Sightseeing in Moscow
Vail, CO, Colorado
Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of stories about local resident Luc Pols’ trip on the Trans-Siberian Railroad.
We secure tickets to Moscow at an office in St. Petersburg and even buy our tickets there to the next city, Yekatarinburg. Unbeknown to us (we told you, no Russian!) dinner and breakfast were included and this is not something I can recommend. The beds, however, are quite comfortable. We are traveling second class, and both Peter and I sleep quite well, even on this rather short trip of eight hours. For those who will be traveling Russia by train in the future, make sure that you keep your tickets because they are collected when you leave the station at your destination. If you don’t have them, you guessed it, fines etc.
We arrive at around 8 a.m. and take the subway to our hotel, which is quite a ways outside of the city center. The hotel is one of those old Soviet style places and if you do not have a lot of time visiting this city, I recommend you stay more in town. Not cheap, mind you, but obviously more convenient.
Our first stop is Red Square with the famous St. Basil Basilica. That is indeed quite a sight to behold. We all have seen photos of this famous landmark, but compared to the real thing, they mean little. We walk by Lenin’s tomb (not one of my favorite places or people) and then enter the Kremlin.
This is one of the most interesting phenomenons we encounter on our trip. We all remember that the Kremlin was the bastion of communism, but I don’t think that there are many people, and I am absolutely one of them, who realize that within the Kremlin walls there are (and have been from before the revolution) seven, I repeat seven, churches!
We are absolutely dumbfounded.
This is the last thing that either Peter or I would have imagined to find here. The Kremlin walls have towers and here we see one remnant of the communist era: crosses which used to adorn the top of the steeples, were replaced by the communist red star and these have not (yet?) been taken down. Quite interesting.
We stroll through the old part of town and have a nice lunch in the theater district, where I cannot resist having my picture taken with the famous Russian playwright Anton Chekov. It is the first of May, but the famous May Day Parade is no more.
Unfortunately, that is what I had counted on and even scheduled the trip around, so as to be here on that date. There are a lot of people milling about, however, and it is fun sitting in a sidewalk cafe having a refreshment, while watching the people stroll by. Moscow is definitely not what it used to be (at least that is what we have been told) and the people look relatively affluent and quite happy. I do not think that people ” at least the younger generation ” are sad to have seen communism disappear. The older generation is a different story, but we’ll talk about that later on.
When sightseeing more, we see a huge, and I mean huge, sculpture, which supposedly is Peter the Great, but which looks more like a tribute to Christopher Columbus. It has ship’s masts with the rolled up sails and a person standing on one of the masts. It must be about 200-plus feet high. Then of course there is an abundance of churches, most of which seem to have survived the communist reign and we even see new ones being built. All in all ” quite a city.
We get desperately lost taking the subway back to the railway station for our next train ride. Due to the fact that everything is only in the Cyrillic script, we have no idea where we are or where to change lines. We even have to leave the subway to try to find our way and, consequently, have to buy a new ticket.
Ah, if we only spoke Russian.
See you next week.