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July 8th 2018
Published: July 25th 2018
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We are now home and our cruise has finished. As you will see from the info below we didn’t really have a lot of time to write of our experiences. Too many jam packed days and yet still more to see in Moscow.

Russia has been fantastic and very different from my trip in 1978. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the introduction of private enterprises there have been many changes. It is becoming very westernized which means more cars, traffic jams, but there are now shops, plentiful foods and smiling people. It is very easy to get around, particularly as most signs and stores have English signs. The children learn English at school, but as with many countries, older people while they may have an understanding they do not speak it. They do try. Our Russian lessons on the boat at least helped with the basics, although we didn't sign up as part of the entertainment group signing Russian songs to the rest of the passengers. We did however partake in the Vodka drinking lesson. Who knew that there was tradition of what to drink, how,when and what snacks to have with it!!! A lot of fun was had by all.

We spent four days in Moscow including a lot of time in the bus because of the impossible traffic and distance of the boat mooring from the city. Here are some of the highlights.

Fun Facts:

• Founded around 1147
• flourished because it was in the middle of a trade route
• became the capital in the 13th century
• in 1712 Peter the Great moved the capital to St Petersburg but coronations of royalty continued to take place in Moscow
• 1918 Lenin transferred the capital to Moscow
• population between 13-15 million. Next census to be undertaken 2020
• zero unemployment

We started our trip with a visit to the city for a tour of the sights, then the Metro - we visited three stations of the famous metro which is spotlessly clean and decorated with statues, chandeliers, paintings and impossibly steep escalators. Our guide spent a great deal of time telling us not to delay as the escalators were fast and people needed to get on quickly, the driver would not wait. We all managed quite well. That night we attended a performance of the folklore show Kostroma, which told the history of Russia and its peoples with song and dance. The dance was at times mesmerizing with the dancers appearing to glide across the floor. No pictures allowed - sorry.

Up next day for our visit to Red Square and St Basil’s cathedral, which lived up to all expectations. The World Cup has captured the city and Red Square played host to the world media with a large area fenced off for their reporting. We saw fans from many countries dressed in their national costumes and the famous GUM department store had an internal fountain full of soccer balls floating in it.

Cosmonautic Museum. This is the newer museum which houses the work of the modern cosmonauts and documents their space race with the Americans. After our tour we had an audience with a cosmonaut who detailed his background and then answered questions from us of his experiences .

Off to Gousyatnikoff restaurant for lunch which included a traditional Russian drink, Kompot, made with fruits, berries and spices. It tasted like iced tea and was delicious but some of our passengers the following day reported that it had laxative properties!!

In the afternoon we visited the State Tretyakov Gallery - Russians love their art. The art gallery was a private collection created by Pavel Tretyakov and is now the leading repository for national art, and all paintings in the collection have labels in both Russian and English . Amazing. We had seen some Russian art in Tallinn by Aivazovsky and some of his work was in this collection. His use of light is incredible. There were many interesting works of art including icons (of course).

Today we leave for the Kremlin. The Kremlin (fortress) has five palaces and four cathedrals and we started with a visit to the State Armory Chamber, where the treasures from the royal years before the Bolsheviks are stored. Priceless jewels, carriages, ceremonial robes and wedding dresses, household goods, stuffed horses and weaponry. No photos. No one lives in the Kremlin itself anymore except for the guards. We did not see Putin but he was working in his office. We visited the Kremlin on a Saturday, and while we were there saw a drill performance of the troops and marching band, culminating in gunfire.

A visit to the Moscow circus on our last night. We visited the Nikulin traditional circus where there is a statue outside the building dedicated to Nikulin, the most famous clown in Russia. We made the decision to go, even though we knew there would be animal acts. This is traditional in Russia. We decided at the end of it, that it reinforced in our minds that circuses do not need animals. The skill of the trapeze artists, the tightrope walker ( who did her whole act ’en Point’), the jugglers and the magnificent clown (whose interaction with the crowd was fantastic) were magnificent to watch and more than held the show on their own.

Our four days in Moscow were very full and we could have stayed much longer. Unfortunately we flew out the next day for a 2 day stopover in Singapore.

Additional photos below
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25th July 2018

YOu've been busy. Thanks for taking us along.
26th July 2018

Hard to find time to write blogs when on a tour There are so many things to do and see. It is good to reminisce though when you try to match the photos with the sights. Having a rest now. Maybe Egypt next year

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