Moscow, Russia – August 2014

Sain Basil's Cathedral

Saint Basil’s Cathedral

We were very fortunate to have good friends living in Moscow and decided to visit them. The visa process was not fun, but the trip was 100% worth it. The flight was a bit rough, because the only flights from Italy were red eyes. We landed in Moscow around 3:30am. We are not very functional at 3:30 in the morning, and there was no one there to give us directions on how to go through customs, so we were definitely the last two people through customs, but we managed it. Well, when we got to our friends’ place, Gorky Parkwe chatted with them for a bit and then napped for most of the day. We did manage to pull ourselves together long enough to have a relaxing afternoon stroll through Gorky Park. Gorky is an extensive park along the Moskva River. It is a great location to go rollerblading or lounge on some bean bags.

The next day we were far more rested and ready to see some sights. We headed to Red Square. Along the way, I noticed many florists and booksellers, even on the side of the street. As a book lover, I absolutely loved seeing all the bookstands and people reading on the train and in coffeehouses. When we reached the Red Square, we saw an interesting military march, I believe in preparation for a political event that was to happen a few days later. From there we walked toward the State Museum to visit Lenin’s Mausoleum. When you go to the mausoleum, you will walk along the Kremlin wall, passing tombstones of former Soviet/Russian politicians. When you enter the mausoleum, you will be walking in the dark. The officers guarding this area forbid you to use any light. Then you circle around Lenin’s preserved body. That was one of the strangest things I had ever seen, so I was happy to move away from the Kremlin.

Unfortunately, there are no performances at the Bolshoi Theater during the summer, but you can still get a tour if you book in advance, which I didn’t think to do, so we spent the afternoon at the wonderful Tretyskov Gallery. This gallery displays a large collection of stunning Russian art. One of our favorite paintings from that gallery is Ivan Aivazovsky’s Lunar Night on Capri.

Boat Ride on Moskva River

Boat Ride on Moskva River

With our friends, we took a sunset boat ride on the Moskva River. I highly recommend this as it is a great way to view so much of Moscow. Seeing the Kremlin at night with all the cathedrals lit up is just a beautiful sight.

State Museum

State Museum

Our final full day in Moscow was spent at the Kremlin. We started at the Armoury Museum, where you can view the large collection of faberge eggs. Then we moved on to the area with all the cathedrals. We saw the Archangel’s Cathedral, Annunciation Cathedral, Assumption Cathedral, the Tsar Cannon, and the Tsar Bell. Plan to spend quite a few hours viewing all these sights at the Kremlin. We had some time left in our day, so we got some food at the Moscow Gostiny Dvor. This was formally an old indoor market and is now a fashionable mall. We then decided to investigate Moscow’s underground train system a bit more. Each station is so elaborately designed with sculptures and chandeliers. Definitely take the public train system as much as possible to view these grandiose stations.

The Cathedral of the Annunciation

The Cathedral of the Annunciation

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BUDAPEST AT NIGHT (November 2015)

Buda Castle

This city is so stunning at night. No matter how cold it may be (or very windy like it was when I was there), go for a long walk along the Danube River. There is nothing like it anywhere. A walk along the Danube from the Buda Castle (pictured above), pass Matthias Church, to the Parliament building (featured below) is nothing short of magical, where all Night-bridgethe buildings are lit up.

On the walk back to the hotel, I cut through the city, walking around the Parliament building through the streets that are equally well lit. I came across this statue, which I believe is Roosevelt on a bridge (pictured on the right). It looked so real. You will find lots of other amazing statues on a walk through town. I found Ronald Reagan only a few blocks from the Parliament Building. Try not to miss walking pass St. Stephens Cathedral at night as well. Granted I got to see it with all the amazing Christmas decorations in front of it, but it would look amazing at night without that.

The nighttime views make this city one of the most romantic and spectacular of all European cities.

Parliament