Adventures in Russia

What can I say about Russia… Back in the early 80s, I was in the military and the cold war was in full bloom. President Reagan was spending trillions of dollars on defense spending and the Russia of today was still the USSR, a socialist country and no US person was just going to jump on a plane and go to Moscow and walk into the Red Square. On TV was shows with Red Square showing their military might in a big parade.  So fast forward 30 years and now I had the chance to go to Russia and visit 2 of their big cities.  Of course now they are a democratic country and you can pay to walk into the Kremlin walls.  So much has changed and I am happy for that.

Adventures in St Petersburg

We landed at the small airport called Pulkovo Airport.  We were parked on the side of the runway somewhere, and walked down the ramp and then loaded on a bus. Maybe I should have said, tightly squeezed on a bus. We were taken to this building where you go through passport/customs control.  It was like a building from the 60s and tons of people in lines.  Looks like 3 planes landed at the same time.  It took a while.  The agents look at you and then stamp you in. They also give you a paper to keep in your passport to show on the way out of the country.  Fairly simple as they don’t say a word, just stamp, stamp, gate opens.  Luckily we had a driver waiting for us. It was around 11:30 PM when we got through security. No exchanges open so we had no Russian rubbles.  It worked out since the charge for the driver was added to our room bill.  We stayed at a small local hotel on the 3rd floor of a building on the very popular Nevsky Prospekt. This place is like the Las Vegas strip and is busy all day and night. It is about 2 miles of shops, etc.  And because the sun doesn’t really go down all the way (twilight starts around 11:30PM), people are still out very late.  St Petersburg was a great place to visit for tourist since they have signs in Russian and English. The metro was across the street so it was nice.

Our hotel Room at the Nevsky Contour Hotel (a small box), Nevsky Prospekt and the entance to the Metro

nevsky contour nevskyprospekt

For the first day in St Petersburg, it was raining and many of our pictures were fairly poor.  We did take the opportunity to climb the over 200 steps to the top of St Isaac’s Cathedral to get a good view of the city.  It was raining, but it was still hot and muggy outside. That didn’t help with so many stairs to climb.

stepsinstisaacs stisaaccolonade to trinityinsquaretowards genal staff building

 Oh well, we still walked around a little getting soaked and trying to figure out where we wanted to go the next day.

There are so many awesome churches and buildings all around St. Petersburg.  We walked many miles and I took thousands of pictures so here are few of my favorites.

 St Petersburg was busy almost 24/7.  It was like New York Times Square.  People were out walking around at 11PM at night.  It was a great city to visit.

Adventures in Moscow

We took a train from St Petersburg to Moscow.  Luckily for us, our Hilton Moscow hotel was a 3 minute walk from the central train station and we could see it as soon as we walked out.  The room was really nice and we had executive floor privileges so we got a lot of freebies.   We grabbed the subway and went to straight to Red Square.  Unlike St Petersburg, Moscow is not tourist friendly. All of the signs are in Cyrillic alphabet and no other languages.  It was a bit rough but we finally made it.   Red Square is not as large at it looked on TV when I was younger.   They had an event going on but we got around.  We also grabbed tickets and went into the Kremlin.  Such large walls and old churches.  A lot of churches actually.  It seems someone was trying to make up for the way they were ruling the country.  Well here are some of my favorite pictures from those few days in Moscow.

Okay… we watched a few just married couples walk onto this bridge and thought, cool we stumbled on a mass wedding. Well actually we stumbled on a bridge with metal love lock trees and it seems after you get married you are supposed to put a love lock on it.  There are literally thousands of locks on and around the bridge. It was so cool.

All in all Russia was a great trip.  We love it.