Moscow

Spelt as Mockba and pronounced as Moskva, Moscow is perhaps one of the most beautiful cities that has not yet become a prime attraction for travellers. Our visit to Moscow was purely by chance; thanks to all the airlines that could not provide us a ticket to Paris at such a short notice. Aeroflot came to the rescue. There wasn’t any waiting further; I could no way miss out Moscow, even if it was a few hours in the exquisite city; after all it was the land of Leo Tolstoy and the land of ‘War and Peace.’ With the help of a super speedy service we managed a transit visa for Moscow and started off. I was too excited; more for Moscow than Paris…unbelievable!!!

The Sheremotyevo International Airport was a little shabby with the usual glitz and glamour missing, but was full of very beautiful Russian people who surprisingly never smiled. Out of the airport scenario, our guide greeted us and we were to spend the next four hours with him, going around the city in his car for a fee of $150 for a family of 2 and a quarter. Our tour included short visits to the Red Square, St. Basil's Cathedral, Embankment and Observation Platform of Sparrow Hills, a lunch break and a tour of the ‘Kremlin’ including a visit to the Armoury.


We drove along the polished roads of Moscow, absolutely bedecked with greenery and flowers. With the vibrant colours and the sunny summer days, with the brilliant golden sun and the crispy wind, Moscow had cast its own unique spell over us. Our first stop was the Red Square; the main centre of Moscow that has witnessed all, be it coronation of the Czars or the attacks of the enemies. Earlier it was a trading centre and a place where the usual addressing to the nation was done; presently it is a prime place of visit. Occupying a prominent position in the Square is the famous St, Basils Cathedral, with an image that, for ages had been synonymous with the Soviet Union and Russia. Built to commemorate Russia’s victory over the kingdom of Kazan, this cathedral was later named after a saint named Basil who was supposed to be a close acquaintance of the torturous Czar, Ivan. It is said that architects from different religions had been invited to share their concept of architecture and hence such a beautiful creation. The other important site here was the mausoleum of Lenin but there was a long queue to watch the ‘change of guards’ ceremony, and we could not afford that much of time.


We left this area and moved along the Moskva river embankment to reach the sparrow hill. A place that gave a wonderful view of the entire city of Moscow. It was time for lunch break and we decided on something very typical of Russia. We ordered for a Borcsh, a well-known Russian soup made of beetroot and meat, served with sour cream, kotleta po-kievsky, a special type of chicken cutlet stuffed with butter and potato with mushrooms, a favourite countryside meal. After the break it was time to visit the ‘Kremlin’ the former residence of Russian czars, an architectural ensemble of unique beauty and the fortress that was one of the most fortified in Europe.

The gigantic red brick walls with 20 towers were absolutely inaccessible by the enemies. There are three main ancient Moscow cathedrals inside Kremlin in the cathedral Square. We first visited the Assumption cathedral the main church of Russia, followed by the Annunciation Cathedral, the private church of Russian czars and the Archangel’s Cathedral, the burial place of the czars. The highest structure in Kremlin was an 80-meter high Bell Tower of Czar Ivan and a huge cannon. The official residence of the president of Russia is also here, but not open to visitors. After going around the entire place we headed towards the Armoury. I was a little frustrated; there was so much to see but so little a time.


We entered the Armory Museum, the world famous treasury of the Russian Czars, occupying a specially constructed building of the mid-19 century with a unique collection of ancient regalia, gold and silver utensils, tableware, apparels, robes, arms and armours, luxury carriages, thrones, coronation dresses, ambassadorial gifts and lots more. My biggest enemy at that moment was my watch that kept me reminding of the ever-boring ‘reporting time.’ I did not have the heart to leave Moscow, how could I? Loads of places were left to be explored; the famous Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts had not been seen, the elegant Bolshoi Theatre had been left behind and I was going back without visiting the city of vibrant colours, the city of open-air museums and one of the most beautiful cities of Europe, St.Petersburg. Having a fascinating Russian heritage with a distinctly European outlook and being declared as a ‘Monument of the Works Culture’ by UNESCO, St. Petersburg was one of the most beautiful and celebrated cities in the world and I was going back without visiting it. I could no way forgive myself. We went back to our car and headed for the airport. After the usual formalities it was time to board the flight to Paris; on the way to the aircraft I asked my husband, ‘what about St.Petersburg?’ He smiled and replied, ‘sure, next time.’