Friday, January 26, 2018

Transmongolian Rails Part VI - Moscow

Moscow is an incredible city. I had gotten advance tickets to see the Armory and the Kremlin and thought it would be a normal day. But there was a huge rehearsal for the parade to take place the following day celebrating the Russian victory in World War II. When we first left the hotel, the streets seemed incredibly quiet. In the end, the festivities seemed to turn the city upside down.

First, we just headed in the direction of the Kremlin, which was easy enough because it was close to our hotel. Then the activity began to pick up, I started seeing some rather patriotic looking folks and began to wonder what was going on... was this normal?

Nah. This was not normal. In the end, we had a very difficult time getting to the Kremlin. A tour guide we ran into, the lady in the sunglasses below, didn't even think it was open that day. Luckily, she was wrong, and my advance tickets were honored.. once we got there.

It was a lovely day for a parade...

And the military was out and about.

Eventually, we found a guard who allowed us past a gate in the Metro. We collected our tickets from the nearly empty Kremlin ticket office and proceeded in. They don't allow photos many places, so we had to just enjoy the museums and take pictures outside. It was still a great day.

Plus for a little while, it was like we had the place to ourselves. I assume that a lot of other people had a tough time getting there just like we had.

The Kremlin was huge, and there are quite a lot of buildings as well as some beautifully manicured and landscaped lawns and gardens behind those walls.

The Armoury, above, includes some amazing Russian historical artifacts. There are carriages used by emperors and empresses, jewels, and other national treasures.

There are also a number of churches in the complex.

People started to fill in by the time we'd finished checking out the museum and Armory. They especially like the cannon and bell.

The Tsar cannon dates from 1586, a bronze monument to Russian artillery.

The Tsar bell has never functioned. It was commissioned by Empress Anna Ivanovna, the niece of Peter the Great, and 'completed' in 1735.

It was time to just enjoy the city after that. We did a lot of walking around, checking out Red Square (or what was open of it that close to Victory Day) and the neighborhood.

the massive mall was only interesting enough to walk through (above)..

but there is a nice park by the river...

and a great transit system with lots of interesting stations. We made prodigious use of it the next day. It is cheap, the trains run often, and the most basic familiarity with how to use a metro will get you by.  Many stations have English signage.

It was easy to use the system to check out a park further afield.

Then it was time to move on to another great Russian city, St. Petersburg. We simply jumped on the train website and picked out some seats on their Sapsan high-speed rail, then headed back to the train station using their convenient Metro.

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