Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Moscow Time

When we left Ekaterinburg, we'd had a busy and tiring couple of days and were looking forward to some down time on the train. Before we'd even stepped on the train we encountered two unusual events. Firstly, as we were waiting at the departures board willing our platform number to be announced we witnessed an old man have a seizure of some kind, then the security guards come in the see what all the fuss was about and the first-aiders come out and take the man off on a stretcher. We'll never know what happened to him, I speculated about where he was heading... I wonder if he ever made his destination. Then as we waited on the platform for the train, an old lady came over to us. Standing as we were, me with my backpacks on front and back and Mary with her (rather large) case. This Russian lady looks from me, to Mary, to Mary's case and back at me. She says something to me in Russian pointing to the case. I have no idea what she said but I answered 'I know, it's simply huge isn't it!' She walked off, chuckling to herself.  Such a funny encounter, and one that had me laughing as we boarded the train to Moscow. 

The next day we arrived in rainy Moscow. We were to meet someone from the tour company at the station, as with all the other stops. As we made our way along the platform we spied a shady looking man holding a piece of paper. Glancing at each other with trepidation, we both said 'I hope he's not waiting for us,' But of course he was waiting for us. We followed our shady character to the car and jumped in out of the rain. What followed was a race through the streets of Moscow, he drove like a mad man and I'm sure I got a little whiplash from that journey! We'd arrived at 4pm, just in time for rush hour. The traffic was terrible. Made worse by the Russians and their awful driving. We got stuck at a cross roads, as the traffic lights had failed and there was complete gridlock. I'd never really experienced anything like it. There was absolutely no way anyone could get through because there were cars every which way. Eventually a police man arrived and managed to get the cars out of the trouble, but it meant we were now facing a different direction. We must have done about three circuits of Moscow before we got to our hostel, hidden in a dead-end backstreet full of cars. Our driver abandanded the car blocking the way to take us to the door and then disappeared. Thankfully it was a very small, but lovely place. Clearly recently refurbished. We were happy to finally have a base for a few days.

We had a city tour the following day, which was great and our guide took us around back streets pointing out architecture and places from famous Russian novels. Unfortunately Red Square was full of temporary seating, Military marching bands and soldiers. Turns out we'd arrived just before a large military tattoo, in honour of the Russian victory over Napoleon in 1812. Great. 

We spent our free afternoon wandering around St Basil's Cathedral and buying sale items in Monsoon (in the Gum; don't judge)

Our food success in Russia continued that evening as we had an amazing Georgian feast at a restaurant near our hostel. The bread was full of cheese and butter, probably a heart attack on a plate, bit seriously, a delicious one.

A small WWII memorial.
On this memorial the date for WWII was 1941-1945. I queried this with our tour guide, as for us the war began in 1939. She fobbed me off with some talk about a winter or northern war. I didn't think much more about it, until I went to the Warsaw rising museum and realised Russia were buggering about in Poland during the beginning on WWII bezzie mates with Germany.

Church of Ascension, where Pushkin married.

TASS media building, where during the Soviet Union ALL news was produced. (also looks a bit like a TV)

A little bit of England

Ok and Scotland...

Roll over Beethoven and tell ^Tchaikovsky^ the news

The GUM (Pronounced GOOM) famous shopping mall.

The thickest hot chocolate ever. I ate it with a spoon!

Outside St Basil's

Inside St. Basil's

I've got to stop doing this pose.

Mary was happy to see an old friend (Cinnabon)

A-mazing Georgian bread

I can't remember what this was now, but I remember it was lush!

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