121008 Moscow 8 October Monday

We are up early this morning for a 7:30 breakfast and a 8:30am departure for a tour of the city and walk aroundRed Square.  We are given our receivers that enable us to hear the commentary from our local guides.  Testing is done in the coach and we get to know

the guides and a little of the Russian language.  The traffic is thick as, and very slow.  We only see the one ‘small’ car; most cars are much larger than Italian cars back on our trip in May.  It is raining with a temperature of about 9 degrees.

Moscow is a city of 17 million residents and 4 million cars.  Road rules seem to be made up while driving.  In some ways, it is slower than any European traffic we have experienced recently.  We see many famous buildings and sites around Moscow, including the Kremlin, the Bolshoi Theatre, the KGB Building, parliament building, and many other buildings with names too difficult to spell, and equally difficult to pronounce.  Just near Gorky Park, there is the Russian version of the Columbia space shuttle that did only two circuits (I cant think of the proper term for that at present) of Earth before being brought back to become a memorial to the Russian space exploration program.  There are many multi-level apartment blocks.  It is interesting to learn that the state heats water to be piped to buildings and used as heating.

There is an extensive Metro rail system of some 300kms and 175 stations.  Some stations are up to 80 metres underground, with escalators of 130 meters. There is one complete loop of railway around the city center that takes around 30 minutes of travel time.  At most times of the day, a train comes through each 75 seconds, so there is not much time waiting for a train.  There are no benches on the stations to sit on either.  Other forms of public transport are trolley buses and the normal bus.  We only see the one pushbiker – he is game and courageous.

After a tour of the Metro, we take lunch in the Hall for Writers.  What a magnificent place for a restaurant.  Prior to the meal, we hand in our warm coats to the cloakroom to be more comfortable.  The meal is delicious – a beef stroganoff in a ‘dug-out’ whole meal bun with garnishing of tasty pickles. The afternoon is taken up with a walk around Red Square and a major up market shopping centre as well as a tour of the Cathedral of the Intercession (Cathedral of St Basil the Blessed).  The Cathedral is made up of 6 unusual spires and many small rooms.  In the central room, we are treated to some accapalla music by a quartet of men.  The acoustics were well worth a listen.  The music was slow to enable the echo not to be too messed up.  After a free-time period, we board the coach for the crawl back to our ship during peak evening traffic.  In the main street, it is legal to do a ‘U’ turn – at one point we witnessed 10 vehicles U-ing, and side-by-side, at the same point in front of us.  All the other traffic just waitied for this ‘procession’ to complete. We arrive back at our ship after the 90-minute trip.

Our evening is taken up with another sumptuous Scenic Tours meal and free time (to do this post).  I am still having trouble getting fast WiFi and so if you see any pictures in the post, unusual circumstances have occurred.

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