Some highlights from Day 2 of Moscow:
[RUSSIAN BREAKFAST AT THE HOTEL. Guys. The bread was soooo good. And the yogurt! My favorite Russian yogurt! With pineapple! I was so incredibly happy.]
[Храм Христа Спасителя. The Cathedral of Christ the Savior.]
[Beautiful. And only about 20 years old. Did you know that Stalin completely demolished this cathedral in the 1930s? It was rebuilt in the 1990s.]
[Happy to be in Russia. And yes. I took a lot of selfies on this trip. Because often there was no one to take a picture of me but I had to document my face in the Russian motherland.]
[Case in point.]
[Saints and apostles wait at the gates.]
[You see that red star? That's the Kremlin. Not too far away at all.]
I kept coming back to Red Square. It pulls you in, really.
[Ice Skating on Red Square! Because everyone needs a chance to feel like Levin and Kitty from Anna Karenina.]
[Oh haiii, St. Basil's.]
[And from inside St. Basil's.]
We also went inside Lenin's Mausoleum, which was one of the more creepy things I've ever seen. At first I didn't think his body was real. But when I got closer . . . yeah, I think it's real. We both left trying to shake off an overall feeling of ickiness.
(Although honestly, I was also thinking of this clip when I was in there. So I was laughing inwardly to myself while the guards kept telling us to move on and get out of there.)
"Must. Crush. Capitalism." Because we all know that when the zombie apocalypse happens, Lenin's leading it.
Seeing dead people made us hungry. So we brightened our spirits by eating amazing Russian food. Including borscht. Which just made me incredibly, incredibly happy. And it was good borscht, too!
After that, Derek left me on my own to explore Moscow. And once I was set loose, I headed straight for Lev Tolstoy's house. I had to make the pilgrimage.
[There is beauty all around when you're at Tolstoy's home.]
I also went exploring around вднх, which is a really big park with more bike paths, a ferris wheel, ice skating, etc. And lights. Lots and lots of lights.
On the way there, I stopped by a park devoted to kosmonauts and then ended up finding the big Soviet statue, Worker and Kolhoz Woman.
[Moscow at dusk.]
[Finally made it to вднх.]
[So many lights.]
After a stroll around вднх, I found some Russian bookstores. I mean, it's me. Of course I found my way to some bookstores. There was one, Biblio-Globus, which was basically like a Barnes and Nobles on steroids. My favorite one, though, was a smaller bookstore right nearby. It simply had a sign with an arrow that said, "Books." So in I went. It felt a bit like an absent-minded professor's office, with books piled to the ceiling and around the floor. It was lovely.
[And, I found a biography of Winston Churchill in there, which I thought was amusing, considering that I am writing this less than 10 miles away from where Churchill grew up.]
And even more nighttime explorations:
[Red Square at night. Including гум (Gum--a massive shopping mall) all lit up.]
[St. Basil's at night is quite a sight. Sure am glad Napoleon didn't blow it up in 1812.]
[Christmas Village at Red Square.]
[They decorated GUM with fruit, candies, and New Year's postcards reminiscent of the 1960s and 1970s. A friend of mine said his grandmother would have loved the Christmas village/inside of GUM because it would have reminded her of good, happy times.]
[The Tomb of the Unknown Solider/The Eternal Flame.]
[The Bolshoi. Also, you can see the billboard for Tsum--another huge shopping center.]
[Inside Tsum's Christmas market.]
Guys. There was so much opulence. Like, both GUM and Tsum were more decked out than either Macy's or Harrod's. And they both had this nostalgia for things past--GUM was playing off of Soviet nostalgia, while Tsum was going for the Russian fairy tale theme. Being the over-analyzer I am, I found it extremely interesting. I also thought it was very telling that GUM's ice skating rink on Red Square (and right across the way from Lenin's Tomb) was rented out for a corporate event. Russia is full of paradoxes. Just one of the reasons I find it so incredibly intriguing.