Dateline: Moscow, Day 3

Moscow, Russian Federation
5 June 2009

We (Gary, Ryan, Tom, Kate, Lizzy, and I) walked down to Red Square today.

The first order of business was to see the State Historical Museum. The lady at the ticket counter1 was nice enough to give us all student discounts, even though only half of us had ISIC2 cards.

The museum was more of what I’d call a Nature and History of the human race. It wasn’t super exciting, but still probably worth the price of admission. My favorite part was the later periods of Russian history, it was a very ornate period. The building in and of itself is quite remarkable as well. Each room has giant vaulted ceilings, often times with ornate frescoes.

We stopped by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier3. Several newlywed couples came through to place flowers (and take photos).

DSC_9138
29.0 mm || 1/2000 || f/4.0 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Moscow, Moscow Federal City, Russia


At one point, a flower girl tried to follow the couple in. The guard who let the couple in quickly ran over to her, picked her up, and placed her back outside the ropes.

DSC_9140
56.0 mm || 1/400 || f/4.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Moscow, Moscow Federal City, Russia

We found some lunch before splitting up for the afternoon. tom went to find a post office, Kate, Lizzy, and Gary went to St. Basil’s, and Ryan and I went to the Kremlin. I think I could have paid extra to bring my camera in, but I wasn’t in a mood to try and communicate that to the ticket lady. Thus, sadly, I don’t have any photos from the inside.

The Moscow Kremlin4 is really a fortified city center, and the site has been occupied continuously since 2 BC5.

DSC_9147
18.0 mm || 1/2500 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Moscow, Moscow Federal City, Russia


The insides are a mix of military-looking barracks and chapels, accented by the Kremlin Gardens, Tsar Cannon6, and Tsar Bell7.

The chapels were the only thing open (as far as we could tell). They had been converted to display deceased (and possibly canonized) persons of importantance or more Russian history, making them akin to the State History Museum. At the entrance, they would also try to hawk trinkets to the tourists.

After the Kremlin, Ryan and I met back up with Kate, Lizzy, and Gary (Tom had gone back to the hostel). We decided to walk down to the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Unfortunately, the actual building was closed (it was after 5 by this point). Fortunately, the grounds were still open and I got some great pictures.

DSC_9149
18.0 mm || 1/1600 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Moscow, Moscow Federal City, Russia


DSC_9153
18.0 mm || 1/500 || f/10.0 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Moscow, Moscow Federal City, Russia


DSC_9157
18.0 mm || 1/320 || f/10.0 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Moscow, Moscow Federal City, Russia

We all agreed that riding the train home would be a welcome respite for our feet.

DSC_9164
18.0 mm || 1/25 || f/3.5 || ISO1250 || NIKON D70
Moscow, Moscow Federal City, Russia


DSC_9166
18.0 mm || 1/50 || f/3.5 || ISO400 || NIKON D70
Moscow, Moscow Federal City, Russia


DSC_9167
18.0 mm || 1/60 || f/3.5 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70
Moscow, Moscow Federal City, Russia


DSC_9169
18.0 mm || 1 || f/6.3 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Moscow, Moscow Federal City, Russia


DSC_9170
18.0 mm || 2.5 sec || f/8.0 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Moscow, Moscow Federal City, Russia


  1. KACCA, in Russian 

  2. International Student Identity Card 

  3. Могила Неизвестного Солдата 

  4. ‘Kremlin’ is Russian for ‘citadel,’ and there is more than one kremlin in Russia…although the Moscow Kremlin is certainly the most famous 

  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moscow_Kremlin 

  6. the largest howitzer ever made 

  7. the largest bell in the world, massing in at almost 200,000 kg 

Dateline: Moscow, Day 2

Moscow, Russian Federation
4 June 2009

I woke up around 6am for two reasons. First, it was really light outside (Moscow gets about 19 hours of daylight this time of year). Second, Eric had just stumbled. I inquired as to last nights fun and he said he had no idea. I believed him.

I tried to go back to bed, but couldn’t really fall back asleep. I think this was mostly due to the residual jet lag. I ended up laying in bed and resting for another two hours, listening to my iPod while also playing solitaire on it.

I eventually got out of bed at 8 and headed out to the common area. There was quite a commotion going on. I slowly started to piece the story together. We all (Eric, Casper, Kate, Lizzy, Tom, Gary, Ryan, and me) all went out last night. After we had issues finding a pub, some of us (Lizzy, Tom, and me) decided to come back.

Apparently the rest who stayed out (Eric, Casper, Kate, Gary, and Ryan) found some combinations of nightclubs and strip clubs to enjoy themselves in. And sometime between 4 and 6am, they all stumbled back home in a series of taxis. All except for Ryan.

By 6am, Ryan had not yet show up to the hostel, and Kate was growing more concerned by the minute. By 8am, she was trying to track down the last nightclub they were all at. This was more easily said than done for two reasons; first, they were taken there by taxi and had little idea as to where it was in relation to anything else. Second, they were all piss drunk and hungover.

By 10am, I had left with Kate to go and try to find Ryan; no one else seemed particularly keen on going, and the excursion would help me get a better idea of Moscow’s geography. And it makes for a hell of a good story.

So off we go. First to the night club, which takes forever to find. The owner pretty much laughs at us. We continued searching, but by noontime had mostly given up. Kate hadn’t sleep all night and the realization of the impossibility of searching all of Moscow was starting to sink in.

Kate went back to the hostel and I continued on.

DSC_9045
27.0 mm || 1/1250 || f/7.1 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Moscow, Moscow Federal City, Russia


DSC_9056
18.0 mm || 1/2000 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Moscow, Moscow Federal City, Russia


I decided that my first stop should be Red Square. Getting there didn’t take to long on foot.

DSC_9066
50.0 mm || 1/8000 || f/1.8 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Moscow, Moscow Federal City, Russia

As it turns out, Moscow’s Red Square isn’t all that red, although the State Historical Museum is a wonderful burgundy color:

DSC_9058
18.0 mm || 1/640 || f/8.0 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Moscow, Moscow Federal City, Russia

DSC_9071
18.0 mm || 1/1000 || f/4.0 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Moscow, Moscow Federal City, Russia


Lenin’s Mausoleum was closed for the day, so I would have to stop back tomorrow.

And of course, there’s St. Basil’s Cathedral, which is actually a collection of several chapels (each onion dome is a separate chapel) all joined together.

DSC_9080
18.0 mm || 1/2500 || f/4.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Moscow, Moscow Federal City, Russia


DSC_9081
22.0 mm || 1/1600 || f/4.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Moscow, Moscow Federal City, Russia

My earliest memories, and probably the moment that I knew I wanted to visit Russia, was when Mr. Rogers visited some 22 years ago. I have this distinct image of Mr. Rogers with St. Basil’s in the background.

Fred traveled to Russia to tape special segments for Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. © 1987 Family Communications, Inc.
Fred traveled to Russia to tape special segments for Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. © 1987 Family Communications, Inc.

After St. Basil’s, I quite tired (Having only actually slept four hours). I came back to the hostel and took a nap.

A couple hours later, Kate came in to tell me that Ryan had just walked in the door. While I was comprehending the words she was saying, I was too tired to do anything. I mumbled something about, “oh, great!” and then fell back asleep.

So what did happen to Ryan? Not a lot really. He stumbled around for a bit. He tried to use his phone (from the UK) but it hasn’t been working…no signal. He tried to find an Internet cafe, but there seems to be a dearth of them in Moscow (I myself haven’t even seen one, although I haven’t been looking hard either). Eventually, he headed to Red Square and wondered around for a bit. He was finally able to figure out where the hostel was and how to get there. Then he wondered in around 6pm or so.

In short, Ryan got lost in Moscow and lived to tell about it.

After dinner, Gary, Ryan, Lizzy, Kate, and I wandered down near Lomonosov Moscow State University.

DSC_9122
29.0 mm || 0.8 || f/4.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Moscow, Moscow Federal City, Russia

We caught the last glimpses of the sunset and watched a group of fire dancers before catching one of the last trains back.

DSC_9109
18.0 mm || 0.6 || f/6.3 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Moscow, Moscow Federal City, Russia


DSC_9116
62.0 mm || 5 sec || f/18.0 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Moscow, Moscow Federal City, Russia


DSC_9130
31.0 mm || 1/30 || f/4.0 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70
Moscow, Moscow Federal City, Russia