On foot, in Moscow, in winter…
We woke, late, and headed out into the Moscow morning, it’s a cool day but not unusually so at about -10 C with snow falling in big fat flakes. Our staring point for the day is, you guessed it, Red Square. But after that our trail gets a little more eclectic.
Red square was actually quite full of people walking around, G was a little disappointed that we couldn’t get in to see Lenin, as the tomb was closed off under a giant bubble, and I was a little disappointed that the cosmonaut’s tombs were blocked off as well. But hey regardless, this is Red Square! And that’s the Kremlin!!
After taking the obligatory tourist photo’s we headed to the GUM department store for some traditional Soviet era style ice cream, ice cream in winter makes perfect sense (really it does). Then across to the Central Exhibition Hall to explore Soviet Design 1950-1980. I kind of like the idea of a vacumn cleaner that can be reversed and used as a spray painter, and the aesthetic of washing machine that looks more like the lower stage of a lunar rocket. G told me that the record player we saw was actually produced in a factory next to her home in far off Chelyabinsk.
After having our fill of soviet era design we got our bearings from St Basil and took the stairs on the right hand side of Varvarka street down to the path that runs along beside the oldest quarter of buildings in Moscow. First stop the English Courtyard, the base of operations for the English trade delegation to the court of the Tsar’s in the 16th century, and having a look inside the building you do get that Tudor english feel. Past the Cathedral of the Sign (with the one gold and four green domes) is the Palace of the Romanov Boyar’s. Damn, turned out we didn’t quite have enough money for the museum, so instead we made a snow man in the courtyard of the palace. After retrieving scarf and hat from the snow man we headed up onto Varvarka street proper and the Church of St George, the only church still open on Varvarka street, where G paid her respects.
Then we headed down the hill and across the intersection via the underpass, keep a lookout for the 6th century Varvarka gate tower’s foundations in it’s walls. Which brought us out in front of the Cyril and Methodius Monument in Slavic square. After admiring the old slavic inscription, and it’s mistakes, we headed up through Novaya square past the poly-technical museum in yellow, past the Solovetsky stone and on to Lubyanka square. And there it is in all it’s neo-baroque excess, the former headquarters of the All-Russia Insurance Company (and other tenants). After that we walked down the hill past the Bolshoi and after a half hour arrived at the Patriach Ponds. That’s also where, literary side note, Bulgakov’s ‘Master and Margarita’ opens with the appearance of the devil. Pay attention, we run into Bulgakov again later. The cold is deepening now so we cut across the frozen ice to the Pavilion for dinner.
After dinner (I had the rabbit as you asked, it was excellent) we started to walk up to Mayakovskaya metro station along Bolshaya Sadovaya street, when G noticed a small sign to the Bulgakov house museum. The museum itself is tucked down a side street, with a visit just for an old chap in a tsarist uniform playing the guitar in the cafe while the black museum cat wanders the halls.
A long day filled with interesting twists and turns.