Morning was cruising down the Volga until we came to canals. We went through locks during the night. We never got tired of watching the locks. We went through them with our sister ship, the Tolstoy. Tanya told us the company saves money by having the two go through together.
It was Sunday and for the past two days we've seen people camping and fishing all along the banks. Some are in campgrounds and some just at the banks with a tent. I've waved and most wave back, especially the children. I would fit right in here. I've never seen so many pasty bodies in my life. The men almost never have shirts on.
We rarely see anyone swimming. It's not allowed in some of the canals but where it is allowed, people aren't in the water. Their dogs are. Some people are wading ankle deep. But I think we saw two people total in the water, out of literally hundreds.
In the canals, several people along the route yelled,"Spasiba!" to us. Some invited us to "come here, come here". We're not sure if they were thanking us for visiting Russia, or because the boat was making the fish come closer.
We docked right after lunch and immediately disembarked for buses to Red Square. Two boatloads meant a lot of buses and guides. The traffic in Moscow is really terrible. Really. It took us quite a while to get there and this was on a Sunday afternoon. But there was a lot to see and absorb.
In Red Square I'm sure I once again looked like I just fell off the turnip truck. You are next to the Kremlin walls and you can see the onion domes of all the cathedrals. (We are going there tomorrow.). St. Basil's Cathedral looks like a fairy tale from Arabian Nights, or Pushkin's stories, to be more accurate.
One entire side of the square is taken up by Gum, pronounced "Goom". It's a huge upscale market, and the building contains high-end shops from all over the world. On the other side of the square, Lenin's tomb is against the Kremlin wall. It wasn't open and apparently there is usually a long line. Even though no one feels that they were better off in Soviet times, he is still regarded as a hero. I'll do a wrap up of the things we've learned about Russia and its people at the end of the trip.
We had an hour free time so where do you think we went? Too easy, I know. Gum had restrooms at the entrance so while some made a pitstop, I went inside. There was a line for some kind of beverage, fruit-flavored, and it looked good. The lady spoke English and told me cherry, tomato, apple or apple-grape. I asked for cherry. Turns out it's just juice. It's not even cold. It tasted good though. But my American palate expected chilled and fizzy.
In the store we found an ATM because it's customary to tip the crew and the our cruise director, a daily amount for each passenger. We knew about this but it doesn't seem like a lot until you have to put that much in an envelope. Then we stuck our heads in a few shops. I spotted an authorized Apple reseller and took a pic of me under the sign.
A store called Bosco had Russian Olympic gear so we browsed through there. It was pricey, but I really liked a cap for Tim and he agreed. It says Russia in Cyrillic (they had English too but how authentic is that?). It has the Olympic rings on one side and the double-headed eagle emblem of Russia on the other. Another hat for Tim's collection.
On the way back to the ship we stopped on Sparrow Hill, one of the highest points in Moscow. It had great views of the city. Bikers like to congregate there. We saw several biker clubs but no Harleys that we could make out. Rice rockets, mostly.
Soon it was time to go back to the boat for dinner, and then we were signed up for the night tour. We left at 9 pm for a ride on the Metro.
The Metro is a huge system. The trains on a Sunday night were running less than a minute apart and there were thousands of people down there. It was difficult to hear our guide, even with the earpieces. We rode around to four different stations. The stations are like palaces and they all have themes.
One had bronze sculptures on every pillar. Another had mosaics of Russian history and life scenes on all the walls. Another had paintings in bosses on the ceiling. All of them had decorative pillars and chandeliers.
Hopping on and off was an accomplishment with a group of 25 people. The cars are fairly old, the subway is loud and we rocked and rolled through the tunnels at a considerable clip.
We came out near Red Square and had a pit stop. We all had to go, it was mandatory since toilets are a scarcity at night. We all now can say that we have peed in the Kremlin wall, because that is the location of the WC.
Up in Red Square it was truly a fairy tale world. The Gum store is lit up like a Christmas tree. The cathedral is lighted as are all the towers of the Kremlin. And we had a full moon peeking in and out of the clouds. We all took dozens of pictures.
Next stop was a pedestrian bridge over the river where we could see everything. Lights were everywhere. We got several incredible pics.
By now it was almost midnight. Everyone was running out of gas but we still had another stop, a convent by a small lake, surrounded by a park. The moon was over the convent, and the entire building was reflected in the lake. The ghost of Princess Sofia was walking around the lake, looking for her lover who never met her while he walked the other way. Or so the legend says.
What a day. One more to go and then we leave.