Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Moscow, Russia - Day 78-82 : Beautiful yet broken

Moscow has been such a mixed bag and in many ways reflects how beautiful yet broken Russia is.

For starters our high-rise apartment for 4 nights in Moscow turned out to be a dump. The hallways in the Soviet ear building smelled like a combination of stale dog urine and body odour exacerbated by the absence of any kind of ventilation or natural light.

We also had a frustrating time trying to sort out the Trans-Siberian train tickets. The Lonely Planet recommended travel agent (who we paid quite a premium to) hadn't added Isaac to our tickets. The agency was unapologetic and unwilling to help, which meant we had to queue up at the train station to get it sorted out ourselves. Russia's service industry - tourism, hospitality et al needs a major rehaul.

The irony is that Moscow ranks among the 3 most beautiful cities that I have ever visited. The beautiful birthday cake like Stalin-skyscrapers, the golden Church domes in the Kremlin, the polychromatic St.Basil's cathedral gives Moscow such a distinct and unique architectural identity.

We also met 2 friends of T's - Igor and Oleg, who graciously gave us the insider's tour of the city and pointed us to some beautiful parks and watering holes.

Here's a video at the Kremlin on our last day in Moscow -

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