Kremlin and Kulich: Spring is (almost?) Here

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I finally went to the Kremlin. That’s right, I’ve been here since January and I just went to the Kremlin last weekend. That’s three solid months of Kremlin-less life in Moscow. Three solid months of hoping that I’d just so happen to run into Putin on the street. Three solid months of being able to SEE the white and gold Ivan the Great Bell Tower from my HOUSE and not “having time” to go see it in person. I mean, I have been busy, sure. I’ve been busy studying, and eating, and hanging out in coffee shops, and sleeping in on the weekends and going to the myriad and endless supply of malls that Moscow has to offer. Okay, that’s a joke of course, I’ve done and seen plenty since I’ve been here, but when I told my mom a couple weeks ago that I had yet to see the Kremlin, THE number one tourist destination in Moscow, her shock was not unfounded.

So last Saturday, I gathered two of my friends, both of whom had already been there, and ventured over the red-walled complex for an afternoon of sightseeing and many, many beautiful churches. There a lot of different things to do and see at the Kremlin, some of which are free or cheap, and some of which cost upwards of 750 rubles (That’s 15 bucks right now). As poor college students, we went with the free or cheap option and scored admission to the Kremlin complex itself and all the churches inside for the equivalent of five dollars. The Armoury, which houses various collections of tsar-era artifacts, as well as the Diamond Fund which houses the Faberge eggs, and the Ivan the Great Bell Tower, all cost extra money and have fixed entrance times. Since we’d all heard the bell tower was overrated and didn’t feel comfortable dropping up to thirty bucks extra to go in the Armoury and the Diamond Fund, we decided to simply enjoy the first day of beautiful weather in Moscow by wandering around the various old churches inside the wall and then strolling along the road nearest to the river. We reveled in the sunshine that glinted off the golden domes and whitewashed church walls for several hours before getting too hungry and retreating to a nearby underground shopping center. I would have to say it was a most certainly worth the price of admission and while of course part of me wants to go see the jeweled Faberge eggs and shining armor in the separate exhibits, I’ll just have to save that for my next trip to Moscow.

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I can’t believe how little time we have left here, and the number of things I still want to do, see, and visit is just mind-boggling. Sunday was a gorgeous 65-degree Easter Day, and I met up with my friends after they finished church to walk around. Easter is the biggest holiday in the Orthodox calendar and the festivities here did not disappoint. In the center of the city, small, Easter-themed huts popped up, selling icons, eggs, pastries, and a variety of other Easter and spring-themed merchandise. Large and beautiful painted faux-eggs stand in the squares next to quaint, egg-shaped light displays, forming a sort of Easter wonderland. While my host family didn’t have much in the way of Easter dinner, we did eat Kulich, the traditional Russian Easter cake, and I’ve eaten more hard-boiled eggs than I know what to do with in the past week. Spring is slowly but surely coming here in Moscow, and although the temperature dropped to the 40s again on Tuesday, I can’t help but hope that by May I’ll be able to head outside sans boots or jacket. Easter, the symbolic start of spring is over, and while the weather has yet to catch up with the public consciousness, the mountains of snow that welcomed me in January are already a distant memory. I only have a month left in this wonderful city, and I plan to make the most of it, whether I need to wear my parka or not.
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Kulich, picture courtesy of russianseason.net

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