I caught the 7 AM high speed Sapsan train from Moscow to St. Petersburg on a cloudy morning in May. Smartly dressed uniformed officials positioned outside each coach cross-reference passports or government IDs against hand held electronic manifests before allowing passengers to board the train. There is a fair bit of security at the station so once you reach the platforms after clearing baggage check, going back to the main train terminal necessitates lining up for baggage check again on the way back. The reason I state this is because seeing fellow passengers on the platform enjoy an early morning smoke along with a streaming cup of coffee made my stomach grumble with envy. I cursed myself for not picking up breakfast from one of the many cafes that dot the main terminal. Not sure why but I was under the absurd notion that the stationary train's pantry car would be functioning before the journey even commenced. As I found out the hard way, this wasn't the case. The food cart actually rolled past my seat two hours into the journey.Read More
Since my early teens, visiting Russia, and more specifically Moscow had been my dream. Every now and then, a news magazine would carry on its cover a picture of the whimsically decorated St. Basil’s Cathedral and I’d wonder to myself, what would it be like to stand right in front of it? What was around it? Such information is now accessible a click away on the internet, but not so much in the 90’s, hence I grew up in a heightened state of unquenched curiosity about Moscow.
The image of this cathedral was so etched in my mind, and so singularly associated with Moscow that every mention of the city would only make me think of this multicolored pastry-like edifice. I also have no shame in admitting that during my teens, I probably thought that this cathedral was perhaps the Kremlin itself!Read More
The first thought that struck me as I entered the Belorusskaya metro station after transferring from the nearby Airport Express train terminal was its sheer depth. Used to the relatively shallow subway stations in New York City where the noisy rumble of passing trains can easily be heard and felt on streets above, unending escalators of Moscow metro stations instead take you deep into the subterranean landscape.Read More