Moscow with Eltati Tours

Reader Contribution (JM)…

Important arrival/departure information!

You are expected to register with the US embassy within 24 hours of your arrival. Your hotel should help you with this or get it done for you. (We stayed with a friend so don’t have the hotel experience.) I would just make sure to speak with the hotel when you book your reservation about this. You will need the stamp from the embassy in order to leave the country. It is not complicated.

At the Airport: It is not at all like in Germany where someone just about everywhere you go, speaks English. Don’t expect anyone at the airport to speak English. When we left, we had nothing to fill out. Our plane did not depart until 12:20 p.m. and we could not check in until 10:20. But once they opened up check in, there were no issues since our visas and stamps were in order. We flew direct on German wings between Koln and Moscow.

Tour Guides:

Eltati Travel
Tanya & Igor
In our US Embassy around the corner from the CLO)
tel +7(495)728-5281
Mon and Weds 1030-1425; Tues and Thurs 1430-1630

Eltati Travel Office in Moscow:
Tel/Fax 8-499-369-6698

We went through this tourist agency located in the US Embassy. We had our own personal guide, Lydia who was literally a walking encyclopedia, wonderful and so knowledgeable. Very passionate about Russian history, she gave us an experience we could have never gotten on our own. Tanya is great at answering your email. This group only does tours for Americans, so they all have a great mastery of English.

I highly recommend doing a tour of the Kremlin Grounds with the Armory museum and a tour of Red Square which includes the Mausoleum. It may be difficult with small children, but you have the flexibility to cute the tour short if you need to or so slow it down as well. Our kids are older, so we maxed out our time.

Tour Sights:

Kremlin Grounds and the Armory Museum
During this tour you will be able to see the Tsar Bell and Cannon, visit the main cathedrals of the 15th century and the metropolitan chambers from the 17th century. The Armory houses the oldest Russian museum containing unique objects of jewelry, diamonds, and royal crowns created by many generations of Russian and foreign masters. Cost: 1800 rubles per adult (min 4 adults), 1100 for students under age 26

In two of the cathedrals at a couple of the tour times, you can hear singers. They are so beautiful. No words can describe it. The acoustics in the cathedrals in tandem with their voices practically moved us to tears. The detailed Frescos and the Icons dating back to the 15th centuries are equally moving. So much religious and biblical history inscribed on these walls mixed in with both a sad and fascinating Russian history.

Red Square, Lenin’s Tomb and Other Kitai Gorod Atractions (Walking tour)
This tour acquaints you with Red Square and its surroundings. The focal point of Red Square is St. Basil’s Cathedral. Some of its pretty 16th and 17th century frescoes have been restored. Cost: 450 rubles per person (min 4 adults)

Novodevichy Monastyr (New Maiden’s Convent) and Cemetery (Walking tour)
The convent is one of the examples of 16-17th Russian architecture. Behind its crenellated wall, we find ourselves i the peaceful atmosphere of the ancient convent and ten proceed to the actual cells of nuns. Beyond the convent’s south wall lies the fascinating Novodevichy cemetery where many famous writers, artists, and politicians are buried – Stalin’s wife, Andrey Gromyko, Gorbachyov’s wife Raisa, and Nikita Khrushev. Monuments on many tombs are real masterpieces. Cost: 450 rubles per person (min 4 adults) + entrance fees for the convent.

Victory Park
Highly recommended either on your own or with a tour, Victory Park is gorgeous. The Patriotic Museum is INCREDIBLE, and everything in there is in Russian and English. The dioramas of the 5 largest WWII battles involving Russia will be enjoyed by all members of the family including your children. There are huge walls covered with period photography, interesting exhibits throughout, and a very moving “wall of memory and sorrow.” There is also a moving exhibit of Russian gypsies who were included in the holocaust along with the Jewish people. Behind this museum but still at Victory Park is an Open Air Machinery and Equipment museum with exhibits of original planes, tanks, on hand from WWII both German and Russian, as well as those planes the Americans manufactured and provided Russia in the war. The kids will love this. There is a simulated war trench as well, machine gun pillboxes, lots of history and fun on a pretty day.

And finally, the Izmaylovo Market is lovely. You’ll find all the souvenirs and antiques you need including traditional and nontraditional Matryoshka dolls and Christmas ornaments. The market is open every day of the week, bu the weekend has the most vendors.

Metro: The metro in Russia is great. It operates very much like the metro in Paris. The difference is that in Paris, if you know how to read, you can easily negotiate the metro. Knowing how to read in Russian doesn’t do you a bit of good since they use the Cyrillic Alphabet. Carry a small notebook with you and write down your destinations/stops. Then if you know your colors and can count, you can pick the right line easily and get to your correct stop. Most likely you will want to utilize the metro!

It is highly recommended to carry both toilet paper and wipes with you.


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