[St. Basil's and the Kremlin]

October 14

In Moscow

My first full day in Moscow, in both senses of the word. Awoke at 4:30 and read for several hours. Had breakfast with Olga and Anton -- coffee, toast, sausage, cheese, and breadsticks. No hot water today. It seems there are central water-heating plants and the hot water is piped to houses. Turns out our hot water pipe burst, flooding the ground outside. Olga thinks the water system is dumb, and I'd tend to agree.

Used two pots of boiled water and a teapot to shower, if it can be called that. Then we were off via crowded electric bus (they used to run every couple of minutes during communism; now they are infrequent and crowded because [my speculation] the fares are too low to support a large fleet) to stop just a few blocks away from the Kremlin.

Pathway near the bridge to Red Square

We crossed the bridge over the Moscow River leading to Red Square (the picture at the top of this page was taken from there) but rather than head directly to the Square, we turned right and went down a few side streets.

The Church of the Conception of St. Anne

Right next to the big Rossiya (Russia) Hotel, we saw a small white church, pictured above. I was dismayed to see it was falling apart; the doors and windows were boarded up and some of the bricks from the wall were lying on the ground next to the bulding.

The Church of the Holy Trinity in Nikitniki
Some churches-turned-shops near Red Square

Heading back to Red Square by way of a different street, I caught a glimpse of this church down a side street. It seems like most of the churches in good repair have been turned into shops selling handicrafts and trinkets.

The Kremlin's Spasskaya Tower

Finally we reached Red Square, most of which was fenced off to prevent large gatherings in protest of the storming of the White House a few days earlier.

An Orthodox service at St. Basils

We wandered over to St. Basil's and saw an Orthodox service of some kind, then went via GUM (called a department store but more like a mall) to the far side of the square.

The Historical Museum
Cathedral of the Holy Mother of Kazan

Just outside GUM, adjacent to the red-and-white Historical Museum (pictured here from across Red Square, then with the Kremlin's Nikolaskaya Tower in the background) there was a church under construction. The onion dome from one of its towers had been removed and was on the ground nearby, which struck me as kind of funny for some reason.

Books for sale

Along the sides of half the buildings in the city, it seems, there are people selling things, from books to socks to questionable-looking fruits and vegetables.

Red Square blocked off

After surrendering my camera -- they didn't want to encourage demonstrations by having cameras around -- we went to see the waxlike corpse of Lenin and the graves of government officials buried by the Kremlin wall.

St. Basil's, outside and in

Through GUM again to get my camera, then to St. Basil's, which was closed earlier thanks to the service. The inside is much less striking than the outside, though there are good religious icons adorning many of the walls.

While we were in Red Square, we kept finding 10-ruble bills on the ground. Three or four in all. I guess it's like finding pennies, given the exchange rate, but here, that penny will get you clear across town on the metro. Not all the prices are that low. Western-style clothing seems to sell for about half to 2/3 what it costs at home. CDs range from $3ish for Russian-made classical discs to $22 for the latest imports, so that's about the same. Olga pays 500 rubles -- 50 cents -- for her apartment each month. It's all over the map.

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Maintained by Steven Grimm <koreth@hyperion.com>.
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