After last night's tour we were all pretty tired. Delores opted to skip the Kremlin tour and relax and pack. Another beautiful sunny day dawned (at 3:30 am), with temperatures expected to be in the 80's.
The traffic was noticeably worse and it took twice as long to get downtown as it did the day before. We had to go through security to enter the Kremlin along with many other tour groups.
One inside the the walls it's not what we expected. There are three cathedrals and several churches all in a plaza. There is the building where the president works. He causes such a traffic jam when he arrives that he usually takes a helicopter from his residence in the country. There is one building from Soviet times that was very unpopular when built because its design does not fit in. It's not tall but goes far underground. It has an auditorium that can seat 6000 people. The children's New Year party is held there.
We went inside the Cathedral of St. Michael the Archangel. All of the princes and czars up through Peter the Great are here. The iconography is impressive. It's been restored to the original brilliance. But it was so packed we really couldn't look around.
We walked through the grounds to the gardens, which are simple and elegant. There are guards everywhere. If you stray even a little bit off a sidewalk or away from the group, they blow whistles to get you back in line.
Back at the ship we needed to pack. We had opted out of afternoon tours, so instead Tim and I took a walk to a nearby market and mall. We walked through two parks where families were strolling and young people were sitting on benches in the sun. The mall was nothing to speak of -- local chains selling clothing and shoes you can buy at home. The market was like markets we've seen in Europe. Individual merchants sold fish, poultry, meats, breads, cheese, dried fruit and nuts, tea and coffee and many sweets.
It was nice to get out on our own and I wish there had been more free time to explore the bigger cities on the trip.
The last excursion was to a folk dance show in town, so back on the buses. Tanya was waiting for us at the venue. We had great seats for the performance. This is a professional company founded by a husband and wife 25 years ago. The dancers all trained for ballet and folk dance from the time they were five years old.
It was stylized to a degree, with colorful costumes depicting different times in Russian history, and the dances of different regions. Some of the time it felt like the Ziegfeld Follies minus the bare flesh, but the traditional dancing was superb.
The men were particularly athletic, doing the high leaps, dancing and spinning on the floor. The ladies got into it at the end with twirls and spins. So much energy that we were drained by the end, and all we did was sit and watch!
It was a fine ending to our journey. Tomorrow we fly all day to get home. I'll wrap this up and post a link to pics within the next week or so.