With the recent death of former Russian leader Boris Yeltsin, I was reflecting on my trip to Moscow. Yeltsin basically led the second Russian Revolution and was the first popularly elected President of the Russian Federation which was along with the fall of the Berlin Wall one of the most stirring memories of my childhood. I remember my grandfather, who has since passed, saying that he was amazed that he had lived through the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, through the entire Cold War and through to the fall of the Soviet Union. That always kind of stuck with me and I find Russian history extremely interesting. The country itself and the city of Moscow are just as interesting.

Moscow is the capital of Russia and the former Soviet Union and what a place it is. Moscow is a very exciting city with a lot to do. There are crazy clubs and great sites. There is world class shopping and that feeling that you’re never quite at ease. In Russia you can never really let your guard down and in truth theres a lot of great stuff to see so you’d want to pay attention.
Red Square is the obvious first site to see in Russia. It is as famous as the country itself. It has staged some of the most memorable and brutal events in Russian history and is the location of the Kremlin, Lenin’s Tomb and the famous St. Basils Cathedral. It is also the home of Moscows best shopping mall and the square itself is a square mile. The square is immense and you are dizzied by its power.
After taking in all of Red Square, you definitely wnat to take a driving tour of the city with someone who can speak Russian because believe me, it’s not the easiest place to get around without any Russian training. I actually tought myself to read Russian (i cannot speak a lick though) just so I could get around the city and read the signs to see where I was.

The city is great to drive around seeing the mixes of class between the rich and the poor. Unfortunately, after the collapse of the Soviet Union there are many more poor people than there used to be. Money is scarce in Russia except for a few notable exceptions that took advantage of governmental wholesales after the fall of the USSR. I remember asking people if they were happier before or after the fall. A lot of them said they were better off before the collapse because they were in theory taken care of better and certainly had more money. Unemployment is huge in Russia and the common people are the ones that suffer the most. It is very unfortunate.

The hotels in Moscow are great, first class all the way and a necessity to find people that speak English. Most of the hotels have casinos in them. We witnessed a big Russian Mafia presence at the hotel we stayed at, it was pretty interesting that at least when I was there in 2000 it seemed that the Mafia ran the show in Moscow. I’ve heard that it’s since become more under control and the corruption has wavered a bit, but who knows.

Visiting Moscow is like visiting history, it is very cool to see. If you do go, brush up on your Russian history first so you know what you’re seeing. That is my favorite thing about traveling-seeing history and putting yourself in that place, now and then.

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  1. Great post! I used to be all about the blue sea and sandy beaches but now I’m getting into great cities that has nothing to do with mainstream tourism but has such interesting history that it overwhelms you. Love your thoughts on Moscow and Russian history- it’s really something massive. We’ve been to St. Petersburg trough Travel all Russia couple of months ago and it is amazing! I wish we could’ve visited other smaller cities, because Moscow and St. Petersburg has that multicultural sence. I’ve heard that northern and eastern cities of Russia has even bigger effect on you.

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