Here am I, sitting on the 17th Floor in Moscow, trying desperately to get some blogging done and all I can hear is a damn car alarm ringing constantly. I am surprised that no-one has blown that car up yet.
Let me tell you a little about my trip to Moscow. Yesterday we headed to Red Square, Revolution Square, The Kremlin and the Pushkin Museum. I am now successfully navigating the Moscow underground. Red Square was an experience, especially when I had to pay almost 12 quid for two coffees. It’s all about location I guess.
We also took a look in Lenin’s mausoleum. For those that don’t know that word, it is a place that holds a dead body so that people can visit it. In all honesty, we were lucky to get in at all, the very last trip of the day as they closed the gates behind us. No cameras or phones allowed, no talking inside and no hands in pockets either. Now being honest, the guy has been dead a few years, whats to say that in there, is simply not a wax working of the old fella? A huge conspiracy I know. I was left wondering though, where was George Harrison’s body and would Paul and Ringo be placed there when they are gone?
Red Square is smaller than I thought it would be. Generally, it is bigger than Rugby Cattle Market used to be but not by much. I was remembering that young german fella in the late 80’s called Herr Rust who tried to land a Cessna there. There was not a lot of room and at the southern end there are tons of overhead electric cables for the trolley buses so he did a damn stirling job of getting it down there at all. Word on the street was he made three low passes over Red Square to try to get the people to move but they didn’t get the message, so he had to land at the bridge at the southern end. Thankfully, earlier that morning , the overhead cables had been removed for maintenance.
There are still a few old school Ladas kicking around too although the wealth here is obvious (probably all coffee shop owners on Red Square is my first thought). Rolls, Bentley, BMW, Mercedes and the rest of it, and some very bling shops now adorn the shopping centre at the side of Red Square. I try to imagine how the pre-perestroika generation view the changes that the country has seen. I quizzed one of the locals over lunch on Sunday. Imagine a country where you can only buy locally produced goods – people that are lucky enough to have a car drive a Lada as a luxury and everyone eats cabbage. None of the big names that you see now in the streets were allowed, no McDonald’s, Dior, Mercedes, Gucci – none of them, but now, just a generation later, the place is overflowing with them. Think back to England in the late 80’s – imagine if all you were allowed to drive was an Austin Allegro and there was a two year wait for it, and when you got it, you were considered privileged!!
I had the sheer pleasure yesterday of watching a guy on an R6 do a stand up wheelie the full length of the road that runs alongside the Kremlin – it was faultless and perfectly controlled. Unfortunately I was so in awe that I neglected to pull my camera off my neck and get some shots. I can only imagine the size of the grin on that dudes face as he put it down for the corner at the top of the road.
Today I also managed to find an old Russian Army coat that fits me. Which rank ? A General of course. There was an Admiral’s coat that fitted too but it was black and I wasn’t so keen – he also wanted 20,000 rubles for it which is about 400 quid. The generals coat I got for 14000 down from 17. A big thick long trench coat that should outlive me I think. I am sure I could have found one at the market cheaper but I only found out about that market late on Sunday evening and it is only open on Saturday and Sunday.
I have also gone to the extreme lengths of uploading some photos. Extreme because I had to buy another 10GB of space to host them, so I also plumped for the video upgrade too as it came out cheaper and now officially add free, so take a look at ‘Russia 2013’.
Back to Brussels tomorrow via Poland and a 6 hour lay over in Warsaw in an airport that has the least services in their lounges that I have ever seen. Russia has been blissfully chilly and a welcome break from the monotony of the European heat wave. I also recently made a video for Steve O that will now be uploaded directly to this site instead of a link to external nonsense. A brisk trip through part of the Brussels forest that should tempt his adventure taste buds.