ADMIN: if there is a photo above the title it is not Moscow and should not be there – after three hours of trying to remove it, I give up! Sincere apologies.
Day Two, I headed straight to ‘the scene of the crime’, Gorky Park. I loved this historic park which could support many posts on its own and wandered part of its 300 acres along Moscow River. Unfortunately the old fun fair is being torn down for some new plan but hopefully they will still skate on the paths in winter!
Enjoying the walk, I decided to keep following the river around to Putin’s White House – the home of the Russian Government. A cheap (wo)man’s river cruise, if you like.
I’ve always been interested in politics and part of what had refocussed me on Russia was seeing Tiannenmen Square closed in Beijing on a previous visit for Putin’s attendance there. Do you see a theme developing? Gorky himself was also a favoured Soviet writer.
The plan was slightly mad as the loop of the river went off the map and turned out to be much further than I thought. The route was soon nearly deserted and I walked faster and faster as daylight faded and nature’s call became more and more urgent!!
I was rewarded with amazing views of autumnal forest on the other side of the river virtually the whole way round from the park to the White House! Beautiful!
An occasional runner came past me and I soon realised that the Luzhniki Sports Palace (which used to be home to HC Dynamo Moscow football club, amongst other things) and various Olympic planning buildings and sports facilities were dotted along on my side of the river. To top it all off, out of the opposite forest rose a makeshift ski slope and an Olympic ski jump! A small chapel on my path made me suspect unauthorised performance enhancement.
By the time I made it in view of the White House, and the famous Ukraine Hotel on the the other side (one of Stalin’s matching Gothic and Russian Baroque combination ‘Seven Sisters’ buildings), more important issues were pressing. I took the snap (photo) and was satisfied with my day.
To complete my political nerd’s tour report from Moscow:- Back at the hostel, I had a free newspaper I had picked up the day before to practice Russian. It’s frontpage heading “War in the City” over a photo of a damaged burning building had surprised me at first. I realised on closer inspection that it recorded the twentieth anniversary to the day of the White House I had just seen being shelled by tanks in a constitutional crisis after the fall of the Soviet Union!
Please stop the clock so I can read up on all this! Life moves too fast!!
P.S. Stupid tourist report:- I also discovered later that my walk was in fact on a map in the Lonely Planet and that somehow I had sailed right past the famous Novodevichy Monastery and Cemetary where the likes of Chekhov and other famous Russians are buried.
I wouldn’t make a great spy.