Passport to the World over 64 years. Pages from my Travel Diary
Visit to Moscow, Red Square, and Lenin's tomb.
May 23-26 1995
We were two days before we even entered Russain territory, there were no visits on the train from any Russian authority, we had no evidence of our entry into the country, this would pose its own problems in due course.
We were bussed to the huge Intourist Cosmos Hotel, with accommodation for 3,000 people. There is no room for flexibility in the Russian system eg. at dinner time, butter was delivered to our table in a very small quantity, no sooner had it arrived, than it was snatched away again, "Not for you, for Americans!" we were told. ( these Americans were obviously on a far more expensive tour package than we were. ) Our Moscow Tour Guide was so embarrased by this incident, she organised butter for us, but I believe she paid for it herself.
Over our time in Moscow, we of course visited the quite magnificent paved Red Square, it was much smaller than I had anticipated from viewing it on Television. It is flanked by St Basil's church, which must be one of the world's most photographed icons, topped by its domed onion type structures, and is very colourful, within its walls it winds around various shrines. The Gum Store runs down one side of Red Square, and is an architectural delight.
The body looks very waxy and artificial as the once dictator who changed the world looks most ill at ease on public display, and really is a quite small figure. There was no dallying allowed, a quick pause to view the body, and then we were sheperded up the steps back into the sunshine of the square, it was almost a relief to be back in the real world, I found it very artificial, and stulifying, below ground in the tomb. Many notables are buried by the walls of the Kremlin, including that of Stalin, our guide did not even pause where he was laid to rest, and I could not elicit any comment from her about Stalin, totally ignored as if he did not or never had existed.
The Armoury within the Kremlin walls is not a military building, but a vast museum displaying all the oppulence of the Czarist regime, it has to be viewed to be believed, the magnificent jewels, crowns, antiques, elaborate gowns, coaches, gold and silver encrusted bible covers etc, etc, one of our group muttered "No wonder the peasants revolted!"
Magnificent Metro Stations abound in Moscow, they are part of the underground train system that winds its way around Moscow. Many were built by different groups of Soviet workers, eg. "The Young Communists." To enter them, escalators plunge from street level deep down into the bowels of the earth, several levels down, and these conveyors travel at a fast rate, carrying hordes of Muscovites to and from home and their work places.
Our Hotel hummed at all times, its huge lobby being regularly worked by a string of prositutes, with no worries from the Hotel management, perhaps someone was being paid off.
The largest McDonalds in the world is here in Moscow, we duly made a visit to try out the French Fries, exactly the same product we would find at home in Australia. We were told the young Muscovites who work here do not last very long, the pace required of them soon becomes too much, quite a shock from the normal pace of a Russian at work!
Our time in this fascinating city all over too soon, and we were now off to visit the Venice of the North, St Petersburg, as we took the overnight Red Arrow train out of Moscow.