Walking down the stairs of the hostel with Dee’s iPod in my ears, I felt a little bad leaving her behind. A week ago she rolled her foot in Stockholm and it had progressivley gotten worse with the huge amount of walking we’ve been doing. I think the 10km wander yesterday to the Circus in Moscow finally did it and on our last day she was just putting her foot up and resting it so as not to hurt it more.
Having been in Moscow for 4 days now I knew the streets pretty well, even if my navigator wasn’t with me. I had a map and Dee’s directions to stay on the street with the McDonalds and knew the world famous Kremlin and Red Square was about a 30 minute walk ahead. With some swift navigating I finally saw the symbolic red star rising high above the city and made a path for it figuring it was the red square. I stood there taking artistic photos that would make Dee proud of the Stalinist building and decided to search out the rest of the square.
Quickly checking my map I thought it odd that I could only see one large red star building in my sight and decided to make my way to the metro station right by me to find my bearings. Not recognizing the name of the station I walked down the street and saw… lions and tigers and bears? I knew them ruskies liked animals but really expected more out of their famed square. I looked at the map over and over, not finding where I was until I flipped the map over. I was somehow 3km east of the square and tracing back my route I guess I should have taken the other street that the McDonalds was on. This small detour I blame on Dee, but it was easily recoverable and I hopped down into the subway system.
Russian metro stations are very impressive and quite a bit better than anything found in Canada. Not only are they usually all built in marble, 100’s of feet below ground as our previous video illustrated, but they still have a quite a bit of history in them. In almost every station there are statues, paintings or carvings into walls with symbolic “people” rising up. Very patriotic and beautiful pieces of art all over. On top of that all the trains are very quick and efficient, never having to wait longer then 5 minutes for the next car. I counted the amount of train stops I needed to take on my map and hopped on the train to what most likely is the Red Square now!
Standing in the Red Square was surreal. After being to St Petersburg and having all my preconceptions of what I thought about Russia broken, I wasn’t sure what to expect at the center command of communism and the USSR / CCCP. Gigantic, beautiful, awesome, immense.. all these words just start to describe this area, which I assume is exactly what the Russians were trying to display here in the center of Moscow. It’s also historic and very inspiring. There I was standing in front of the Kremlin where only 20 years ago there was an annual show of military might as battalions of soldiers, tanks and missile launchers paraded in front of their leaders. I remember reading news articles when I was young and being told “this is who is going to destroy us all”. And in Canada no less, not even the US!
And here I was a tourist from Canada taking photos of churches, shopping malls, the red square and Kremlin. Watching people sitting in cafe’s drinking coffee and with brides and grooms having their photos taken in the square. In such a short amount of time an unbelievable amount has changed in this powerful place with just being able to be there a statement to this fact.
As I walked around I realized that I was feeling what we saw in everyone’s faces in Russia, from the 24 hour streets of St Petersburg, to the waiters at the restaurants, to the people who dressed up in high style in the streets for no apparent reason, to the guys racing their bikes up the streets whiling popping wheelies. People seemed so alive in Russia and it’s truly inspiring. Makes me happy to be alive today and even hopeful for the future. If so much can change here in such a short amount of time, it shows that anything is possible.
This was Russia. I am impressed.