Blogs from Russia, Europe


Europe » Russia » Northwest » Moscow January 24th 2021

17th January Today’s tour in Moscow was to Zaryadye Park. It was minus 17 degrees but our guide Anna was well wrapped up. As we entered the Park area we passed The Old English Court, a stone mansion erected in the early 16th century, one of the earliest surviving specimens of Moscow's secular architecture. Most importantly it witnessed the birth of Anglo-Russian relations in the age of Ivan IV (the Terrible) and Elizabeth I. For it was here from 1556 to 1649 that the first English trading and ambassadorial office in Moscow was located, the first official residence of a Western power in the Russian capital. The bulldozers were out clearing the snow and whizzed passed Anna as she explained about the history of the building. Next to the Old Courthouse was the Church of St. ... read more

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Moscow January 24th 2021

21st January We started our tour at The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, the most important cathedral in Moscow, even before the Cathedral of St. Basil, with a unique and bizarre history that dates back to the nineteenth century and still continues to this day. In addition, it is the highest orthodox temple in the world. Tsar Alexander I wanted a temple to be erected in Moscow, with the name of Christ the Saviour, in honor of those who fought and died in the Patriotic War of 1812. However, after some historical ups and downs and circumstances in the designs, it was not until 1839, already in the time of Tsar Nicholas I, when the first stone was laid. It was built for almost 44 years, between 1839 and 1883, when it was completed and opened ... read more

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Saint Petersburg January 22nd 2021

29th December St. Petersburg The last of yesterday’s tours- I’m surprised I’m not jet lagged all this zipping about. 4 years ago we visited St.Petersburg (our 2nd visit) but have not visited in December so it was nice to see the Hermitage and surrounding buildings looking all festive. The view of the small canal behind the hermitage brought back memories of the trip we took through the canals of St.Petersburg back in 2016. Tsar Peter the Great founded St Petersburg in 1703 on the marshes at the mouth of the Neva River where the Rus Vikings, the founders of ‘Russia’, had passed through centuries earlier. Peter’s city of timber, mud and stone was transformed by the Tsarina Catherine into a Baroque fantasy. This glorious 18th century city is characterised by elegant and extravagant architecture: St Peter ... read more

Europe » Russia January 20th 2021

21st November 2020 Another enjoyable virtual trip to Moscow Red Square with Anna our tour guide. One of Moscow’s & Russia’s – We entered through the Lions gate. The original gate was built in 1535 during the Ivan the Terrible reign, designed by Italian architect, Petroc Minor. Since several lions which were a gift from the Queen of England to Ivan the Terrible, lived inside the moat near the gate, the gate acquired the name the Lions Gate. Once inside the square we passed Lenin’s mausoleum, St Basil’s Cathedral, & the Kremlin Walls. The Kremlin is separate from the square. The square's name has nothing to do with communism or with the colour of many of its buildings. In fact, it comes from the word 'krasny', which once meant 'beautiful', and has only come to mean ... read more
Red Square

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Moscow January 20th 2021

4th December 2020 Another visit to Moscow With Anna as our guide again we walked through one of the oldest quarters of Moscow, the Kitay Gorod neighborhood strolling the ancient Nikolskaya Street. With all the overhead lights it looked so pretty and I have already booked a return visit at night at the end of the month to fully appreciate the illuminations, We saw the infamous KGB building originally built for the insurance company Rossiya which became better known for housing the headquarters of the KGB. We also ventured into the hidden & very quiet courtyard of the monastery contrasting with the hustle & bustle of the street. Nikolskaya Street houses the first Printing House in Moscow and many other interesting buildings including the Zaikonospasskiy Monastery... read more
Nikolskaya Street

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Moscow January 20th 2021

28th December 2020 I visited Nikolskaya Street with Anna a couple of weeks back and this afternoon I was pleased to revisit to see all the beautiful illuminations which were introduced during the FIFA world club and are now a permanent feature. It was good to hear again all about the historic buildings, the Old Mint, the First printer & publishers, the Greek Monastery of St. Nicholas and the famous Ferrein pharmacy. The Ferrein pharmacy was the largest in Europe back in 1862 . Its large rooms were decorated with gilded vases, carved oak cabinets, chandeliers and statues. Marble staircase with wrought iron railings lead from one floor to another. Stuffed bears met the visitors of the main hall. Christmas in Russia is most widely celebrated on January 7. This is because the Russian Orthodox Church ... read more

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Moscow November 15th 2020

Did you know the Japanese provided safe passage through Japan for Jews escaping from Europe to escape extermination by the Nazis in the Second World War? Hitler sent emissaries to get Japan to cease and they refused. About 24,000 Jews were saved before a Japanese leadership change resulted in incarceration in Shanghai instead. In 1919 the Japanese while fighting alongside the White Russians against the Bolshevik communists, were introduced to an anti-Semitic Russian publication advocating that the Jews were planning economic World domination. The Japanese having their own desires for World domination saw potential and formulated a plan to have Jews from Europe settle in Manchuria and help Japan financially become an economic power. A plan so audacious they called it the Fugu the seafood delicacy...if not prepared carefully its poison could kill the consumer. ... read more
The Whites counted on anti-Semitism
Jewish family 1903
The 1905 Revolution

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Moscow October 8th 2020

I was not born a Cossack...nor a Tatar of the Golden Horde...a horseman of the outback nor the Snowy River. I learnt to ride when I was four...but born to the saddle I was not. We lived in Castle those days a rural outer suburb of Sydney...our father the local doctor. Led to the stalls with my big sister for our first riding lesson...stable door swinging open...a massive glossy-brown muscled beast on its hind legs rearing out...neighing nay braying...its hooves right there in front of us...bigger than big. Just time to draw breath. And in a flash I was out of there!!! Pretty tiny...blonde and fast...really fast as my little greyhound legs would take me. Out the farm gate...down the dirt road to Old Northern Road...the main road the circus used to march with ... read more

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Moscow August 29th 2020

Like a concerto the Russian rivers carried us in three movements...two fast outer movements and a slow lyrical middle movement. I do not know if t'was its classical or purely Russian form but it was punctuated with cadenzas...brilliant dramatic solo passages where soloists play and the orchestra pauses and remains silent. Soloists standing or sitting in front of the orchestra contrasting their skills verses the many other musicians of the orchestra that gives the concerto its unique sound. There were so many highlights from idyllic sunrises to dramatic many cadenzas. But the most magnificent of all...some call it a crescendo.I call it Moscow. There are cities and there are cities...then there is Moscow...blows my breath away! On first arrival I was underwhelmed...docking on the Moska River from which Moscow draws its ... read more
Red Squares
Outside Red Square
Spasskaya Tower 1491

Europe » Russia » Far East » Vladivostok July 3rd 2020

Russia has eleven time zones, and I crossed EIGHT of them on the Trans-Siberian Railway. The time difference between Vladivostok, where I boarded the TSR, and Moscow is SEVEN hours. It is a mere 6152 miles from Vladivostok to Moscow, and I rode every single one of those miles or kilometers. It is normally a six- or seven-day trip, depending on the schedule. So, the problem is quite simple. The train runs on Moscow time, but we tend to eat and sleep, based on local time. My solution was to carry or wear two watches. But I still had problems, as I will share below. Speaking of times zones, why do we have them? Time zones are a relatively modern invention. J. Griggs from Travel Trivia: Just like the more recent advent of the internet, time ... read more
How many time zones??
Starting the TSR in Vladivostok

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