It’s time to leave St. Petersburg and travel to Moscow on the Sapsan, the “fast” train. The journey of over 700 KM takes four hours, as we reach speeds of over 200KM. Inside the train is very modern and comfortable. It reminded me of being on an airplane. The tray in front of me pulls down and the crew came by with carts of food and drinks and it was a very enjoyable experience. We are all excited as we head off to Moscow.
After checking into our hotel, we head out to find the recommended restaurant just around the corner. It is difficult because little or nothing is in english. I ended up with a salad and beef stroganoff which was delicious with a glass of Russian wine. We were all happy to get back to the hotel and sleep after a long day of touring and travel.
The next day, Olga, our guide took us on a marathon tour of Moscow, the Kremlin, Red Square, a late lunch with the funny wall murals and always the churches and lots of steps.
We travelled on the subway and were amazed at how clean and decorative it was.
In my mind,The Kremlin was this forboding building somewhere in Russia where the KGB or government or whomever ruled. In reality the Kremlin was a fort and has been home of Tsars, headquarters of the Soviet Union and today is where Putin lives. Moscow’s Kremlin is by far the best known of the kremlins and within the walls are five palaces, four cathedrals, and an enclosing wall. It was protected in the “old” days by a moat and two rivers running on either side making triangle. The Grand Kremlin Palace is also located within these boundaries, formerly serving as a Moscow residence for tsars.
Stalin has been lying in state within the Kremlin walls since he died in 1953. It costs the people of Russia $35 Million dollars a year to keep him in a cryogenic state. And it is rumoured that different parts of his body have been replaced. I got the impression our guide was not impressed.
We finished the day with a visit to GUM the state department store which is like a high end shopping mall at home. Gucci, Cartier, Prada etc etc. Our guide told us that not many can afford to shop there. We bought ice cream cones and headed back to our hotel. Today I walked 10.600 KM took 15,274 steps and climbed 11 floors with most of the stairways being uneven, deep, then shallow steps. I could barely walk and just wanted a hot bath and a comfy bed.
I worked for about an hour on my computer and then when I tried to get up, I could not walk. My knees and legs had had it I guess. I hobbled down the hall to get some ice and elevated my leg and slept like that. The next morning, I still could not walk, both knees/feet/legs were so painful. So I thought maybe I should go home to Toronto now while I could from Moscow. I thought with these legs I was certainly not going to be able to tour around never mind climb on and off trains.
We had the morning free, so Vera, our Fire Bird rep, took me to an orthopaedic store and i got a brace for my right knee. The left one seemed to be doing OK on its own. I decided to stay in the hotel while the others went on tour. Unfortunately I missed the Tretyakov Gallery which is a showcase for Russian artists. Fortunately, my travelling buddy Mary Groves brought me a book about the gallery and the artists. It was such a thoughtful thing for her to do because I know very little about Russians artists so I was very happy to have this little book.
They gave me a late check out at the hotel, and when the van came for the luggage , it picked me up too and I arrived at the train station about the same time as our group. Everyone was wonderful. I was walking somewhat better, and everyone helped me up stairs, carried my bags and generally got me on the train and we were on our way overnight to Kazan. This is the real start of our Trans Siberian Rail trip and we are all excited.
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