Day 3: Moscow
Moscow Travel Blog› entry 4 of 34 › view all entries
Today we were completely 'guideless'. We took the subway to the Red Square to visit the mausoleum of Lenin. We were lucky; today was a very quiet day and no queues, so it was literally in and out in five minutes. The sight of the world's (second?)most famous mummy is surreal. Because the mummification technique uses wax, the corpse looks more like a Madame Tussaud's statue than a real person. In fact, it would not surprise me if it is a statue, and the real Lenin has been buried alongside his family in St Petersburg as per his personal wishes.
Either way, it was a very special experience seeing the preserved remains of one of the most important people in history lying there.
Next stop was the St Basil's cathedral. This huge cathedral, which dominates the Eastern end of the Red Square, is probably one of the most pictured buildings in Russia, with it's strange towers which represent Cornetto ice cream cones.
Many of Moscow's sights are actually underground. Almost every single station along the Moscow metro is a work of art, so we spent the next few hours travelling the subway and getting off at several stations to photograph the impressive ornaments, like mosaics, statues representing the revolution, marble façades and more.
Surely it must have been a huge waste of money to ornate all these stations, but looking back this part of Soviet legacy certainly is one Russia can be proud of. The Moscow metro is also extremely efficient - it has to be, as over 9 million travel on the trains every single day, which is more than the subways of London and New York combined! Trains depart virtually every two minutes, so if you miss one you will rarely have to wait long for the next.
All in all a world of difference from the drab stations and slow trains that we have in Amsterdam or Rotterdam.
Once we resurfaced above ground we had a nice stroll through the arty neighbourhood Arbat, which combines interesting architecture, the joy of a car-free environment, and the tackyness of hundreds of souvenir shops and chain restaurants.
In the early evening we had to back to our hotel to grab our bags and head for the train station. Now our journey was to begin properly!
Our 'house' for the next three days was a train compartiment of about two square metres, which housed four bunks and a small table. Our room mates were a Polish guy names Maciek, and a Russian bloke with a speech impediment - or at least, we thought he had one, since he didn't say a single word to us. We were glad he left at the first stop in the middle of the night, and the rest of the trip we had the compartiment for the three of us.