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Day 8: Moscow

After our big day of travelling yesterday, we decided to have a more leisurely start to today. We arranged to meet for breakfast at 9am, although I ended up being slightly late because I was trying to write up yesterday's blog, and then we agreed to leave the hotel at 10.15 and head straight to Red Square in the hope of being able to see Lenin. From the sign we'd seen on Thursday, we understood that the mausoleum was going to be open between 10am and 1pm on Saturday.

We caught the metro to Okhotny Ryad and probably got the world's best view from a metro station as we walked up the stairs to exit.


When we saw how close to Red Square the metro was, we felt a bit silly for not having been able to find it on Thursday. But it really wasn't obvious - we had emerged from an underpass which had no red "M" sign on it or any other indication that it was leading to a metro.


It was busy in Red Square this morning with more tour groups than there had been earlier in the week, but for some reason there weren't any security bag checks to go through today. There had been a book fair in the square on Thursday, so maybe that had required increased security.


It was great to be in the square again.


And, of course, brilliant to get another opportunity to see St Basil's.


Unfortunately, when we got to the place where we were expecting the queue to start for the mausoleum, the gates were closed. There were lots of other tourists standing around looking confused. We overheard one of the guards saying that the mausoleum was closed today. What a shame :( 


We got to see it from the outside anyway, and then we had more time to enjoy the views of St Basil's.


Helen suggested that we walk around the side of it, which was a really good idea because we got to see this beautiful pink and white dome which we hadn't noticed the other day.


All the famous pictures of the church are taken from the other side, but it's actually really pretty from the back too :) 


And as we got further away we could see both the blue and pink domes :) 


We walked away from St Basil's and past a succession of other, smaller churches.


I don't know what the bright red one is called, but it was a really striking colour.


We were heading towards Moscow's newest park: Park Zaryadye.


As we began to climb up through it, we got some wonderful views back towards St Basil's.


It was a struggle to keep my eyes open with the really bright sunlight, hence me looking a bit startled in this photo :D


Tim somehow managed to keep his open!


The views of the entire Kremlin were great from here too.


We could also see down towards some of the churches we'd just walked past.


The park, which was built on the site of a former Soviet hotel, has a "floating bridge" which extends out over the Moscow river.


From here we were able to look out across the river and see some of the sights we'd noticed on our boat trip the other day.


We could also see the other way, towards the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour with its huge golden dome.


The bridge was quite busy with tour groups, but other parts of the park were quite peaceful. I only realised when we were partway around it that the vegetation was divided into different zones, I think representing different regions of Russia.


Overall it was a really fun park to explore, and much bigger than I expected when I'd seen it from the boat the other day.


Our second plan for the day was a slightly unusual one: a tour of some of Moscow's most impressive metro stations. This was something we'd read about in the Lonely Planet Moscow book and deliberately saved for Saturday in the hope that the metro would be less busy then. 

Mom and Helen had taken notes of a route for us to follow, which started at the Komsomolskaya metro station.


This was a really grand station, with some impressive pillars at platform level.


The station is named after youth workers who helped with the construction of it. You can see the Komsomol emblem at the top of the pillars.


As we walked through the interchange between one line and another, there were also some very pretty tiled pillars.


We passed a military-looking decoration on the wall...


...walked down a lovely tiled corridor...


...and emerged onto an absolutely beautiful platform for the circle line.


It looked more like a museum than a metro station!


At the end of the platform we even found a little bust of Lenin :) 


From this station we got onto the circle line and travelled one stop to our next destination: Prospekt Mira.


The guidebook told us that this station would feature porcelain depictions of people planting trees, bringing in the harvest and generally living in harmony.


That did indeed seem to be the case.


Another stop further on took us to Novoslobodskaya.


The highlight of this station was a mosaic called "Peace in the whole world".


The white doves in the mosaic have been added in later, replacing what was formerly a portrait of Stalin.


The other beautiful thing about this metro station was the stained glass.


The walls of the tunnel between the platform were lined with these colourful stained glass panels.


There were too many to take pictures of them all, so we had to pick our favourites :) 


From Novoslobodskaya we travelled one more stop to Belorusskaya.


Just the platform itself was impressive at this station!


In the passage outside, the ceiling panels depicted different scenes relating to Belarus.


Again, there were too many to take a photo of so we had to pick our favourites :) 


At this station we had to leave the brown circle line and switch to the green line. As we were travelling between different parts of the station, we passed this rather imposing sculpture. 


It was amazing to see how in this part of the station, even the lights and pipes were decorated with patterns.


A little bit blurry, but our first stop on the green line was Mayakovskaya.


The guidebook seemed to think this was the metro station to end all metro stations, but it wasn't my favourite overall.


There were some cool features, like these little stars and hammer and sickles which were decorating the light fittings.


The ceiling also featured little mosaics, which seemed to be depicting military themes. Some of them were a bit dark so it was hard to make out what they were.


From Mayakovskaya we skipped a stop and went two stops down to Teatralnaya.


The porcelain figures which decorate this station depict people from other Soviet republics wearing their national dress.


The overall effect was quite grand :) 


Our next stop was a very exciting one: Ploshchad Revolyutsii.


This station is full of sculptures which depict the different roles people played in the revolution.


Some of them were quite scary-looking characters!


This was definitely the station with the best statues :) 


Moving on again, we came to Arbatskaya.


This station was described as having a baroque atmosphere.


It did indeed have a rather elegant feel.


We were getting towards the end of our tour now. The next destination was Kievskaya.


This station was decorated with friezes of life in Ukraine.


Lots and lots of friezes of life in Ukraine :) 


This seemed like quite a busy interchange station though, so we had to be careful not to get in people's way as we were taking our photos.


There is a big fresco at the end of the hall which celebrates Russian-Ukrainian co-operation.


As Tim and I had been in Kiev quite recently, this was exciting to see. We recognised the cathedral in the picture :) 


The final station on our tour was Park Pobedy. I've lost track of how many stations we visited, but this felt like excellent value for 55 rubles (67p).


I was quite excited about getting to Park Pobedy, because apparently it has the longest escalators in the world. They certainly felt very long; I timed the journey up and it took approximately 5 minutes.


Once we got to the top of the escalators, the exit walkway was decorated with a military mural.


When we came up above ground, we found ourselves outside a triumphal arch, celebrating Russia's victory over Napoleon.


On the other side of the road, we found a flower display spelling out the name of the city :)  


It was mid-afternoon by this point and everyone felt starving. My parents located a cafe just around the corner and we all sat down for some much-needed lunch. The weather wasn't great by this point and it was starting to spot with rain a bit.


After lunch, Tim and I explored the park a bit while my family went to look for a post office. Park Pobedy, or Victory Park, was created in the 1960s as an open-air museum to commemorate Russia's victory over Napoleon. Since then it has been expanded to commemorate the Russian victory in WW2 also.


There were some very impressive statues here.


There were also a lot of fountains, although they weren't quite as impressive as the ones we'd seen at Peterhof :D 


In the distance we could also see a church with a huge golden dome.


The rain started to get a bit stronger while we were walking around the park, so we headed back in the direction of the metro station. Before we set off back for the hotel, we stopped off to buy some souvenirs.


I've never seen so many matroyshka dolls in one place :D 


When talking about the Park Pobedy metro station, the guidebook had said that there were enamel panels at both ends of the hall, depicting military victories in 1812 and 1945. We hadn't been able to locate either of them when we were coming out and going up the escalators, but on the way back down we found the 1812 one :)  


We also found another Lenin monument.


On the way back to the hotel, we stopped off at a nearby cafe for a coffee. Well, I had an iced coffee and Tim had a beer :) Tim suggested that we order some cake as well and when it came it was absolutely massive!


I had Prague cake again, which was extremely chocolatey. Tim had a Moscow cake, which we've never heard of before, but which seemed to involve nuts and red icing.


It was a fun end to what had been a very busy day (and a very busy holiday!!) :) 

Edited by Clare

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