2nd day – soaking in culture & history

The second day of the study trip was all about culture and history. We had a very relaxed tour around Moscow and visited the most important sightseeing places. For this day, our tour guide was Vladimir, who put a lot of effort in introducing Moscow to us. The weather was surprisingly nice, and even the sun was shining for us.

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Our day started with a rich breakfast at the hotel. At 9 o’clock we took a coach to explore the city. Some students had already tried some Vodka shots the night before and were as expected sleepy and tired in the morning. The walk in the fresh air made everyone vivid again. I expected cooler temperatures than in Switzerland, however, the mild weather made our stroll around the Kremlin pleasant. Our tour started at the Red Square, where the Kremlin and the beautiful San Basil Cathedral are located next to each other. The Kremlin is a fortress, which officially is the residence of the president of the Russian Federation. Further, it includes 5 palaces, 4 cathedrals, the Kremlin Wall and the tower. The cathedral was build between 1955 and 1561 by Ivan the terrible and is a piece of gorgeous architecture.

I imagined the red square to be bigger. I visited the Tiananmen Square in Beijing in April 2014, which is the biggest public square in the world. The red square looked tiny compared to the one in Beijing. Also, at around 9.30 AM there were few tourists visiting the attraction to my surprise. I sort of imagined seeing a similar mass of people like before at the Taj Mahal in Agra, India.

We strolled around the Kremlin and when the place got slowly filled with tourists, we got back to our bus and continued our tour at one of the Seven Sisters. The Seven Sisters are tall buildings from the Stalin era, which figure as universities, hotels, or the Foreign Department. There are five more buildings located outside Russia. There is one in Riga, Prague, Bucharest, Warsaw, and Kiev. In Poland, we call the building “Palac Kultury”; Palac of Culture, which was a gift from Russia to Poland. I have been on the top of the building when visiting Warsaw in summer 2014. However, my parents’ generation is not very fond of this piece of art since it sort of marks Russia’s presence in their country. We got off to explore the area nearby the biggest of the Seven Sisters, which is a University as Vladimir explained.

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In the evening, the class went out for dinner to taste local cuisine. As I figured out during the week, it is common to eat pickles and other cold dishes as a starter. Polish and Russian cuisines do not vary a lot, unlike the Swiss cuisine. The variety of food was immense. I knew most of the dishes already, such as Pelmeni, Borscht, and the Russian Salad. At the end of the evening, we enjoyed hot tea. I was not aware that Russians have a tea ceremony and believed to this point that only Chinese and Japanese do enjoy drinking tea in a traditional way. First, a bit of tea concentrate is poured in cups and then everyone pours hot water from a silver samovar. Only when I got back to Switzerland, I asked my mum what the jam was for, which was also served with the tea. A little bit too late I figured out that Russians sweet their tea with jam, which is very sweet and is used as sugar.

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