juliet: (round the world)
I am now rather looking forward to the 3 days on a train that is upcoming (heading off to Irkutsk tonight), as my feet are bloody knackered from hiking round Moscow for the last 3 days. I like seeing a city on foot, because you get to potter round random bits of it, but my feet do not necessarily agree.

Yesterday morning I queued up to see the Dead Communist, thus completing some kind of matched pair with the Dead Pope that [livejournal.com profile] dogrando and I saw in Rome a few years back. Lenin is looking rather better on it than John Paul I was, though - that's what a monthly dip in chemical-infused paraffin wax will do for you. The mausoleum is very dimly-lit and all in black & red marble; then a spotlight of some sort on Lenin himself. He is quite shiny. It was all most impressive, anyway. It's also about the only thing in Red Square that's free entry; maybe they're worried he might start revolving. Outside the mausoleum there's a stack of Prominent Soviet Graves - saw Stalin et al; also located Yuri Gagarin.

This afternoon I finished off the Red Square stuff, with St Basil's & the State History Museum. St Basil's is very odd inside - lots of little rooms, very labyrinthine. Either they don't have big services in there, or they keep the tourist hoi polloi out of that part. It did however have a large quantity of murals, icons, icon screens, etc etc - but less impressive than the Kremlin cathedrals.

The State History Museum, on the other hand, was fab. The highlight was an enormous globe (about my height) from about 1700, brought back from Amsterdam by Peter the Great after King Charles of Sweden commissioned it then wouldn't pay up once it was completed. (So Peter got it on the cheap from the makers.) There's only a tiny patch of New Zealand shown, and large lumps missing from N America/Canada and Australia. Having as I do a slight map obsession, I spent some time peering at it (sadly you can't spin it round). Many other maps, as well, including a 1900-ish one that shows the Trans-Siberian line, and two tiny bowls with little street plans of Moscow & St Petersburg in the bottom.

They also had a great many coats. Russians are good on coats, unsurprisingly[0]. I particularly liked the army coat with a giant rip from neck to cuff, presumably from someone putting a sword in the owner. And lots of other bits & bobs of various sorts. I couldn't read any of the labels, but it is possible that this if anything improved the experience.

I spent yesterday afternoon at the VDGKh park, which is where Stalin had a set of vast pavilions built, sometime in the 50s, I think, to celebrate Soviet Economic (& All Other Sorts Of) Success. The pavilions really are enormous, and very imposing. Presumably at one point they had Exhibitions of Success in them. Now, they've all been turned into shopping centres, of the "slightly tacky with lots of makeshift corridors & knockoff T-shirt/electronics stalls" variety. I think capitalism won that round. Many of them also seem to be for rent, or possibly for sale, so bear that in mind if you're after a Moscow pied-a-terre.

And this morning I HIRED A WHOLE BOAT. Well: I didn't (although at 400R tourist rate I felt I should have been able to), but as no one else got on for the entire hour's journey up the river, the effect was the same. I think the season must be over; it is also used for actual transport, but probably not at 11am.

The other reason I'm looking forward to getting on the boat is that one of the people in the dorm for the last two nights snores louder than anyone I have ever heard before. Earplugs do nothing to solve this problem. I am hoping very hard that no one in the compartment tonight is similarly afflicted.


[0] Today it became cold. I bought gloves and a scarf. This was not in the budget, but no matter; now I am warm. Knowing my luck they'll probably be having some unseasonal heatwave in Siberia & Mongolia & I won't have to use them at all, but I guess better that than cold.
juliet: (round the world)
I am now rather looking forward to the 3 days on a train that is upcoming (heading off to Irkutsk tonight), as my feet are bloody knackered from hiking round Moscow for the last 3 days. I like seeing a city on foot, because you get to potter round random bits of it, but my feet do not necessarily agree.

Yesterday morning I queued up to see the Dead Communist, thus completing some kind of matched pair with the Dead Pope that [livejournal.com profile] dogrando and I saw in Rome a few years back. Lenin is looking rather better on it than John Paul I was, though - that's what a monthly dip in chemical-infused paraffin wax will do for you. The mausoleum is very dimly-lit and all in black & red marble; then a spotlight of some sort on Lenin himself. He is quite shiny. It was all most impressive, anyway. It's also about the only thing in Red Square that's free entry; maybe they're worried he might start revolving. Outside the mausoleum there's a stack of Prominent Soviet Graves - saw Stalin et al; also located Yuri Gagarin.

This afternoon I finished off the Red Square stuff, with St Basil's & the State History Museum. St Basil's is very odd inside - lots of little rooms, very labyrinthine. Either they don't have big services in there, or they keep the tourist hoi polloi out of that part. It did however have a large quantity of murals, icons, icon screens, etc etc - but less impressive than the Kremlin cathedrals.

The State History Museum, on the other hand, was fab. The highlight was an enormous globe (about my height) from about 1700, brought back from Amsterdam by Peter the Great after King Charles of Sweden commissioned it then wouldn't pay up once it was completed. (So Peter got it on the cheap from the makers.) There's only a tiny patch of New Zealand shown, and large lumps missing from N America/Canada and Australia. Having as I do a slight map obsession, I spent some time peering at it (sadly you can't spin it round). Many other maps, as well, including a 1900-ish one that shows the Trans-Siberian line, and two tiny bowls with little street plans of Moscow & St Petersburg in the bottom.

They also had a great many coats. Russians are good on coats, unsurprisingly[0]. I particularly liked the army coat with a giant rip from neck to cuff, presumably from someone putting a sword in the owner. And lots of other bits & bobs of various sorts. I couldn't read any of the labels, but it is possible that this if anything improved the experience.

I spent yesterday afternoon at the VDGKh park, which is where Stalin had a set of vast pavilions built, sometime in the 50s, I think, to celebrate Soviet Economic (& All Other Sorts Of) Success. The pavilions really are enormous, and very imposing. Presumably at one point they had Exhibitions of Success in them. Now, they've all been turned into shopping centres, of the "slightly tacky with lots of makeshift corridors & knockoff T-shirt/electronics stalls" variety. I think capitalism won that round. Many of them also seem to be for rent, or possibly for sale, so bear that in mind if you're after a Moscow pied-a-terre.

And this morning I HIRED A WHOLE BOAT. Well: I didn't (although at 400R tourist rate I felt I should have been able to), but as no one else got on for the entire hour's journey up the river, the effect was the same. I think the season must be over; it is also used for actual transport, but probably not at 11am.

The other reason I'm looking forward to getting on the boat is that one of the people in the dorm for the last two nights snores louder than anyone I have ever heard before. Earplugs do nothing to solve this problem. I am hoping very hard that no one in the compartment tonight is similarly afflicted.


[0] Today it became cold. I bought gloves and a scarf. This was not in the budget, but no matter; now I am warm. Knowing my luck they'll probably be having some unseasonal heatwave in Siberia & Mongolia & I won't have to use them at all, but I guess better that than cold.

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