After leaving Konevets, I returned to St. Petersburg, from which I would board an overnight train to Moscow. Here's my first day in Russia's capital:
My train, at Leningradsky Rail Terminal, the oldest of Moscow's 9 train stations.
The Stalinist gothic view from outside the station, as I searched for the metro entrance.
The Moscow Metro is famous for its ornately decorated stations, such as this one.
They're so beautiful, tour groups like this one arrange day trips that stop at the most unique ones.
The Soviet Union may be dead, but the ubiquitous hammer / sickle most assuredly is not.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs building, one of Stalin's ghastly "Seven Sisters."
A monument to famous Soviet-era musician / poet Bulat Okudzhava.
This monument was virtually next door to my hostel.
Right next to the monument was my fallback restaurant in Moscow, the Moo Moo Cafe.
The exterior was impossible to miss.
Arbat Street, where I stayed the duration of my time in Moscow.
A statue of Fyodor Dostoevsky (who was actually born in Moscow despite being associated exclusively with St. Petersburg), in front of the Lenin Library, near Red Square. Lenin hated Dostoevsky's writing, and Dostoevsky warned about future men like Lenin, so the irony is a little thick here.
The Troitskaya Tower of the Kremlin walls, overlooking Alexander Gardens.
A grotto to commemorate Russia's victory over Napoleon, beneath the Middle Arsenalnaya Tower.
The Corner Arsenalnaya Tower on the right, and the State Historical Museum to the left.
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with an eternal flame, inside Alexander Gardens at the Kremlin Wall.
Statue of Marshall Zhukov, the most decorated general officer in the history of the USSR and Russia, behind the State Historical Museum.
Time to enter Red Square, through Resurrection (Iberian) Gate.
My first glimpse of St. Basil's Cathedral was through the Resurrection Gate.
I've included this photo of Red Square primarily to point out how vast an expanse it is. Obviously St. Basil's is in the middle; to the left is GUM, the famous shopping mall, and to the right is the Kremlin itself with the Spasskaya Tower visible.
The Kazan Cathedral, just inside Red Square.
The State Historical Museum, with the Nikolskaya Tower of the Kremlin on the left.
Aside from aforementioned sights, you can make out Lenin's Mausoleum on the right, perched up against the Kremlin Wall.
GUM (pronounced goom), the department store that dominates a whole side of Red Square.
One of my hundreds of St. Basil photos.
I had known about GUM since about the second grade, when the Soviet Union still existed. I had an atlas with photos inside, and there was one not unlike this one on the Russia page.
Simply put, I had to go inside to fulfill my childhood curiosity.
It's a very elegant shopping mall.
Complete with fountains.
The thought that a capitalist venture exists opposite the Lenin Mausoleum pleases me to no end.
Lo and behold, it rained outside while I was in GUM.
The effect on Red Square was tremendous = tourists, be gone!
For the most part, anyhow. That's the Spasskaya Tower again, by the way.
The Lenin Mausoleum, with the residence of the Russian president behind the Kremlin Wall.
Time to leave Red Square for the day...
I found it amusing that this white line went all the way to St. Basil's.
Just as I was leaving, a shout went up from the crowd that was left. A part in the clouds had perfectly enveloped St. Basil's with light (though no other part of Red Square was hit with it). I quickly took this shot, before the clouds closed up again 30 seconds later. I have a distinct memory of a photographer setting up his tripod in vain to capture a similar photo, only to curse in disgust when the clouds regrouped. That's the one advantage to point-and-click cameras...
In Russian, Red Square is called Krasnaya Ploschad.
Proof I was in Moscow...
Time to head back to the hostel for the evening... the Alexander Gardens (again).
And finally, Arbat Street, with one of the ugly Seven Sisters towering above to the left.
Day 2 would be much busier. Stay tuned.