During our stay in Moscow we were lucky when visiting the Puskin Museum of Fine Art in seeing the Schliemann Gold articles discovered in Troy. The museum is very clean, has a good Egyptian collection and also has life size models of various buildings and statues from various ages such as ancient Greek and Persian eras.
Important: There is an addition to the museum, a much smaller building but not to be missed. There are about eight rooms and each was filled with fantastic paintings. Many we had never seen before, even in art books. Von Gough, Picasso, Degas, Monet, and so on, a feast for the eyes!
Diplomatic Incident: The guide decided on the first night that we toured Moscow that we should stop at the American Embassy. As soon as the bus stopped we all jumped out and ran to the front gate. The guide tried to stop us but to no avail. I, being in the lead demanded of the guard, "We are tax payers and want to see the American diplomat as we want to see where our money is being spent!" The guard had a trauma and didn't know what to do. He got on an intercom and called for help. He was a Russian guard and couldn't speak English! We thought that was very strange. Several other guards came running down the drive with guns and the guide just shook her head. They shook their heads "No" and when we told them we were from California they just shook their heads some more! Next, on to McDonalds in down town Moscow.
We also saw the Central Moscow Circus on Tsvetnoy Boulevard and I wasn't sure I wanted to go as far as animal cruelty is concerned. There was only one act, the bears, that seemed out of place. A lot of people including Americans thought it was great when the trainer yanked them around. You could see the bears were pissed and hated what was happening. But everything else was fantastic. A dog act, Poodles of all dogs doing wonderful tricks and you could tell they loved their trainer. Sometimes they would fight over who got to do the next trick, a joy to watch. A Mongolian horse show and acrobatics, special lighting, and music, made for a great evening!
The Armory Museum in the Kremlin is another fantastic museum and contains many of the gold and silver urns and other works that the tsars and other European royalty had made for presentations to each other. Some were solid silver and then gold platted. There were the actual cloths of Catherine the Great and Peter the Great. Another room had the carriages for the royalty from about 1600 to 1900. One of the first was so big and heavy it took about 16 horses to pull it. The front wheels on this carriage were locked in place and couldn't turn a corner so when the Czar took a trip, slaves ran behind the carriage and when a sharp curve appeared in the road, the serfs had to lift the back of the carriage and move it around so the carriage could continue down the road! Even the guide wondered why the peasants didn't revolt sooner when having to put up with such things. Catherine's summer carriage was a convertible and had little foot steps up to the carriage that were covered with needle point some poor worker had to make so Catherine wouldn't have to put her little feet on something other than regal in appearance.
We also went to the theater where the Bolshoi performs and got to see Swan Lake which was spectacular but the ballets in Catherine the Great's private theater in St. Petersburg were as good and even more interesting.
Many churches and old buildings are being remodeled. Some hotels such as the Ritz and others are making deals with the Russians, not much payment for renting/buying buildings for new hotels but must renovate the old building back to their original glory. This way Moscow gets more jobs, gets old building renovated, and upscale the environment.
On the day that we were to go to another monastery just outside of Moscow, three of us decided enough was enough. We took the day off and decided to do our thing! We left the boat around 9 A.M. and walked about six blocks to the Metro. Each Metro is surrounded by markets selling almost everything, food, flowers, and a mix of utensils and hardware. The Metro stations have large glass windowed entrances and we wondered if they had ever been cleaned since they were built in the 1930s. Very dirty to say the least. But, the trains are on time, fly like the wind, and if you aren't on, the doors close and that's all they wrote. The stations are magnificent with marble pillars, terracotta figures, mosaics, and paintings. They were built as a model to impress the rest of the world but now that there is little money to keep up the stations, they are slowly breaking apart from old age. The Metro is very easy to use and we had no problem finding out where to get off for the sights but as in St. Petersburg, you don't stop or slow down when getting off of the escalators or you will be literally run over by the people behind you. Some of the escalators are two or three stories long, the longest ones we saw were in St. Petersburg. We wondered why the stations were so deep in the ground and we were told that they were also to be used as bomb shelters if needed.
We rode to the stop by the Kremlin and walked through the square without being harassed by our guide. We stopped for coffee in the massive Gums Department Store which is huge. It is a glass gallery about two blocks long and four stories high. The products were of very poor quality, looked like things out of the forties. One person said that 80 percent of the products were European, very few Russian and that most people couldn't afford the products. Some people were shopping but not many buying.
From there we walked to the Moscovy River and decided to get on a sight seeing river boat but couldn't make the ticket person understand us. A school teacher with about 10 children around 12 years of age asked if she could help. She couldn't speak much English but one of the students was great. He said he was learning at home with his parents. We laughed with him and the children were all very courteous.
We got off at Gorky Park and walked through the paths along lakes, flower gardens, and coffee houses. It was very nice. Since the Russian space science is at a stand still, their shuttle, which looks almost like ours, another copy, is now situated by the river as an amusement sight instead of a space vehicle. How the mighty have fallen. Continued over the bridge and found another station about four blocks away. Back to the boat, maybe.
We did get off the Metro at the correct stop to go back to the boat but once we got on the surface we couldn't tell which direction to go. A woman in a business suit saw we were confused and tried to help us. An older woman with a brown, looked very communist, suit, hefty and forceful pushed the other woman aside and chatted on in Russian about where we should go. We shook our heads, don't understand, but she went right on. The other woman just shook her head and tried again. they started pushing each other! I finally said, Moscow River - boat???? I pointed different directions. Finally they both pointed the same direction so we ran off in that direction before we draw a bigger crowd over just trying to find our way back to the boat. All in all, a great day!
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