The 'Red' City

Trip Start Apr 03, 2013
Trip End Ongoing

Flag of Russia  , Central Russia,
Sunday, April 7, 2013

We had a lovely overnight train down to Moscow, first class all the way!!!

Early check-in to the hotel so we could get some breakfast, this hotel is a vast improvement on the last, let's just hope they are all like this going forward hey!! So off to breakfast.  Great brekky and then back to the room to catch up on the washing.  All done and ready for our walking tour.

First stop was to look at the underground 'in pictures’.  The underground stations have been decorated using different forms of Mosaic, stained glass and carvings from marble.  None of them have religious themes as the underground was created by Joseph Stalin.  He wanted to build the underground but didn’t know how to do it and refused to ask for help from other countries, so he dug holes down in 1930 but was not able to join them up with tunnels.  Finally he bought a machine from England in 1933 to build the tunnels and then he duplicated this machine and finally built the underground, the first line was completed in 1935.  Most of the stations had a bust of Stalin in them, however, these were removed and replaced by the bust of Lenin as Stalin was seen as a tyrant, and only one Stalin bust remains.  The stations were decorated throughout WWII and some of the decorations are based on the location of the platforms e.g. Belorusskaya (Belarus) is decorated with Wheat as the country is known for agriculture and from this station you can get the train there.  Other stations highlight the different skills of the people of just plain pretty pictures. It is one of the deepest undergrounds in the world and 10 million use it a day and pay no attention to the works of art surrounding them.

We then headed to the Red Square.  Red had a double meaning in Russian, one being beautiful and the other the colour.  Now they do not use the beautiful meaning but still call Red Square after this.  Entering via the historical museum the archway to the left had been reconstructed in 1998 (not that you could tell) as Stalin decided to knock this down so he could get his tanks in for the annul victory day celebration.  Unfortunately we were not able to visit the Lenin memorial where his body is mummified as they found cracks in the marble of his tomb so they are restoring this.

We then stopped to have some ‘hot chocolate’ in the GUM building, this was more like a very thick chocolate sauce in a cup which you had to eat with a spoon and not able to drink it through the straw they provided.  Steve got the fondue version which just meant they added strawberries and banana in the bottom of the glass.  It was very interesting.  The GUM building was originally built for a market place and now it serves as a nice warm retreat from the cold and stop of shopping.

Off to St Basils Cathedral.  Never knew it but St Basils is a symmetrical building from the outside with its domes.  There are 9 alters in St Basils cathedral each under one dome.  The Cathedral was originally named ‘The Cathedral of the Protection of Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat’, however, the name changed unofficially to St Basils as St Basil is buried there and people would reference they were going to St Basil’s so it stuck.  The inside has been decorated many times throughout the years from ‘Giraffe’ style by Catherine the Great, to white to the original brick pattern.  The reason for the 9 alters was because the Russians did not know how to build a large expanse roof, only able to build for height.

Moving on to the ‘Unknown solider’ memorial.   The memorial is guarded by two soldiers at a time for 1 hour, when it is -30 degrees they get a little respite and only have to stand guard for 30 mins, lucky chaps.

We were then left to fend for ourselves in the ‘walking street’.  Here we found some pressies and stumbled across the Hard Rock Café.  As Steve has to get a shot glass in every Hard Rock we come to we venture in and decide to have a meal as well.  Cosmos were good but not as good as the one I got to make at the bar in Singapore, don’t think that homemade Cosmos in a public bar will ever be beaten!!  Tried to order some dinner, I ordered chicken pasta with onion rings on the side.  Not sure where we all got confused but there was not a noodle to be seen on my plate!!  Got the pasta sauce over the chicken, vegetables and my onion rings.  OH well, better luck next time!!

Day 2 in Moscow allowed us to explore the Kremlin.  We had a guide take us around who loved his religious history.  Steve thought this might be as he would have grown up in Soviet times and not allowed to talk of these things.  So we headed to the Armoury museum first followed by 3 more cathedrals.  Russians love their cathedrals.  The armoury holds the usual, swords, jewels etc.  It also has a collection of Faberge eggs from the royal collection, I didn’t know but these were only made for Royals and they represented Easter eggs.  They also had original clothing and carriages on display which belonged to the Tsars.  Word of warning, don’t lean over the rope at the carriage display as this will set off an alarm which tells you very loudly do not touch, found that one out!! Ivan the terrible is buried in one of the cathedrals here and another held the coronations.

We wandered past the Tsar Bell which weighs 200 kg and never rang.  It was damaged in the Great Fire after cold water from the Moscow River was poured over the flames and the bell cracked.  You can still see some of the fine cracks in the bell, however, one large portion of the bell broke off.

Walking past the arsenal building you can see the building is surrounded by 800 cannons.  The president and his secretary work within the Kremlin, however, political debates happen elsewhere.

There are 20 towers surrounding the Kremlin building, 5 now support Ruby Stars on top of them, which is the star of the communist.

Moscow had its history knocked down during the Soviet rule and they are now knocking down these buildings and restoring the old history back.  The buildings are very eclectic mix in Moscow and ones that stand out are the 7 Stalin buildings.  These buildings are very intricate in detail.  The tallest holds the uni now and another is an apartment building.

Heading off to the train now and leaving Moscow behind.  Our driver gave us door to door service and delivered us to our cabin, think this was to make up for making us wait for 45 mins for the Germans that never showed.  Cabins aren’t as flash as the St Petersburg to Moscow journey but is still manageable.  We have a nice dinner of bread roll with salami (courtesy of our St Petersburg to Moscow journey) and a cuppa soup!! 

See you in 24 hours in Yekaterinburg!!
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