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
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.
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?
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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!!!