August 26, 2013
The high-speed train from St. Petersburg to Moscow lived up to its name. We made the trip in 4 hours at 200 KPH. Of course, we arrived at 11:00 AM on Saturday in a torrential down pour that has been par for the course whenever we change cities and have limited time available to take photographs and see the sights. But, since we had started our day at 4:00 AM, we didn’t mind being forced to stay in the hotel most of the day to nap and plan our or sightseeing “Strategy”. When the weather did clear, we headed directly to Red Square. Red square is 900 feet long and 210 feet wide. It separates the Kremlin from the commercial center of Moscow. The name comes from the Russian word meaning “beautiful”. The square was packed with Muscovites and tourists out for a stroll. The square has the Kremlin and Lenin’s tomb on the east, Gum department store on the west, St. Basil Cathedral on the south and Resurrection Gate on the north. It was truly an impressive sight on a monumental scale. In fact, everything we have seen in Russia has been on a monumental scale. To see the Kremlin wall and to remember the military parades held in Red Square to demonstrate Russia’s Communist military power was somewhat “chilling”. It also brought back memories from my early childhood, not Rita’s, where we would get under our desks at school as a drill to prepare us for a nuclear attack by the Communists.
Yesterday on Sunday, August 25th, we awoke to cloudy skies, but at least no rain. After breakfast, we went to TSUM Department store. TSUM dates from 1908 and carries over 1000 luxury named goods from designers from all over the world. We have really never seen anything like it, even in New York or Las Vegas. The prices of shoes, dresses, clothes etc. are beyond all, but the super rich. Next, we visited St. Basil Cathedral, a beautiful Orthodox Church with nine separate chapels each with its own colorful dome. Ivan the Terrible built the church in 1550. Ivan got his name by “inspiring fear”, not because he was “bad”. Our last stop was Gum Department store, which is almost 200 years old. It is similar to its competitor TSUM, but is aimed at a consumer level slightly below the super rich. GUM’s had 1200 separate “stalls” at one time. There are not that many separate stores currently, but it does have three stories and is over a quarter of a kilometer long, which is the length of three football fields. Rather amazing…
Last night, we celebrated our visit to Moscow by eating at Cafe Pushkin, an institution open since 1999 that is on every “TOP 10” lists of places to eat in Moscow. The place looks like a scene out of Dr. Zhivago and is in an 1825 aristocrat’s home. It was a WOW dinner. We had Kir Royal cocktails, home made baked meat pie appetizers called Pierogis, which are breads filled with lamb and beef, home made Russian chicken noodle soup, which had whole pieces of chicken in it and quail eggs, Chicken Kiev, and Pork Brisket with sauerkraut, Sancerre wine and flaming crème brûlée and éclairs for dessert. We are still talking about last night’s dinner this morning.
Today, we are off to tour the Kremlin. More on that and other things later.
Love you and miss you all!!
Norm & Rita
Here are a few pictures from Moscow.
Then we saw some interesting people!!!