Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Moscow, 2008

I returned from Moscow last night, though my visa had expired and the Russian government wanted me to stay an extra day to get a new one. Long story short, the US embassy intervened and arranged for me to get a new visa while I stood at the Delta check in. I was annoyed, but was already making plans to go yarn shopping that night. Next trip I guess!

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 Cathedral on Red Square, Moscow

St. Basil's Cathedral

For 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:

St. Basil's Cathedral Moscow

St. Basil's Cathedral, Moscow

Some of the steps were a foot and half high and many of us didn't make it up the staircase. I'm glad I made it, though my gluts were sore for days. Not only was the worship area pictured here quite beautiful, but we also arrived in time to hear a choir singing vespers.

I'm so happy that I discovered that the video component of my camera also includes sound! I love vespers. I find them very soothing.

We had a nice cappuccino at the National Hotel to end our day. I had good coffee everywhere including Moscow's new Starbuckskies.


  1. Oh my gosh! I imagine St. Basil's is so beautiful inside! I'd love to go to Russia!

  2. What an adventure, even if it was business. Lovely pictures. Looks like it's cold there. I am glad you got to tour St. Basil's. So is it true that Starbucks is world-wide?

  3. You have are so well traveled!
    And very happy that you were able to get back on U.S. soil without too much fight!

  4. Gorgeous cathedral pictures!

    Wow, Starbucks really has invaded everywhere, lol.

    Economic abyss, indeed...we're slowly becoming socialist.

  5. Sounds amazing. I wonder why those steps were so massive? But the Kremlin and St. Basils are both lovely -- how neat you got to visit in person!

  6. Even if it was all work, it sounds like a great trip. Those photos of St. Basil are wonderful.
    Welcome back!

  7. Absolutely gorgeous pics!!! Thanks so much for sharing




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