Here we are in Red Square.
Below are scenes from inside the Moscow Metro.
Each day had a tour of Moscow by mini-bus. Our guide was Nadia,
who had met the train from Vladimir. She and Alaine don’t seem to care much for
each other. Our first day was a walking tour of the Kremlin and of the
Armory. This included the largest cannon in Russia, which was never fired,
and largest bell ever made, which was never rung. The first because the
recoil would have broken the carriage, and the second because a piece broke
off when firefighting water caused rapid cool down of part of the bronze bell.
The grounds contain several cathedrals and churches, all very important to
the Russian Orthodox Church. We learned a good bit about Orthodox
architecture, including the reasons behind the five-level iconostases, and also
that usually on the west wall is a mural portraying the Last Judgment. We
saw the Presidential office building from outside. We toured the Cathedral
of the Assumption and looked at the other three churches. The red wall and
its towers are the fourth wall to be built there. The red brick one has been
there for several centuries. The red stars are still on top of the wall towers,
but will not be replaced due the expense.
Views of the Kremlin, from within and without.
The Armory has a large collection of jewelry, paintings, icons, dishes,
armor (!), etc., that is associated with the tsars. Afterward, Penny and I took
the mini-bus back to the hotel so we could nap and try to shake our head
colds. The omnipresent cigarette smoke and the smog do make it difficult.
Alaine did not accompany us on the first day because she went off on a quest
for Moscow Circus tickets. Both evenings were sold out, but she found a
scalper and got four tickets! Hurrah! We took a river boat ride from Kiev
Station around to Red Square, and that was a very enjoyable outing.
On August 14, we again had a Russian hotel breakfast, which consists
mostly of dinner items. Jolanta had warned us about this back in Warsaw.
Hot dogs in particular, seem popular, and the buffet seems to run out of
orange juice very early. We went on another city tour with Nadia and
Alaine. This one included the bluff near the university with its panoramic
view of Moscow, and also the monument to the Great Patriotic War of 1941-
1945 which has no mention of the war in the Pacific, in China, in North
Africa, or in Western Europe. You get the idea! It is a Russian war
memorial. This monument was dedicated in 1995 for the fiftieth anniversary
of the defeat of Nazi Germany. We got a drive-by look at Lubyanka, and a
photo-stop at Novodevichy Convent and Cemetery, two places that always
seem to figure in spy novels. We then went to Red Square again, where we
got a tour of the Cathedral of the Intercession, or St. Basil’s as it is more
Arbat Street in Moscow.
A general observation: I have pretty much seen all of Moscow that I
would like to see, and there are a couple of things in St. Petersburg that we
didn’t get to see. But this is not a place that I would go out of my way to
visit again. I certainly would not want to live here, even if I did speak the
language. They certainly are a dour lot.
Reconstructed Church of the Savior
GUM Department Store off Red Square
Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan by Red Square
Lenin's Tomb on Red Square
We went to see the Moskovskii Cirk Niculina. Much fun! There
were several large, English-speaking groups there, and a Brazilian one too. I
suppose the lion taming show was good. They were tame, lazy lions, but
they performed well. I don’t really approve of such things, so I was a little
put off by it. The clowns, jugglers, and acrobats were all very good. I liked
the trapeze artists the best. The pair in the second act used no safety net or
harness, and their show was spectacular.
Well, tomorrow we will get it together and leave Moscow for
Yekaterinberg. Finally, at long last, the Trans-Siberian Railroad for real!
One more thing: the television in the Beta Hotel gets BBC World
News. The differences in coverage of the Georgia-Ossetia crisis between
BBC and the English-language Russia Today show on a neighboring
channel is absolutely amazing!