Read my previous post here.
The end of the year came about pretty quickly.
Teaching and living in Volgograd became pretty normal, pretty quickly. Even though nothing was all that normal.
November came and went, and by early December, I had started to think about what to do for Christmas. Not the 25th December. Christmas in Russia is actually on the 7th January, and they have holidays beginning from New Years Eve (31st December). My work would finish up on the 30th, and I didn’t start again until the 10th of January.
I decided to head home to Australia for the couple of weeks, and gave myself a night in Moscow on the way. This night happened to be the 30th December.
There hadn’t really been all that much snow up until the 30th – only a couple of days, but it melted pretty quickly as temperatures in Volgograd hovered around 0 degrees for most of December.
Luck of course had it that as soon as I arrived at Volgograd’s airport it started to almost blizzard.
Of course, in most places in Russia, snow wouldn’t affect anything – its a part of life right? Planes still fly, schools still open, people still live. But Volgograd is a bit different.
In my 2 months so far, I had asked different students and people about what it’s like in winter, and if it’s still possible to fly. The general consensus was no – and why was this? Almost everyone I asked blamed Germany – apparently the German army decided on the most unfavorable location for an airport, kind of in a low lying plain, and almost always shrouded in fog or low cloud. Of course, authorities had had 70 years to move the airport – and trust me – there wasn’t much to move. But, of course, that’s not how Russia works. So the airport is where it was. And this was looking bad for me to get to Moscow.
Snow was getting really heavy, and the cloud was really getting thick. My flight was delayed by about 40 minutes, but luckily the sky kinda cleared for us to leave.
About 2 hours later, I arrived to Moscow.
A bit about Moscow.
This place – it is my favourite city in the world. It’s hard to answer why, but there is something about it which just makes me want to see more and more, over and over again.
People have an idea of Russia being dark, cold, and yeah, a bit backward. If you solely visited a city like Volgograd, maybe you would get this impression.
But Moscow – to me – is like a fairy tale. It’s like Paris in some ways, New York in others, and unique in so so many ways. There’s no where else quite like it.
I had visited earlier in December, so this was the second time for the month. However, this time was so special. And maybe the photos will help to show and explain a bit as to why I find it so magical.
For my night in the city, I stayed in the beautiful Hilton at Leningradksaya station, which is actually in one of the ‘Stalin’ buildings in Moscow – brutalist skyscrapers commissioned by the man himself.
As soon as I arrived, so did the snow. It started snowing really heavily, and the sun had just set.
Given that it was the night before New Years eve, I took the Metro to Tverskaya station, which is at the top of a super wide boulevard, leading up from the bottom of the Red Square.
There were so many decorations and lights and just – It was just magical. I wondered around Tverskaya for a while in the snow, and just enjoyed.
I then began to walk down to the Red Square – this is the place you see in photos if you see Russia. The cathedral with candy looking domes? That’s the Red Square. And every time I have been to Moscow, it’s one of the first places I go. It’s just special.
And in the snow, so close to New Year’s, with the ice-rink in the middle, Christmas markets, and just a beautiful atmosphere, this was the time I visited which I will remember forever. Photo’s don’t do justice, but still.
You can see it was snowing pretty hard, and I had a crazy couple of days coming up to get home, so I decided to head back after this.
It’s super hard to explain, but this night I spent in Moscow was probably one of the best days in my life. Everything was just so perfect and beautiful, and it’s something that I will remember for the rest of my life.
The next day (31st December) I began my trip home for my quick holiday in Australia. Just getting there was half the problem – I had booked a ticket, which took me from Moscow – Brussels – London – Dubai – Melbourne – Sydney. This ended up being a crazy 2 days of travelling, and meant I ended up celebrating the new year in the queue at Immigration in Heathrow Airport 🙂
2016 bought so many more experiences and stories, which I’m looking forward to writing about. I visited a whole bunch of new cities in Russia (and of course Moscow a few more times), visited Georgia, and life kept getting more and more interesting (?) in Volgograd.
But the first two months had been a decent start…