Kamchatka Land of 10,000 Bears, Part 3 Moscow

by david on December 23, 2019

Friday, May 3rd

The eight hour plus flight was smooth as silk. And thanks to the ‘Comfort Plus” Status, I was off quickly and second in line at passport control. The young lady behind the counter did not speak English and since I did not speak any Russian the visit with her was a brief one. My papers were all correct and, in about three minutes, I was on the way to collect my bags. I felt my luck must be changing. In addition to the quick trip through passport control, the Moscow airport turned out to be very easy to navigate. I was somewhat worried about things being in the Cyrillic alphabet, but that was not an issue at all. My bags were some of the first to come down the baggage carousel and I was soon outside meeting up with Vasily conveniently waiting just outside the door. We made our way into the parking garage and put my bags in the back of his Landcruiser and were soon headed into downtown Moscow.

This week starts the Russian holiday period that includes Victory Day. This is the day the Russian people celebrate the surrender of the Nazis in WWII. I had not known this when I decided to include a three-day stopover in Moscow and this was going to make the visit that much more memorable. The only downside was that the holiday would bring lots of additional people to Moscow. The larger than normal crowds necessitated us going the scenic route to my hotel. I chose the Assambleya Nikitskaya Hotel because it was only a block and a half to Red Square and the Kremlin. The Kremlin and Red Square were the focus of the holiday festivities and I was going to be right in the middle of things. Cool. The traffic was not so cool, and we had to do a loop around Red Square to get to the hotel. That was fine by me as the scenery was fantastic and Vasily a knowledgeable tour guide. We dropped my bags at the hotel and as it was still only midafternoon we decided to head out to see what we could see.

We made our way into along outside of the Kremlin past the Eternal Soldier Flame and its honor guards. The site was impressive and somber. Next we journeyed into Red Square itself. It was immense. There were grandstands set up for the upcoming parade and many people there. Vasily took me to Point Zero. It is a bronze medallion with four gaps that I am assuming are north, south, east, and west. It is also known as “Kilometre Zero”, meaning all distances in from Moscow are measured from there. Then we walked past St. Basils and down to the river to look for a particular shop Vasily knew. I wanted to bring the girls something that was uniquely Russian. The beautiful shawls and scarves the ladies around Moscow wore caught my attention and I and wanted to see if I could find some for my family. The shop was not far and, though small, there were scarves and shawls of every shape, size and color. The bright, vivid colors and unique patterns took some going through, but I finally found one of each for the girls. On the way back, we stopped at a store selling hand painted plates. The designs were beautiful, and each one an original and different from every other one in the store. I was concerned about getting the plates home without breaking, only to be told they were painted on metal plates, not on ceramic or glass. More picking out and trying to suit each person’s taste was not too difficult but it took a while.  Interesting side note: I picked one for both daughters, one for my wife and, since it was almost Mother’s Day, one from my mom. The interesting part was I picked four by the same artist. I wasn’t even aware they were signed, but they were. Souvenirs taken care of, it was time to take care of something for me.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier - Eternal Flame Tomb of the Unknown Soldier – Eternal Flame

 

Monument to Marshal Zhukov at the entrance to Red Square Monument to Marshal Zhukov at the entrance to Red Square

 

Kilometer Zero Kilometer Zero

 

Some of the grandstand seating in Red Square. It will be full during the Victory Day festivities. Some of the grandstand seating in Red Square. It will be full during the Victory Day festivities.

 

State Historical Museum State Historical Museum

 

Saint Basils Saint Basils

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