Sight seeing in Moscow
Sunday 2 July 1989. It is raining in Moscow but that doesn’t interfere with the schedule.
At 1230 we were treated to a City Tour. One of the stops was Red Square. Red Square began life as a slum; a shantytown of wooden huts clustered beneath the Kremlin walls that housed a collection of peddlers, criminals and drunks whose status left them outside the official boundaries of the medieval day. It was cleared on the orders of Ivan III at the end of the 1400’s but remained the providence of the mob, the site of public executions and rabble rousing until much later.
The squares name has nothing to do with Communism or with the color of many of its buildings.
Red Square came into it’s own in the 20th Century, when it was most famous as the site of official military parades demonstrating to the world the might of the Soviet armed forces.
Since Perestroika, however the emphasis has moved away from the official pomp and Red Square has been used increasingly for rock concerts, big classical music performances and a whole range of large-scale events from fashion shows to festivals of circus art. Moscow met the millennium here with a huge firework display and street party. It was indeed a fascinating place to visit.
We returned to the Hotel to prepare for dinner. In Russia you do not leave your room key at the front desk. Each floor has a key lady. You turn your key in and she gives you a card. When you return you give her the card and she gives you the key to your room. Their shifts are 24 hours long.
We showered and dressed for dinner. Our room was adequate. No bedspreads, towels did not match and appeared to be pieces of Terry cloth cut towel size and hemmed on the sides. No wash clothes. The glasses were plastic and likely previously used. Needless to say I scrubbed my glass thoroughly prior to using it.
DINNER: This is dinner? I won’t be gaining weight during this trip.
- Ham and 3 olives on a plate.
- A small pastry cup with Red caviar.
- Deep fried fish. Ok considering we were very hungry.
- Dry jellyroll for desert.
It was such an interesting meal I fell asleep at the table. The service was worse. One of the waiters walked around picking his teeth while a few others were attempting to sell jars of black caviar to us. This day needs to end.
Monday 3 July 1989. We awoke at 0400 after a wonderful 8 hours of sleep tucked under our belts and still truly felt like a freight train had run over us. Jet lag is such a wonderful experience. The beds are hard. The pillows are square and hard and the sheets are like starched table clothes. The city still sleeps except for the rattle of streetcars buses and a few taxi’s. It is overcast and looks like another cold rainy day.
Breakfast was at 0830 and by no means an elegant champagne gourmet occasion.
Watered down plum juice, bread, cold cuts, salt free butter and oatmeal. The cream was warm and had the appearance and smelled like watered down Similac or Enfamil.
City tour started at 0930.We went to the Exhibition of Peoples Achievements. A very large area that contains many exhibitions, including the Space Exhibition. The building that contained the space exhibition had a very bad leak in the roof and the floor was covered with water.
Another area was the Children’s achievement exhibition. This was an interesting morning. Now it’s time for lunch. At this point food is becoming a thing with me so look forward to something at least somewhat tasty. We had coleslaw but it was loaded with onions (which I can’t eat) Potato soup was excellent. Pot roast, French fries with a sauce on them (that’s different) and lemon vanilla ice cream. Like our hotel room it was adequate but the service is still very bad and the one waiter continues to pick his teeth while waiting on the tables.
At 1400 we went to the Metro Circle. (Subway). Moscow has approximately 140 miles of subway transportation in operation and 7 million people per day use the subway system. It is the only public transportation that pays for its self. All others are state subsidized. The stations are indeed beautiful. The walls are marble with ceramic floors, statues, mosaic creations on the ceilings, cut stained glass and crystal chandeliers. One of the stations had 32 stained cut glass creations. Each station is dedicated to a different situation, such as art etc. All stations are different. Trains come every 60 seconds. It is so far beneath the ground it goes under the Moscow riverbed. The escalators are extremely rapid and seemingly nearly straight down. A bit frightening, as it is so steep with a very rapid decent. The cost is 5 Kopecks to enter and you can ride the entire metro system as long as you don’t go out of a station.
Our next adventure was to go shopping at a Beriozka. A shop for foreigners only. The Russian people are not allowed to purchase from these shops. I didn’t purchase a thing. I must be sick.
We returned to the hotel and dinner, followed by an evening at the Moscow Circus. I decided to skip this event, as tomorrow will be a very hectic day. The weather is not pleasant. Cold and lots of rain.
Third day of sightseeing in Moscow to follow in the next blog. I hope you stay tuned for additional adventures in Russia.