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Travel blog I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast, but I'm intercontinental and I eat French toast (Beastie Boys) | | | Photos available at www.istockphoto.com/georgeclerk

Moscow (Moscaaw for US readers!)

RUSSIAN FEDERATION | Sunday, 23 September 2007 | Views [2273] | Comments [3]

I'm иow on my last day in Moscow, heading off for the 5,500+ mile train jouяney towards Beijing late tonight.  Should get to Beijing in just under two weeks, afteя three nights near Lake Baikal (Eastern Russia), three nights in Mongolia and the rest on the train.  So I probably won't have Internet access until sometime after 5th October - Oh no!  And since all my stuff's now packed up ready to depart, there's only Moscow pictures from my first day here.

I booked the trans-sib tickets with a compaиy who include a walking tour of Moscow, and it was just me on the day I arrived, so I had first year Tourism and Leisure student Natasha to myself.  Where I'm staying is on the outskirts of Moscow, so we headed to the nearest Metro station (crossing a main railway line on the way and dodging high speed passenger trains) and went into the centre.  Realising that I'd be coming back on my own in the evening, I tried to remember the cyrillic station name, and also how to negotiate through the maze of tunnels, staircases and elevators at the huge stations in the city centre. 

The mullet hairstyle is still very popular and common in Russia - and another blast from the past, it looks like Shannen Doherty is too.

Some of the metro stations look more like museums - marble, chandeliers and stained glass all over the place, and also some are incredibly deep down in the ground - you get down to a platform for one line, then go way down again to a different platform, then - for my line - down a third, unbelievably long and steep elevator, normally under the watchful eyes of armed inspectors.  And there seems to be no need for London style arrival time screens, as trains full of people arrive every 30-60 seconds.

Anyway, we walked past lots of sights, and Natasha had an interesting story for each, including the famous baker who cleverly ate a cockroach that a Tsar had angrily found in his bap, and managed to pretend that it was a raisin!  Since it was just me on the tour, I tried to find out her views on the Communist era, and asked her opinion of the actions of leaders such as Lenin and Stalin.  Although she mentioиed some of the horrific things that went on at their command, her firm view was that it was part of the history of яussia, and therefore she saw it as only good.

Remembering back to GCSE history, I also asked about Stalin's attempts to erase Trotsky from the history books, but she didn't know what I was talking about!

And she took the opportunity to ask some questions about English (including whether to pronounce "either" as 'eether' or 'ayther' - I said that either was OK...).  She had heard of Scotland, but not of Edinburgh, and when she asked me which year the city was founded in I had to admit that I didn't have a clue!

Lenin's mausoleum with one of the Kremlin corner towers behind

As well as Red Square etc, I also went to Sculptuяe Park and had a look into Gorky Park next door.  Sculpture Park wasn't really what I was hoping it would be (enormous toppled statues of Stalin etc), although there were plenty of carefully plinth’d ones of Lenin, which is amazing considering how many statues of Lenin I've seen still in active service.  But mostly there were lots of modern, arty statues.  Gorky Park looked like a Blackpool style funfair, with rickety rollercoasters and lots of candy floss.

Memorial to the unknown soldiers who died in the Second World War

Apart from that, I looked around the Kremlin and Red Square, which has a huge luxury shopping centre on the opposite side from Lenin's mausoleum, complete with Louis Vitton and Gucci shops - surely about as capitalist as it gets... if only Lenin was in a grave he'd surely be spinning, but I suppose he can't while he's on display, encased in glass!

Tags: On the Rails

Comments

1

Am I gonna have to wait over a week for another update George? I will have to make do with the new season of Curb. It's pretty, pretty, pretty good.

  Kevin Sep 27, 2007 7:37 AM

2

Hey George, where's the picture of Natasha?

Looks like you're back on the adventure track. Keep up the blog, it's great.

  Mark Sep 28, 2007 6:08 AM

3

You asked Natasha about Trotsky. But what about those tidbits you told me about Catherine the Great and Rasputin? Well, I forgot to tell you that I asked about both on that walking tour of St. Petersburg. The first question, the whole international group stared at me in horror and then the tour guide said angrily, "Catherine the great did NOT like to do it with horses!" And then when I brought up the details about Rasputin... No kidding, they looked at me in disbelief, like I was some brazen New Yorker, when it all came from your British private school education!

  Jessamyn Sep 30, 2007 9:47 AM

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