Having finally got Hitch back into my safe hands (as long as you don’t count my crash in Irkutsk or the dozens of drops along the way) I took her back to the hostel to repack and do a bit of maintenance. The bike felt so dodgy riding it back from the train station, I had too much weight at the rear, which made the front end feel really light, and not in a good way, as well as a squirmy rear end. With the Heidenau K60 dual purpose tyres and a severely under tensioned chain, the the bike wasn’t handling well at all. After a couple of hours sorting the bike out, I excitedly off to explore some of Moscow. I had big plans, I wanted to visit the Bolshoi theatre to see ‘Don Giovani‘ a masterpiece of opera but the tickets were sold out. There was a slight glimmer of hope, however, I met an awesome Columbian couple from Canada: Gabriel and Camila, who were on their honeymoon and who were on a grand and exciting tour. Gabriel Martinez is a very talented, up and coming young opera singer and when I mentioned that I wanted to visit the Bolshoi I discovered they too had the same plan and had found a way to get some touted tickets. So I cheekily invited myself along and asked them if they were able to get me one too. Sadly, they later learnt that the theatre had implemented a system to prevent the resale of tickets so ‘Don Giovani’ was out of the question. Whilst not the only place in town to experience some Moscow art and culture, it was the only place and show that excited me at that time.
I decided to visit the Ismaylovo Market, apparently it’s the best place in Moscow to get souvenirs but I had heard that much of the market was closed in the week and the best time to visit was at the weekends but I wasn’t going to be around that long, so the market was also off my itinerary. This just left the handful of sites at Red Square so off I went on the bike, it still didn’t feel right, but at least it was a little better. When I arrived I was hoping that I might be able to get a shot of Hitch in front of St. Basil’s but there was no way I could sneak it through the temporary police checkpoint that had been set up let alone it’s metal detectors… So I parked up outside a posh hotel just up the road, luckily a very lovely woman was leaving just as I arrived. As I set off on foot I soon discovered that there was a huge stadium smack bang in the middle of Red Square, which was hosting the Moscow Military Tattoo. As a result much of the sites were closed and fenced off, squeezing the tourists into a tight thoroughfare. A hate tourists at the best of times, Red Square is a big place with plenty of room for everyone, but so too was the stadium, which took up most of Red Square and the mass of tourists was unbearable. FFS, I was really looking forward to Moscow: so of the three things that I had planned had come crumbling down for one reason or another.
Not surprisingly, I didn’t stop long in Red Square, I got a few pictures and chatted with some Russian who asked me to take some pictures of them in front of Lenin’s mausoleum and I was off, bitterly disappointed. It was Moscow’s birthday, that was why the tattoo was in town. I thought I might go along, Red Square at night with fireworks might be quite an impressive site and quite an occasion, maybe Gabriel and Cam would like to join me, but decent tickets were getting on for £40 each.Plus, I’d already seen several tattoos and if they haven’t got the Royal Marines Corps of Drums then it’s not a tattoo, LOL. I decided to give it a miss and treat myself to a decent restaurant for dinner instead. I for a late afternoon walk around town, trying to find somewhere to eat when I stumbled upon this great little unpronounceable Russian-Ukrainian restaurant that I saw advertised at the hostel and that came highly recommend by the staff, I even picked up the 10% discount voucher. So I went in, took a seat and ordered up some nosebag and a couple of drinks. For starters I had a wonderful wild mushroom and red bean salad, followed by veal a la Donetsk, washed down with a pear Kvass. What a beautiful meal it was, I left very content and took a nice stroll back to the hostel just as I light rain began to fall.