Is huge, about thirty acres all told and nowadays seems to be a tourist trap as nobody lives there and the Duma meets elsewhere to declare unanimous for Putin.

Again it is full of beautiful French inspired buildings, a lemon colour seems to be the e preferred shade closely followed by turquoise. T is fascinated by the guttering in the huge buildings, there basically was none, it was added and great down pipes hurl the water over passers by, luckily it did not rain while we were there….

There are also three large churches full of the usual icons and chandiliers.

St Basil’s of the many coloured domes is actually outside the Kremlin walls, high walls , painted red of course, St B’s is in Red Square which was shut off on Monday due to preparations for Russia Day on Wednesday. Read an article on Russia Day, declared after the break up of the old Soviet Union, it is a bit like New Zeald with Waitangi Day about fifteen years ago, not sure what to do with the day but  feel they need it.

Some promoters know what to do with it, there was much activity in the Kremlin grounds as hospitality tents were being setup everywhere, looked a bit strange between the sixteenth century churches. The tents had been false fronts fronts with compulsory domes etc but it did look like the place was being set up for a tennis game. expensive fittings were being put inside, loads of Denon furniture and loads of fridges, now what do you think the politico’s will be doing to celebrate  the day. (just read in the paper here in London that ten thousand people protested about lack of democracy around Red Square on Russia Day-brave I thought).

Anyway Red Square was closed off as well being set up for a Rock concert for the same event.

We then went off to the church of Christ the Saviour, built where  a church had been demolished sixty years ago.This demolition was replaced by a fifty metre outdoor heated swimming pool, then a few years ago that was demolished and a  replica of the original church was built on the site. I would have been mightily pissed off if I had been one of the regular swimmers. I was not allowed in as I never had a case for my camera, another woman was not allowed in because her knees were showing, we sat outside  muttering heresies under our breath.

Everyone had to be out by five pm as there was going to be a service. About twenty old babushkas, you know, the square shaped, flat shoed, head scarfed brigade were waiting to go in. A swimming pool was demolished for them???? perhaps even then the politicos were thinking how they could use the church for their own ends, much more effectively than a group of half naked swimmers… It was on a stunning site with a lovely view down the Neva river, ah well……

After these two  tourist traps we were taken to a concert by the Moscow Folk Orchestra. we nearly flagged it away  thinking it would be kids , were we wrong! It was one of the highlights of the trip, we even bought their CD. Played everything from Tschaikosy(sp) to Lara’s  Theme.

Tottered back on board about 9.30 pm and in bed by 10 pm, not T though, he went and gobbled a huge steak as the restaurant had stayed open for us.

Had to laugh when we got back, about eight uniformed staff members, male, were standing around the gangway, not one of them smiling. It is very noticeable that the Russians do not smile at you like Westerners do, even if it is fake, we do smile!!!

The wine waiter on board, female, whom I have had a lot of dealings with, never once smiled at me until about ten days into the cruise, she was from Siberia so maybe even more stoic! They don’t smile at each other much either…..

Tomorrow (Tuesday) is a free day… our last day…

Oh yes, the flowers….because of the climate, nine months cold and three months disappointment, a Russian crew member described it as, there are quite different plantings. Many  annual borders of baby begonias, silver cinerarias, pansies, and similar annuals. Sometimes the borders have hostas(suffering in the unusual heat), huecheras,and day lilies in, must get dug up each season. However in both St Petes and Moscow the main attraction was the lilac bushes. Summer is seen to have arrived when the lilacs bloom. By the time we got to Moscow they were finished but they were fabulous earlier on in StPete’s

There are many green areas/parks with lovely birches and similar  deciduous trees plus the usual tall conifers rather like a pine but finer leafed and while we were in Moscow t he kapok tree was flowering, the kapok was like snow and everywhere…

The real focus of the Russians in the countryside, Kuzino etc was their veggie gardens, very productive, lotsa greens and lotsa potatoes were evident and around the front door a few pansies or similar.

The markets had lovely veggies at this time of the year but I bet they get expensive in the winter. Root cellars are a fact of life still in the rural areas.