From Moscow to Saint Petersburg, Stalin´s bunker, and the train ride
Saint Petersburg Travel Blog› entry 12 of 17 › view all entries
Our last day in Moscow. I took a little walk along the Moscow River across from the Kremlin, took some photos (to be uploaded...). There were a couple of guys fishing from the river bank! The river looked clean, and I even saw something, presumably a fish, jump out of the water. So I guess they could catch their dinner there.
After breakfast, we had a bus tour of several sights in Moscow.
The Christ the Savior Cathedral, which is not that far from the Kremlin, with its impressive golden domes. It was originally built in the 19th century, but Stalin had it destroyed in the 1930´s so he can build the biggest, tallest skyscrapper there. Story had it that they poured the foundation, and it cracked, they did it again, and it cracked again.
We then visited Sparrow Hill, the lookout spot which is the highest point in Moscow, in front of the Moscow University building which had a star weighing 12 tons (as opposed to the ones on top of the Kremlin towers, weighing only 1 ton).
We did not go inside the Novodevichy Convent & Cemetery, but it looked interesting. It has fortresslike walls, so almost like a tiny city with a moat around it (a pond remains today). This convent was where the tzars and nobles sent their wives, daughters, mistresses who they no longer like (no divorce then, I suppose it´s better than Siberia or death). We only stopped at the outside pond and green area, which was the site where Barbara Bush´s gift to Russia - mother duck and several ducklings were installed. They were stolen not long afterwards, and somehow they got another set from the Bushes and now they posted a guard there just to keep an eye on the ducks! The cemetery (which I would have liked to visit) is the most prestigious for Moscow, Dimitri Shostokovich, Nikolai Gogol were buried there.
Now this is silly but we then made a rest stop at a souvenir store, thinking it was nothing of interest, I did not go in at first, but then my mom came and told me this was a HUGE store with lots of stuff, so I went in.
Lunch was in a restored bunker which was built for Stalin! It was started in 1937, pretending to be a stadium construction project, sort of in the outskirts of Moscow. There is some kind of a stadium there today, and near some hotel and a complex which can best be described as a version of Disneyland in the Russian style. We went through some markets and down through a gate into this bunker now labelled as a "reserve command post" museum (will get the full name later from my photo.
After lunch it´s time to head to the train station for our 5 hour train ride to Saint Petersburg. The Aurora was an express train, not an overnight one. Even though it was a "business class" car with reasonably comfortable seats and service for some not very good dinner, the toilets (which I did not visit) were probably not, because toward the end of the train ride, unpleasant odor began to drive some people in one end of the car to where I was sitting. I had thought it came from the toilet closer to me, but No, it was from the far end! Very lucky that we did not sit near that end. Our tour director kept us filled up with Vodka, Russian wines and candies throughout the journey, which went pretty quick for me.
We arrived in Saint Petersburg and the hotel around 10:30pm, the hotel had a nice snack for us in the rooms and we were happy to have arrived and were eager for our exploration in the next few days. (Internet access was 4 euro for 15 minutes at its business center)