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Published: February 25th 2017
St Basil's Cathedral
Red Square. Multi-coloured onions
"Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park, listen to the wind of change." Opening lyrics 'Wind of Change' by The Scorpions
Finally making it to Russia (Рoccия), we enjoyed Moscow (Москва) during their quiet season. Some snow on the ground and sub-zero temperatures meant for short line-ups and few tourists. The joys of travelling at these times.
Our home base was near to the core of the city where we enjoyed the beautiful Red Square, St Basil's Cathedral and the mighty Kremlin. Wandering the Kremlin grounds was awe-inspiring. Cathedrals, statues, big bells and big cannons. And don’t forget the golden onions!
Incredible riches of Russia's imperial past sit in secure display cases inside the Kremlin walls. The armoury houses thousands of priceless golden pieces, bejewelled with diamonds, emeralds and sapphires. The collection is so sickly overwhelming to ones eyes that it is no wonder we did not have a seizure from so many twinkling sparkles from all the diamonds, jewels, gold and silver in each room. The artwork and craftsmanship involved in every piece was more than outstanding. From gold tea-cups to royal chain mail, from ruby-lined wine ladles to silver dinner sets, from crowns of royalty to decorative thrones and carriages. Intensely detailed, historically important, unique and priceless. There was no photography inside any of the
buildings due to the sensitive nature of the pieces, but trust us when we say it is worth a visit!
Catherine the Great's clock ,’The Temple of Glory', was our favourite of all - an absolutely ridiculously decorated timepiece. A two and a half metre tall clock designed in the form of a temple and bathed in gold and thousands of precious stones. Coming from a minimalistic and practical culture, we were stuck for sensible words.
The Russians liked to build things as big as possible. Behind Ivan the Great's Bell Tower is The Tsar Cannon - the world's biggest cannon. It is a beast of a gun. And, to add to the silliness of the enormity, it has never fired a shot. We suspect that because the cannon balls were too large, a crane would have been required to lift the darn things into the stupendously oversized muzzle.
Then there is The Tsar Bell - the world's largest bell. An over-the-top, two-hundred-and-two ton giant that never got to ring. Reason? They tried to lift it up and it fell and broke. Rumour has it that there is a squashed person underneath it. We don’t know him,
Changing of the Guard
Outside the Kremlin walls
but his name might ring a bell.
"I think this is too big, it must be made smaller.” Said no Russian Engineer - ever!
On the hour, every hour at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier just outside the Kremlin and in the Alexander Garden, there is the changing of the guard. Beautifully coordinated and synchronized and a pleasure to watch.
Lurking behind our respectful minds, grew the episode of the Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks. We just could not put our finger on why that came to us…
And so began our journey of learning the Russian language, and reading Cyrillics, as if we didn’t already stand out in a crowd… The Basics
The H sounds like an N, and a backwards N (И) is pronounced ‘EE’. The C sounds like an S, and the P is really an R (incidentally, a backwards R (Я) is a ‘Ya’). The letter B is a V, but a T is the same - T, except sometimes it’s written as an ‘m’ (not to be confused with an M, which is in fact, an M). And the number 3 is a trick, because it’s a Z…There are also these - Д Ф Г Ж (D F G Zh)…
The world's biggest
By studying the above, you’d know that our favourite word, ‘PECTOPAH’, is pronounced restoran. Restaurant of course! But it is much funner to say Pectopah.
Дэвид и Тереса (David and Theresa)
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