So, with some delay, I will put up entries about the rest of our trip. Better a bit late than a lot of never!
Obviously we were very busy, too busy to write a lot on blogs etc, and the easter we went the scarcer internet access became too…
And the dreaded smog, which on the first day wasn’t so bad. We went on a trip past the highlights – the Red Square and the Kremlin mostly. Despite the heat it was fairly bearable.
Still, as here on the Red Square, the smog was visible:
After walking around for a bit, past squares, the KGB building (in ‘nice’ Soviet style ie square, grey and concrete), the Bolshoy theatre, and a Karl Marx statue, we ended up at the Red Square. We thought it was rather impressive and the history is clear.
After having looked around we queued up for the Lenin mausoleum, when I think I set a personal record for ‘longest wait for shortest event’ – after IIRC nearly an hour of queueing (and dealing with the by-that-time predictably rude staff of the cloakroom) the whole walk past comrade Lenin was over in just 30 seconds. Weird experience, this dark, low, and cold room with just The Man in bright spotlight, surrounded by pairs of guards. When a grandmother was complaining to her granddaughter in the dark of the stairs going down, two of them as connected by strings lifted their finger to their lips and produced a hushed ‘shhh’ (and produced another when the woman wouldn’t shut up :p).
I was personally rather charmed by the Big Red Building (that I only now find out is the State Historical Museum) on the one side, more than by the church on the other side (that I thought was less pretty and interesting than its lookalike in St Petersburg).
Then for a visit to the cathedral (affectionately called ‘marshmallow church’ by us), and like similar churches we weren’t allowed to visit the interior proper, well at least we could take photos here (as opposed to the churches in the Kremlin so I’m going to be short about these later).
I happen to like churches a lot – architecturally speaking :p – but this cathedral just doesn’t do it for me. It’s fairly boring, inside but mostly outside. I can’t see what all the fuss is about. It’s simple, except for the domes and even these aren’t wildly wowing. This is the inside:
Finally, we went to the Kremlin, which had lots of cathedrals and churches in which we could not take pictures, and old unfriendly ladies shouted at us when we tried, and we then took a little nap of around an hour before leaving again, back to the hostel.
On the way in the metro we bought tickets to see The Nutcracker ballet performed in a theatre near the Bolshoy Theatre (if you say it quick enough it’s like it was in the Bolshoy). That was very pretty although I personally nodded off a few times – not because it was bad or dull, but because the short night especially on the night train was taking its toll!
After the ballet we had a drink on the terrace of a fairly expensive pub where the young waiter was keen to show his 19th-century English – “Good evening ladies and gentlemen, how may I be of your service” or suchlike words, we hardly knew what he was saying :). But the vodka was good. Then we went back to the hostel, where it was amazingly warm, I Skyped with CC for a bit (what would turn out to be my only direct contact with her for the entire trip :'( ), and we all tried to sleep – difficult when even when you were just lying still without even a sheet on you and just light clothes you STILL dripped with sweat :O.
I realise this entry is longer and more detailed than the previous, hectically written in a youth hostel; I might retrowrite another St Petersburg entry then later. This was a day in Moscow – more to follow! I’m planning on not just day-by-day accounts but also ‘specials’ as not everything can be told by the diary :).