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Monday, September 24, 2012

Russia - Moscow 7.6

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  • Kremlin & Armory
  • Okhotny Ryad Shopping Center Food Court
    • Cafe Pushkin
    • Yeliseevskiy Gastronom ( Yeliseev's Food Hall)

    It was the day for the Kremlin today. The MUST SEE place in Moscow.  H loves history.   Knowing that there were so many important political events taking place at the Kremlin that had profound impact not only to the Russian history, but to the world, he was excited to finally see this place in person.   To beat the crowd, we were already waiting in line for the tickets by  9:15 AM, 15 minutes before the ticket booths opened.  Once we got the tickets, we headed straight to the Borovitskaya Tower entrance to wait in line again for the Armory Chamber.  There were a few people being turned away at the check point because they carried backpacks.  The coat check station was near the ticket booths.  I felt bad for these people.  Hopefully they had a chance to make the 10 o'clock admission session for the Armory.   As an independent traveler to any country, you either do the homework and be prepared or accept some unexpected hassles.   Traveling here in Russia, it is important to keep that in mind. 

    The Armory Chamber was absolutely worth the extra costs to visit.  I was most fascinated by the carriages and coronation dress collections. They were amazing!  After the Armory, we came to the Cathedral Square.  A total of 3 churches and 3 cathedrals surrounded the small square.  By the time I made the round, I was all Cathedral & churched out!

    After the Kremlin, it was time for lunch, and I was in no mood to spend hours running around looking for restaurants in vain again.  Fortunately, we stumbled upon Okhotny Ryad Shopping Center right by the Kremlin.  Another huge shopping mall with a food court on the bottom floor.  The food court was a mix of American and Russian Fast Food.  It was really interesting to see what Russians Fast Food was.  We got some Pelmeni and Fries, H had a beer, and I finally had my first Kvas (A dark sweet, low alcoholic content drink made from Barley and Rye).   Having only been to "proper" restaurants spending at least 2 hours on each meal the past 6 days,  the quick and easy Russian Fast Food was a welcomed change, and the food was pretty decent by the tourist standards.

    Since we were already in the mall, naturally, we went shopping after lunch.   Okhotny Ryad Shopping Mall had more contemporary brands and the prices were a lot cheaper than the luxury boutique shops at the GUM.   

    A couple of shopping bags later, I was happy, satisfied, and once again remembered how tired my feet were.   We returned to our hotel a few minutes walk away to drop off our bags and gave each other foot messages. 

    We left the hotel around 3:30 PM again.  I was craving for some tea & desserts and decided to go to Cafe Pushkin.  On the way there, we finally found a postal office to get some stamps for our post cards.  It seemed that post office was the only place you could buy stamps, or you may pay a premium at the hotel for them to mail the postcards for you.  

    Cafe Pushkin looked like it was frozen in time from 19th century.  You would've never guessed that it only opened in 1994.  Again, the service was impeccable, and my honey cake was TO DIE FOR.  So good!

    Traveling to a new country, I always love visiting the local food markets to see what people are eating.  I was especially looking forward to check out Yeliseevskiy Gastronom after seeing the exquisite interior of this 19th century food hall from my guidebook.  Better yet, it was open 24/7!  It was such a luxurious food hall with huge chandeliers and ornate walls.   I could not imagine a more refined and elegant environment to do grocery shopping.

    Although we just had tea & dessert not long ago, shopping in Yeliseevskiy Gastronom made us crave for something to eat again.  We had no plan or desire to look for restaurants again,  so  we went back to the shopping center food court and got some Chinese dishes, blini with mushroom & cheese, soup, and Kvas from the Russian pancake fast food chain, Tepemok

    It was an early night for us, as our legs could not take more abuse to walk any longer.  We spent the evening at the hotel's  Jacuzzi and swimming pool


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