We woke to more heavy overnight snow, creating a winter wonderland panorama from our 23rd floor bedroom window. As it was our final day, we over-indulged with a large breakfast and then bid our farewells to the lovely restaurant staff who had looked after us all week.
After packing our belongings together we set off for a stroll through the local Sokolniki Park as we had only previously viewed it at night. The ice rink was already crowded at 11.00 a.m. but as it was a Saturday, Muscovites were starting their weekend with some exercise and a spot of festive fun.
It was lovely walking through the fresh snow and enjoying the festive music from the park’s loudspeakers. We wandered over to the fairground which was located at one side of the park and appeared to be quite old but still in working order.
The wood burning braziers were already lit so we warmed our hands on one of them for a final time before setting off back to the hotel, pausing to admire the Church of the Resurrection just outside the park gates, it’s onion shamed domes looking even more beautiful in the snow.
Back at the hotel, we made ourselves cups of tea before checking out of our room. The Holiday Inn Sokolniki had exceeded expectations and being conveniently located opposite a metro station meant that we could move around the city with ease.
Returning to the airport was quite easy and inexpensive. We took the metro to Okhotny Ryad (near Red Square) and connected on foot via an underpass to its adjoining station Teatralnaya to take another train to its terminus at Domodedovskaya. From there we heaved our suitcases up flights of steps in search of the airport bus. As we had arrived by this route earlier in the week, we assumed that the bus would depart from the same stop where we had alighted. We waited in the freezing cold for several minutes at the bus stop which had a large 308 and aircraft logo on its sign. When the bus finally arrived and we tried to board, the driver waved his arms, closed the doors and drove off! Thankfully, we had allowed plenty of time and eventually found the bus stop across the road opposite McDonalds. I still don’t know why the original bus stop was numbered as there didn’t seem to be anything referring to ‘alighting only’. Please remember that if you are planning on returning to Domodedovo airport by metro and bus that this service is not covered by the travel pass and you will need to pay 120 Roubles in cash. As with the outbound journey, there was insufficient space for luggage and we had to leave our cases blocking the aisle at the rear of the bus. The journey terminates at the airport, taking approximately 35 minutes along motorway type roads and makes speedy progress.
On entering the departure hall there was no queue at the British Airways desk but the conveyor belt had stopped working. Due to this following check-in, we had to take our luggage to another desk for them to be able to start their journey to the aircraft. It was very quiet on a mid-December Saturday afternoon, with security deserted and hardly anyone waiting at immigration. This gave us more time to relax before boarding our BA 787-900 Dreamliner which had more legroom and better amenities than the A321 we arrived on.
A drinks trolley came round shortly after take off and I enjoyed a refreshing gin and tonic. The snack served a little later was identical to the outbound flight, comprising a houmous and falafel wrap and a small bar of Toblerone with tea or coffee. We them had a second alcoholic drink a little later during the four hour flight. Catching up on more films, I watched Churchill which was very enjoyable and then started watching Hampstead but as I was quite sleepy, I didn’t actually see much of it.
London didn’t feel much warmer than Moscow as we made our way to our airport hotel. Waking up the next morning, it was actually snowing and the English countryside resembled a winter wonderland as our train headed north – I think we must have brought the snowy conditions back with us from Russia! We returned home safe and sound after an absolutely lovely 6 days in Moscow.
I would definitely recommend a visit to the Russian capital, especially in December when the Christmas market is in full swing and the city is blanketed in snow. We were able to gain entry to both the Kremlin and Lenin’s Mausoleum without queuing and apart from using the metro, it was never busy.
In the first post of this series, I moaned about the exorbitant cost of Russian visas but the trip turned out to be well worth the cost and effort of obtaining one. We actually spent far less than expected, a week’s travel card costing £10, and entrance to the Kremlin £6.30. Dining was also reasonable, even in the GUM department store and who could resist delicious sausages and mulled wine in Red Square at only £4 for both – we certainly couldn’t! Let’s hope it’s not too long before we are able to make a return visit.