Moscow (Russia), 01.11.2013
The short detour to St. Petersburg had been a spontaneous change of plans and totally worth it. Now I had to get back south quickly, to avoid more cold and rainy days. To not just drive for several consecutive days I planned to stay one more day in Moscow. In the morning I left St. Petersburg in the first sunlight, driving down Moskovsky prospekt. At Pobedy square I briefly stopped to take pictures of the monument to the defence of the city. Then came the long drive back on the same road I had taken two days ago. Weather was good and I made good progress without any discoveries or adventures. Highlights were the empty villages falling apart and the WWII monuments with their tanks, rocket launchers and cannons. Approaching Moscow traffic got pretty bad, and I spent two hours on the last 30km in dense evening traffic.
The next morning I had a hard time getting up. The many km on the road are taking its toll on my forces. I had the same program like on Monday: washing laundry and getting the car checked, since I didn’t manage to get this done. The laundry I had found close to my hotel and that had confirmed on the phone they would be working on Friday was closed, the day started off bad. I was running out of fresh clothes to wear. Then I spent an hour and a half to reach the Land Rover service center in the crazy traffic. I missed three highway exits and had to take huge detours to turn around in the right direction. Anyway, at lunchtime I left Land Rover and started my tourist program with a metro ride to the Kremlin. I had expected the metro to be something special, but apparently I took the wrong stations, because I just saw a run down train (from 1976), tunnels and stops. Outside again, I grabbed a coffee and walked through sunshine towards Red Square. The day started to change for the better. Reaching the Kremlin walls, there were many different WWII military vehicles, incl T-34 tanks and Katyusha rocket launchers in ship shape being driven on Red Square. At this point I remembered I had heard Monday to be a holiday, and they were probably preparing some parade. Red Square and the Kremlin were closed due to the preparations, I just managed to take pictures from the outside. I tried several entrances, walking around the Kremlin, with no luck. But in doing so I crossed the GUM department store (full of the usual international luxury brands).
Passing by Revolution square, I got curious as I walked by a nicely restored building, and found it to be a museum for the 1812 war with France. Inside the whole exhibition was in Russia only, so I couldn’t read anything. It is a pity that in a capital city of this size the tourist attractions don’t even explain themselves in 1 foreign language. But anyway, there were a lot of exhibits on display, from uniforms, guns and sabres to a soldiers full equipment that they had to carry, carriages and sledges, cannons, etc. I had never realised that this war, that happened just 200 years ago, was actually of an extreme brutality. A major element of killing people had still been bayonets, that turn rifles into spears, fighting like cave men. I thought about the many monuments to all kinds of wars I had seen on this journey, and how throughout the history of mankind men took mostly these kind of weapons, marched into their neighbours’ countries, started to kill other men, burn their houses, steal their belongings. The winner is a hero, gets medals and monuments, national holidays are named after them and the like. The looser is mostly forgotten in history (I’ve never seen a German WWII memorial for example), and there is little that remains of them usually. How many cities (think of Paris or London for example) boast beautiful squares with monuments of this kind, have avenues named after battles, heroes and generals. In the end, these are all killers, assassins and robbers. And anyway fine examples of how brutality prevailed over having an argument and the convincing power of ideas and words.
After this enlightening insights in the museum I kept walking from revolution square to the Lenin library and touristy Arbat street before heading back to the hotel for a rest, the day had been full of impressions. In the late afternoon I got the Evoque back and packed it. In the evening I had a last, lovely walk around the Bolshoi theatre and the area around it. The second day spent in Moscow had been exhausting, but beautiful, with good weather. The evening closed this discovery in a great way, showing one of the most beautiful sides of this impressive capital.
– Km driven: 777
– Hrs on the road: 10,5h
– Diesel l/100km: 8,9