Having visitors is the perfect excuse to be a tourist in your own city. With my parents in town for a week, I made great headway on my Moscow bucket list and learned a lot more about this country I now call home.
I arranged a Kremlin tour in English and off we went for a full four hours. Lidia, our extremely kind and knowledgeable guide, gave us a real run for our money. Helping to timeline all of those World History classes (Were Catherine and Peter the Great related? When did the Romanovs first come to power?), she wove us through the wealth of Russian history inside the Kremlin walls.
Much less intimidating inside than the exterior lets on, the Kremlin grounds contain a number of incredibly ornate Orthodox churches, multiple museums, and other government buildings including the Senate Building (constructed in 1776…). With our heads full and spinning, it was time to enjoy another of Moscow’s delights – the gourmand scene.
Starting at Strelka Bar, one of my personal favorites, we enjoyed plates of cheese, pickles, mushrooms, and other Russian delights. Seafood is prized here, despite Moscow’s inland location, and the port of St. Petersburg plays a pivotal role in Moscow’s foodie scene.
Reservations are key – it’s the first question you’ve asked upon arrival in any restaurant. Most allow you to reserve online through English translation. Little kindnesses await – from locals on the train who volunteer their knowledge of local spots to doting waiters.
We took advantage of Moscow’s culinary delights all over town with dinners at White Rabbit, Jaime’s Italian, and LavkaLavka – a farm-to-table spot dedicated to clean eating.
While the weather proved challenging (it snowed on May 11) and remained chilly throughout the visit, we certainly made the most of it.
Taking in my first ballet on the Bolshoi Theatre’s New Stage proved every bit as magical as advertised. I’m looking forward to my next visit already.
My parents also had the chance to observe the country displaying all its military might. May 9 marks Victory Day here in Russia. Celebrating the end of the Great Patriotic War (known as World War II in the US), the holiday is a very big deal here in Moscow. A huge parade takes place on the day itself, preceded by weeks of traffic jams due to parade practice road closures.
From jet flyovers to the debut of the new Arctic ATVs, Victory Day is intense. The whole event is full of pride and military regalia, made clear as we sat watching the events in Red Square online.
One of the cooler activities of the day is the Immortal Regiment March, a relatively new tradition in which the people gather to commemorate those who served in the war. In Gorky Park, near my house, the parade ends with surviving members holding their various regiment numbers aloft, allowing descendants of their brothers-in-arms to locate them and pay their respects.
Clearly we packed a lot into our time together in Moscow. But perhaps the highlight of the whole visit was yet to come with a weekend visit to St. Petersburg. Stay tuned for tales from the Venice of the North 🙂