We arrived in moscow on our airbaltic flight from Riga and were met at the airport by our taxi driver from the hostel in a Lada. We could only get in on one side and I didn't dare to lean on the door. We were stuck in rush hour traffic for about an hour and it started to rain (I didn't think the windscreen wipers were going to work but I was proved wrong!!
Once at the hostel (Giodzilla's) we met our guide or honcho as they are known, Natasha and the rest of our tour group. The Group were me and Wayne, Davina (English), Yvonne (Scottish), Jo (Chinese) and two Norwegian lads Svein and Horken. We decided that as we had just arrived and were starving to do our oun thing so we went out for a walk. We could not get our bearings at all and there we no English signs to guide us in the right direction! We ended up having a beer and packet of crisps at a bar in a park. All over Moscow there are people drinking in parks or while walking along the streets which seems to be the norm.
We then saw what we thought was the Kremlin so walked towards it and hey presto we arrived outside the Krelin and walked through the Red Sq to see St Basil's Cathederal - which all looked stunning at night surrounded by lights. We decided to heasd back and got completely lost for about 2.5 hours. We had two dodgy taxi drivers who had no idea where they were going but we finally arrived back safe and sound and a little bit hungry!
The next day two more English lads had joined our Group, Ben and Sam. We were up early and the whole group went off on the Metro to Victory park, which has a monument and a 2nd world war museum. The museum was pretty good but again few English explanations. As we arrived there was a ceremony going on and we heard a brass band play the National Anthem which was really good, no one clapped but I think they definitely deserved it. There was also a display at the back of the park of lots of WW2 vehicles including tanks, planes and trains.
We had lunch in a Russian cafe a set 3 course meal for about 3 quid. We then caught the metro back to the Kremlin, this time we went in to have a look around the cathederals in the first one there was 4 singing monks which was amazing and everybody clapped. There was also a special Cartier exhibition, which was fab, full of sparkly diamonds and platinum - my kind of place!!
We then walked around the Red Sq which has a shopping mall to the right with a glass dommd ceiling. In the evening we went out with the boys from the Group and had a few beers before walking in to a restraunt that was closed and managing to get a drink - which cost about 5 pound each - not a good idea.
The following day we went with the group to go in to Lenin's masoluem, but it would have taken us ages to get in so we decided against it. We then all walked to Christ the Saviour cathderal which was stunning with golden domes. We then went to Soviet park, which houses all of the old statues from the soviet era. This was quite a strange place and a few of the statues were defaced. Then the heavens opened and we had to run from the thunderstorm to have lunch. Lunch was Russian Dumplings with sour cream which were delicious, Wayne could have eaten another bowlful.
Our next stop was the Russian Vodka museum - we had a guide who detailsed the history of Vodka from the monks to the modern day, this was followed by a large shot! We headed back to the Hostel to grab our bags as we were tonight getting on the vodkatrain for 5 nights! We stopped at a supermarket and stocked up on Beer, dried noodles and water for our journey.
As we approached the train laden down with our bags, beer and food, we all felt really excited and were having loads of pictures taken to set us on our way. We said goodbye to Natasha and hello to our carriage attendant Alexei.