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Trip Report

A look into Russia: soviet and imperial

Six days of this underrated multiethnic vast country

by jstorresc27About Me:Colombian 28 years old. I used to be a teacher and spend four hours a day taking three different kinds of public transportation home to work and back, that's completely incompatible with the human spirit. So I gave the uncertainty of going... read more

EuropeRussia6 days / September 2019

Highs & Lows

Moscow's architecture from imperial to soviet to futuristic

Getting scammed in a taxi

Itinerary Overview

After a nine hour flight from Seoul I arrived in Moscow. I checked into a cheap hotel downtown next to the Vodootvodny canal. Right after I arrived I took the subway to Red square. Entering the subway stations is almost like entering an airport, lots of security, X rays for bags, police and cameras everywhere. Exploring Red square I found st.Basil’s cathedral, probably the most postcardable place in Russia. I had a buffet lunch in the GUM mall for cheap with some traditional Russian food and walked by Lenin’s tomb which had a very long entrance line so I decided to skip that one. In Saryade park next to Red square, I had the fortune to stumble across some sort of national identity fair where every Russia republic and oblast had a pavilion with food samples and shows from Siberia, the Caucasus and many more. I also took a boat ride through the river to see more of the imposing soviet architecture and learn about some historic events that took place in Moscow. The metro stations were a lot like art galleries, and I was also impressed by the deepness of them, the stair felt never ending.

I took the bullet train from Moscow to st. Petersburg, it took about four hours. Once in st. Petersburg I met a friend from Colombia who lives there and helped me find my Airbnb. He showed me around Nevsky Prospekt which is the main street of st. Petersburg with many shops, restaurants, museums and an architecture comparable to the most elegant western European capitals.  I visited the Hermitage museum and waited until 1:00am when all the bridges on the rivers and canals in the city lifted and threw a light show together with a bunch of boats playing music and having a good time. My friend took me to an Uzbek restaurant which was the culinary highlight of the trip. We took the boat to Peterhof palace, a rebuilt palace destroyed in WWII.

We took a rather pirate microbus ride to Pushkin, the city where Catherine's  palace, the summer residence of the tzars is located. We waited in line for about two hours to get in but it was totally worth it. A beautiful display of imperial Russia's wealth. Its adjacent park was also a beautiful walk. We took a walk around the city centre and found a place to eat true Russian food right in front of the city market, which is also worth visiting since it's a good place to see old soviet folks shopping for fresh groceries. At this point my friend had to go to work, so I had to find my way back to st.Petersburg on my own. The traffic entering the city is terrible, it took about two hours for a trip that was supposed to take only 40 minutes.

  • 3 Nights: Moscow
    Soviet vibes and the most beautiful metro stations
  • 3 Nights: St Petersburg
    Imperial capital of Russia
  • Day trip: Pushkin
    Catherine's palace and true village Russian food

Q & A

  • What would you have changed?

    Would have visited in the summer

  • Anything go wrong during the trip?

    I paid a lot more for a taxi ride than it was supposed to. It is better to ask in advance for an estimate before getting on, or just take an Uber

  • How was the food?

    Uzbek food is delicious, widespread and cheap

  • What tips would you give a friend?

    Knowing a little bit how to read cirilyc will make getting aroud a lot easier. It's not that hard

  • Packing tips?

    For September, the warmest rain jacket possible

  • Transportation Tips?

    traffic is chaotic in both Moscow and st. Petersburg, so the subway is the fastest way to get around

  • Any surprises?

    The food, I had no expectations for Russian food, but it was a big surprise to find such diversity

  • Booking details?

    There are some big Airbnb apartments in st.Petersburg for good prices and very well situated