The flight to Moscow wasn’t a particularly early one, though we were told to get there 3 hours before the flight, despite it technically being a domestic flight. As we checked out of the hotel they gave us the packed-breakfast we’d asked for and it was pretty much the same as the one we’d had from them a few days previous.
As expected, we arrived at the airport too early to check-in so had to wait around for 40 minutes until we could. When I entered I had to empty part of my suitcase as they thought that my shower gel and electric toothbrush together looked a bit suspicious. The business class line was really slow though as it was taking them on average around 10 minutes to process each person. When I got to the front the lady behind the desk pointed at the business class sign and said this is for business class customers only – which I was! I guess they don’t expect someone in shorts.
Getting through security was then pretty quick and we had about an hour to wait until boarding would begin. Unlike the previous business class flight we didn’t get a separate vehicle for transferring us to the aircraft. Once it left the gate it then taxied down the runway before turning around at the end at taking off – something you wouldn’t see at busier airports as they need to clear the runway as quickly as possible. Once again we got a meal on the flight with proper cutlery and some fairly “posh” food.
We landed in Moscow at 12:50 local time, but it still took 20 minutes for us to collect our luggage, which was followed with a 1hr15 drive to the city where we then encountered a 45 minute queue to get passed the Kremlin. Apparently the traffic was due to a VIP arrival which was holding up traffic due to closed roads.
The Metropol hotel is where we’d be staying the next couple of nights and looks incredibly decorative inside – it has even had famous guests such as Steven Seagal, Sylvester Stallone, and the late Michael Jackson. I didn’t stay long though and soon headed out in search of the Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics.
I’d got my phone giving me rough directions to the best metro station to get and we made good progress there, even though it was raining. This however soon had a disastrous consequences – going down the stairs in the metro station I slipped and twisted my ankle with a loud clicking sound. At first I was concerned I’d broken it, but after the initial shock I was able to limp to the underground carriage with some effort. The metro ticket only cost 50 roubles per trip so was far cheaper than travelling in the UK and the trains are more frequent too. It then took around 15 minutes to reach the stop we needed and headed out into what was now sunshine.
The Space Museum was really easy to find – as we walked out of the metro station the other end we could see a large memorial to the Russian Space Program. Around the back of this was the entrance to the museum. On my way to the entrance though I tried tightening my shoelaces, thinking it might give my ankle more support, but this back-fired when the laces snapped. When I eventually limped to the entrance it cost 250 roubles to enter, and then another 230 roubles to be allowed photography (without flash).
Even with me hobbling around on my bad ankle we got halfway around the museum pretty quickly and then paused to have some lunch in the cafe there. I went for a double hamburger, which was incredibly greasy and took around 25 minutes to arrive – so couldn’t really count it as fast food though. It felt like the cafe was there to cater for Americans based on the decor and the contents of the menu.
The things to see in the museum were a mixture of genuine and mock-ups, though not all the mock-ups were 1:1 scale. It was definitely worth seeing, and worth the 250 roubles to enter (and the 230 roubles to take photos). In the first room it reminded me a little of the entrance to the Johnson Space Center – it has a large focal point to the room and is then surrounded by smaller exhibits, which in this case includes a Vostok descent capsule.
By the time we left the museum it was almost 16:30 which meant we could potentially get back across town on the metro before their rush hour. Sure enough we made it and walked almost all the way back to the hotel. To rest my ankle a little I sat outside the hotel whilst my friend rushed back in to get a different lens for his camera before we then headed over to Saint Basil’s cathedral.
The entrance for Saint Basil’s Cathedral was 350 roubles, though there wasn’t a massive amount to see inside. Once you’ve seen so many Russian Orthodox churches I feel the interiors start to feel pretty similar – if we hadn’t seen the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood in Saint Petersburg first then I might have been more impressed by the interior. The exterior though is still impressive, and is an iconic part of Moscow’s Red Square.
When visiting the cathedral and red square we had to go through a security check upon entering due to there being a large market on – this did make it more difficult to get exterior photos of the cathedral but after completely circling the building I think we took sufficient photos. As we’d now left the restricted part of Red Square we decided to have a look around the GUM to see why it had been recommended to us.
This time upon visiting GUM we didn’t need to have our bags searched – we were just waved on through. We soon realised though that there wasn’t much in there other than expensive shops. I’m not particularly keen on spending ages looking at shops, and even less so with a bad ankle that was starting to feel swollen so after about 20-30 minutes of wandering around we eventually left.
Not long after leaving GUM I spotted a souvenir shop so we headed over to have a look – I bought a model of Saint Basil’s Cathedral and a decorated egg for a total of 3000 roubles. I considered getting one of the famous Matryoshka dolls as well but these were considerably more expensive and would be at least 4000 roubles by itself.
Not far from that main shopping area we found a small restaurant down the alleyway that led to Revolution Square. The service there was incredibly slow though, and my friend’s meal was delivered cold. I went for breaded pork, which with the tip only came to 700 roubles.
Once back at the hotel I found my ankle had swollen to at least three times it’s normal size so was glad that I could finally rest it after an eventful day.