I visited THE KREMLIN. Did you know that "Kremlin" is not just a
building in Moscow?
It is actually the word for any "walled city." The entire city of Moscow used to fit neatly
inside the walled and moat-surrounded perimeter of the Kremlin. But of course,
most Americans of my age think of it as being the epicenter of the "evil"
empire of the Soviet Union.
I thought that I would be political, by wearing my Mickey Mouse t-shirt in
front of the symbol of the former Soviet Empire. I had packed the T-shirt
specifically for this moment. "How rich the irony," I thought to
carry this capitalist icon into the very heart of the former communist regime?
But all of my pats on my back were premature, when I saw that directly off one
corner of Red Square is a McDonald's!!!
Yes, a McDonald's in Red Square.
What irony is left in the world, I ask?
Note: This was one of the busiest McDonald's in the
world when it first opened, with so many Russians eager to get a taste of what
"capitalist cuisine" was really like. I am so embarrassed. Why
couldn't they open a New Orleans
rib pit instead?
Obey the Rules
I was instructed at the hotel that I MUST keep my passport with me at ALL
TIMES, so that the authorities may verify that I was visiting legally. However,
I was also warned by my Lonely Planet book that I should NEVER give my passport
to the police, as they will likely try to keep it and demand a bribe to get it
What to do?
Red Square: Just before I got stopped by the police
So I am crossing Red Square when a Moscow police/soldier
blew his whistle. He was waving his baton at me, beckoning me to come to him!
"Passaporta"...he demanded. I remembered my guidebook warning, and
refused handing over my actual passport. Instead, I gave him the PHOTOCOPY that
I had made before I left, along with the hotel registration card.
"Passaporta" he demanded again. I mumbled "hotel
registration" and shrugged my shoulders, trying to hide my sweat. What
seemed like an eternity of silence passed. Then, a very deep sigh emerged from
the soldier. "Okay, go" he said. Nothing more. That was it. What did
I do? I still do not know.
Over Lenin's dead body
I know that I also got yelled at during my visit to Lenin's
tomb. As you may know, the Russians display the actual preserved corpse of the communist leader in Red Square. He's been dead for 50 years, but they manage
to keep him on display by dipping him in wax (and other secret stuff).
a weird thing to do, but I somehow could not keep from paying the fee to go in.
On entrance, I was chastised for wearing my sunglasses on top of my head - not
respectful, perhaps? Later, I was told to remove my hands from my pockets.
Don't break the (Faberge) eggs
Can you believe that
I also caused an alarm at the Armory
Museum inside the
Kremlin? What a day I've had! I had leaned a little too far over the rope line
to appreciate detail , and an automatic alarm went off. I got yelled at
(again). But getting used to it, I just shrugged and said "Me, Stupid
There are only a few Faberge eggs in the world (the
favorite of the Romanovs) - and today I saw quite a
few of them. The thrills continue!