Moscow Baby

Trip Start Mar 25, 2007
Trip End Feb 16, 2008

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Flag of Russia  ,
Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Well we left Kiev with Aeroflot (Russian Airlines), and funnily enough it was the only flight we had on the whole trip that left on time (4 Alitalia flights and every single one was late!)We arrived in Moscow early, and after struggling to check in (there was very little English spoken at all and my Russian definitely wasn't up to the task!). We had a lazy afternoon, we were still feeling the effects of the late nights in Kiev. We did however decide to sample the famous Russian Vodka later that evening, and by the time we got to the pre-departure meeting we were a little tipsy! Stupidly we carried on in this vein and so the next day we were a little worse for wear!
The next day we headed into the centre of town, to see Red Square etc, however Red Square was closed because of the threat of protest. We did our best to walk around it but the copious amounts of police made sure we kept moving. We did however get into see Lenin's Mausoleum and the burial place of various leaders. Lenin looks very much like a wax figure. Apparently his hair and fingernails still grow a bit! Bit weird if you ask me.
That afternoon we visited a museum dedicated to the Gulag (forced labour camps), which wasn't great, then that evening we headed back to Red Square which was now open.
 The next day we headed straight for the Kremlin, which is huge in area. You  aren't allowed into the government area - they are still security paranoid!  We went into a couple of the major churches. There is so much detail in the pictures and so much gold in the church. The priests also treated as to a quick hymn which was really really beautiful - they had such amazing voices!
The next day we headed off to Star City, the Russian training centre for the cosmonauts. It was the home of the first man in space. Our guide was fantastic, he was a retired Lieutenant Colonel, who had done a lot of the training with the cosmonauts and had developed a lot of the training with G forces. The whole thing was very interesting and our guide had a sense of humour - the first time we'd encountered that in Russia!
That night we caught the overnight train to Pskov, the train didn't have any air conditioning and as a result it was about 40 degrees. Of course this meant we stayed in the bar where there were at least some windows. There we met some friendly Russians* who insisted on buying us Whiskey (they didn't drink Vodka!) and Hamish and Bryce tried their first caviar. I gave it a miss based on their reactions! So we made it to Pskov, knackered, a little hungover but in 1 piece!
*Hamish's foot note. "Friendly Russians" means big hairy ex military Russians. It was impossible to refuse drinks from these guys who were shovelling beer and whiskey down Bryce and my neck at a suicidal rate. Turned out they were only on the train for 4 hours so they left and I passed out in the dining carriage. Katie got the honour of carrying me to bed.......
Moral of the story... If you see a big hairy Russian run away...
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