John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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Sunday 9 September 2012

[2012]
[Saturday 8 September 2012]
Moscow
I slept well in perhaps the most comfortable bed ever. My right foot was uncomfortable-only (i.e. not painful) when I went to the bathroom once or twice. There were two sleeping-on pillows and two sitting-up pillows, so I used one of the former to elevate my legs. Janet, however, hardly slept if at all, because her nose was blocked up with the cold she has. I wasn’t feeling all that well when we went down for breakfast, but managed some grapefruit juice, very thin-sliced bacon («бекон»), quite English-looking and -tasting sausages though with a somewhat minty flavour («сосиски», not the expected source of the Esperanto “kolbasoj”, i.e. «колбасы»), potato cakes and a cooked half tomato, and coffee. I left Janet to it and returned to the room. “One of the waiters was a real pain,” Janet wrote. “He kept taking stuff away. I got up after [John] had left, to get some food, and when I got back he’d cleared the bloody table!”
Click on the photos, below, for a larger view.

08:54:42 (05:54:42 back home) Views from our window

08:55:02 Views from our window

08:56:32 Views from our window

08:56:32 Zoomed-in view

08:56:54 Views from our window

08:57:22 Views from our window
Transferred the above photos to the “little feller” and edited them (09:03–09:16). This is what the itinerary said:
Meet guide in reception at 09:45 for morning sightseeing tour of Moscow including a visit to the Tretyakov Gallery.

Someone told us at dinner yesterday evening that we were meeting the guide at 10 o’clock this morning, not 9.45. So it was, that ca.10am we went down to Reception to join the rest of our party, i.e. people being shown around by Intourist, 22 in all. Not all were Regent Holidays customers; there were Australians and South Africans also in the group. Our knowledgeable and friendly guide Лидия made herself known to us. Because of closures tomorrow we wouldn’t be able to do the scheduled half-day tour of the Kremlin then, so Лидия proposed that we do it on Tuesday morning instead. If we liked, and there were enough takers, we could have a trip to a monastery tomorrow for €25 each. Later, most of the party had agreed to it. Towards 10.30am we proceeded to the coach. It was cold, wet and windy outside.


10:36:06

10:36:48
First stop was Sparrow Hills, where there was a panorama of the city from the cliff on one side, and a view of the main building of Moscow State University — one of the so-called “Seven Sisters” ordered to be built by Stalin — on the other. When it was completed in 1953 it was the tallest building in Europe. There was to be an eighth “sister”, the Palace of the Soviets — actually the first to be founded — but construction was interrupted by World War II and never completed.

10:47:00 Views from Sparrow Hills, Moscow: main building of Moscow State University


10:47:42 Views from Sparrow Hills, Moscow


10:47:54 Views from Sparrow Hills, Moscow

10:48:02 Views from Sparrow Hills, Moscow: Luzhniki Stadium

10:48:54 Views from Sparrow Hills, Moscow
Janet stayed in the coach for this stop, also for our next one, Novodevichy Park, and a third, Novodevichy Cemetery, the burial place for Russia’s most eminent citizens. I took an umbrella and joined the party for all three. In the park I asked Лидия whether she’d seen the Harry Potter movies — she had — so I asked her, “Don’t you think Putin looks like Dobby the House Elf?” Highlight of the third stop for me was the grave of Shostakovich, which has his signature “DSCH” motif on it. Лидия said that there was nothing to see at the grave of Prokofiev, just a very small, plain stone, so we didn’t divert down a narrow path to its location; but I wish now that I had gone to see it. “[John] was perished… and was shivering,” Janet wrote, about when I re-boarded the coach. “He only had on a long-sleeved T-shirt and his ‘white jacket’. He was also quite wet.”

11:06:44

11:08:50

11:15:54 Novodevichy (New Maidens’) Convent

11:16:20 Novodevichy Park

11:20:44

11:21:02 A replica of a bronze statue of duck and ducklings by Nancy Schön in Boston Public Garden, USA — a gift from United States First Lady Barbara Bush to Soviet First Lady Raisa Gorbachev.

11:21:54

11:29:46

11:42:00 Boris Yeltsin’s tomb in Novodevichy Cemetery


11:42:00 Cropped and zoomed-in view


11:42:10

11:46:02 Andrei Nikolayevich Tupolev (1888-1972), a pioneering Soviet aircraft designer

11:48:24 Gleb Yevgeniyevich Kotelnikov (1872-1944), inventor of the knapsack parachute and braking parachute

11:50:40 Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev (1894-1971)

11:55:42

12:09:14

12:09:14 Cropped and zoomed-in view

12:13:48 Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich (1906-1975)
From there we went on to Red Square. Janet wrote: “Лидия told us she was trying to get us to Red Square, but it had been closed off that morning. We tried another route and finally ‘got in’. Wow!” We parked to the south of Red Square, and walked past St. Basil’s Cathedral. There wasn’t an unrestricted view of the square, though, because construction of temporary structures for some parade or show was under way. One thing we noticed, which we’d have been unaware of if we hadn’t been to Italy: the crenellation on the Kremlin wall looked distinctly “Scaliger” in style. “[John was] really struggling,” Janet wrote. “He’d overdone it this morning and his feet were very painful.”

13:32:46 Passing the Bolshoi Theatre

13:33:50 Passing the headquarters of what was the KGB

13:39:56 Out of the coach and walking towards Red Square: one of the towers of the Kremlin wall (left); St. Basil’s Cathedral (right)

13:43:04

13:46:36

13:46:40 Kremlin wall from Red Square

13:48:56

13:51:26 Lenin’s tomb, Red Square

13:51:26 Cropped and zoomed-in view
Directly opposite Lenin’s Tomb on Red Square is GUM, a huge department store, three three-storey glass-roofed arcades. “Лидия told us where we could get something to eat,” Janet wrote, “and where the free public loos were, then left us to meet up an hour later outside the centre”, i.e. the GUM store.

14:05:56 In the GUM store

14:06:36 Old TV, radiogram and radios
Janet and I bought salmon for her, sausage for me, and cheese which we shared, on bread and butter, a slice of chocolate-mousse gâteau for her, and two “Americano” coffees (milk was extra).

14:23:02

14:23:12
“Then we had a bit of a browse and bought some Russian ice cream,” Janet wrote: “blackcurrant, I think.… We sat on a bench to eat them then met Лидия and the group outside.”

14:47:14
After meeting up, we were taken the short distance to the Moscow River, which we crossed by means of a hump-backed footbridge. Along the middle of this were several artificial trees whose “foliage” was padlocks, symbolising the permanency of the bond of marriage. Couples come there — in fact, we saw one or two — to get married; they lock the padlock on a tree, and throw the key into the river. My feet were very painful by now. On the other side, though, there was still quite a walk to the State Tretyakov Gallery, some waiting outside and then some waiting inside for people to check their coats and bags into the cloakroom. It was a bit confusing as to how necessary this was, but Janet and I kept ours and nobody challenged us. Photography was not allowed inside. The room after room of portraits of Russian dignitaries didn’t interest me overmuch. (“What a bunch of UGLY people!” Janet wrote. “And most of the women were built like brick shithouses. And some of the men looked VERY ‘precious’. It was difficult to keep a straight face!”) What’s more, I was mainly interested in where the next seat was, for my feet hurt like billyo. However, we were about to enter one room, and wow! directly ahead, taking up almost the whole of one wall, was a huge painting: The Appearance of Christ before the People by one Alexander Ivanov. I couldn’t stop staring at it. Around, in the same room, were other paintings by the same artist, studies for the big one.

15:37:22

15:46:36

15:46:36 Cropped and zoomed-in view

15:46:36 Cropped and zoomed-in view

15:46:36 Cropped and zoomed-in view

15:47:10

Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov (1806–1858): The Appearance of Christ before the People (1837–57)
Despite the soreness of my feet, after we were dropped off at the hotel, I managed to walk to a nearby «супермаркет» (supermarket) that we’d been told about to buy some pop. There was, in fact, a little shopping mall there, not just the supermarket. We bought a 2-litre bottle of Coca Cola Light for 54 Roubles. (Compare the 500 Roubles spent on two tiny bottles of Pepsi yesterday!) On the way out of the mall we noticed a pet shop, with puppies, cats and guinea pigs in the window. Lying on my bed till dinner time was most welcome. We were down for dinner just after 8pm, the first of our group but others came and were sat near us later. For some reason we had to wait a long time before we were served. First course: a spicy tomato soup. Next: salmon in a sauce with rice. Then cake. All very well prepared, but such small portions! Coffee — then back to the room. Janet had a shower and updated her holiday journal, and I transferred today’s 40-odd photos to the little feller and edited them (21:36–23:52). By now Janet had gone to bed, and I did the same.
[Monday 10 September 2010]


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