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Published: September 3rd 2017
Peter the Great
Built on the Moscow river
We felt comfortable using public transport in St. Petersburg and decided to use the bus and metro system to get to our centrally based hotel as it was a short walk from a station. The Presidents Hotel backed onto the Moskva (Moscow) River and from our 12th
floor suite (!) could just glimpse the Kremlin. In fact, the restaurant on the 14th
floor, which overlooked the river, provided a panoramic view of the city. We were shocked to see a statue of Peter the Great that was as high as the hotel! The hotel was large and had a cavernous reception area, the corridors were long, wide and spacious but always empty. It felt desolate and almost what one would have imagined a good hotel would have been like in the Soviet era.
I have to mention the Metro stations, as these were better than those in St. Petersburg, they were breathtaking. In one of them, there were bronze figurines built into the arches. Each figure represented soldiers or workers of the soviet era. A number of these had dogs as part of the statue. Muscovites would rub the noses of these as they walked past them, which
was believed to give them good luck. You can see where they rubbed the dogs as this part of the statue was shiny compared to the rest of it.
There is a curious open- air museum park behind the hotel where they installed demolished monuments to soviet leaders. You crossed a road from there to get to Gorky Park, which runs adjacent to the river. I had this vision, from the old spy movie of the same name, that this park would be a more natural overgrown and eerie park. But far from it. It is a very lively place with musical fountains, boating lakes, wooded walks, fairground rides and a 10,000 seat outdoor theatre. We also saw beach volley ball courts, plenty of table tennis tables and numerous other attraction. During the winter months’ an ice rink is made.
The biggest surprise to us was the Kremlin. The heart of the Russian political system, where the President (Putin) works and has his administration, so only about half is available for the public to visit. I had envisaged a boring government complex, but it’s not! Inside it has cathedrals and palaces where in the
past coronations, royal baptisms and burials took place. Inside there is a bell that is the largest in the world and weighs 200 tonnes. There was a fire in 1737 whilst the bell was still being cast, cold water was poured over the hot bell and a bit broke off and that bit weighs eleven tonnes!
Inside the Kremlin walls there is a building, called The Armoury that houses the wealth accumulated over many centuries by Russian princes and tsars. On view, amongst many other items, are fabulous carriages and sledges, a large collection of Faberge eggs, regalia, diamond encrusted thrones and costumes and a dazzling collection of diamonds.
On one side of the Kremlin is Red Square. Unfortunately stands were being constructed and there were rehearsals taking place for a Military Tattoo so we didn’t get to see the expanse of it.
At one end of the square is the magnificent St Basils Cathedral. Just enjoy the photos!
We like Moscow as much as St. Petersburg. There are lively restaurant and bar areas with al fresco dining. The locals were friendly, although very few could understand English.
Overall, Russia was a great country to visit. It was inexpensive, as their currency has halved in value over the last four years, due to the imposition of economic sanctions because of Russia’s annexation of the Crimea from Ukraine .
Well that the end of the blog. I have am publishing this 9 days after we returned from Russia and a day before I fly back to Australia.
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