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August 5th 2010
Published: August 5th 2010
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St Basils by nightSt Basils by nightSt Basils by night

Was originally named some other thing but Ivan the Terrible liked Basil he renamed the church after him. I love the Russian style of arches and sharp angles and everything together and pretty colours.
Monday, 2 August 2010 Moscow, Budapest Hotel, Russia
Slept ok until 4.30am when I woke up sweating. Went to toilet and moved fan back somewhat in my direction and managed to sleep again until 8ish. Quick breakky, pack and now just doing last of net again before transfer in about an hour. Moved outside and chatted to girls who had just been to Moscow and it is in a heatwave from wildfires…. Just what I need after not sleeping well last few days. Oh well, I’m in a hotel, at least it should have aircon. Our transfer was exciting with arguments about who has right of way in a two way street that fits one car, we won so the other guy had to reverse a 100m or so back a skinny walled street. Then a sight I haven’t seen in ages, garbos hanging off the back of a garbage truck throwing rubbish in by hand. Got to airport 11.30am just under 2 hours before flight and had to queue for ages to get everything scanned to be able to check in. Chatted to Italian family though which passed the time. Then queued to check in and guy said to go
Bolshoi by nightBolshoi by nightBolshoi by night

One of my favourite photos!
to another place and got to check in the online queue that wasn’t being used. After all the queues, got to boarding gate nearly an hour before flight but then flight was delayed 15-20 mins. Was a decent flight and watched a bit of Cop Out but missed the start from sleeping and the end from landing. Got off flight and got to passport control. There is an underground area less than ½ the size of a football field, with no airconditioning. It reminded me of Cairo but without the Egyptian men sweating and swearing and pushing. Anyway, can’t take too long. Well! I am the queen of bad queues! If you ever see me in a queue in front of you, choose another one. However, today, there was no bad queue, everything was moving v e r y slowly. It took me one hour to move about 10m. I wasn’t game to move to the diplomatic queue which I timed only took 1 minute for people to go through because a new plane would come in full of diplomats and I would lose my place in this barley moving line. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against queues… ok I am, but I do get the concept of orderly control for the greater good, but when you are getting nowhere, and you have sweat running down your bum crack - they suck real bad! Lucky I didn’t have anyone who spoke English that I could discuss this with because I might have had a follower and got too worked up and got kicked out of the country before I even got in. Then when I got close enough, I timed my queue. Guess how long to process one person… nope… closer… the first was 3 minutes which is already 3 times the fast queue, but then the next 9 minutes and then the next…. Well at least 5 minutes, but then they closed the queue and told us to move to another queue! Well all hell nearly broke lose. Understandably, I would’ve gone straight to blows if someone decided to put someone in the front of my queue! Anyway, I got to slide sideways, after a big guy said no, but a US guy let me in. A few minutes before I saw a lady on the other side holding up my name, obviously sick of waiting out the front. I signaled I might be another ½ hour still from 5 metres away  Man, if I didn’t get to jump the queue I would’ve still been 20 mins to finish my queue which was lucky in the end I suppose. How do they do that, just close a queue with no notice after you have been queueing in it for the last 1 hour and 20 minutes! Anyway, found my luggage and then had a walk through the heat - yep that heatwave from the bushfires. Another 50 minutes drive to the hotel and finally got in just after 8pm. Nice room though, even though it smells slightly of cigarettes. Nice shower and asked if I could drink water and not quite sure whether I can or not because it seemed you could boil it and drink it but then use bottled water? Oh well I’ve tried now and drank about a litre so we’ll know tomorrow  Better than Joanne who bought a bottle of water with dinner and we think the 750ml is $10! I will die of dehydration (or the runs) before that. Had some of her leftover veges too which were very nice. Is very cool to have someone to bitch and discuss things with already. Nice shower in huge bathroom that the shower curtain hugs you which is more of a pain than the shower over toilet option. Nice to go to sleep with tv on sleep timer and air con cranking!

Tuesday, 3 August 2010 Moscow, Budapest Hotel, Russia
Woke up to Joanne’s alarm at 8.30am after waking up at some stupid hour again. Then had a fairly awesome brekky of capsicums, olives, cold meat, sausages, scrambled eggs, and beans and bacon mixture. Waited in reception for our 10am tour of Moscow. Met Elise and had same driver as yesterday. Learnt that Russia is fairly young, well discovered in 1175 odd and a couple of points of interest in 1500s and then nothing came up until 1817 when they first defended against Napoleon and then in 1917 when Stalin made communism takeover by murdering all the Tzars and family and anything to do with religion etc etc. 2nd World War which Russia won. Two other communist leaders of not Lenin and Pushkin. Then 1991 when Mikal Gorbochov stopped communism as quick as it started which apparently killed a few old people from depression because they couldn’t adapt, followed by Boris Yeltzin and Vladimir Putin. Started tour with drive past KGB headquarters and sorry park for all the people who were tortured/murdered in that building. Saw the 2nd city’s old wall where the city kept getting bigger and bigger until the walls and moats were torn down after 1817 Napoleon win and replaced with roads. Then came the era of having churches as defences where we later saw where Sofia, sister of Peter the Great or Alexander the Great wanted to take power but instead got imprisoned in a church that she was building up to be her summer house… at least I suppose she’d be comfortable  As well as a wives of a Tzar who did not have any children or any wives Tzars got sick of and wanted to remarry. Anyway, then we got to Red Square area, which is really just a normal market square - red maybe because of the red walls of the Kremlin. St Basils, the Gum, and the centre of Moscow. Drove across Moscow River to Sparrow hills to have a beautiful view over 7 Sisters of Stalin, 7 skyscrapers he had built more or less looking the same, but with the bushfires around we saw none, except the close University one behind us. Saw over 1980 Games Arena and area though with a ski jump used in winter and summer. Oh, went past Peter the Great monument, he created the Russian Fleet as well as St Petersburg named after him. Drove past Victory Park which is dedicated to WWII victory but has monument for fighters over the years. The Obelisk is 140m tall which represents 10cm per day of war… must be about 1400 days, so between 3 and 4 years, sounds about right I suppose. Went into Christ Our Saviour church which was built by 1883 but then Stalin blew it up after 3 bombs I think in 1930s. There was plan to build some huge communist building there but WWII made them need the materials from formwork so got stopped. Then they built a swimming pool there and it was cool to see artwork of the church reflecting into a pool, sometimes blood pictured saying why? Then it got rebuilt in 1990 and finished by 1995 which is kinda cool, well not cool when it is 39 degree and you have to wear long pants in, which were waterproof ones I took. Last of our trip was the Metro. Some of the stations we went to were tribute to Kiev which used to be capital of Moscow when Ukraine was still Russian showing mosaics of Ukrainian life and even them fighting in WWII, then another to WWII, some of statues of Russian life, all were just pretty though. One was were political leaders met for safety because it was so far underground but we didn’t see that one. Oh, then there was trouble with the trains, and we don’t know why but I could tell guide was a bit worried and she said about the terror attacks from couple of months ago. Noone seemed to care though, but it was amazing how much backlog you got when one of the routinely 2 min trains stopped. We got stuck on a train with a bunch of schoolgirls carrying on which was ok, apart from I thought their jumping would derail us, but when they left they just barreled everyone in their way out the doors - except me. I just dug my heels in literally and dropped the shoulder. Little shits!
Kremlin Tour Day cannons captured from FranceKremlin Tour Day cannons captured from FranceKremlin Tour Day cannons captured from France

They obviously had a few, this is just a small sample of the ones we saw!
Got out of metro and dropped off by guide in Putra? Walking street area. Joanne was starved so she had lunch and I had a milkshake, which is about $6 and was only 200ml, and hot. If I get crook over next couple of days I am sure it is not the water but the warm milkshake I paid shitloads for a shot of. Walked home via couple of statues and shops recommended and got home just after 5pm. Plan to head back out to Red Square tonight for dinner and lights from sundown about 10pm to 11 or 11.30pm. After Joanne slept and I did diary and played some games, we left about 8.30pm. Wandered down via Bolshoi for daylight photo and then into Red Square Gum for dinner. Checked a couple of restaurants and settled on one that had a bit of English menu. Ordered a chicken breast and some potato. The chicken was about $5 and the potatoes about $2.50. It was rather cold which is ironic because everything is so hot. I said to Joanne that if I have a crook gut tomorrow, it may not be from the milkshake or the water but from cold chicken. After I finished, I noticed that there is a microwave there for clients use to heat meals….. no further comment, because I don’t know what the go with that is! Then we finished and went outside and it was still not dark. Took heaps of photos anyway and the Gum lights came on. Was rather disappointed that St Basils didn’t light up and then lights came on Kremlin. We were just about to leave and lights did come on St Basils so there goes another 40gb of memory card! Oh, before I go on, I have to say that my Moscow song will be Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan, Especially For You. Funnily enough when I was leaving Istanbul for some reason I thought of that video clip and Kylie’s hand looking plastic. Then in the transfer on the way to the hotel, guess what song came on. I hadn’t heard or thought of it since the 1980’s and then boom! Anyway, back to the present, we were wandering out of Red Square and Joanne spotted a dome that was lighted and painted like the map of the world. It was cool and had a 3D Moscow on it. Stopped and took another photo of Bolshoi on the way home and also the fountain by light which turned out awesome if I do say so myself! Holy, is now nearly midnight.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010 Moscow, Budapest Hotel, Russia
Didn’t get to sleep until nearly 3am and then alarm at 8am. Struggling today, awesome brekky though. Roast veges as well as sausages again and eggs. Met guide for walking tour of Kremlin. She said that yesterday was just a broken train, nothing real bad. Pointed out Monash square and horse riding area on way to Kremlin. Went into museum of clothes and jewels and carriages which was awesome. Two things I really liked were the coronation chairs of Peter the Great (10), who was coronated with his half brother Ivan (15) and Sofia older sister from another wife (25) who told boys answers to questions through a window in the double coronation chair. Ivan died shortly after and it was Sofia who ended up at the nunnery for plotting to kill Peter. And, Faberge who Peter the Great gave a decorated egg made by Faberge to his wife and thus started the tradition and Faberge became huge by decorating these eggs in fine jewels, always with a surprise inside (reminds me of kinder surprise), but they were sometimes maps of Russia in 1613 and 1913 for the 300 years of Romanov rule and a train inside an egg that was made for the completion of the Trans Siberian Railway and a map inside the platinum egg. The amount of diamonds in this place would be richer than a small country nowadays. Then outside and into church square, and current parliament buildings and the biggest cannon which had nearly 1m cannonballs, and thousands of cannons that were captured from French. Tour finished and wandered past the area where 14 cities soil is kept because they made a difference in the war, either making weapons, or stopping an enemy etc. Then we were lucky because we saw changing of the guard at 1pm which was pretty cool but really quick. Funniest thing was when the guys stood beside each other they kind of cocked their heads in a body language type thing of ‘thanks mate’. Then had a sip out of a fountain that looked really green but locals were drinking so I had to see how tough my gut is. Then finally found a shopping centre underground. Bought some grape juice and then watched lady with snakes and lizards as Joanne had kebab. Then walked home and now 3pm after diary and photos and ready for a nap. Oh, ended up shaving my hairy legs, was thinking I would be in warm gear by now and wouldn’t matter, then was going to try and get away with it considering we are heading into Scandinavia but they will be hairy again by then. Well the nap turned into watching How It’s Made on tv and dropping off to sleep around 7pm.


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