I had not been to Moscow for eight years and was pretty stunned by the continued development of its market economy. Moscow is the most expensive city in the world and the wealth resident there is very evident. How ironic to be there while the US is busy nationalizing banks and insurance companies. When Marx wrote about the evolution of economies he was writing about market economies and now I wish I'd read them more closely. To defend myself, Marx is a bit of a slog to say the least, so if I get serious about it, I'll read the summaries. Maybe these kinds of short cuts are why we are heading into the economic abyss...
Anyway, I was there on business and had virtually zero time for tourism. My colleague and I got to our hotel Sunday afternoon, Sept. 14th, and we headed straight for the Kremlin. Safe taxis are hard to come by and the hotel car service was exorbitant so we took the metro. I summoned the little Russian I could remember to ask directions, and was lucky - twice - to encounter Russians who spoke English. The first woman turned out to have participated in a US-sponsored exchange program and was more than happy to walk us to the metro and answer any other questions we had. "Providential," an embassy colleague told me.
St. Basil's CathedralFor all of the times I've been to Moscow I've never been inside of St. Basil's. It's under major restoration and implementation of measures designed to protect the old structure. It was completed in 1560 and survived Stalinism - someone served serious jail time for refusing to destroy it, but more about political prisons later - and probably neglect for the rest of the Soviet era, so I'm confident that it will be OK, but I applaud their efforts. There's an ancient staircase inside that takes you to the iconstasis pictured here:
We had a nice cappuccino at the National Hotel to end our day. I had good coffee everywhere including Moscow's new Starbuckskies.