Friday 21/07 – Kremlin
We started with the Kremlin. We arrived early to avoid the long queues we saw a few days ago. Within 30′ we had our general entrance ticket and the ticket for the Armoury Chamber (for which a limited number of tickets is sold daily).
We were so lucky with the soon-changing weather while visiting the Kremlin. We could avoid the rain (there was even hail) and got nice sunshine to photograph the splendid monuments: Patriarch’s Palace, Annunciation Cathedral, Assumption Cathedral, Cathedral of the Archangel Michael, and the Bell tower. It is such a nice and uniform architectural ensemble. Splendid!
The Armoury Chamber was as described in the guides: exceptional! It displays an amazing collection of tsars’ jewellery and regalia, weapons and armour. We all took an audio guide and the kids did the whole 1-hour visit. They were “rewarded” with a small gift in the museum shop: a Matryoshka (Russian doll) magnet. They indeed decided to collect magnets during this RWT. I’m not sure it’s the lightest things to collect (I insisted for stickers but to no avail)…
Kids were tired after this 4-hour visit so we went back to the apartment for lunch and we left them there for the rest of the day.
Isabelle and I went to visit the Novodevichy Convent (unfortunately under renovation) and then to the Church of St. Nicholas in Khamovniki. A beautiful discovery, a bit outside the usual tourist path but a very nice church, with a very pious atmosphere inside (without any noisy tourist, a change compared to the churches of the Kremlin).
Then we went to collect all our train tickets in the agency that organized our Trans-Mongolian trip.
See separate ‘Trans-Mongolian trip – Organization & Programme’ post about this organization.
It was nice to meet Frédérique and Masha who greatly helped me to organize this trip.
After fixing dinner for kids, we went out the 2 of us, for the first time. We went to the White Rabbit restaurant, where we enjoyed very nice food and great view.
Saturday 22/07 – Lenin Mausoleum / Gorki Park / Bolshoi Theatre
In the morning, I went alone to see the Lenin Mausoleum. I arrived 40′ before the opening (to avoid the queue). The whole experience was interesting. The mausoleum is impressive: inside it is quite dark. You go down into a dim, cool, marble-ness. All along the way are uniformed soldiers, but they don’t offer any assistance; they are just there to keep you moving and reverential (you can’t talk, you can’t photograph, you can’t put our hands in our pockets). You can feel how important Lenin was. You finally enter an even darker and cooler room. And there lies Lenin’s embalmed body in a glass sarcophagus, with light directed solely on his face and hands. You are routed along his right side, down to his feet, and up along his left side before being shown the door. If you move very, very slowly, you might get to spend almost a minute there.
We then went all together for a nice walk in Gorki park. It was nice to see Muscovites strolling in this nice park, full of attractions. Right after, we walked in Muzeon, displaying statues; it was formerly called the Park of the Fallen Heros (the name says it all).
We then walked to the Church St. Nicholas of Pijy – a bit disappointing (the grey sky probably didn’t help…).
In the evening we went to the Bolshoi theatre, to see a ballet: Rodin. We had a small stress at the entrance: they didn’t want to let Jules in. The ballet was indeed “forbidden” under 12. We had to go to the administration office to convince them to let him in (we said he was 11…). It was a beautiful performance. The experience was very nice for the whole family; yes, even the kids enjoyed, which was surprising to me.
It is nice to see that people still dress up to go to the theatre. And most of them drink nice champagne at the entr’acte (and eat pineapples!).
We then went, once more, to the Red Square. The illuminations of the Gum are nice at night. Most of the Red Square was occupied by ring and stands (and huge screens) for a boxing competition.