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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Russia - Moscow 7.7 - 7.8

View Moscow 7.7 - 7.8 in a larger map 

  • Tretyakov Gallery
  • White Sun of the Desert
  • Metro Stations
  • Ulitsa Arbat
  • Sturgeon Caviar
  • Aeroexpress

Although Moscow is a bigger city than St. Petersburg, in terms of tourist activities, Moscow seems more manageable. (It is a different story if you like shopping and night life.)  Our walking tour guide from the first day had recommended Tretyakov Gallery Since we really enjoyed the arts we saw in St. Petersburg, we decided to check out the gallery on our last day in Moscow.  

In the beginning of this trip, we had always paid extra for the audio tours to all the sights that offered them.  As we waited to pay for the gallery admission, we looked at each other and had the same response, "Nah..." Both of us just could not sum up the concentration to listen to another audio guide anymore.   Trekyakov Gallery also had some really good collections, but we did notice that there were quite a few duplicated paintings from the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg.  The museum staff struggled in English trying to explain to us the reason.  From what we could gather, it seemed like the painters painted a few copies of the same paintings, so all the duplicates were authentic.  It was also worth noting that seeing the Royalty family portraits with the dresses we saw in display at the Armory Museum was pretty cool.  

After the museum,  it was time for lunch.  Although I had a restaurant in mind that I wanted to check out, I was dreading to repeat the nightmares of looking for addresses and getting lost.  Judging from the map, the restaurant was within walking distance.  We decided to take a chance and find the restaurant.  We walked through some residential area.  The streets were quiet and clean.  In front of one building, we saw three guys cleaning the building windows with only a few strings  to secure their waists.  Crazy!  I guess I have been living in the U.S. for too long now that I have become a total wimp! 

Luckily we were able to find the restaurant without too much drama.   White Sun of the Desert served central Asian cuisine.  The menu was extensive that would make your head spin,  and there were a lot of meat and intestine dishes.  We ordered a couple of appetizers to share.  Perhaps we did not order the right dishes.  The food was good, but not memorable. 

Although I did not write much about the Moscow Metro so far, we had been using the Metro everyday since we arrived.   For 28 rubles per ride and trains arriving at the stations every 1-2 minutes, the Moscow Metro was an amazingly efficient and economical way to travel around town.   Operating since 1935 for the first time, the Soviet Union  played a pivotal role in building one of the largest metro system in the world by enlisted red army soldiers, members of communist youth league, and many of the best artists.  The Metro stations reflected Russian's socialist glorious past and was an excellent way to explore underground Moscow.  We often hopped off the train to take pictures of these beautiful stations and hopped back on the next train to the next station.  

After taking a detour and visiting a few more metro stations, we eventually came to the pedestrian street, Ulitsa Arbat.  There were a lot of souvenirs shops and restaurants along the street, but it felt quite touristy.

Since it would be our last night in Moscow and we really had not eaten  a decent dinner in Moscow yet, we made an effort to make a dinner reservation at Kitezh, a highly recommended restaurant by Frommer's guide book, and prayed that we would find the restaurant easily.  However, not so lucky.  We once again found ourselves running around in circles and people on the streets were sending us in different directions even though the whole time, we were standing in front of the court yard that led to the restaurant.  30 minutes later, we found the restaurant and was led to our table in an empty, small, narrow, and ark cellar.  The restaurant seemed to host a private event that day and there was a large group in the next room with a live band playing extremely loud music.  I put down the menu, asked H, "Do you want to leave? I don't want to eat here."  H felt the same way, and with in 2 minutes, we walked out of the restaurant.  

Sigh..... I was feeling defeated and really disappointed that I had not have a chance to try the Sturgeon Caviar in Russia.   We did not know where to go for dinner nor did we want to put ourselves through this ridiculous ordeal to look for another address again!

Finally, we went back to the gourmet food shop at Gum, bought Kvas, a small tin of Sturgeon caviar, bread, and some other goodies, and had a picnic dinner at our hotel room.   

It was our last night in Moscow, and the next day, H and I would go on our separate flights.  I would be leaving from the international airport back to New York in the morning.  2 hours later, H would be leaving from the domestic airport to Austria visiting his family.  It was not what I pictured how we would spend our last meal in Russia, but sitting in bed next to H, and eating caviar in our bathrobes,  it was both intimate and romantic in a strange way. 

The next morning, H took the Metro with me to the station that connected with the airport shuttle, Aeroexpress. The transportation was seamless, easy, fast, and cheap.  I waved goodbye to H as the train quietly sliding away.  

Knowing that H was nervous coming to Russia in the beginning of our trip,  it was ironic that he ended spending time here alone.  I wondered what he would be doing the last two hours in Moscow by himself.  

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