To Moscow by train and our next adventure

High Speed Train

One final spectacular breakfast at the equally spectacular Kempinski Hotel, and we were off to the train station. Alexey had kindly made all arrangements, and in no time, we were happily seated in our luxurious car. Moscow is about a three and a half-hour train ride southeast from St. Petersburg, which gave us ample time to see some of the countryside. Although Moscow is further north than our home place of Minneapolis, Minnesota, the vegetation is remarkably similar. In fact, the view from our train car looked very much like rural Wisconsin. The ride was smooth, the staff was attentive, the snacks were welcome, the seats were roomy, and we could find absolutely nothing to complain about. As the train slowed and we saw our first onion domes, we knew we had reached the great city of Moscow.

First look at Moscow by night

Once settled in to our new guest accommodations and after a bit of rest, it was time to take a tour of the city by car. In the fading daylight, we were able to see many of the major sights, knowing we’d be visiting them in the coming days. We stopped to park on the Vorbyovy Hills, also called the Sparrow Hills, where there is a panoramic view of the Moscow River, and colorful night life — including theatrically lit motorcycles, street musicians, flame twirlers, and espresso served from more than one hatchback. On the opposite end of the expanse sits the main building of Moscow University, the tallest of seven Stalinist skyscrapers. According to Wikipedia, it is the tallest educational building in the world. Well lit after dark, it makes quite an impressive display. The weather was mild and comfortable, and it was a perfect night to stroll and gawk at the color and lights and soak up our new surroundings.

A required stop at The Metropol

A huge fan of Amor Towles’ novel, A Gentleman in Moscow, Mike requested and was granted a stop at The Metropol, the Art Nouveau hotel built just before the Russian Revolution, which is where all of the action in the novel takes place. Nobody seemed to mind that we had just come in to wander around, so we took some pictures, oohed and ah-ed, used the restroom and then moved on. (At this point in our trip, Mike was still hoping to get a picture of himself posed to match the cover art on the novel).

Home, gifts and vodka

Our first night as guests of Alexey and Victoria, we spent the time exchanging gifts, relaxing, and enjoying vodka toasts. It was a perfect time to unleash The Pickle Picker, which is an excellent tool no home should be without, especially a Russian home.

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