Moscow and St Petersburg

By Len Friesen, tour leader


We had a bit of a bus city tour on Friday morning:  from the Kremlin to the Bolshoi Theatre to St. Basil’s.  We then toured the Kremlin itself, that great fortress at the very heart of Moscow.  From ancient churches to an Armoury loaded with Imperial treasures there is something for everyone.

We had lunch on the Arbat, an old pedestrian mall located nearby, and even had a bit of time for souvenir shopping.  Then off to the Novodevichy Cemetery in the afternoon, where we walked amongst graves that define the Soviet story, from Stalin’s wife to Khrushchev, to Gorbachev’s wife and Yeltsin.

Our hotel is in a spectacular location, and a small group got a sneak preview of Red Square before we retired for the night.  One last thing:  the hotel has a lovely indoor lobby area, so our chance for informal visiting is strengthened even more.

Saturday started with a gloriously sunny morning in Moscow, not so much yesterday morning as we set off in a rainy drizzle.  Spirits were high.   For all of the “Russia is bad” messaging we get in the west there is an undeniable energy in being here.

We toured the rather massive “Christ the Savior” Cathedral on Saturday morning in Moscow and then had the rest of the day to wander in and about Red Square.  If all of Russia has a central focal point this is surely it.  You stand on this cobblestoned square and look about you, at St. Basil’s glorious Cathedral that dates back to Ivan the Terrible in the mid 16th century, at the Lenin Mausoleum that dates back to the 1920s, at Stalin’s grave, the Kremlin’s walls, at rebuilt chapels, or you watch everyday Russians right now negotiate this same space and their place within it.

There’s just a lot of gratitude in the air on a day such as this one.

Yesterday morning was our last morning in Moscow, and who can believe it.  The weather has been so pleasant on this trip and this was no exception with clear skies overhead.

It is Monday morning at the Park Inn Nevsky in St. Petersburg.  We arrived by high-speed train yesterday afternoon from Moscow, and even to type this out is to marvel that we can start a day in one

We toured an art gallery of 20th century Soviet art yesterday morning in Moscow, and people appreciated the chance to ponder the vision for this society that the Soviets created, even as so many Mennonites (and countless others) become torn out and devastated in the process.  So many contradictions!   We then enjoyed our final hour or two in Moscow by wandering through a park on the banks of the Moscow River, sipping coffee and tea, staring out at the Christ the Savior Cathedral with the Kremlin Walls in the distance.  Is there any better way to say goodbye to as remarkable a city as Moscow?

It was also “Mothers’ Day”, and so we consider all those who have nurtured us in that way, or the mothers in our midst.

Last evening we took a bit of a walk-about around our hotel in St. Petersburg, which is just beside the Moscow Train Station (the name of the train station in St. Petersburg for trains that arrive here from, well, Moscow!).

Where are we going today?  Well, I guess that you’ll have to check in to this blog tomorrow and see!


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