Moscow to St. Petersburg - 2011

Moscow and the Kemlin

Moscow at Night

Sunday, May 22nd- Monday, May 23rd

Today we had our choice of several optional tours.  We chose to take a guided tour of the State Tretyakov Art Gallery, which has the second largest collection of Russian art in the country.  There were many old, beautiful icons and paintings from the 18th century as well as contemporary art.  Our guide was amazing, and Viking gives everyone earphones and receivers, so it’s easy to hear the commentary.  No photography was allowed, so we bought postcards of several icons.  After the gallery, we went back to the ship for dinner.  Around 9 pm we got on buses and went to Red Square for the Moscow by Night tour.  We started in Red Square and saw the GUM with millions of lights around the building.  At 10 it was still quite light out, and we went by bus to the canal where we boarded a boat.  By the time we set out, it was dark.  We sailed past the Kremlin and many other Moscow buildings that were lit very nicely.  It was a late night, as we didn’t get back to the ship until around midnight.

On Monday, May 23rd, Moscow traffic was the heaviest we’ve seen as we went by bus to the city for an inside tour of the Kremlin.  Kremlin means citadel or fortress, and the outer walls of this one are in the shape of a triangle and enclose 70 acres.  This was the original city of Moscow and dates from 1147, while the fortifications were erected in 1487.  There are five cathedrals and four palaces inside.  Most of them were designed by Italian architects and were constructed between the 1400s and 1700s.  There are three cathedrals on Cathedral Square: the Cathedral of the Annunciation (the church of the Tsars and where they were baptized), the Assumption Cathedral (where coronations took place), and the Archangel Cathedral (where the crypts of many of the Tsars are located).  We went inside the Assumption and Archangel Cathedrals and saw the beautiful icons and frescoes but were not allowed to take pictures.  The Tsars and leaders up to the time of Khrushchev lived inside the Kremlin.  We saw the palace where Stalin lived, but it doesn’t look like a palace.  The current President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin both live outside of Moscow.  The President does work inside the Kremlin, so the KGB checks you when you pass through the gate.  There is an arsenal, where many treasures are now kept, and a building from the 60s that was called the Palace of Congresses but is now a theater.  Most of the cathedrals are now museums, and only a few services are held in them during the year.  We saw an enormous bell that weights 200 tons and a huge cannon.  The cannon balls weigh one ton each.

Some facts about Russia and Moscow:

  • By area, Russia is the largest country in the world.
  • The population is about 141 million, with most of the people living in European Russia (Moscow and St. Petersburg are in Europe).
  • The Volga, which Russians call Matushka (“Little Mother”), is the longest river in Europe and is almost 2,500 miles long.
  • The average income in Moscow is $800/month.
  • An apartment can cost $4,000/sq. meter, and that is only for the basic structure.
  • Mortgages are available but the interest rate ranges between 10-35%.
  • We saw a few Fords and Chevys, but most of the cars in Moscow were German or Japanese.
  • The majority of churches are Russian Orthodox, but there are a few Catholic and Protestant churches and some mosques and synagogues.
  • Moscow has McDonald’s, KFC, Subway, Wendy’s, Cinnabon, Starbucks and TGI Friday’s.
  • When the first McDonald’s opened, people talked about going there as if it were comparable to attending an event at the Bolshoi theater. 

On Monday afternoon we began to cruise “The Waterways of the Czars.” We left Moscow and sailed along the Moscow Canal, which the Czars never sailed as it was built by Stalin to link Moscow to the Volga River.  There are 17 locks between Moscow and St.  Petersburg and our ship will be lowered 512 feet in the locks.  The cruising distance is 1,186 miles.  We went through 6 locks on the canal: 3 or 4 during our party to meet the captain and crew and our welcoming dinner, and the rest while we were sleeping.  Our waiter brought a birthday cake with candles after dinner and a group sang “Happy Birthday” to Jay.  They served our table of six enormous slices of cake.  Our dinner companions included two ladies from Washington DC and a couple from Seattle.  Barbara is feeling well, but some of the symptoms from the concussion remain.  It hasn’t kept her from any activities.

Photos

Beautiful weather again for Sunday and Monday’s sightseeing in Moscow and for the start of the cruise along the Moscow Canal.

Tretyakov Galleries

Moscow - Image of the Saviour (postcard)

Moscow at Night - St. Basil's

Moscow at Night - The GUM

Moscow at Night - Trinity Tower

Moscow at Night - St. Basil's

Moscow at Night - Music Hall

Moscow at Night - Apartment Building

Moscow at Night - The Kremlin

Moscow at Night

Moscow at Night - Peter the Great Monument

The Kremlin - Entertainment Palace

The Kremlin - Poteshny Palace (where Stalin lived)

The Kremlin - Tsar cannon

The Kremlin - Tsar bell

The Kremlin - Annunciation Cathedral

The Kremlin - Annunciation Cathedral

The Kremlin - The Archangel Cathedral

The Kremlin - Ornate Cupolas

Moscow - Cupolas of the Kremlin (postcard)

© JAY DEITCH 2020