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Whether it be social, recreational, or professional, some of what represents me is here. Post a comment, or contact me at Dallas@embracespace.ca should you so desire.

The posts are in reverse chronological order, and are pegged by topic on the links to the left. For more of an introduction, please see the About this site page listed above.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Moscow Trip Day 2: The Kremlin, Lenin's Tomb, and the Red Square

Day 2 in Russia, when the real adventure began!

Waking early the next day, my roommate and I enjoyed a nice breakfast in the hotel lobby. I must say that I love buffets, especially those offered at a resort or hotel. The spread of food is generally really good and the all-you-can-eat aspect is especially welcome. Finishing with full stomachs, we joined the rest of our classmates in the hotel lobby and set off toward the Kremlin and The Red Square!



Before entering the metro, I managed to stop and take this picture. Russians, and Moscovites in particular, seem especially proud of their history and their strength, and statues such as these are all over the city.

Arriving just outside the Red Square, our tour guide, host, and all-around wonderful professor Nikolai Tolyarenko greeted us with smiles of welcome and began talking about the history of the Red Square. At first, I thought the square earned its name from the connotation of red and communism, or perhaps after the colour of the bricks lining the walls, but apparently it seems that the Russian word for the square can either be translated as "red" or "beautiful". I find both to be accurate.



My attempt at panoramic photography
I thought this next area interesting. It was a collapsed wall with a caved-in tunnel which still had an alcove indicating an older entrance past the wall.


I really wanted to climb this.
A wonderful group photo, I'll explain the cloak later

The front gate to the Red Square





I love the colour and the architecture here.

A photo of the wall, with the Lenin Mausoleum to the left
Saint Basil's Cathedral, more photos of this in a later post

I found many pieces of architecture so wonderful to behold, I could just look at them for hours


After walking around the Red Square, I accompanied a few others in seeing Lenin's Tomb. Not allowed to take any pictures, I will describe the scene as best as I can. Guards were stationed at every intersection, sternly but concisely gesturing the proper direction to take as we descended down the plain but modern stairway. Finally reaching the bottom, we entered a dark, quiet room. Leading the way, I ascended a few more stairs and was able to see him. Lying very peacefully, Lenin lay entombed in glass with a soft red light shining on him from the wall opposite. His features were very clear, but he looked deflated. Walking slowly, we circled around the tomb, climbed the stairs, and emerged back outside. It was over very quickly, and was an interesting experience, to say the least.

Afterward, a few of us decided to take a tour through the interior of the Kremlin. The security check was rather amusing, but you'll need some background information to understand why.

As you may have seen from an earlier photo, I was wearing something rather different and ornate this day. I was wearing a cloak! I will get into the details concerning the motivations and design choices regarding the cloak, but suffice it to say, I was wearing a full-length, black, woolen cloak which clasped at the front with decorative broaches and had ribbon running along the middle. Anticipating some issues, I had been removing the cloak well before any security check, just to make sure the guards knew I had nothing to hide. Placing the cloak on the scanner conveyor belt, I took all metallic items out of my pockets and walked through the metal detector. Once on the other side, I was abruptly addressed by one of the guards.

"Is this yours?" he asked.
"Yes." I replied.
"What is this?!" he said, holding it up and shaking it at me.
"It's my cloak, see, just a long jacket." I said, opening up the cloak to show there was in fact, nothing inside.
"Where are you from?"
"Canada."

At which point another guard came over and smiled and said, "Your coat is very different than what we wear here, my friend." To which I smiled and said, "Yes, it's very different than what they wear in Canada, as well." The incredulity with which the first guard questioned me was most amusing, but as weird as it was, they had to agree that it would keep me warm.

Moving along, we climbed the long wall leading to the Kremlin's interior.
The State Kremlin Palace 
The Armoury

Ivan the Great Bell Tower, Assumption Belfry, and the Filaret's extension


The cannon in front of The Assumption Cathedral


The Annunciation and Archangel cathedrals




Sadly, but understandably, we were unable to take photos of the inside of the cathedrals. They were quite breathtaking, and I mean that most literally. Eastern Orthodox, full of tradition, and well-preserved, the artistry and symbolism was almost overwhelming. Everywhere you cast your eyes, you were inundated with religious frescoes. There were saints, angels, evil fauns, depictions of God, Jesus, Mary, all well assembled and barely faded with the passage of time. I was raised as a Roman Catholic, but I have respect for many traditions from many practices. No matter your system of belief, I believe that you would greatly enjoy the beauty of these cathedrals and it is with humility that I hope to convey something of the experience through words only. Later in the week, I visited another cathedral, a most spectacular one, and I will save further details for another blog post. On a less serious note, the view really made me want to rewatch Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Last Crusade.

A view of the Kremlin wall facing the river
I'm glad with how this photo turned out




The Tsar Bell

A view of the Tsar Bell with my friend Paul, for scale
Making our way back to the hotel, Paul and I decided to stop for lunch. Interestingly, there was a Subway near the hotel and we both wanted to see how different it might be.

The excellent thing about seeing familiar shops is that we were better able to practice our Cyrillic. The interesting part about Russian is that you first have to recognize the sounds the letters are making, as they are somewhat different than their English counterparts, and then sometimes you have to translate the word.

Anyway, we went inside and, other than the signage, the place was the same. We quickly realized what we wanted but we ran into a problem: we didn't know how to say it. How to order it? Now, I realized that the employee possibly understood English, as many other Moscovites seemed to, but I didn't want to assume. So, I wrote our orders down. Copying the Cyrillic carefully, I handed the piece of paper to the Subway employee who then laughed and said, "So...Subway Club and Chicken sandwich?" I felt quite silly but I was glad to have been prepared anyway and non-assumptive.

The end of the day was quiet but after all that walking, I was glad to just relax in the hotel with friends and watch some television.

Thanks for reading, stay tuned for tomorrow when I take you on a trip to Energia!


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