Lenin in the flesh!

Moscow Travel Blog

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Me on my way to the famous Kremlin (Moscow, Russia)

After a good night’s sleep we stroll to the breakfast area of our hotel to discover a buffet with beet salad, cooked beets, baked beets, beet omelet and something that looks like beet smear. Luckily there’s also a small corner that serves food without beet ingredients so that non-Russian folk won’t starve.

Our plan is to take the metro to the Kremlin. Since the Muscovy metro stations are known around the world as beautiful underground palaces, we have highlighted a number of stations we want to visit before we reach our destination.

Armed with a map of the metro system in our Lonely Planet guide, we enter the metro station near our hotel, preparing to do some quick ‘metro hopping’. We’re experienced metro users and practice has taught us that it doesn’t matter in what city you are, London, Paris, Rome, Hamburg or even Shanghai, the metro systems are all ridiculously easy to use.

Passing the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour while on our way to the Kremlin (Moscow, Russia)

But once we’ve entered the metro station, we find out that using the metro inMoscowis a whole different ball game. The map in our Lonely Planet guide, on which I highlighted the stations we want to see, only uses the Roman alphabet, while the signs and maps throughout the entire station only use the Cyrillic alphabet. Since it’s a huge ordeal to find out which platform we have to get to in order to use the right metro line and travel in the right direction, we decide to leave the visiting of recommended metro stations to the next day.  

We use the map to count the number of metro stations we have to pass until we reach the Kremlin and hope for the best. As soon as we are back on the surface again, we notice that we are not where we are supposed to be.

View while on our way to the Kremlin (Moscow, Russia)
We must have miscounted the stations, because none of the streets that are around the Kremlin are to be found where we are. After about a fifteen minute walk (and passing the recently built Cathedral of Christ the Saviour) we reach the Kremlin nonetheless.

We are very excited to see the outer walls of the Kremlin, centuries of history are to be seen on the other side of those walls and for some reason it makes me bouncy. I’ve always been mystified by the stories of Russian tsars.

First we have to get some tickets to get beyond those walls though. After some walking around we find a small shack where one very grumpy lady is selling tickets. There’s a line, which is okay, this way we can figure out what kind of ticket we like. There are several options, some tickets give entrance to just about every building on the site, other ones only to the most important sights.

View at the Kremlin (Moscow, Russia)
We decide to go for the most elaborate tickets to be sure.

The line for the tickets doesn’t seem to move an inch, because some awful screaming woman keeps barging in, walking straight up to the ticket window and demanding tickets for groups that keep arriving by busses. No matter whose turn it is at the ticket window, she ignores everything and everyone and shouts at the ticket woman. Who then serves her first.

When it’s our turn, I quickly walk up to the window and start ordering the tickets we want. Halfway my sentence the witch comes barging in, trying to interrupt me, but I won’t let her.

During our travels, Rens and I always have this role pattern: when there’s some kind of communication I do the talking since I speak better English (unless we are in conservative Middle Eastern areas, where speaking women are less appreciated), when it comes to calculating, conversions and bargaining, Rens steps in.

View at the Kremlin (Moscow, Russia)

This time he tries to push a Russian witch out of the way while I try and order entrance tickets. This would have worked perfectly, were it not that grumpy behind the ticket window is more interested in the witch’s order than ours. It is without any doubt one of the most bizarre situations we’ve ever been in, the only way we would get our tickets in a decent time limit was to be more loud and rude than the obnoxious woman who kept cutting in line. I suppose they thought groups of tourist were more interesting than two individual travelers…

Once we passed the walls and realize we are walking around the legendary Kremlin of Moscow, all is forgotten.

Entrance tower, the Spasskaya tower, to the Kremlin (Moscow, Russia)
The complex holds four palaces and four cathedrals and has so many beautiful domes we are in complete ecstasy. 

The site of the Kremlin has been continuously inhabited since the second century BC, mainly in the form of a fortress. The word ‘kremlin’ was first recorded in 1331, just before it was rebuilt in oak after the Mongols had destroyed it in 1156. In this period most churches were built within the Kremlin walls, but Stalin destroyed them all in 1933. The churches that can be seen today are all reconstructions. 

My personal favorite part of the Kremlin is the 17th century Terem Palace and the cluster of eleven gold domes of the Church of the Saviour, which was reserved for the use of the tsar’s family. 

We leave the Kremlin and cross the Alexander Garden for a quick lunch at Sbarro.

The Kremlin (Moscow, Russia)
There’s a unusual buffet where you just pile food on a plate and than pay according to the weight. Some travelers in front of us hadn’t seen the scale at the cashier’s desk and had an unpleasant surprise when they found out the price was calculated per 100 grams and not per plate. Out of shear shock of the grouchy cashier that started barking at them, they paid the entire amount in stead of putting some things back.

It’s at this place that we start realizing that it is easy to admire Russians fabulous historic architecture, but that it may be challenging to feel affection for the Russian people. They do not strike us as very ‘lovable’. 

After lunch we walk past the Kremlin and see the prominent red building of theStateHistoricalMuseum.

The Kremlin (Moscow, Russia)
It exhibits an astonishing range of relics and artworks from the entire Russian history, and even though we’d love to see it, we’re both dead set on making The Hermitage in Saint Petersburg the absolute climax of our trip. Seeing a museum like theStateHistoricalMuseumon our first day may spoil that. Besides, we have every intention to return toMoscowone day, when we take the Trans Siberian Express toBeijing!

At the square in front of the State Historical Museum I also notice two vaguely familiar looking men in unusual clothes walking around. It turns out they are look-a-likes. One of them is a Lenin look-a-like, the other one is a Stalin look-a-like.

The Kremlin (Moscow, Russia)
For a couple of roebel you can take a picture of them, and for obvious reasons the Lenin look-a-like is more successful than the Stalin look-a-like.

When we pass the Historical Museum, we enter the legendary Red Square. For many ages this enormous open area was used asMoscow’s main marketplace. Next to that, various ceremonies, proclamations and occasional coronations of tsars took place here.

Entering the Red Square from the Historical Museum means The Kremlin is located on our right hand side, on our left hand side department store GOeM (also known as GUM), and right in front of us the astonishing Saint Basil’s Cathedral.

I have fantasized about standing on the famous Red Square for many years, so I take a long moment, standing right in the middle of the square and savour the event.

The Assumption cathedral at The Kremlin (Moscow, Russia)
There is no doubt the Saint Basil’s Cathedral is the biggest eye catcher, so we walk up to it, taking pictures every few meters because we think it looks even better from that particular angle. When we are in front of the building and we have taken in every elaborate detail and every different colour, we release we can enter the Cathedral. Not once, in all that time of wishing we could see it one day, did we ever consider the possibility of seeing the inside of it. I suppose the outside is so impressive, thinking of an equally exciting inside would be too much to handle.

We buy an entrance ticket at a booth with an inconceivably rude woman in it and find out the inside is like an extensive maze of small chambers, steps and narrow hallways of which every tiny inch has been painted in colourful patterns.

The Assumption cathedral at The Kremlin (Moscow, Russia)
It suits the amazing outside of the Cathedral and walking around in it makes us conclude that this building is everything the Russian people seem not to be. The Cathedral is bright, delicate, cheerful, festive and unique, while the Russians themselves appear to be grumpy, sullen, impolite and coarse. It’s a weird contrast I don’t quite grasp.

We also enter the beautiful buildings of GOeM, but apart from the architecture it’s not that interesting. It mainly contains shops of Gucci, Prada, Chanel and just about every other meaningless designer brand you can find in other European capitals, so as soon as we’ve admired the gorgeous galleries and ceilings, we’re quite done.

We walk into the closest metro station and count the number of stops we have to sit out until we can exit the stop near our hotel.

The Cathedral of the Annunciation at the Kremlin (Moscow, Russia)
This is not a huge ordeal since that morning I was smart enough to mark the Cyrillic name of the metro station near our hotel on our map. Finding the right platform from where the right metro line leaves is another challenge. We have to decipher all the Cyrillic signs one by one, there’s no point in asking locals if they can help us since none of them can or want to speak English. When we think we’ve found the right platform and enter a train, we count the number of stops, but again we seem to make a mistake since we get off one stop too far. But we’re both too exhausted to find out what went wrong. We walk back to the hotel, have dinner in a forgettable place nearby and go to bed early. It’s quite strenuous to live through a day you’ve been fantasizing about for so long…  

nyprne says:
You two make a great team!
Posted on: Apr 22, 2011
jaaf says:
great blog... keep it up
Posted on: Apr 21, 2011
vulindlela says:
Unbelievable how the lady kept barging the line.
Great to know about the metro!
Posted on: Apr 15, 2011
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Me on my way to the famous Kremlin…
Me on my way to the famous Kremli…
Passing the Cathedral of Christ th…
Passing the Cathedral of Christ t…
View while on our way to the Kreml…
View while on our way to the Krem…
View at the Kremlin (Moscow, Russi…
View at the Kremlin (Moscow, Russ…
View at the Kremlin (Moscow, Russi…
View at the Kremlin (Moscow, Russ…
Entrance tower, the Spasskaya towe…
Entrance tower, the Spasskaya tow…
The Kremlin (Moscow, Russia)
The Kremlin (Moscow, Russia)
The Kremlin (Moscow, Russia)
The Kremlin (Moscow, Russia)
The Kremlin (Moscow, Russia)
The Kremlin (Moscow, Russia)
The Assumption cathedral at The Kr…
The Assumption cathedral at The K…
The Assumption cathedral at The Kr…
The Assumption cathedral at The K…
The Cathedral of the Annunciation …
The Cathedral of the Annunciation…
The Church of the Saviour at the K…
The Church of the Saviour at the …
The Church of the Deposition of th…
The Church of the Deposition of t…
The Church of the Saviour at the K…
The Church of the Saviour at the …
The Cathedral of the Archangel at …
The Cathedral of the Archangel at…
The Ivan the Great Bell Tower at t…
The Ivan the Great Bell Tower at …
The Ivan the Great Bell Tower at t…
The Ivan the Great Bell Tower at …
The Ivan the Great Bell Tower at t…
The Ivan the Great Bell Tower at …
The Ivan the Great Bell Tower at t…
The Ivan the Great Bell Tower at …
The Ivan the Great Bell Tower at t…
The Ivan the Great Bell Tower at …
The Ivan the Great Bell Tower at t…
The Ivan the Great Bell Tower at …
Rens surrounded by churches at the…
Rens surrounded by churches at th…
The Cathedral of the Annunciation …
The Cathedral of the Annunciation…
The Cathedral of the Annunciation …
The Cathedral of the Annunciation…
Outside walls of the Kremlin (Mosc…
Outside walls of the Kremlin (Mos…
Outside walls of the Kremlin (Mosc…
Outside walls of the Kremlin (Mos…
Outside walls of the Kremlin (Mosc…
Outside walls of the Kremlin (Mos…
Outside the Kremlin (Moscow, Russi…
Outside the Kremlin (Moscow, Russ…
Outside the Kremlin (Moscow, Russi…
Outside the Kremlin (Moscow, Russ…
The State Historical Museum (Mosco…
The State Historical Museum (Mosc…
The State Historical Museum (Mosco…
The State Historical Museum (Mosc…
The State Historical Museum (Mosco…
The State Historical Museum (Mosc…
Me and Lenin in front of the State…
Me and Lenin in front of the Stat…
Me and Lenin in front of the State…
Me and Lenin in front of the Stat…
The other side of the State Histor…
The other side of the State Histo…
The Red Square! (Moscow, Russia)
The Red Square! (Moscow, Russia)
Me and Rens in front of Saint Basi…
Me and Rens in front of Saint Bas…
Saint Basil’s Cathedral (Moscow,…
Saint Basil’s Cathedral (Moscow…
Saint Basil’s Cathedral (Moscow,…
Saint Basil’s Cathedral (Moscow…
Saint Basil’s Cathedral (Moscow,…
Saint Basil’s Cathedral (Moscow…
Saint Basil’s Cathedral (Moscow,…
Saint Basil’s Cathedral (Moscow…
Saint Basil’s Cathedral (Moscow,…
Saint Basil’s Cathedral (Moscow…
The interior of Saint Basil’s Ca…
The interior of Saint Basil’s C…
The interior of Saint Basil’s Ca…
The interior of Saint Basil’s C…
The interior of Saint Basil’s Ca…
The interior of Saint Basil’s C…
The interior of Saint Basil’s Ca…
The interior of Saint Basil’s C…
The interior of Saint Basil’s Ca…
The interior of Saint Basil’s C…
GOeM (Moscow, Russia)
GOeM (Moscow, Russia)
GOeM (Moscow, Russia)
GOeM (Moscow, Russia)
GOeM (Moscow, Russia)
GOeM (Moscow, Russia)
Church of the Trinity in Nikitniki…
Church of the Trinity in Nikitnik…
The Red Square (Moscow, Russia)
The Red Square (Moscow, Russia)
The State Historical Museum seen f…
The State Historical Museum seen …
An entire orchestra playing in the…
An entire orchestra playing in th…
An entire orchestra playing in the…
An entire orchestra playing in th…
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photo by: eefab