Trip Start Apr 09, 2007
Trip End Jun 14, 2007

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Flag of Russia  ,
Sunday, May 13, 2007

So we arrived in Moscow at 0800, after a pleasant over night train ride. Upon arrival, a man was waiting for us with a sign around his neck that said "Mr Bishop, Mr Barth, Mr Smith " He drove us to our hotel, which is a complex of four hotels built for the 1980 olympics. It supposedly the largest hotel in Europe. Its right next to a huge flea market and the largest urban park in Europe (you can barely see the other side of it from the 19th floor of the hotel). The hotel is nice, with all sorts of shops and about 4 different restraunts. The elevators feel like your on an old wooden roller coaster...alot of creaking and shaking.

We spent our first day just basically relaxing at the hotel, and walking around the nearby flea market, where you can pretty much buy whatever you want.

Today, we took the metro in the city center since our hotel is about 6 KM outside the city center (during rush hour, more people ride the metro here than in London and NYC combined. The metro stations have some of the most interesting architecture in Moscow. I think they were built as a memorial to the communist industrial might. They are filled with statues and memorials of all kinds). We got off right by the Kremlin and headed for Red Square, which, for some reason was closed off. Were hoping it will be open tomorrow. Its where Lenins body is, embalmed for all to see. We walked around, following the path of one of the walks suggested on a tourist map. We walked by the former headquartes of the KGB. I was very nervous about taking a picture, as I can only imagine what would happen to you 20 years ago if you tried it. I basically hid behind a tree and snapped a couple shots. Nick wanted me to take a picture of him in front of it, which I wanted no part of. We walked through a couple parks, by the news agency building that used to put out all the Soviet propaganda, and through one of the major pedestrian streets... I think there are more Sbarros in Russia than in the USA. We had our first run in with the authorities, which was actually quite pleasant. They walked up, saluted us (seriously) and asked for our passports, visas, and registrations (everytime you get to a new city here, you have to have your visa registered by the hotel, which is basically just a stamp on your imigration card). They ensured our papers were in order and we were on our way. We were headed for McDonalds by the Kremlin for some genuine russian cousine when it started to pour down rain. Luckily we were right by a metro station so we ducked in...It was a labyrinth. After about 15 minutes of wandering around, we finally located the line we needed and hopped the next train back to our hotel. We just gone done with some pizza at the hotel and will probably just relax for the rest of the night.

Tomorrow is the Kremlin and hopefully red square will be open. Were all pretty excited about our upcoming 5 day train trip to Mongolia, which leaves in 2 days.
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