The first few days of Moscow were a whirlwind, spent primarily indoors, listening to presentations from Tyler's colleagues. The evenings were ours and so as soon as we were released, we headed straight for the doors of the hotel and out into the city.
Moscow has had its first real winter in a few years according to locals. There's snow and slush tucked into the city's crevices and the sun remains a distant memory to some.
We took refuge from the cold and wet streets on our first day with a bite to eat. The restaurant specializes in Georgian food, but after having some of the best in St. Petersburg, this didn't compare. I will say that their ginger, lemon, mint, and star anise tea was perfection.
The khachapuri that Tyler ordered was filled to the brim with cheese and who wouldn't like that, but it still didn't meet our new found khachapuri snob expectations.
We bought a metro card on our first day in the city. A one week unlimited card will cost you about $12 and is so worth it. Moscow is not a walking city, meaning that if you want to get from one end to the other, you're going to need to get some help and with a metro that looks like a museum, you'll still feel like you're touring the city even from far beneath the bustling streets.
There are different themes at each stop depending on where you are.
At the Dostoveskaya metro stop, there's a mural of the man himself, Dostoevsky, keeping a watchful eye on you.
We took one such metro trip to the Gulag Museum. It was one of the best museums I've visited in Russia and being with an expert who agreed, it's well worth a visit.
It's not only filled with artifacts, letters written on pieces of cloth and wood, and propaganda, but houses archives and even has some out for you to paw through.
Tyler didn't waste any time looking through the documents open to the public.
Back out on the streets, the lights from the new year had been turned on. They keep these up for a while to continue the celebration, which is great for a tourist like me.
We met a friend for dinner and happened to have a great meal despite none of us having heard of ever been to the place. Don't you love when that happens?
The Korean restaurant has great kimchi, rice bowls, ramen, and soups. Their ginger tea is great as well (I drank an entire pot).
Not quite ready to call it a night, we walked to the nearby Gorky Park. It too was lit up and filled with ice skaters, taking advantage of the rink that spans much of the park and winds through its paths.
As we walked under the twinkling lights, a blizzard emerged out of nowhere. We called a taxi to the rescue and made it safely back to our hotel.
After the next day's presentations, we wandered to Red Square, a major tourist attraction, but a must-do, even if you've seen it before.
G.U.M. is always lit up it seems, as it looked just like this in October, sans snow.
The square; however, was completely transformed. There was no longer a vast, open area, but instead a skating rink, carnival rides, and lots of small shacks filled with vendors.
It actually looked quite surreal with the colorful flags waving above us against the lights of the majestic buildings.
Now, to the title of this post. Thanks to a friend, we were led to what was a true gem in middle of the metropolis that is Moscow. Moscow Delhi is warm, inviting, delicious, and unpredictable.
As soon as you walk through the door which is hidden in between buildings, down a covered alley just big enough for a sedan to get through, you're no longer in Moscow. You take off your shoes and pop on a pair of warm slippers if you want. To your left there is a small kitchen where cooks are preparing only a couple of the many dishes offered.
The other kitchen in the middle of the restaurant is always busy with different people completely submerged in their tasks. There's a man putting paneer on a skewer, a set of women using their hands to mix together something that smells delightful, another woman is preparing tea. There's a man next to us cleaning rice and the sound of it is purely nostalgic.
We ate like kings and queens, so full from the generous fare, but not stopping because the flavors seduced us to our very core.
At the end of the meal and after two glasses of masala chai, we left our perch that had been the perfect resting place for two hours and one of the best dining experiences I've ever had.