Tours of Moscow with Nikolai.

Our first full day in Moscow begins with Nikolai, a young man born and raised in Moscow, trained and certified as a local guide with Russian, English, and Spanish translation skills.  His grasp of Russian history, detailed knowledge of the city, attention to our needs, ability to weave his parents and grandparents stories into our tour, and his engaging personality made him a fantastic choice. Thanks again to Janet Joy for arranging this.

Nikolai and his driver discussing our route.

Our first stop was Moscow State University where there are 100,000 students. The campus is immense and although laden with the recent snow fall and impossible to tour, unless you have a student pass, was an impressive sight.  Nikolai explained how this building is one of  the seven sisters of Moscow. We were able to see many of them throughout the day as we toured the city. If you really care to read more about them click HERE.   

Here we are standing beside the bike share unit which operates in the summer.

Next stop was an observation area where there are reportedly great views of the city.  I’m sure this is true if the low hanging cloud decided to lift.

The round building is a major sports center.

The skyscrapers of central Moscow. Really… They are more than ghosts.

Back in the van with our driver we headed for the downtown area, passing many expensive apartments where rich and famous Russians live.

More of the seven sisters.

This building was particularly interesting as it was purchased by the Radisson Hotel chain.  I was quite ignorant of the extent of investment by large international businesses in Russia. Most of the cars we saw were exactly the same as I would see in North America. BMW, Mercedes, Hundai, Chev, Toyota, etc. along with KFC, MacDonalds, Starbucks and the list goes on all seem to have a strong foothold in Moscow. 

The interior of this hotel was really quite impressive.  The bathrooms were a work of art with attendants, marble, brass and delicately stacked hand towels.

One of the features of this hotel is a diorama of the city that has traveled around the world and ended up in the lobby of this major Moscow hotel. It gives an amazing overview of the city center around Red Square, the Kremlin and surrounding skyline.  It was a great help in trying to understand the layout of the city.

On our way Nikolai pointed out the “Moscow White-House”. It serves as the primary office of the government of Russia and is the official workplace of the Russian Prime Minister.

Another Russian Orthodox church on  our tour.

There were lots of reminders of the fierce snow storm that had pounded Moscow in the last week.  We were interested to hear that the majority of the people cleaning the walks and doing the heavy manual labour to clear Moscow streets are immigrants to the country.

We then headed to the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, a church with the most incredibly complicated and checkered past. It was destroyed by the Soviets in 1931 as part of the atheistic mindset and then rebuilt from 1994 – 2000 in the original style.  Nikolai told us a fascinating story of how it became a large swimming pool after the destruction in 1931.  He related stories of his mother swimming in this pool as a competitive swimmer when she was young. It is now the head of the Russian Orthodox church in Russia.

From this point on we left our driver and the van and headed out on foot with Nikolai leading us to the heart of the city around Red Square. I was particularly fascinated to see numerous men clearing snow and ice from the tops of the buildings. It looked like a very dangerous job with nothing more than an open railing to prevent them from slipping off.

The next series of pictures shows what can be done to attract people to enjoy a winter landscape. If you have political will, money and people it is amazing how much joy can be found in this snow, ice and cold.

You cans see how we are all smiling!!

This is a “Mile Zero”, the point from which all Russian distances are measured.

We are now heading into the heart of Red Square, named not as I imagined with something to do with communism, but rather a celebration of the joy that the color red brings (or something like that).

I quite imagine that St. Basil’s Cathedral has been photographed by every tourist that sets foot on this ground. It is such an amazing building with turrets, color, texture and style.

Our next stop was a shopping center close to Red Square.  The beautiful space was filled with high end stores offering many chances to separate you from your hard earned rubles.

 The next major and final part of our tour was to experience the most unimaginable juxtaposition of beauty and  majesty confronted by the utility and deafening cacophony of a subway system that transports 8 million people a day around this city. If you could block out the constant push of sardines jammed into metal cans called subway cars, the rush of wind as trains come and go and the thunderous, screaming sound of steel scraping steel and gaze up at the wondrous art work all around, you could almost imagine a state of tranquility.

Nikolai told us a great story about this bronze sculpture.  Apparently if you are a student and you rub the shoe of this girl’s foot you will have good luck on your exams.  It must have worked for him as he received a 4/5 on an exam he expected to fail.

Some final images to celebrate and honor the work of the people who imagined and brought into being this amazing collection of public art.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized.


  1. Shelly M Benoit February 12, 2018 at 7:48 am #

    Incredible beauty and color in all this architecture, and would seem like an epic tour! Cathedral reminds me of the Christmas puzzle we all did together!
    Trent – you haven’t got the regulation hood and fur surrounding your smiles – it must be that you are inoculated by a lifetime of prairie weather.

  2. Robert February 9, 2018 at 3:22 pm #

    Wow Trent!!!
    Amazing photos and fantastic writing too!!
    I’m so glad to have found your blog and gotten a “Trent’s-eye-view”! Hope you are enjoying the food there. Hope you will get to see Old Arbat Street and perhaps Ostankino Tower if it’s open.

  3. Bob Townsend February 9, 2018 at 1:42 am #

    Absolutely amazing. Never been there, but have read and followed Russia and things Russian. A wonderful and different perspective of Moscow. I had mistakenly thought that it was dour, but your photography and commentary have shown me how wrong I was. At least the weather must have reminded you of Saskatoon at this time of the year. Enjoy the travelling – and .

  4. Anonymous February 8, 2018 at 7:17 pm #

    so glad you are having such an amazing time!!
    Noel and Margaret

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared.