Everyone was up bright and early after a refreshing, proper nights sleep! All of us slept like babies, the beers and prosecco before bed probably helped. We wine to a lovely little cafe for breakfast, I had this delicious rice porridge with banana and honey, it was more like rice pudding and was so good. I’ve come the realisation that I can’t eat syrniki and stuffed blinis for breakfast every day, otherwise I’ll reach Beijing the size of a house.
The first place Sasha took us to was a beautiful little Russian market quite far out from the centre of Moscow. The Kremlin that housed the market was stunning! It looks like a Disney castle; decorative white turrets trimmed in red, blue, green and gold. The detailing in the architecture is amazing, I genuinely don’t think the photos do it justice. We had a little mooch around he market and I bought some beautiful traditional Russian Christmas tree decorations. Me and Tom like to collect Christmas decorations for our tree from different places we’ve been. I also bought a small set of Russian dolls. How I wish I’d bought the big set! They aren’t cheap but they’re so beautiful, so intricately painted by hand. It’s really bugging me that I didn’t buy the big beautiful one (it’s genuinely playing on my mind ha!), Sasha assures me they will have more in Irkutsk, our next destination, so we will see!
After visiting the market we went to see one of Stalin’s bunkers! It was very creepy when we turned up, the bunker is underneath a big sports stadium (which looked like it wasn’t used, but it may be the time of year) and there was a Russian guard at the huge metal gates leading into the compound. He was very suspicious of Sasha when we turned up, questioning why we were three and asking her to call the lady from the museum before he would let us through. We did get through and explored the underground bunker, it isn’t very big but it was so interesting. The main room has a unique architectural element which amplifies your voice when you stand in the centre of the circle. It was so strange, you could stand in the middle of the room, with a big curved table around the edge, wooden chairs and nine pillars. The shape of the room amplified your voice so that anyone sitting in the chair could hear it loud and clear, almost echoing, it was built in such a way because Stalin was known to be very softly spoken, this allowed him to conduct meetings without having to raise his voice. The meetings room was incredibly grand, huge marble pillars, luxurious drapes and big paintings hung on the walls. There were also a lot of historical artefacts as it has been turned into a museum so it was fascinating to read about the history of the bunker. There were two other rooms which are open for viewing, one was Stalins private office, it even had original items of furniture from when he used to stay here; the sofa and a desk chair, as well as his books, his telephone and a military board game given. What was even more amazing is that you could sit on the sofa and get really up close to the items, you would never be able to do that at home!
After visiting the bunker we went to the Kremlin in Red Square. Outside there is an eternal flame to commemorate all the soldiers that dies in World War II, it is constantly guarded by three Russian guards that change every hour. Inside the Kremlin it was very beautiful, there were three cathedrals that were being restored, the paintings and murals on the walls were amazing. We have seen a lot of cathedrals by now.
After going back to the hostel to freshen up, we went to a local craft beer bar and had burgers, beer (I had cider) and some coffee vodka shots. It was such a lovely evening, Sasha came with us and we thanked her for being such a great guide in Moscow! We’re just going to the train station now for our four-day stint on route to Irkutsk. Wish us luck.