The Kremlin

Trip Start Jun 08, 2005
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Russia  ,
Sunday, August 14, 2005

My interest in Russian politics stemmed from university days. Whilst playing the 'name game' (drinking game), a political wizz (good old Aaron if I recall correctly) banged Stalin's name onto the forehead of one of us unsuspecting girls. The idea of this game is to figure out who you are by asking closed questions to your drinking buddies. Everyone else can see who you are, but you can't! My memory of this particular session surrounds a fair bit of tension between the girls and the guys - how on earth were we meant to stay remotely sober if we didn't even know who Stalin was. They thought it was criminal that we didn't know who he was (rightfully so!). Basically the guys had stepped out of the box alittle, instead of using the likes of the usual Dave Dobbin or Sean Fitzpatric they succeeded in getting us totally chopped by using the names of political strong holds... not very PC I have to say, but it worked a treat for them. I made a mental note was made there and then to brush up on Russian politics at some point during life! Here I am at the Kremlin...

First and foremost the Kremlin is beautiful as it combines a variety of cathedrals and gardens etc all within an imposing wall. The tree's are just beginning to colour at the tips of their leaves in resignation for the winter; their colour against the ornately decorated predominately yellow, white and brick red buildings is beautiful. I paid for a camera pass; a fruitless decision as the batteries in my little digital ran out after the first photo. Abit of a good sent though as the Kremlin is one of those places where the purchase of a book would probably provide a far better depiction than my own photography! I found it nice to just put the camera away and enjoy the environment. The art work (icon's) within the cathedrals where mindblowing - ceiling to roof with hundreds of beautiful pieces.

During my visit to the Kremlin I was treated to abit of a military display. I'm not too sure if it's a standard regular thing, or if I was just there on a special day. The display comprised of about 50 soldiers (with rifles), 10 horsemen (with swords) and a brass band. The display was chilling at very least as discipline, precision and accuracy took the soldiers and horsemen through their routine. The soldiers would march like robots, their legs straight out in front with boots stomping in time on the path. Their guns were used almost as a percussion instrument as they either clunked the butts on the ground. Meanwhile the horsemen wielded there swords in a carefully choreographed routine. All of the horses were jet black, each sporting a 'star' beneath their forelocks. The horses were absolutely beautiful, big (16-17 hands), solid and well groomed. They weren't 'pretty' (as in 'Arab' type pretty) as such, I think beautiful would describe them better - real war machines. The entire routine was deadly serious and commanded instant respect.

Following my visit to the Kremlin I took a 1.5 hour return boat trip down the river which was pretty amazing, the sun set was beautiful as we passed the Kremlin... this time I captured it on camera!

Today I went and took a look at Lenin, no due disrespect but he's just a dead guy in a box. They've done a pretty good job of preserving him, but I do find the concept of preserving bodies for viewing abit gross and doubt I would have paid to see him. Never the less he's never short of visitor's and he doesn't look a day over 54!

The metro has also been one of my 'hang outs', a visit to a metro stations is abit like going to an art museum and I have made a point of visiting most of the stations. Each has a slightly different theme, but one can be guaranteed that each will be ornate and beautiful. The main metro line in Moscow was constructed in the 1930's, some of the stations are decorated with numerous mosaic masterpieces, other's are compilations using brass and other media, my favourite being the station with beautiful stained glass insets.

The metro in itself is abit spooky - 150m underground and doubles as a bomb shelters, when you hop onto the escalators it feels like you're taking a trip to middle earth! I didn't like it too much, but then that's probably because I have a stupid phobia about escalators (what if there was a fire at the top or the bottom!!). My phobia is particularly bad when the escalator is so long that you can't see the get off. Hmmm yes, strange I know, so best I move on as I am sure absolutely none of you have any problems what so ever with long escalators! Apparently the Moscow underground carries more passengers per day than the New York and London metro's combined.. hmm interesting.

Over the course of my time here in Moscow I've been catching up with Connal, Liz and Andy who I met from the Trans-Sib train from Irkutsk. Tonight the four of us will be on the same train up to Saint Petersberg, so that should be fun. Liz and I are trying to sort out an excursion to the Ballet, we couldn't get tickets for anything here in Moscow so hopefully St Pete's will be fruitful.

So far so good though, it's great to have 'real' coffee again and I can see that I'm totally in love with all of the styly clothing and shoes on sale in this part of the world. I figure it can only get better as I get further into Europe!
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