviet era, the Red Square starting appearing in the media through television shows, movies, and travel channels etc. So when we arrived in Moscow for the second time on our world journey, as soon as we laid eyes on the iconic Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square, we found ourselves saying 'Hello again my commie friend’.


Back in the day, Moscow was the powerhouse in the communist world. Today it is seen as a big, fast paced city that isn’t as good as it’s sister city, St Petersburg. But for us, we found Moscow an interesting city, with heaps to see and do, and yes we were glad to be back. This time we were here at the end of winter, in sub-zero temperatures, which was a big difference from the high 30 degree temperatures that we experienced on our last visit. But apart from the weather, there was still a lot to explore in Moscow, so we were off, ready to say ‘Hello again my commie friend’.


What lured us back to Russia in the first place was its history. So we headed to Moscow’s Gulag museum, where we traced the traumatic steps of prisoners in gulags (prison death camps) that were up and running from the 1930’s onwards. We read about the rising to power of Lenin and Stallin, and all we could do was shake our heads at the horror that hundreds of thousands of Soviet citizens suffered under their extreme soviet regimes.


Being back in Moscow was great as we got to go back and visit museums that we didn’t manage to get to last time. Apart from the Gulag Museum, we strolled through the impressive red brick building in the Red Square that is home to the State History Museum.


It was also great saying ‘Hello again my commie friend’ as we revisited parts of Moscow that were iconically soviet. We strolled through the Fallen Monuments Park, which this time was covered in snow. And we browsed through the awesome market that has so many soviet souvenirs, it is hard not to find what you are after. Shaun finally purchased his soviet military hat, along with soviet propaganda posters, and signs in cryllic.


Our visit to Moscow wasn’t just about sight seeing, it was actually more about leisure. We dined in an old soviet style restaurant, and went ice skating in Gorky Park, which apparently is one of the best places to ice skate in the world. Last time we were in Moscow, it was summer, and Gorky Park was green and full of locals enjoying the sun. This time, the walkways were transformed into a maze made for ice skaters of all ages, enjoying this winter sport. We had a go, and no we didn’t fall over. That’s pretty good considering Karen had only ice skated about five times in her life, and Shaun hadn’t done it in years. Yes, this time in Moscow was more about leisurely fun!.


That brought us to our last afternoon in Moscow and it was about leisure, well actually drinking vodka type leisure. We joined a free tour of famous Moscow vodka bars. With a group of about 20 people, a couple of guides and a tv crew, we headed to our first vodka bar. We were given a free shot of vodka before the owner pretty much kicked us out. Next we went to a new hip vodka bar, and the free vodka shots turned into BYO, but it was still good to be shown the best bars in Moscow. Our last vodka bar had the saying ‘Hello again my commie friend’. We were lead into a real ‘underground’ vodka bar straight from the communist times. The locals in this bar were not at all friendly towards us, and the smell of the place was like something died back before the Iron Curtain was brought down. The angry chain smoking locals added to the commie vibe of the bar, but the vodka and beer was cheap. As for the vodka bars tour, that day in Moscow, we definitely saw the good, the bad, and the ugly. At least they all had vodka.


As we made our journey to Moscow’s Domodedovo airport, we were sad to be leaving Moscow and Russia, but we were certainly glad we paid this interesting, vast, and ever changing country a visit. And for Moscow it was definitely worth coming back to say, ‘Hello again my commie friend’. Maybe one day, we may say it again!
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