It was a baptism of fire landing my first press trip to Moscow. Visually as a photographer Moscow is a a great destination to shoot , but at the end of the trip, it wasn’t just the weather that left me cold. Here’s the lowdown on my trip behind the iron curtain.
Home for the week was the Petrovka Loft, a hostel located a 10 minute walk from Red Square. Accommodation in Moscow is ridiculously expensive, and the loft made an acceptable compromise. With comfortable double rooms and shared bathrooms, I didn’t find it a problem, I never had to wait and the showers were always clean. My only issue was the hostel was located up 6 flights of stairs, which with heavy luggage on my own proved to be a bit of a nightmare .
Venturing out on my first morning, i found Moscow a maze of underpasses, so it was a constant hassle going up and down, searching for the nearest place to cross the road. Though it was a bonus when it got really cold, to shelter from the freezing temperatures, which in Moscow was practically most of the time .
When I entered Red Sq for the first time it was a bit overwhelming, not knowing where to look, trying to take everything in and it didn’t disappoint. Apart from the inevitable hordes of other fellow tourists, I found it truly amazing. After years of lusting over photos Of St Basils basilica in travel mags, its was a bit surreal to actually be standing in front if it.
Purely out of morbid fascination, I also found time to drop in on Russia’s favourite son Lenin. It’s an extremely brief experience, after leaving everything at the door ( not even phones are allowed in here ), your are herded down a dimly lit staircase into Lenin’s mausoleum. I counted 7 security guards in the actual chamber, Lenin is up on a raised platform looking a tad waxy, maybe that’s why your hustled round in 60 seconds, so you don’t have time to spot anything amiss. For me the jury’s still out on if his the real deal, but it’s one to tick off the Moscow to do list.
Feeling brave after my visit to Red Square, I headed off to check out the Moscow metro. Whilst the actual lines are clearly colour coded , I had real trouble working out which way I was heading, plus when you pulled into a station there seemed to be no signs as to which station you were, so I constantly found myself getting off at the wrong station or going in the wrong direction.
I had one instance where I didn’t know the word for exit so I found myself wandering around different platforms at an interchange station, until someone took pity on me and showed me the way out. So I can confirm, it really is worth doing your Russian alphabet homework !!!! .
My favourite stations to photograph are
Eager to see a bit if the old communist Russia, I took a trip out to where they hide all the old soviet statues from the old days at The Park of Fallen Monuments. Located across the road from Gorky park, It’s free and its stuffed full of relics from the golden years, prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union. A lot of the statues were vandalised after the fall of the USSR, and bear the scars of attacks by protesters Lenin’s statue is missing a nose, and Felix Dzherzhinsky, the former head of the secret police is splattered with paint, so if your into Russian history this is a must see.
On my last day I took a trip out to the local flea market in izmailovsky, its the place to do all your souvenir shopping as its approx 50% cheaper than buying them in town. Its also the place to find genuine soviet vintage memorabilia, from propaganda posters to an array of soviet army surplus supplies. I even spotted a gun stall, it might be a bit tricky to explain that purchase to customs on your way home.
I had a jam packed few days in Moscow , the locals can be a bit prickly, and I found the freezing weather an issue, most of the time I found it just too cold to stay outside for too long.
So whilst I found my time in Moscow challenging, I’m glad I went, though I might just have to wait for the scars from this trip to heal, before I return.