Russia – May 2016

IMG_2727[1]Well Folks! I did it, I can officially say that I have been to Russia. I just spent 12 amazing days traveling through Moscow and St. Petersburg. While there are too many stories to recount and countless museums and sights I saw, it is my wish to share the highlights.

russia 5To begin, my experience in Moscow, Russia was made wonderful after having contacted Moscow free tours where I had the great fortune of doing FOUR tours with them. From the start and through each tour, I was guided by Marina and what a treat she was. Not only did she take time to stop and explain things, but also regaled us with funny stories as well as personal stories from her own life. Thank you to her for making this part of the trip memorable.

russia 2One highlight of course was exploring the AMAZING metro stations which Moscow and St. Petersburg are known for. I visited a total of 12 between the cities and will be posting a PAGE on my opinion of the various stations and the ones I loved. If you ever find yourself in one or both these cities, please take the time to explore a few of their stations.

Of course, no visit to Moscow would be complete without a visit to the Kremlin. Inside the Kremlin I elected to visit the Armory Museum where the world famous FABERGE EGGS are located, atleast the one in their collection. Now, to see them you MUST travel to Moscow since they almost NEVER leave the country. As a side kick, since photos are NOT allowed inside, I did sneak in a video and you can can view it here, but do NOT tell Valimir Putin…

My ACCOMMODATIONS for this trip were a mixture of Hostels and one Hotel. I stayed at the Kremlin Lights hostel and besides the location, it was just average. But, in St. Petersburg I stayed at the amazing and super fabulous Soul Kitchen Hostel. The ladies who work there were amazing. I would like to mention by name Maria and Yana, who made this part of the trip for me so amazing! But while in Moscow I did want to experience one of the Stalinist buildings and what better way to do it than to stay in one that is a hotel.
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I searched online and found the HILTON MOSCOW LENINGRADSKAYA. This was a PERFECT choice as it was literally right down the street from the main train station, it allowed me to explore another area of Moscow AND it was so amazing to see and fell the Stalinist buildings up close and personal. In fact, I think it may be HAUNTED by a ghost and have decided to do a blog on the Super Stellar Stalinist Skyscrapers where you can read for further information and pictures.

IMG_1644[1]So, like most tourists, I did take the Red_Arrow_Night Train. While the journey was bumpy, the 8 hour or so journey was over before I knew it. The accommodations were very COMFORTABLE, you were given ample Vodka (which I did not drink) and given fresh linen that makes for a good nights sleep.

Not to mention, the amazing breakfast they served in the morning and being a vegetarian didn’t prove to be an issue. I let them know in advance and their pancakes were just what was needed to start the next part of the trip.IMG_1657[1]

IMG_1689[1]Once in St. Petersburg my legs were off to the races for what came on to be 6 days PACKED with things to do. It all started when I was warmly greeted by Eugenia from the fantastic and very professional tour company Smart Free Tour Company in St. Petersburg Russia. She was AMAZING. Not only did she share w/ me fun facts and stories about the City but she also shared w/ me her passion for literature and the love she has for her city. Thank you to her for a wonderful beginning to this part of the trip.

IMG_1708[1]And just like in Moscow, St. Petersburg has their share of wonderful and amazing Metro Stations to visit. I did the Subway Tourwhere again my guide was Eugenia and it was amazing. She was thorough and very sensitive to the noise of the metro using a microphone. And also answered all my questions including sharing stories from her Childhood. I will remain greatful to her for making my welcome to St. Petersburg so welcoming!!!

IMG_2681[1]But of all the tourist things to do and the must sees and all the surprises, the biggest surprise was the Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines where you get tokens from the Soviet Era and are able to actually play the machines and YES FOLKS, this place is RIGHT DOWN the street from the famous Church on Spilled Blood. To read more about this, click here for my PAGE on it.

And the other amazing surprise for the day was when I visisted the IMG_2624[1]Fabergé Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia where the museum is just awesome. Not only is the building itself amazing by the way the layout and presentation of the pieces in the collection goes, it is AMAZING. Since there is so much to say about this museum, click here for the PAGE to read more. Enjoy!

So, as an overall experience, I must tell you that anyone and everyone should try to go to this country once during this life time. Keep in mind, the time that I went it was a conversion rate of almost 70 RUS Rubles to 1 USD and folks, that went far for me.

IMG_1441[1]But of course, no mention of this amazing trip would be complete, at least for me, without the mentioning of the amazing afternoon I spent at the Novodevichy Convent and Cemetery. Both places, right next to eachother were such a treat and since I have so much to say about the Cemetery, you can click for the CREEP COOL CEMETERY BLOG and read further.

IMG_2306[1]In addition to all the wonderful things I saw, of course I did make an extra effort one day and I did got to Peterhof. And WOW what an amazing sight this was. Not only did the Palace itself leave me in awe and of COURSE the famous FOUNTAINS, but the landscape around the palace grounds made for a wonderful afternoon on my visit. I managed to make a few videos of my visit along w/ some photos. I created these two Blog 1 and Blog 2 for further reading.

I will be posting more details as time allows And again, as my motto goes, and as you can see, “Ordinary People can and should travel to EXTRA ORDINARY Places!!!”…

Globetrotter Chris upon returning from Russia!

Ordinary people can travel to extra ordinary places