I’m writing this with a large shot of Russian Lemon Vodka and a dish of salted pretzels by my side as I relive my experience of our ten day trip to discover
How would we view the
I need a sip of vodka here when I recall the very old Aeroflot aircraft that was to fly us from Gatwick to
Peter the Great built the city of
The Hermitage museum was top of our list for our second day but having read that to spend a few moments looking at each item would take nine years we felt slightly fazed. We managed a few hours and with spinning heads saw more art by Picasso, Matisse, Renoir, Gauguin and Monet than I have seen in my life as well as the bejewelled state rooms that were once the Home of Tsar Peter and Catherine the Great.
Later, we broke away from our group to wander about on our own. We strolled down Nevsky Prospekt, the main street where the rich Russians rub shoulders with the poor Russians as this wide street is full of fashionable shops, souvenir pedlars, artists and smart restaurants and the homeless. We sat in a pavement Bistro (Russian for fast-service) by an ornate canal with a view of a church called Church of the Spilled Blood where Alexander 11 was assassinated in 1881, and ate a late lunch of Chic ken
Tired on this our first day, we took a half hour taxi ride back to the
The young women of
Another surprise was the currency issue. Aware that roubles are unobtainable in the
The overland distance to
It was a new experience for us as we left
Yet more icons when we stopped south of the
Since the fall of Communism, Russians are now free to worship again. Apparently the number of Russians returning to the Orthodox Church is extremely large. However, there is also a movement to bring back the Tsars and others who are discontented with the progress being made under the move to democracy who wants to see the return to Communism. Isn’t the Church a hard disciplined ruler? Weren’t the Tsars hard selfish rulers with no thought for their subjects? And as for Communism?
Our next waterway was the Volga Baltic canal which begins by linking
legendary White lake, known as the Tsars Fishing Ground as government boats sailed around taxing the fisherman but not those from the monasteries as Tsars knew better than to tax God!
This gets personal now so another sip of Lemon Vodka. My grandfather was born in
The complicated network of man-made canals and rivers link the River Volga to all five of Russia’s major seas and flows about eighty miles from Moscow itself so its linked by the Moscow Canal. Again, beautiful to sail along and experiencing another series of lifting by several locks but once more built during the 1930s by Stalinist methods using Gulag prisoners who dug the canal out shovel by shovel. But I mustn’t dwell on this. We had one more stop, until we arrived at
e in the factory itself. For six pounds it’s still ticking! Animal lovers don’t read this as I bought a divine sable hat and I can’t wait for our winter ice and snow and for people to sing Lara’s Theme to me. My sable hat, when worn with my Russian Baltic amber pendant, makes me feel like A Russian Princess.
The Moscow River Port is about a half an hours drive into the city centre and smarter than St Petersburg dock, so once we’d moored up and knowing we only had two days to see the city we chose the group City Tour. At least this tour took us around the main attractions and trust me, you wouldn’t want to drive yourself. There are six lanes in and out of the city and it is chaos. The other benefit of group tours is avoiding the queues as group tickets makes admission to museums and major sites hassle free. A serious warning about pick pockets as this applies in any major city. Once again, how could this visit give us a chance to contemplate the 2500 historical and architectural monuments, 70 museums, 125 cinemas, 50 theatres, 4500 libraries, universities as well as the obvious such as the Kremlin and Red Square? The Kremlin was a stunning array of palaces, minarets, domes, battlements and towers in every shape and colour. I preferred standing outside the Kremlin rather than enter the Cathedrals and churches as by this time we were both Iconned-out but were more than happy to visit the State Armoury Chamber which was full of the wealth of the Tsars in the form of chalices, Faberge eggs, jewellery and thrones dripping with diamonds-no wonder there was a revolution!
The cobbled Red Square was as impressive as we expected, so impressive that we paid a second visit by night to see it illuminated, though Morty wanted to visit Lenin’s Tomb but sadly it was closed, and we saw the multi-coloured onion domed St Basil’s Cathedral which symbolises
like a palace in itself with fountains, waterways, and glass roof, selling the most expensive International designer labels I’ve ever seen under one roof, in contrast to the empty shelves in Soviet times.
I wonder who are buying the luxurious million dollar apartments springing up throughout the city considering the average wage. I have never seen so many casinos in one street as I did driving through
Limited time meant we had to make a choice between using the famous Metro at night or the Bolshoi ballet. In fact, we have vowed to return to
Our ten day visit was over and in contrast to the rickety old Aeroflot plane we arrived in our return flight to Heathrow was in a very modern Aeroflot airbus with halfway decent in-flight food and not a bald tyre in sight.
Did we enjoy