Tour Day 3

Trip Start Aug 02, 2012
Trip End Aug 31, 2012

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Flag of Russian Federation  , Central Russia,
Monday, August 6, 2012

Today was a tour around Moscow's Kremlin. "Kremlin" means 'fortress', and all medieval-era towns and cities in Russia have one. They were built to protect the village's citizens against enemies, particularly Vikings and Mongols, but they stood their guard against French and German invaders too. In the Kremlin, there are heaps of churches and cathedrals. Most of them have golden domes -- and yes, that's real gold leaf -- and beautiful iconography and murals inside. Every surface of the inside walls are covered with exquisite paintings, often augmented with more gold leaf, in particular order. On the ceilings are images of saints and "heavenly people" as our guide put it. The walls have paintings of the tsars and noblemen of medieval Russia, sometimes with images from their lives too. The churches also contain tombs and crypts of the tsars.

Inside the grounds of the Kremlin are the Tsar Gun and the Tsar Bell, which were both cast in workshops within the Kremlin. The cannonballs for the gun are a ton each. The bell has a chunk broken off, which happened when the scaffolding and workshop where the bell was caught fire. The people poured cold water on the bell to prevent it melting, but the temperature difference was enough to cause huge cracks in the structure, and an 11-ton chunk fell off.

After the tour, a friend and I went into town by metro again. I've definitely sussed using the metro now. We got a bit lost last night, but it was easy once we figured out how to transfer between the different lines. I bought a hat yesterday, and a t-shirt today.

One of the things that's really interesting, is the amount of Westernization of Russia. Not only shop names and brands (like Adidas, Reebok, KFC and Wendy's) but there are also signs that say "Sale" and "Discount" for example. We were walking down one of the main streets in the commercial area of Moscow, Arbat Street -- Арбат улица -- and between announcements and advertisements in Russian they were playing western pop songs.

I went into a supermarket today to get a couple of drinks. Very similar to supermarkets at home. I also went into a toy store, Детский Мир (Dyetskii Mir or Children's World), which also sells clothes, shoes and school supplies for children, to see if there was anything I could buy the kids. They sold Lego, but nothing I couldn't get from Toyworld back home. I'll have another look in Denmark.
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