It was shortly past 10 o’clock when we arrived in the Red Square. The dark sky had a blue luster from the sun just below the horizon. As we passed through the Resurrection Gate, the square unfolded in front of us. The majestic old state department store “GUM” on the left. The imposing wall of the Kremlin to the right. And straight ahead the brightly colored illuminated onion domes of St. Basil’s cathedral. We were really in Moscow.
Following a stroll around the square to take it all in, we tried our first sample of Moscow’s cuisine. Expecting it to be similar to the plain Polish cuisine we were pleasantly surprised with a pair of tasty dishes. I had a home roast which consisted of beef, potatoes, onions covered in a creamy sauce served in a small ceramic pot.
Sunday we hit the tourist circuit starting with St. Basil’s cathedral and then the Kremlin. We found it odd that a place representing such political power was dominated by churches and chapels — especially since religion has been illegal for most of the last 100 years. I pondered if that was by design to “distract” the tourist what really goes on there. K suggested that it is by calling on religion that leaders often justify they power. Or perhaps it is just that the churches are the only parts that aren’t “classified”.
Just outside the Kremlin is Alexander Gardens a refreshing and well-enjoyed patch of green among the urban jungle. In the middle of the park an army band played and locals from 7 to 70 gathered around to listen and dance. Observing monuments for World War II reminded us that many of Russia’s brave young men met the same fate as ours defending their country from Nazi Germany. In fact it must have been frightening with the Germans made it to the edge of Moscow before being.
Oddly enough we discovered that sushi and Japanese food are wildly popular in Moscow. Any restaurant worth anything serves sushi. We tried a place near Alexander Gardens for a good dinner. Just as Americans have their own version of Chinese food Muscovites have their own take on sushi — such as dessert sushi. You would never see chocolate sushi in Japan!
While this was a holiday trip for me, it was a business trip for K. So Monday morning we split up as K headed to work and I flew solo as a tourist which was a first. But we both had our own unique experiences getting to know the locals. In our next two posts we’ll each bring you our experience and perspective.
(Also stay tuned for the post on the second half of our trip to Istanbul)