Circle the Arctic 2015

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June 19 and 20, 2015

Leaving Irkutsk, we take a bus ride for an hour to the plane, fly for 6 and one-half hours to get to Moscow, then go thru Russian Immigration and customs, then take a two-hour bus ride to the center of Moscow.

Although we left at something like 9 in the morning, because we gain five hours and arrive around 10:30 in the morning (well before we can check into the hotel) we get to sightsee starting at Red Square. However, no one checked the transportation from the plane and the bus we were on broke down on a very busy multi-lane freeway. The guide, in an example of quick thinking, took us all on the Moscow subway to Red Square. We then waited for a backup bus to allow us to have a place to store our hand luggage while we toured.

Unfortunately, it took us so long to get to Red Square that we had little time to do more than shoot a picture and run on.

The picture on the right was one I took 50 years ago.

We dashed to a boat and had lunch on the Moskva River. As it turned out, it was a great idea. We could relax and see the Kremlin and the rest of the City as it passed by.

We then tried to tour the main museum in Red Square but could not get by the hundreds of kids who were celebrating their graduation from high school and had the museum to themselves. We toured some churches instead.

Every place we went required walking up or down long staircases and over cobble stones. By 5PM we were all begging for mercy.

When we finally got to the room, it stank of cigarette smoke. CC wanted to move. To make things worse, they lost my small suitcase. Think of how hard it must be to lose a bag from a private plane that was transported to a single location, the destination hotel. But, it was finally located, in the room of one of our traveling companions whose last name also began with H.

The next day was a trip to the Armory which holds a collection of bits and pieces of gold, jewels, armor, dress-up carriages, and thrones. After an hour or so one understands the meaning of the term "egregious excess".

Because we had had almost exactly the same tours last time we were here, I opted out of the rest of the morning. Carol, who enjoys the socializing, uses the tour as a good opportunity to meet new people and so stayed with the afternoon tour program.

On that afternoon program was a very famous cemetery where famous Russian politicians, artists, scientists, are buried. The grave markers generally quite good and more like small sculptures than the typical flat tombstones so common in the U.S. These markers/sculptures are often related to what the person was known for in life. It is visited, not only by tourists, but by school children and so it is a perpetual celebration of life.

TurendotWe all met again at lunch which was served in a very elegant place called Turendot. The people at the table were fun but an hour and a half wait to get served was too long. I walked back to the hotel to wait for Carol to return from her afternoon tour.

Carol went to look at paintings at Tretyakov Gallery to explore the history of Russian arts.

Then all of us went to the Bolshoi New Theater for a performance of ballet La Sylphide. It was well done. Carol loved the ballet and had a great time. However, the story line reminded me of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers without Howard Keel. I made a date with Carol to go to the ballet again on the anniversary of the last time we went, which is probably about 25 years ago.

When we got out of the performance, it was raining like hell. The streets were filled with torrents of rushing water and everyone got soaked.

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