(Russia Flag)


(Russia Map)


THURSDAY, AUGUST 29, 2013:

Thursday afternoon we took a train across part of the vast Russian landscape to Moscow.
Upon arrival we spent some time on Red Square and had dinner at the GUM department store.

All of the images below are thumbnails and can be clicked on for a larger image.

GUM department store in Moscow, Russia Me on the Moscow subway

Tonight we rode the legendary Moscow subway through part of Stalin's showcase, the
underground palaces of the Moscow Metro. The Communist government wanted to create a
transport system unequalled in any capitalist state, bringing culture to the masses
in their everyday lives. Not just another transport system, more than trains and
tunnels. Western art critics include it among the "Ten Places That You Want to See
before You Die." Moscow Metro is a grandiose architectural monument of the Soviet era.
We visited some of the most remarkable stations decorated with stained glass,
mosaics, chandeliers and statues.
Moscow subway station Moscow subway station Moscow subway station

The video below is 10 minutes long of the Moscow subway.

After our underground adventure in the Moscow subway system
We checked into our hotel at the Radisson Blu Belorusskaya.
Radisson Blu Belorusskaya in Moscow, Russia

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON AUGUST 29, 2013
From St. Petersburg's Moscow Station we boarded our train to Moscow. Below is the picture of the train coming into the station.



It took us four and a half hours to get to Moscow on the high speed train. It was a very nice train. Large comfortable seats, a dining car and the ride was very smooth. We pulled into the station in Moscow at 6:00 and by 6:30 we were walking on Red Square. I was very pissed that Red Square is full of temporary grand stands, tents and other assorted crap. It looks like a three ring circus. I had to crop out half of St. Basil's Church in the picture below because it was full of ugly tents.



There is a huge swanky mall next to Red Square. We were dropped here to have dinner.



After I finished my meal I snuck back out on the cluttered Red Square to take a few more pictures.



We're coming back to Red Square tomorrow. The main reason for stopping here tonight was to have dinner and wait for rush hour to be over so we could tour the elaborate Moscow subway stations. We rode the subway between about six different stations. The Moscow subway is used by over 8 million people per day. The stations are incredibly deep. Below is a picture of me on the Moscow subway.



The subways look exactly as they did in Soviet times. They are full of mosaics, stained glass, statues, murals on the ceilings and all kinds of ornate decoration. Below is a picture of one of the stations.



We are going to be here in Moscow for three night. Didn't get to our hotel until after 10:00 tonight. I should have skipped my daily email, but I knew how disappointed you would be so I missed some of my much needed beauty sleep to send it off. But now I am going to bed.

Tim
Click on email photos for the large full-size photograph.



FRIDAY, AUGUST 30, 2013:

Friday morning we traveled through the Russian countryside to Zagorsk giving us an impression of
places unchanged for centuries. Zagorsk, is the Russian Vatican, center of the Orthodox faith,
religious art and architecture. For centuries it served as the religious capital of Russia
and pilgrimage place for the faithful of the Russian Orthodox creed.
Unique home near Zagorsk, Russia Troitse-Sergiieyeva Lavra in Zagorsk, Russia Troitse-Sergiieyeva Lavra in Zagorsk, Russia

Within the old walled city we saw the Troitse-Sergiieyeva Lavra,
a working monastery where the Orthodox faith was tolerated by the
Communist state and kept alive during the years of atheism.
Troitse-Sergiieyeva Lavra in Zagorsk, Russia Troitse-Sergiieyeva Lavra in Zagorsk, Russia Troitse-Sergiieyeva Lavra in Zagorsk, Russia

The video below is 9 minutes long of Zagorsk, Russia.

We returned to Moscow in the afternoon.
We passed the Bolshoi Ballet Theatre and the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.
The Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow, Russia Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow, Russia The Kremlin in Moscow, Russia

We spent the rest of the afternoon around Red Square. As I approached Red Square
I passed the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the State History Museum.
Approaching Red Square in Moscow, Russia Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow, Russia State History Museum in Moscow, Russia

I got several nice views of the Kremlin. Unfortunately Red Square
was full of ugly crap in preparation for some kind of band contest.
The Kremlin in Moscow, Russia The Kremlin in Moscow, Russia St. Basil's cathedral in Moscow, Russia

The multi-colored St. Basil's Cathedral is an icon of the city.
St. Basil's cathedral in Moscow, Russia Kazan Cathedral in Moscow, Russia Resurrection Gate in Moscow, Russia

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON AUGUST 30, 2013
Hello again people,

This morning after breakfast we visited the largest monastery in Russia. It was located about 50 kilometers north of the city. During our journey through rural Russia we passed this man's house who has decorated it to look like a gingerbread house. We stopped the bus and went out to take a picture. The man came out to greet us and sold us some of his fresh apples that you can see in the picture below.



From the gingerbread house it was a short drive to Zagorsk. Zagorsk is the Russian Vatican, center of the Orthodox faith.



Within the old walled city is the Troitse-Sergiieyeva Lavra, a working monastery where the Orthodox faith was tolerated during Soviet times. The grounds were beautiful. Unfortunately most of the buildings were covered in scaffolding.



We drove back to Moscow and did a tour of the city. It was nice and sunny in the morning but by the time we got back to Moscow it was gloomy with a very, very light mist. We drove past the world famous Bolshoi Ballet. It is closed during the summer. I can't tell you how disappointed I was that we don't get to go to another long ballet performance.



We made a photo stop along the river overlooking the Kremlin.



Next it was back to Red Square. We entered the Square through a pretty square that overlooks the Kremlin.



We entered Red Square through the Resurrection Gate.



Below is the Kremlin from Red Square. We are going inside the Kremlin tomorrow.



And below is a closer picture of St. Basil's. Between dodging people and all the tents and grandstands nearby it is hard to get a nice picture of it.



Tomorrow is my last day in Moscow and Russia. It is a long drive to Minsk on Sunday. A few days ago we had to buy our visas for Belarus. They were $60, unless you were American, then the cost was $185. The Australian couple behind me on the bus tried to adopt me but they wouldn't go for it.

Until tomorrow,

Tim
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SATURDAY, AUGUST 31, 2013:

Saturday was a full day of sightseeing in Moscow.
First we visited Novodevichy Cemetery to see memorials to well known people and leaders
such as Yeltsin, Krushchov, Checkhov, Eisenstein, and Raisa Gorbachova.
Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow, Russia Boris Yeltsin's grave in Novodevichy Cemetery Grave of Raisa Gorbacheva (wife of Mikhail Gorbachev) Novodevichy Cemetery

A fascinating place with memorials ranging from the most modest to sentimental and outlandish.
Grave of heart surgeon in Novodevichy Cemetery Grave of Nikita Khrushchev & wife in Novodevichy Cemetery Grave of a prominent obstetrician in Novodevichy Cemetery

We made a few photo stops after leaving the cemetery.
The first stop was at the Novodevichy Convent.
Next we stopped at the Memorial dedicated to World War II.
The Seven Sisters are a group of seven skyscrapers in Moscow designed in the Stalinist style.
Novodevichy Convent in Moscow, Russia Memorial dedicated to World War II in Moscow, Russia One of the Seven Sisters in Moscow, Russia

We made a lunch stop on famous Old Arbat street, Moscow's own Montmartre where you
can mingle with Moscovites and see street artists. Next it was on to the Kremlin.
We visited the Kremlin Armoury, the Treasure Chamber of the Russian Tsars.
We saw the works of Faberge, the gowns and diamonds of Catherine the Great.
We marveled at the Imperial carriages studded with precious stones and gold,
jewelled thrones and hundreds of spectacular priceless items from the Romanov Dynasty.
Old Arbat Street in Moscow, Russia Entrance to the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia The world's largest cannon in the Kremlin

Cathedral Square is the central square of the Kremlin where
all of its streets used to converge in the 15th century.
Cathedral Square in the Kremlin Cathedral Square in the Kremlin Cathedral Square in the Kremlin

The video below is 15 minutes long of the Kremlin and Red Square.

The video below is 51 minutes long of my three days in Moscow.

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON AUGUST 31, 2013
Hello folks,

Today was a very long day. I'm pooped! It started after breakfast this morning as usual. Our first stop was Novodevichy Cemetery. This was a very interesting place. Full of elaborate sculptures that depict the life of the dearly departed. Below is the grave of a prominent obstetrician.



Many famous Russian leaders are buried here too. Below is the grave of Boris Yeltsin. The sculpture depicts a Russian flag waving in the wind.



And below is the grave of Nikita Khrushchev on the right and his wife on the left.



Next door to the cemetery is the Novodevichy Convent. The Novodevichy Convent was founded in 1524 by Grand Prince Vasili III in commemoration of the conquest of Smolensk in 1514.



Below is the Borodino Panorama, a pavilion with a giant 360-degree painting of the Borodino battle in 1812 between Russia and Napoleon's Grand Army. The huge painting was incredibly life-like. It was impossible to photograph, below is the exterior.



The Seven Sisters are a group of seven skyscrapers spread across Moscow designed in the Stalinist style. Below is one of them, they all look alike.



We were dropped next to the building above on Old Arbat Street, a pedestrian street in the historical center of Moscow. We had ninety minutes off for shopping and lunch. I had lunch at Moo Moo's. A cafeteria style Russian restaurant.



After lunch I had a few minutes to walk around and stop at a supermarket for some snacks. Not sure what the dancing critters below were doing. The guy in the picture above was filming them. They weren't street performers.



Next it was time for our tour of the Kremlin. Below is the entrance we walked in.



Below is the world's largest cannon, so they say. When I was in India this last February I saw what was said to be the world's largest cannon there too.



The next stop inside the Kremlin was Cathedral Square. I don't know how many churches surround this square, too many to count. All the churches below were on the square.







As we were leaving Cathedral square it started to rain. Good timing, the rest of the tour was indoors. It's the first time it has rained since I have been gone, over three weeks. Next we toured the Kremlin Armoury. The Armory is full of countless priceless treasures. I liked the exhibit with all the royal carriages the best. No photography was allowed in the Armoury so I can't include photos.

When we came out of the Armory it was raining pretty good. We got a little wet on the walk back to the bus. It was after 6:00 now, but our day was not over. Next stop, the Moscow State Circus. Much more my speed than the ballet. It was a three hour performance. Very entertaining. The acrobats were amazing. Also lots of animals and talented clowns. It was a fun evening. It was still raining when the circus ended. By the time we got back to the hotel it was well after 10:00. It was a long but good day.

Very long drive tomorrow. 734 kilometers to Minsk. I better get to bed now, it's almost midnight.

Tim
Click on email photos for the large full-size photograph.


Click on the arrow above to continue to my next stop, MINSK!

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