Moscow- Day 11

We got up – bags outside the door at 5:45am- on the bus an hour later, on the way to one of St. Petersburg’s 4 or 5 airports– to the much dreaded Aeroflot flight to Moscow. What a surprise! The plane was a new airbus and the flight was a shuttle that took less than one hour– smooth and uneventful. They even served a meal! The airport in St. Petersburg was out of a Kafka novel! totally unadorned, complete with a very very long tunnel with endless cement walls and a rapidly moving platform transporting us through. Upon our arrival in Moscow, we were met by our local guides and our motor bus, and we went directly to St. Basil’s square for our group picture before getting back on the bus.

We then left the Moscow city limits and went to Stalin’s bunker. It was built without the citizen’s knowledge, under a sports stadium. It has an underground tunnel connecting it directly with the Kremlin 17 km away! The bunker was amazing to see. Our guide gave us some information about Stalin and his family and his ruthlessness. We sat around a large circular table in what was his “war room”. And we dined, true Georgian cuisine (Stalin was born in Georgia), in the dining room in the bunker. The red wine was plentiful as was the all the other food– pickled peppers, pickles, eggplant stuffed with nuts. It was a great afternoon!

Before going to our hotel, we visited the Church of the Savior Christ– a magnificent structure that is an operating church now. It had been completed leveled by Stalin and restored to its original design and magnificance only in 1995— opening for worship and to the public in 2000. (Pictures to follow)

All over Russia we have seen brides taking pictures in front of cathedrals, in front of waterways and in all other scenic locales. They come in long stretch white limos with flowers on the hood ornament. They are getting married and taking photographs every day of the week! Mike captured some of them and will post pictures shortly.

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St Basil’s Cathedral

After taking a nap, we left the hotel and walked toward the Kremlin and Red Square. The Square was closed to the public today for some kind of motor race event. When we walked over there this evening, the workers were dismantling the exhibitions, but we still could not walk in. The view from our room is incredible— we see St. Basil’s church (it looks like it belongs in Candyland!)

We wound up having dinner (verenikas and borscht!) in the hotel! It was unnerving to see an elderly overweight Russian man come into the cafe with his rather young and beautiful girlfriend– and his body guard, dressed in full army fatigues and carrying a machine gun, standing just outside the cafe! They left quickly, and that made the verenikas much easier to swallow!