Sunday, November 29, 2009

Day 19 - 28th July 2009

Saw me visit Lenin’s tomb. Sitting in the middle of Red Square is the mausoleum where Vladimir Ilyich Lenin’s body is held, suspended for eternity. An impressive location for the man who, it could be rightly claimed, changed the course of modern history. After queuing for an hour or so to enter the chamber, and going down and down through countless sets of guards and doors into an ever colder environment I finally reached the refrigerated central chamber. I was amazed to see his glass sarcophagus was lit up in what was otherwise a dimly lit room. We were firmly urged to keep walking so managed to spend maybe 30 seconds in his company as we walked down one side, past his feet and back up the other. He looked like a waxwork dummy. Perhaps that’s all he was. I remember hearing that Mao was rumoured to have a waxwork replica that stood in for him when he was being re-stuffed. Lenin was also surprisingly small - considering the size of his brain. Outside we walked past plaques in the wall where all the previous leaders had supposedly been entombed. Stalin, Kruschev, Breshniev. They were all there. We all go the same way in the end.
Leaving the square I saw people standing on a bronze plate in the street and throwing coins over their shoulders. After enquiring what it was all about I was told it was to mark the dead centre of Moscow and throwing a coin over your shoulder was considered good luck. There were three old ladies standing around the people throwing coins and as each hopeful stood on the copper plate, made their wish and cast their money in the hope of great fortune, the old ladies would fight over the coins. They would check to see if the coin was silver or copper. Apparently the copper ones weren’t worth bending down for as they just seemed interested in anyone throwing larger denominations. They were the only ones making a fortune that day. A walk later by the Volga river brought me to the Moscow modern art museum. Nearby a gigantic statue of Peter the Great dominated the landscape. It must have been at least fifteen stories tall. An incredible sight that just took the breath away. An early night was called for as the next day we headed for our final destination in Russia - St. Petersburg.

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