Train to Moscow and Grandpa Lenin

The train ride was not as I remembered it. In my memory, it was rocking me to sleep, but this train was loud, it came to an abrupt stop around 5 AM, and then some thunderous squeaking and screeching took place, as if it had a steam engine that was being replaced by another.
We arrived in Moscow utterly tired and headed for the apartment lent to us by an acquaintance of mine for the few nights we were to spend in Moscow. I am not looking a gift horse in the mouth, but:
1. traditionally, in Russia, with no warning, hot water is turned off in the summer for a period of several weeks to several months to conduct some mysterious maintenance. With our luck, the nights we stayed at the apartment fell into this period.
2. even if it would have hot water, I don’t think I could bring myself to get into the black-and-yellow tub, half of which was occupied by some cryptic objects.
3. there was no elevator and we dragged our suitcase to the fourth floor.
4. once in the apartment, we found it hot, humid, and dusty.
5. I had to sleep on a folded mat.
6. There were three pillows for the four of us. One look at the third pillow, and Anna and I made a firm decision to get by without.
Other than that, it was a place to stay for free in this very expensive city.
I have not been to Moscow since 1988, right after the Soviet Union fell apart. Moscow now has 90% of all the money in the country and it shows. Shockingly, I found the people here to be more polite than in St. Petersburg. Shockingly and sadly, because in my former life this was exactly the opposite. Also, people were better dressed here, not gaudy and provincially like in St. Pete, but more like in the West.
And yet, aesthetically, this was still the old Moscow – with avenues so wide, that it disturbed any sense of proportion, Soviet buildings abound, and even old Moscow, all painted and dolled up, still looked like the provincial city it once was.
I know, I am being a St. Petersburg snob, but this is my blog and I do as I find fit!
My friend, a native Moscovite, took us on a tour of the Novodevichy cemetery (there is a famous cemetery in St.-P too, but I never go there with all the other stuff to see in S-P, but in Moscow, with nothing much to see, this is one of the highlights), saw the rebuilt Cathedral of Christ the Savior, took a boat ride on the Moscow-river (sorry guys, it does not even come close to the boat rides in S-P!), walked the Arbat, went to a sculpture park, saw all the new sculptures by Tsereteli (uncouth, unrefined, and untalented, if you ask me), had lunch at GUM (nice building) – but overall, it was all mediocre and unremarkable.
The highlight of the day was our visit to Lenin’s Mausoleum. I am quite shocked that this monstrosity, this barbaric monument to Soviet idolatry still functions! We stood in line with other, mostly foreign tourists, to have a chance to behold the embalmed body of the Soviet God. At least it’s a curiosity item now, not the sacred relic that had been worshiped by the brainwashed citizens of the best country in the world. After standing in line that thankfully moved rather fast, we were admitted into the sacred space and were instructed to move by the corpse and to never stop. So we did, We walked by the yellowish thing, and, slightly nauseated, I thanked grandpa Lenin for my happy Soviet childhood (right! lol)


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