I must have experienced just about every minor illness in the past 2 weeks, mostly a stomach bug and a persistent cough/flu. Thankfully it’s been pretty cruisy, we spent 3 and a bit days on a train from Irkutsk up to Moscow and now we’re here we have a full 4 days to take it all in at a relaxed pace.
Moscow is unfathomably huge, I had no idea how big the city was and there is a ton of things to do around here. First points of call were obviously the Red Square/St Basil’s/The Kremlin. It’s all very impressive, and wasn’t too far off my expectations of the place, although St Basil’s was a little smaller than I thought it would be.
One thing that is very apparent about Moscow is the detail in all the architecture. That stained glass at the beginning of the post is just one of dozens that you will find inside one of the metro train stations, and several other of the stations are also dressed up impressively with everything from ornate pillars to richly coloured mosaics.
There’s loads of soviet relics, here’s an arch that’s an entry to one of Moscow’s parks, topped with a man and woman raising a large pail of wheat above their heads.
Way back when, Stalin decided to leave his mark on the capital by commissioning a bunch of buildings like the following. They’re scattered around and I think there are about 7 of them all up, all different but generally of a similar design. They are gargantuan in size and topped with a star, it’s hard to show just how impressive these buildings are in a photo, but here I will try.
One of the coolest monuments in the city is the Monument to the conquerors of space. The Russians are a subtle people:
Underneath is a space museum, it’s pretty sweet.
They’re also nuts for statues, you can barely walk 100m without seeing another one somewhere. Just outside the Kremlin there was a series of statues that all relate to different fairytales such as the ugly duckling and the prince that turns into a frog. Outside of a circus there were a series of freaky looking clowns, and on the river there is a towering statue of Peter The Great (Drew informs me legend has it that the sculptor originally tried to sell it to America as Columbus, but failed and then managed to offload it to Moscow under the guise of being ol’ Petey).
I could bore you all day with photos of statues all over Moscow but it turns out I bored myself of even seeing them so I don’t have that many pics to show you anyway, although this is the last and I want to show it because it was the most interesting and best looking one we saw. Children are the victims of adults’ vices depicted 12 various vices (propaganda of violence, war, drugs, alcoholism etc) corrupting children. The characters kind of reminded me of those from Pans Labyrinth.
Everywhere you turn in this city it seems there’s always something interesting to look at, usually accompanied by a cool little story. Along the riverbank and across one of the pedestrian footbridges you will find a good couple dozen steel trees covered in padlocks. The story goes that on their wedding day, newlyweds will take a padlock (usually engraved with their names, and often the locks are heart-shaped) and lock it to the tree, tossing the keys off the bridge into the river below.
Also, there was a totally bitchin’ traffic rules arcade game!
Other things we visited included Lenin’s mausoleum, where you get to see the creepiest, most unreal-looking corpse of a dude some 80 odd years dead… and by unreal I mean it looked pretty dubiously authentic. The head and hands are showing, but the rest of his body is rather suspiciously flat and boxy. You’re not allowed to take your own photos so here is one I found elsewhere on the interwebs.
And now for something completely different, the planking craze makes its way to Russia: