In ❤ with Moscow

Chapter – II

Day two began with a luscious breakfast, an enormous buffet including European & Russian delicacies at the Heritage restaurant in Hyatt Regency Moscow Petrovsky Park. The Heritage is an ala carte restaurant with dynamic show kitchen, the scrupulously menu offers a variety of authentic Russian cuisine, pickles, salads, cold cuts, soups, rissoles, shashliks, broths and cutlets. It also has a congenial sushi counter with a delightful ambience.

Later we gathered at the hotel lobby in order to proceed for the city tour of Moscow. Our Guides, the twin sisters Maria & Daria AKA by their rhyming Russian nicknames Masha & Dasha were waiting for us there, we often confused Masha with her sister & vice-versa as they were identical twins. Both of them were very informative about the history & trivia of the city & not to mention very fluent in English. Both the sisters have a master‘s degree in History from Lomonosov Moscow state university. They have the expertise of working as an interpreter with many internationally recognized companies & events organized by embassies of India, Qatar, Philippines, Malaysia, and Mauritius etc. As per my experience at a departmental store from where I wanted to buy some prominent local vodka, the Russian grain vodka made from corn, rye or wheat are worldwide famous though I had a hard time selecting one since no one there was able to assist me due to language barrier but finally Google translator broke the wall & emerged as a winner. Not many people (especially quadragenarian & above) are familiar with English however the teenagers and people in their 20’s are quite good at it since they study the language at schools & universities.

We started on a luxury coach from the hotel. The city has several UNESCO world heritage sites, the unique Russian architecture follows a heritage of Russian wooden architecture which was influenced by the Byzantine Empire.

On the way to Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, at the Pushkinskaya Ploschad, we have witnessed the statue of Aleksandr Pushkin – the greatest Russian poet and the founder of modern Russian literature. Out of 142 Pushkin monuments in Russia, this one is considered as the focal monument. We also saw the Monument to Yuri Gagarin – the first person to travel in space, at Leninsky Prospekt. The statue of this Russian national hero is made up of titanium which has a massive weight of 12 tons & a height of 141 feet.

Being a weekday – a peak time of the day, traffic was a bit slow. We finally arrived at our first stop Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, a Russian Orthodox Church. It is the 3rd tallest Orthodox Christian church in the world. The cathedral was built between 1839 and 1883 but the current church is the second on this site as the original church was demolished in 1931 on the order of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin with explosives because he wanted to build the grandest Palace of the Soviets for the communist party’s annual meetings, a fundament of the future palace was laid down but further nothing happened due to the beginning of the Second World War. In 1960’s the Soviets decided to build a swimming pool for the citizens over this fundament & this place was popular among the older generation for swimming till the 90’s, several years after the collapse of the USSR a campaign began for revival of historical heritage, as a positive result the enormous church was built again in a span of 05 years. The structure is divided into several chapels and galleries, you will witness an eye stunning interior made up of variegate granite and stones pieces. Taking pictures inside the church is not allowed but the essence of this high artistic & architectural grandiose will live with you for a lifetime.

After visiting the church & enjoying the pleasing panoramic view of the Kremlin and the Moskva River, we left for Sparrow Hills which is one of the highest points of the city on the bank of Moskva River. The name Sparrow hills has been derived from the name of a nearby village called ‘Vorobyovy’ which means sparrow in Russian. An incredible panoramic view of the city centre is visible from here during the day as well as during the night when Moscow glitters with lights. This location was the first spot decided to build the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour by Tsar Alexander I as a memorial to the sacrifices of the Russian people after Napoleon retreated from Moscow in 1812, but a new site was chosen by Tsar Nicholas I in 1837 as this site proved unstable.

It was around noon & we headed towards the Victory Park in Poklonnaya Hill, where Napoleon waited expecting the keys to the Kremlin to be brought to him by Russians after his troops surrounded Moscow in 1812. It is a war memorial park to commemorate the victories against the French in 1812 & the Nazis in 1941. It has a monumental museum to the Soviet victory in the Great Patriotic War. It also has many tanks and other vehicles used in the Second World War on display. Earlier the hill had great strategic importance, as it commanded the best view of the Moscow. It has five terraces, symbolizing the five years of conflict, and there are 1,418 fountains including a memorial chapel, mosque, and synagogue church, to the circular there is a triangular obelisk surmounted by a statue of Nike, the Goddess of Victory. During the 11th Meeting of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-MTC) held in Moscow, the 23rd Defense Minister of India Mr. A. K. Antony laid a wreath at the Memorial of the Great Patriotic War on 04th October 2011 at the Victory Park, he was also accorded a ceremonial guard of honor.

At the afternoon, we arrived at “Lowenbrau Haus” an Indian restaurant, the interior of which combines the authentic features and atmosphere of a German pub. Our set menu consisted of authentic Indian dishes, the restaurant also provided a belly dance performance on Indian songs creating a proper ambience resembling Indian flavored entertainment in Russia.

In the evening with sun still shining upon us there was a slight increase in temperature in comparison to the previous day, we headed forward for the famous “Metro Tour”, The metro in Moscow is one of the main attractions & considered a tourist attraction. Being the busiest metro system in Europe, it was the first underground railway system in the Soviet Union. It’s a vital monument to its turbulent history, the construction of the metro started in 1931 almost 40 years before India started the construction of its first metro system in Kolkata during the 70’s. The first stations were opened to the public in 1935. The metro system was designed by specialists who had previously designed the London Underground, however only Soviet workers were employed to construct the tracks and the stations. In the Second World War many of the metro stations were served as air-raid shelters during the siege of Moscow in 1941. The Moscow Metro is considered one of the most beautiful & visually striking places in the world. The original stations are decorated with stucco, frescoes, marble columns and ornate chandeliers, with interior so beautiful it can be easily mistaken for an imperial palace, Stalin ordered his architects to decorate it to be worthy of a Palace, inspiring thousands of ordinary Soviet people who would commute to work to believe in the Soviet ideas. Many would also call splendid metro interior a propaganda canvas-all the celebrated events of that era are commemorated there. We boarded the train from Novoslobodskaya station, which was designed with stained glass panels, mosaic, brass trim, and elegant conical chandeliers & at the end of the platform is a mosaic entitled “Peace Throughout the World.” We travelled in the metro train through couple of stations & got off at Kiyevskaya station, which featured low square pylons faced with white marble and surmounted by large mosaics  celebrating Russian-Ukrainian unity. Both the mosaics and the arches between the pylons are edged with elaborate gold-colored trim. At the end of the platform is a portrait of Vladimir Lenin.

After getting back to the hotel & refreshing for a while I suited up myself for a grand dinner at the famous “YAR” restaurant, Russia’s most historic theater-restaurant, in 19th Century it was frequented by many famous writers & poets. The YAR ran from 1826 to 1925 on the street known as Kuznetsky. The current YAR is in the Sovietsky Hotel on Leningradsky Prospect. It is a historic Soviet-styled hotel built in 1952 on Stalin’s orders, it has many hidden rooms which were used for spying at that time. A grand cocktail dinner was set out with round table sitting arrangement in front of the stage. A theatrical Russian folk dance was performed, the unique characteristics of the performance reflected many element of the Russian culture & tradition. The beautifully designed costumes & stage light illumination felt like the icing on the cake.

The restaurant was quite near to hotel, so instead of going back on the coach, I decided to take the street through subway & walk towards the property. Oriental Cocktail Bar & Restaurant located on the 14 floor in Hyatt is open from 18:00 hrs. to 03:00 hrs. So even if your tummy is full & you are no mood to consume anything you can still go to the skybar, sit in peace looking at the glittering city & enjoy your evening before you call it a day.

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