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Red Square

Wednesday, August 14th 2002

I spent my first day in Moscow just wandering randomly. I bumped into a girl who had been on the train, and we had lunch together. She joined me on the random wander, and we walked down from Arbatskaya where we'd eaten to the Moskva River, along past the grotesque statue of Peter the Great, which is one of the tallest statues in the world, and then to Red Square. All roads led back to here in the end. Among the downsides of this iconic place were frequent police checks which clearly targeted foreigners, and large numbers of people trying to sell stamps and banknotes from Soviet times at vastly inflated prices. But the upsides were the spectacular sight of St. Basil's Cathedral, the Kremlin, Lenin's mausoleum, and the feeling of being at the very heart of Russia.

On my second day I met some more people who had been on the train, and we went into St. Basil's. Like the Tardis, it was far bigger on the inside than it appeared on the outside, and its twisting corridors were full of pre-renaissance art. We also went to the Kremlin, which was very impressive, but I'd made a major tactical error with my camera: bags had to be left at one of the gates, and I'd left my camera in my bag, so I didn't get any photos of the views over the river, the churches on Sobornaya Ploshchad, and the giant Tsar Kolokol bell, which cracked before it ever rang a note.

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