Our first Russian adventure as a group took us to Red Square, the heart of Moscow and where the seat of Russian history is. Walking through the city quickly became complicated as we had to make connections on the metro and navigate busy streets that were not designed for pedestrians. Not before long we stumbled upon the GUM, a large and extensive outdoor mall full of shops and cafés - including a Krispy Kreme! After our delight faded we walked out into the square and were greeted with the beautiful sights of the Armory on one end and St. Basil's Cathedral on the other. We quickly snapped our souvenir pictures and took to exploring. As it turned out the kremlin and cathedral closed relatively early, so we found ourselves back on the metro riding across town to the hotel. We then took to ice skating, which was as great of an experience as any other. After playing charades with the ticket attendant to rent our skates, we found ourselves on a large rink among a throng of local Russians. After a few falls and snowball fights we turned a trip to a famous cafe across town into an adventure as we jumped back on the metro, walked several miles and ended up at a bar drinking top shelf Russian vodka before stumbling home.
Our next day consisted of viewing St. Basil's cathedral and the Armory,
both being world class attractions. The cathedral was special in it's own right, having a maze-like interior that shuffled us from room to room to view different works of art and old exhibits. The Armory turned out to be an absolute treat as it appeared to be a surprisingly extensive history museum, starting from the beginning of time and going through the history of Russia. The paintings were beautiful and exhibits extensive. I took my time reading each rooms placard (that were written in English, woo!) to learn the history and genesis of Russian culture.
Afterwords we set off for dinner across town. In a hilarious series of events, we found ourselves on the metro line trying to decide if we were at the correct station, jumped off the train and at the last second decided to get back on. As I made the decision, I pushed Justin into the train just as the doors shut and sped away, the face of justin disappearing through the window in the distance. We all bent over laughing and quickly jumped on the next train to find him. We ended up at an exquisite restaurant where we ordered small but tasty dishes.
One unforgettable adventure took us across the city to the Ostinkino tower, the 8th tallest freestanding tower in the world and the tallest in Europe. We were on a mission to make it to the observation tower before it closed, and we only had about 50 minutes. After taking the metro through town we sprinted out and looked for the connecting bus. Running across roads, looking around for bus symbols and talking to random Russians led us to jumping in the car with a fake taxi - a guy who sits at bus stops and offers rides to people waiting. He took us the final few miles, but we were too late. We may not have gotten to climb the tower, but we were able to take one awesome picture instead.
We returned to our hotel tired but with no time to rest. We were to be up at the crack of dawn to get to the airport and board our planes to Sochi and fly to the adventures yet to come.