The first full day in Moscow began with a breakfast in bed of sorts. The breakfast was nothing fancy, but everything was fresh and tasted good. It was nice not to hurry and to enjoy the breakfast just the two of us.
We didn’t have many plans for our first day, so we took our time having breakfast and getting ready. Our goal was of course to see the famous Red Square first and then see how it goes. We had also booked a table at Conservatory Lounge & Bar at Park Hyatt Hotel, which was supposed to have a great view over Moscow.
The Red Square is surrounded by several buildings. The first one we saw was the State Historical Museum and the Kremlin wall starts right behind it.
Right after that we see the Lenin Mausoleum, which was already closed, so there wasn’t any line to the mausoleum.
Then we see the famous Kremlin tower with the star on top.
And on the opposite side of the square if looking from the State Historical Museum is the Saint Basil’s Cathedral.
Opposite from the Kremlin there is a shopping center GUM with fancy small shops, lots of famous brands, but nothing super original. The building itself is of course gorgeous.
We walked around the Red Square and took some photos (okay, a lot of photos). As we had no concrete plans, we walked a bit in GUM and then decided to go inside the Saint Basil’s Cathedral as it seemed that it might rain. On that day the tickets were discounted due to some event , so normally the price for Russian citizens is 350 rubles (5,80€), but this time they cost only 150 rubles (2,50€).
The cathedral is largely restored, but there are some walls with faded colors, which are yet to be restored. The building is no longer serving as a church, but rather as a museum.
After the Saint Basil’s cathedral we checked the Lonely Planet guidebook and noticed that there is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on the other side of the Kremlin in the Alexander Garden, which has the remains of the unknown soldiers killed in the Battle of Moscow in 1941. There is a Changing of the Guard Ceremony at the tomb, which takes place every hour on the hour.
Then we took a stroll around nearby streets sporting churches everywhere and a funky looking restaurant back at Arbat.
We eventually ended up at our hotel, where we needed to sort out some practicalities. As I mentioned earlier I have booked the train back one day later than I should have, so we had two options. One option was to change our train booking to one day earlier and the other option was to extend our stay in Moscow. I called the Finnish Railways and it turned out that they don’t really reschedule trips. They charge you 10€ to cancel the ticket and then you can buy a new ticket for the current price. As we have booked tickets well in advance, it would have cost over 90€ to cancel the existing tickets and pay the price difference between the tickets we already had and the higher price they were available for at the moment, so we agreed that we simply should extend our stay in Moscow. We tried to book an extra night at the reception, so the person at the desk checked that they have rooms available, but suggested that we book the room online as we’ll get a better rate. That was in fact true and it also turned out that we had earned a free night from Hotels.com, so we used that offer as well and got the room for one extra night very cheaply.
After taking care of this, we changed and asked the reception to order us a taxi as we were heading to the restaurant for my birthday dinner. This was one of the few times we ordered a taxi in Moscow. The staff warned us that there might be traffic and our trip might take some time, but luckily there was virtually no traffic on Sunday evening and we got to the restaurant on time. The taxi was 600 rubles (10€) per first half an hour and then additional fee after that, which I assume has something to do with horrible Moscow traffic and rush hours I’ve heard so much about, but this time it took us less than 15 min in the taxi to arrive to Conservatory Lounge & Bar.
As the name suggests this was not exactly a restaurant, but rather a lounge with a view, which was located on the tenth floor of the Park Hyatt Moscow Hotel. Ironically this was the best food and service we got in Moscow, which was a happy coincidence that we picked this place for my birthday. This place is expensive, but for once you do get what you pay for. The service was professional and attentive, food was great, presentation was great, and the view crowned everything. Every detail was thought out. For example the tea pots had little sleeves on the handles because they get hot. We enjoyed our evening immensely although I must say that the space is better suited for drinks and light snacks. It was also unfortunate that it was too cold to sit outside, but we did venture out to take a few photos.
We asked the concierge downstairs to call us a cab back to our hotel. This time the price was fixed and cost 440 rubles (7,30€). When we got back, our room key didn’t work, so we went back downstairs to ask the reception about it. They issued a new key and when we got back to our room this was waiting for us:
We got a bottle of sparkling wine and a large piece of cheesecake. They also signed a card where they wished me a happy birthday, which was a really nice surprise!