The train arrived in Moscow at a slightly unethical hour of the morning, but our driver met us at the station as planned and whisked us through the city to our hotel, pointing out a couple of places on the way. The hotel seemed at first to be in a rather obscure location as he had to ask a gatekeeper to let us into what looked like a run-down compound area, but it transpired that the front of the hotel was actually next door to a Metro station - jolly handy.
|All change for the Kremlin guard|
|The Kremlin from the Moskva River|
One wonders how much longer can this spectacle continue. A body that has been dead for nearly ninety years requires a good deal of attention to keep it looking as it does, attention that consists of wiping it down every few days and then, every 18 months, submerging it in a tub of chemicals, including paraffin wax. The fact that Lenin himself wanted to be buried beside his mother in St Petersburg seems to be of little concern, though occasional voices suggesting that his wishes should be fulfilled are soon silenced by the political left and thought inexpedient by the tour operators. As for his brain, well it was removed after his death and spent the next forty years being dissected and analysed by scientists trying to discover secrets of his hidden genius. I would love to share these with you, but they are secret.
If standing in the Kremlin made me feel strangely as if I really ought not to have been there, staring at the dead body of Lenin was plainly bizarre. He may well have led the Russians in their godless revolution, but he is no longer there - and I suspect he knows much better now. And the irony of such a man being religiously revered by so many, so long after his death, did not escape me.
|The Main Department Store (GUM)|
Towards the end of the 19th century, Vladimir Shukhov, a Russian engineer, was responsible for building the glass roof of a covered trading area that during Soviet times was known as State Department Store (GUM is the Russian acronym). Now privatised, it is known as Main Department Store (still GUM) and most of the stuff is rather pricey. Well the place is an architectural delight, with over 20,000 panes of glass in the roof its three arcades are each on three levels linked by walkways. And there is even a very pretty fountain.
|The Dining Room of the Hotel Metropol|
We saw the ex-KGB headquarters which, appropriately, was under cover in the process of renovation. And then we walked past the Moscow Operetta Theatre where, in July 1918, Vladimir Lenin gave a speech at a Joint Session of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee, the Moscow Soviet, Factory Committees and Trade Unions of Moscow encouraging his comrades at a crucial time in their “struggle against the onslaught of the whole imperialist world.”
|The Chekhov Moscow Art Theatre|
|Lunch at Stolovaya No. 57|
|One of Stalin's seven sky-scrapers from the river|