We arrived in Moscow after an overnight train journey where nobody really spoke to anybody else. We went to bed pretty much straight away and woke up in Moscow – now that’s a nice way to travel.
The most amazing thing about Moscow for me was that the Kremlin has four cathedrals inside it. In my ignorance I thought it was just a big, probably grim, government building. The churches were beautiful, with paintings all over their insides (I overheard a guide saying that this was because when they were built most of the population was illiterate). We didn’t see much of the government buildings in the Kremlin. There were guards everywhere with whistles and if you went anywhere near anywhere you weren’t supposed to be, they’d blow very hard in your direction.
Yesterday we met up with Nastya, a friend of my friend Helena. We went for a lovely walk around a little bit of the city and had a cup of tea in a very pleasant cafe. It was really great to get a chance to meet up with someone who actually lives in Moscow and to talk about Russia, China, Europe and our different experiences and perceptions of them.
Another amazing thing about Moscow is the metro. Some of the stations are like cathedrals, or palaces. We visited a bunch of them today – all for the price of a metro ticket (about 50 cents). Some had stained glass windows, others had mosaics featuring Soviet history, and another had life sized statues in a communist style. We were a bit nervous taking photos but then a tour group showed up, at the metro staton. It could only happen in Moscow I think.
We start our trains-Mongolian train trip tomorrow. We’ll be about forty-eight hours in a 3rd class compartment (platskartny) heading to Omsk, Siberia! We’ll let you know how we get on.
Most of our time in Moscow went by in a bit of a blur for me. I was fighting a battle with a head cold in St Petersburg but here in Moscow, the head cold won.
I’ve only really started feeling a bit more “with it” again today – the day we’re leaving. We visited some of the metro stations today and had a walk along the river looking towards the Kremlin. Tonight we’re getting on a train for 48 hours or so which should give me a great chance to relax and sleep and get rid of this cold for good.
I remember a few impressions from the last few days. I remember feeling that I don’t know anything very much about anything to do with Russia. The only things I’ve got to go on are probably very biased news reports and some pretty bad (but entertaining in their way) movies. I didn’t even know what the Kremlin was, or the Red Square, let alone anything more important. I felt a bit embarrassed when we were chatting with Nastya about it. I’m sure the world would be a better place if we all knew more about other countries – but how to go about really understanding them still evades me.
I also remember waking up in the middle of the night to a lot of shouting and partying. There was a whole lot of “RUSSIA, RUSSIA, RUSSIA!”, beeping of horns, screaming and shouting. Russia had won a quarter final for the European Cup (soccer if you’re wondering). I didn’t really know what was going on at the time – thought I was a bit delirious… I wish I’d got a recording of it.