Sun, glorious sun. We awoke to a brilliant sky with no lingering fog, providing a nice change to head out and explore Moscow on our own. As I looked out our hotel window I was reminded of the system for heating Moscow as explained by Nicolai on our first day. He said there are numerous coal burning plants around Moscow that heat water and pump it throughout the city to provide heat for all the buildings. It appears nobody has their individual heating units. If the temperature of our hotel room is anything to go by it is an inefficient system. I think our room sits at 22 – 23 C. The air conditioner can only be set to cool and doesn’t seem to do much. Fortunately there is a window that will open so we can adjust the room temperature for sleeping. I would be interested in an engineers take on this system for heating a city of 17+ million people.
You can see the steam pouring out of the plants around the city. These pics are shot out of the open window in our hotel room.
As we ate another delicious breakfast we could see an ebb and flow of people pouring out of the subway with the predictable arrival of each train at 60 second intervals. Fur of all types and colors adorned many collars and hats and was the main ingredient in numerous coats. Leather jackets, high heeled winter boots, other stylish coats and outfits you would see in Saskatoon created a human river suitable for fine people watching as it flowed past our window.
We hopped on the subway and found our way to Old Arbat Street which has a long history dating back to the 15th Century. This area has been many things to Muscovites over the years, mostly centering around the arts, culture and commerce. In it’s current iteration we found it to be a rather tacky tourist area where you could find lots of fake fur hats and trinkets you don’t really need interspersed with high end banks and hotels. We did find one shop filled with local vendors sharing an indoor space. Scarves, soap, food and authentic fur hats were in abundance. The fur hats were mainly Rabbit and Mink and sold for what seemed a very low price of 3000-5000 rubles ($65-$110 Can.). I was surprised to see how Russians dress in heavily protective gear for merely milking a cow.
I did feel badly for the businesses that had to deal with the deluge of ice and snow which was rapidly turning into death dropping icicles just waiting for an unsuspecting victim.
The architecture of the street presented an interesting contrast to the rather tacky contents of some of the stores.
Next we headed back to Red Square to soak up the ambiance of this famous area. We had a cup of tea at an outdoor kiosk with Felipe as he was preparing to box up his bike and head back to Saskatoon.
Thanks Felipe for the great shot of Cathy and I.
The shining sun and mild temperature seemed to bring out an abundance of tour groups compared to the last time we were here. It made us realize that it would be a very crowded space in the middle of summer. It really is a visually stunning square surrounded by an abundance of beautiful buildings.
Next we headed back to Saint Basil’s Cathedral to have a look inside. I can’t seem to stop taking photographs of this building. It is such an interesting mix of colors, textures and shapes that it almost looks cartoonish.
According to Wikipedia it was built from 1555–61 on orders from Ivan the Terrible. It is now a Museum rather than a church. It is much smaller and cramped inside than one would expect when viewing the magnificent structure from outside.
I was particularly interested in paintings with gilding made in the 17th. century. It is always humbling to see such lasting beauty made in an era so different in technology.
This next series of pictures rounds out our tour of the inside of the Cathedral.