Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Volga River and Moscow, Day 2

I'm picking up the thread of a travel blog that was interrupted over a year ago by several months of illness and by catch-up activities afterwards. The entries are from the journal and photos of a trip to Europe and Russia in 2010--my last overseas trip--during which I tried to see all the places still on my bucket list. It was a wonderful, if exhausting, trip. The previous entry was posted in September of 2014!

6-2-10 (continued)

That first evening in Moscow, I didn’t go on the optional “Sunset tour” of Moscow but rather chose to get some more sleep.

The following morning, we took a bus tour through Moscow to several well-known spots, including Sparrow Hill, where Moscow University rises in stern prominence with its Stalinist main building – one of the “seven sisters” of Stalinist architecture in Moscow. There I bought a couple of souvenirs from a vendor who had a table set up on the edge of the hill overlooking the city. I understood the numbers he told me when I asked him, “Skolko stoit etot?” the Russian is beginning to come back.
Souvenir vendor in the Sparrow Hills;
Moscow University in the background.
 We also went to the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, the main cathedral in Moscow, which had been destroyed by the Communists, but was reconstructed (1994 – 2000) in brilliant white stone topped by golden domes. The interior of the church was beautifully painted and gilded; the alter was covered by the largest, most elaborate baldaccino I remember ever seeing. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take photographs inside the church.
Cathedral of Christ the Savior, Moscow
Afterwards, we visited the famous Novodevichy cemetery (new maiden cemetery), where we happened to see Nadeshda Yeltsin enter by car and place flowers on her husband’s grave. Our guide, Natasha, was almost overcome at the sight of her, and she couldn’t stop talking about Nadeshda and Yeltsin during the entire walk through the graveyard. We saw graves of entertainers (a ballerina, a comedian), politicians (Khrushchev and Stalin, besides Yeltsin), writers (Pushkin, Gogol, Chekhov), musicians (Shostakovich) and many others I no longer remember.
Nadeshda Yeltzin laying flowers at her husband's grave
Anton Chekhov's gravestone
Shostakovich's memorial
Khrushchev's grave


That afternoon, we heard stories from veterans of WWII (“The Great Patriotic War”), including a man who had participated in the fighting in Stalingrad, and a woman who had been an army nurse and had been captured by Germans. The person who introduced them was one of our guides (we have six for the 214 people on the trip), and she seemed quite overcome by the idea of these great patriots. She actually wept as she introduced them. Another woman was with the group of veterans, apparently an academic, and her presentation had a Soviet-style flavor to it.
In the evening, I opted out of going to the circus, having already seen the Moscow Circus the last time I was in Moscow (1992), and also because I really don’t much like to watch trained animals, especially not big ones like bears and elephants that are not really domesticated.

No comments:

Post a Comment