Saturday, May 28, 2011

Wednesday May 11 Gate 1 Day 3 Russia Cruise

DAY 3, Wednesday - Moscow City Tour, Kremlin Tour
Overnight: Cruise
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After breakfast we head out at 8:30 for the bus tour that is included in the cruise. We are on bus #6 and our guide is Alex as is the driver. Alex told us that it is a Russian superstition if you want between two people with the same name and make a wish it will be granted.

It took about an hour to get downtown due to rush hour traffic. Alex was entertaining and informative. We drove around Moscow as he pointed out the various points of interest. We then went to Sparrows' Hill for a panoramic view of the city. The hills are dominated by the Moscow State University building commissioned by Stalin and completed in 1953. At 6 feet it is the highest of the seven Stalinest-Gothic "wedding cakes" or "Seven Sisters".

The small, green-domed Church of the Trinity (1811) can also be seen close by, to the left of the observation platform where there are many souvenir stalls.

Next stop was Red Square the first visit for most of the passengers. Crews continued to take down Monday's scaffolding. We had half an hour which was enough for us but I'm not sure that would have been enough if we had not been here twice already. There wasn't really a chance to enter any of the buildings. We then headed back through the subway to our bus for a mysterious trip to lunch.

The bus drove and drove until we turned into what looked like an industrial park where we made numerous turns until we reached a building which housed Russia Gift. It is a gift store on the main level and then elevators take you up to a dining room. Tables were assigned by bus number. The food was served quickly and was lukewarm, but we were late in arriving. There was a traditional potato salad with egg, borsht, and a hot pot mainly consisting of root vegetables and potatoes. Dessert was crepes served with honey. Then we took the requisite trip to the gift shop on our way back to the bus.

Next stop the Kremlin after wrestling through the traffic. They only allow thirty people in at a time as you have to pass through a metal detector. We were wearing our pedometers and these caused some confusion until John mimed walking with his fingers. After some delay as they tried to organize the groups we entered through the Trinity Gate. This was the entrance for patriarchs and czars' wives and daughters. The grounds of the Kremlin are surrounded by a wall two kilometres long. Within the walls are:
The famous Czar Cannon, the 16th century Czar Bell, and Cathedral Square, home to three of Moscow's most elaborate cathedrals: the Cathedral of Assumption, the Cathedral of Annunciation, and the Cathedral of the Archangel.
State Kremlin Palace
Patriarch's Palace
Ivan The Great Bell Tower
Cathedral of the Assumption
Cathedral of the Archangel
Faceted Palace
Church of the Disposition of the Robe
Terem Palace
Great Kremlin Palace
State Armoury
Saviour’s Tower
Presidential Administration
Alexander Gardens
 Walls outside the Kremlin
 Crossing into the Kremlin

 Spooky to me!

John and Ursula asked if they could join us for our table for dinner. We finally arrived back on board around six and headed to dinner for seven. Our table seated six and we ended up being four.

Moscow by Night (PM)
Enjoy Moscow at night on a guided tour. Explore Red Square in the heart of the city, see the lively Tverskaya Street, full of shops, cafes and restaurants, view Victory Park a huge memorial to the Russian victory in WWII and filled with fountains and lights. Travel to the observation platform at Sparrow Hills to see a panoramic view of the whole city. Also enjoy a few stops to see some of Moscow's most impressive subway stops, which are lavishly decorated in marble, mosaics, chandeliers and statues. The plan of the communists was to bring culture to the everyday lives of Muscovites and offer them a transport system unrivaled in the West.

I didn't go as I had pulled a muscle and didn't feel like climbing all those stairs. DH went and took some great photos and video. Watch how quickly the train pulls out of the station!

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