Moscow Calling

During October and November 2007 I set off on an adventure that took me from Australia to Japan, then on to Russia and China before returning home to Australia. I have kept my travel emails from that trip, so I thought it might be fun to repost them here and add a few photos.  This blog is Part 4 of that journey (Russia).

I only started to send travel emails in 2007 and only upgraded to a blog in 2011, so I think I will post a series of them from my other trips around the world between those years in further posts as a retrospective view of my travels.

October 20th, 2007

Hi All

I have been back in Moscow for a few days now. I stopped over in Novgorod (between St. Petersburg and Moscow) on the way, this is a great old city that was once capital of Russia in medieval times. The city has its own walled fortress – the original Kremlin, plus many old churches dating back to the 14th century or older.

Russia Novgorod Kremlin Wall
The Kremlin wall in Novgorod
Kremlin Novgorod
Within the walls of the Novgorod Kremlin
Novgorod Kremlin parklands Russia
The Novgorod Kremlin walls and parklands
Millennium of Russia Bell Kremlin Novgorod
Millennium of Russia Bell (erected in 1862) in the Novgorod Kremlin
Old Market Place Novgorod Russia
The old market place in Novgorod
Kremlin Church Novgorod
The Kremlin church in Novgorod
Novgorod Russia Zheny-Mironositsy Church
Zheny-Mironositsy Church – Novgorod
Old church Novgorod Russia
Old church in Novgorod

Then I took a night train to Moscow which seemed to stop every 30 mins! Long night but I made it ok! Arrived about 5.30am and I was expecting snow, but it was a balmy 10 degrees celsius!!!

I went up to a place called Sparrow Hills – normally good views of Moscow but it was a bit foggy. It was still a nice place to escape the traffic – they have a big ski ramp right there near the city which seemed strange. There is also one of the big Stalin Towers (Moscow State University) – there are 7 of these tall buildings in a ring around Moscow – known as the 7 Sisters. Stalin got prisoners to build them in the late 40s and early 50s to celebrate Communist might I guess?

Sparrow Hills Moscow
The view from Sparrow Hills
Ski Ramp Sparrow Hills Moscow
Ski Ramp on Sparrow Hills
Moscow State University Stalin Tower 7 sisters
Moscow State University

The last few days I have been mainly visiting military museums – they are very proud of the Battle of Borodino in 1812 that resulted in the total defeat of Napoleon by the Imperial Russian forces. There is a victory arch and a museum called the Borodino Panorama – you stand in this big circular room which has this amazing 360 degree diorama painting of the battle (115 metres long and 15 metres high it was first displayed in 1912).

Borodino Victory Arch Battle of Borodino 1812 Moscow Russia
Borodino Victory Arch
Battle of Borodino
Napoleons Defeat Borodino 1812 Russia
Napoleons Defeat in 1812

I also went to the Central Armed Forces Museum – they have this impressive room celebrating the defeat of Germany in WW2. The backdrop is this huge photo showing thousands of soviet troops marching in Red Square with captured Nazi divisonal banners in 1945. Then below this in glass cabinets they have many of these banners thrown all over the place, in front of this is a stone Nazi eagle statue that is laying flat on the ground (symbolises the down fall of the Nazis) and then in front of this they have the Russian flag they famously flew over the Reichstag during the fall of Berlin.

Central Armed Forces Museum
Captured Nazi divison banners Central Museum of the Armed Forces Moscow
Captured Nazi divison banners
Captured Nazi Division Banners Red Square 1945 Central Museum of the Armed Forces Moscow
Captured Nazi divison banners being marched through Red Square in 1945
Soviet Reichstag Berlin Flag 1945 Central Museum of the Armed Forces Moscow
Soviet flag flown over the Reichstag, Berlin 1945
Reichstag Eagle 1945 Central Museum of the Armed Forces Moscow
Reichstag Eagle

Within the building of the Central Armed Forces Museum they also have the famous wreckage of a US U-2 spy plane they shot down over the USSR in 1960 (flown by Francis Gary Powers). Within the grounds of the museum they have a large collection of fighter planes, helicopters, tanks etc. on display.

Gary Powers U2 Wreckage 1960 Central Museum of the Armed Forces Moscow
Francis Gary Powers U2 wreckage
Soviet Artillery Central Museum of the Armed Forces Moscow
Soviet Artillery
Soviet Tanks ICBM Central Museum of the Armed Forces Moscow
Soviet tanks and missiles
Soviet fighter aircraft Central Museum of the Armed Forces Moscow
Soviet fighters

Near the entrance of the Central Armed Forces Museum is a memorial to the Russian nuclear submarine K-141 Kursk that sank in the Barents Sea in 2000 due to a series of onboard explosions (believed to have been triggered by a faulty practice torpedo). The entire crew of 118 sailors and officers were lost. In 2001 the Kursk hull was partially recovered and the dead were then buried in Russia.

K-141 Kursk 2000 memorial Central Museum of the Armed Forces Moscow
K-141 Kursk Memorial
K-141 Kursk Hull recovered 2001 Russia Barents Sea
K-141 Kursk hull recovered in 2001

I also went to the Great Patriotic War Museum and Victory Park that celebrates the victory of WW2. The museum also has amazing dioramas of great battles the Soviets won. There are also many fighter planes, tanks etc. within Victory Park.

Hall Of Glory
Battle of Moscow 1941 Diorama Great Patriotic War Museum
Battle of Moscow 1941
Battle of Moscow 1941 Diorama Great Patriotic War Museum
Battle of Moscow 1941
Battle of Kiev 1943 Diorama Great Patriotic War Museum
Battle of Kiev 1943

Stalingrad 1942 Diorama Great Patriotic War Museum Moscow Russia

Siege of leningrad 1941-1944 Diorama Great Patriotic War Museum Moscow Russia

Battle of Kursk 1943 Diorama Great Patriotic War Museum Russia
Battle of Kursk 1943 (largest ever tank battle)

Fall of Berlin 1945 Diorama Great Patriotic War Museum Moscow Russia

German Messerschmitt Bf-110 wreckage Victory Park Moscow Russia
German Messerschmitt Bf-110 wreckage – Victory Park
Soviet WW2 Locomotive Victory Park Moscow Russia
Soviet WW2 Locomotive – Victory Park
Soviet t-34 Tank Victory Park Moscow Russia
Soviet T-34 tank – Victory Park
Soviet WW2 Rail Gun Victory Park Moscow Russia
Soviet WW2 Rail Gun – Victory Park
Ilyushin IL-4 Victory Park Moscow Russia
Ilyushin IL-4 – Victory Park
Lavochkin La-5 Victory Park Moscow Russia
Lavochkin La-5 – Victory Park
MiG-21 Fishbed MiG-23 Flogger Victory Park Moscow Russia
MiG-21 & MiG-23 – Victory Park
Mil Mi-24 Hind – Victory Park
Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-29 Fulcrum Victory Park Moscow Russia
MiG-29 Fulcrum – Victory Park

Today I am going to the famous market here where you can buy just about anything! Looking for old communist stuff and hopefully an old Russian watch. Should be interesting – I hate markets but …. (Note: never got the watch, but got lots of cool communist era badges etc).

Tomorrow I go to the Monino Airforce Museum about 35km out of Moscow – this is a place I have wanted to go to since I was a kid – really looking forward to this. Note: this was an amazing place with one example of every aircraft the Soviets used from WW2 onwards, including fighters, helicopters, huge bombers, the TU-144 (Russian equivalent of the Concorde supersonic passenger jet) and experimental aircraft (from all the great Russian aircraft companies: Tupolev, Mikoyan Gurevich, Sukhoi, Beriev, Ilyushin, Yakovlev, Mil and Kamov). I was shown around the grounds by an 83 year old pilot from WW2 who had lots of interesting tales to tell (when I went there you had to have special permission as it was part of an Russian Air Force base. I believe that requirement no longer exists).

Monino: MiG-29 “Fulcrum” & Mil Mi-12 “Homer” (largest helicopter ever built)
Monino: SU-25 “Frogfoot” and TU-144 “Concordski”
Monino: Mil Mi-10 “Harke”
Monino: Sukhoi T-4

I may also try and go to the Cosmonautics Museum before I leave on Tuesday for Hong Kong. Note: I never made it to this place (Star City), the amount of money they wanted to go there on a tour was ridiculously high – over $500!

I am mainly visiting museums now – bit over churches and the like (being the good atheist that I am)!!!

Oh and I havent been yelled at in a train station for at least 2 days!!! Although last time the lady was blowing a whistle at me too!!! I didn’t realise my multiple ticket in the Moscow metro had a time limit – set off alarms when I just walked through the barrier!!!

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