Mary Branscombe (marypcb) wrote,
Mary Branscombe

Instant Russian tourist

The flight was so delayed on Wednesday we did nothing but have a rather decadent dinner at the Soho Rooms (lobster and sushi, sea bass and cod with miso, and amusingly, Bonny Doon 'dry' riesling) and go to bed. Yesterday we started with an 8am breakfast meeting and finished with a 6pm interview before going to the banquet dinner complete with an incomprehensible quiz and a band that was a cross between Status Quo, Dire Straits and The Wurzels, complete with forage cap (rhythm and red, said himself).

So today we left the hotel and navigated the metro to the Kremlin; we walked around and admired the clockwork legs on the armed guards in front of the eternal flame, the mix of classical pediment in a rustic grotto with perching cat-beasts under the Kremlin turrets and the adorned confection of the Basilica. Red Square is busier but just as windy. lenin's mausoleum is blocky and stylized and the detail of the Basilica is being repainted in bright colours - you can see old and new on one balcony. We saw a fake tsar, and on the next block a fake Stalin in uniform with pigeons on his hands chatting to a fake Lenin. it's a long way from being told in the Lenin Museum that the man in the mural 'is not Stalin! Is Lenin Museum! Is not Stalin!'

The metro is more crowded and a little grubby but still runs every 90 seconds and the stations are still ornate monuments with chandeliers and slabs of onyx and ranks of statues or paintings or mosaics. All the bulbs in the chandeliers are CFLs now...

Traffic to the airport was as vile as ever, though this driver did much less undertaking. Typical Russian nanny style, when we seemed confused at being sent to another security queue because this one was busy, an official swept us up ('lets go!') and escorted us to the front of the queue. The bureaucracy is byzantine, but confused foreigners will get shepherded along in a brusque but friendly way. Dosvedanya moskva!

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