We had decided that we would take advantage of the free bus into town from the boat, leaving at ten am and coming back at four pm, plenty of time for us to mooch about.
We were dropped off at Hotel Metropole and forty tourists scattered to the winds. We only saw one other couple from the boat all day.
First up we went and looked at the Chekhov memorial sculpture and on the way there passed a nice looking tea shop, I suggested we go in but T said “later”…..
We then walked around a large block which was heavily guarded and whose parking spaces were all occupied by Black windowed Skoda Octavias, we later realised this was the Duma, and all the blue shirted lurker s were the chauffeurs. It started to pour with rain and I muttered nastily about tea shops….Eventually the rains stopped and we made our way back to the tea shop, and yes it was nice!!!! We set off again this time along the front of the Duma as were heading for Ahbat, where there were supposedly buildings showing Old Moscow….
We suddenly realised we where in the middle of something, loads of youngish people holding posters and loads of police. We were pushed along with the crowd and the police took swings at a few but really vented their anger on a person dressed in a bear suit and holding a poster, he was dragged away by about five baton wielding police.
We extricated ourselves form the melee but not before askinYoung woman what it was all about, she checked if we were tourists, silly girl, the said something about the church and homosexuals…What we did not know was that the Duma right at that time was passing some laws about homosexuality, not criminalising it but marginalising more .
Checked it out on Google and it was mentioned as only being attended by twenty people, there must have been two hundred. there is a little white head in one of the pictures too, yes, there were loads of photographers there as well. Next day on Russia Day apparently the same group marched with their rainbow banners amidst the other ten thousand who protested about various other restrictions, photos of that on google as well….
We then continued our walk, Moscow is huge and suffice to say our planes to visit Ahbat plus the Lubiyanka were somewhat ambitious. We had a nice lunch in Ahbat, something Russian in a cafe, point and pay stuff but it was tasty and loads of locals were eating there , unsmiling as usual. We then walked behind the Pushkin Gallery in one of the many green boulevards that make a green link around central Moscow, got lost getting to the Lubiyanka, just wanted to see the outside, we did later in the bus on the way back to the boat…
Had words as you do when you have walked for hours and you are hot tired, grumpy and in need of a pee. Could tell you where there are any public toilets in Russia. The worst was one near where the boat was docked. Struck with an urgent need to go I visited one of the many portaloos that are scattered about central Moscow in blocks of three, the attendant lives in one of them… Anyway I paid my ten roubles, and entered. Whew the pong was great, plus it had steps to a squat toilet, in a portaloo !!!!! needs must ….
Anyway we continued walking and walking, finally asked a young man where we were and he pointed us I the right direction….We tottered onto t he bus and it then took us two hours to get back to theboat, the driver was obviously lost as we went thru places even the guide who came in with us said she had ever been before. she was very quiet and usually once they have you captive they don’t shut up, so definitely lost.
A quick pack of the bags then into dinner and much consuming of free wine with our newfound friends. Don’t think anyone believed us when we said we were n the middle of a protest!!!!
So, Russia, well what we saw was beautiful, but it was only a tiny smidgen of the continent, plus we were cocooned in semi luxury and guided here there and everywhere… Not seeing your own language and not being able to make head nor tail of Cyrillic would drive you mad after a time, or force you to Lear the language. The Russians seem quite dour, but probably we would be too with their past.
The rebuilt historic places like Peterhof etc annoyed me somewhat as it was like being in a Hollywood set. Made me think ChCh should just demolish the cathedral and get on with it, today’s new is tomorrow’s old….
Saw two back packers so it must be possible to get into Russia without a group and that would make the experience a bit more authentic. loved being there though and of course the lovely weather helped.
Poured with rain the day we left but from the pictures of Wednesdays protest it must have fined up…We flew back to London with Aeroflot which was fine Neil we got to immigration and the entire a group seemed to be questioned at length, took an hour to get thru customs…
Caught the Paddington Express, then a taxi to the flat. The flat is grubby and in a not very salubrious area, two blocks away , closer to the river would be trendy but Abbey Rd certainly is not. I can see T doing a bit of a spring clean and as usual leaving a place leaner than when we arrived!!!! has polyester sheets!!!!Enough said!!!!