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Our location as of 10/2/2012

Madison, WI, USA
Last updated 10/2/2012
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Our first night in Moscow, we went out for a walk and ended up wandering right into the Red Square. I was more or less overcome with glee and couldn’t stop giggling the entire time. Actually seeing the Kremlin, Lenin’s Mausoleum, and St. Basil’s in real life was just incredible. St. Basil’s was actually much smaller than I thought it would be, but it looks like something in Disneyland. We visited Lenin, but we couldn’t tell if it was actually his body or not. This was the first Communist leader we saw, as we didn’t call upon Uncle Ho and Chairman Mao.

The next day we visited the Armory in the Kremlin. I was actually more impressed with the architecture of the building than the collection of artifacts. The best part was the diamond collection, which includes the royal collection, unique historical??jewelry, and huge hunks of uncut diamond, gold, and platinum nuggets. Some of my favorite pieces included a tiara with a thirteen carat pink diamond; a brooch in the shape of a rose??bouquet??made of diamonds, rubies, and emeralds; and the Grand Imperial Crown itself. The crown was made in 1762 and is made of 5,000 diamonds, 75 pearls, and a 398 carat spinel. Needless to say, it was the most sparkly headpiece I’ve ever seen. Brad didn’t visit the diamond collection, because it costs about $15 extra, but I thought it was well worth it.

The Moscow subway system is a Soviet marvel and a tourist attraction in itself, so we spent a whole afternoon riding around and looking at different stations. Many of them have stately granite pillars and mosaics of Communist propaganda. They’re also very deep underground, so we rode up some of the longest escalators I’ve ever seen. The??escalators??move pretty quickly, but it still takes several minutes before you reach the top. The trains themselves are ancient and incredibly loud. However, Russia seems to run by the motto, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” and the trains do still work perfectly fine.

One of our final excursions was a trip out to the Museum of Soviet??Arcade??Machines. They have over twenty arcade machines that still work. I think they all involved either hunting, warfare, or sports. They were pretty simple and cheesy, but we had a great time.

Overall, I really liked Moscow and I wish we could have spent more time there. Russians have a bed reputation with travelers, but I didn’t think people were especially rude. It does feel weird to not be in Asia anymore. Now we actually fit in and people keep talking to us in Russian and expecting us to understand what they’re saying. Sometimes it’s nice to blend in, but sometimes it’s nice when everyone just assumes you have no idea what’s going on.

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