Lenin and museums. Day with no night.
29.06.2011 - 29.06.2011 23 °C
With the remaining train tickets collected we start our day at Lenin’s Mausoleum. Open for only 3 hours each day and with strict security, regards not allowing cameras in the area, we join the relatively short queue to view the founder of the Soviet state. The embalmed leader has laid here since 1924. Whilst we appear to be on a conveyor belt of tourists, filing past his resting place, it feels slightly ghoulish to view the well preserved oddly waxy figure. Yet few tourists seem concerned or overly respectful. Security is complete though with both uniformed and plain clothes officers guarding the body. Emerging from the red and black stone tomb we decipher sufficient Cyrillic or recognize the associated statue of the final resting places of Stalin, Brezhnev, and Andropov – the remaining tombstones being unknown to us.
As we continue to try and understand more of the Cyrillic language we are constantly reminded of an Agatha Christie murder where the ‘H’ on a handkerchief actually belongs to a Russian with the initial ‘N’ as ‘H is written as N in the Cyrillic alphabet’. Writing this Blog en route to Yekaterinburg one is pulled even more into ‘Murder on the Orient Express’. Whilst the ‘luxurious’ accommodation is in no way comparable the sight of a mustachioed man would cause reason for concern. Yet I digress. Our Trans-Siberian train journey is a little time away, yet.
With our train departing late the following evening we planned to spend the evening at the Ballet and then depart for Siberia and eastern Russia. ??? Theatre promised a performance of Swan Lake the following evening and so we found ourselves at their Box Office, pointing at posters of a Ballerina with the date marked as 30 (with an undecipherable month alongside it) we were able to purchase tickets for what we could not 100%, but were confident was a performance of Swan Lake. Certainly, it was by Tchaikovsky. With tickets for this performance running to over 100 USD on the internet we were pleasantly surprised at securing tickets for 10 USD. Our evening, the following day, was now planned.
Eager to explore outside of Red Square we headed for Iskusstv Park. Crossing the Moscow River, over the Krymsky bridge we could see the rollercoaster’s and fairground rides of Gorky Park to our right and the towering, New Tretyakov museum - an ugly Soviet style building that houses a premier 20th-century Russian art collection.
Wondering along the river a plethora of artists presented a large variety of paintings. The majority were hideous, ghastly faux landscapes that are the scourge of many cheap hotel rooms. Yet amongst these mass produced images a few choice pieces were available. However, priced at crazy levels we did not partake and retired to the old Red October candy factory, which now serves as gallery and studio space. Yet with even sillier prices here we sought out a roof top terrace bar to take in the vista of Moscow. As we sat down to our extremely expensive cocktails, in a bar that would probably become far too trendy to allow us in later that evening, the promised thunderstorm arrived. A veritable deluge saw waiters scurrying for cushions and furniture as the outdoor terrace fast became an open-air swimming pool.
With the storm passed and evening fast approaching we found ourselves, eventually, in the Chistye Prudy suburb of the city. Here a courtyard café, Art Garbage, promised and delivered live music, good food and local art. Sustained by an excellent meal and a welcome beer it was still light when we returned to our hotel, close to midnight. For once again we were back in the land of the long days and as was had seen previously the nightlife seemed to extend to the amount of daylight available. The pavements awash with late night, but apparently sober, revelers we return to our hotel for our last night in a stationary bed for nearly a week.