Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Moscow sightseeing and Star City


























Russians are fiercely proud of their country and their heroes of the past. How much this influences their thinking going forward I cannot say but most seem to want to expel the image of a threatening Russia.

Muscovites are incredibly fashion conscious and appear very sophisticated. Outside Moscow it's not at all like that but there are 67 million in the city, one tenth of the entire Russian population in fact!

The Metro is incredibly deep underground and the trains run on all lines every minute, yes every single minute, and 8 million people use the service each day - only Tokyo has a busier system. Stalin's war time bunker is located within the tunnels complex. Eight lanes of traffic flow in both directions on some city center roads. Cruising on the River Mockba appears less hectic!

Red Square stands alongside the Kremlin which is not the residence of Vladimir Putin (whose residence is a secret) but does contain offices of the state government. The Russian flag always flies over the Kremlin. It is a very large complex within fortified walls. Adjacent these wall in Red Square Lenin's embalmed body lies in a mausoleum. 

The iconic (chocolate box cover) St. Basil's Cathedral, built by Ivan the Terrible, survived the 1812 fire and stands majestically at the end of the Square. GUM shopping centre is like a modern Mall in concept with imperial elegance inside and out. The Romanovs (as in Tsars) original residence lies just beyond St Basil's where a huge ugly communist hotel complex has been demolished and new landscaping will replace. The State Museum is at the other end. 

Peter the Great statue stands on the banks of the Mockba as a tribute to him and his development of the mighty Russian fleet. The  Alexander Gardens, Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Bolshoi Theatre,  changing of guards, mystical clock chimes ...... all make this an extraordinary and truly memorable experience.












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The Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, outside Moscow, was a top secret Soviet Military Base where Yuri prepared for his 'first man in space' flight and Sergie Korolov, chief scientist for the Soviet space programme, was a sate secret. The complex is where all astro/cosmonauts prepare for their time in the International Space Station (ISS).

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Moscow




My Euro Velo Capitals Route 2 journey comes to an end at the gates of the Kremlin.



My back streets route planning has brought me here safely via the astonishing impressive and monumental Victory Square at Poklonnaya Gora - dedicated to the Russian victory over the Fascists in the Great Patriotic War (WWII as we know it). A holocaust memorial is an unforgettably moving work of art.

I will continue with images of Moscow for a couple of days before flying home......

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Tuckovo to Zveningorod




Apartment room to apartment room via Savvino-Storozhevsky monastery on very hot day.





















On the Moscow dartboard, from doubles to trebles with bullseye to finish

Friday, 24 June 2016

Borodino



Oddities from the past are not uncommon to see in Russia and, as if caught in a time warp, the Diving Center enters a new day.



The deadliest battle of all the Napoleonic encounters was centred around Bordino in 1812 when the Russian army, led my its new leader Michail Kutuzov, prepared to make a stand. Napoleon won the battle, but not the war, and Kutuzov withdrew not completely beaten to allow Napoleon to walk into a burnt out Moscow. The Russians months later chased out the remnants of Napoleons Grandee Armee.

A Russian family visiting the memorial practice their English and are a real tonic to meet. The Ukranian mum suggested and took the photos. They were on holiday and most engaging.

Hitler's Wehrmacht were beaten back  beyond here to Vjas'ma and up against the extreme Winter weather conditions and swampy terrain were finally chased out too.

A sparse number of villages, a few towns and vast areas of forest and swampy plains is the road to Moscow.

Gagarin














No option on minor roads without doubling the distance and 50 kms of main highway (M1) too dangerous. Tumbling off the 'heavy metal shed on wheels' in Gagarin was the right choice.

Gagarin is if course Yuri's hometown and his statue resembles superhero comic characters. He is dearly loved by the Russians and there is something curiously fascinating about that period of time. 1961 and the first human in Space!

Gagarin's cosmonaut training took place in the top secret Star City military base deep in the forests east of Moscow. Tim Peake and all other astro/cosmonauts train there too prior to missions to the ISS. Amazingly, Sandra has arranged for me to make a visit in a few days time - what a birthday present!













Sleeping arrangements at the Diving Center next to a lake are pretty strange and not a diver in sight!

Vjaz'ma recovery day


St John the Baptist monastery and its rather 'oriental' church is the jewel of Vjaz'ma. It offers a place of tranquillity and time to reflect. Branches of birch trees decorate the interior for reasons I cannot explain.


A single fortified tower rebuilt in recent times represents the former extensive Kremlin completely destroyed by Napoleon's army. It appears in the sculptured bronze plate with defenders surrounding it. Numerous Lenin statues, many memorials to fallen heroes and an eternal flame burns to remind all of the sacrifices made!!

A young Russian woman with some English helps me make some travel enquiries. Her mother is Turkish yet she is Buddhist and an open minded. She works for the Military and suggests big spending is taking place here and little in comparison for the average person. The place to find 'real' Russia is east of the Urals - Siberia, she says!

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Viaz'ma by night










Tuesday

This day goes down as one of the toughest and most nerve racking cycling days in my life. It corrected any thought that reaching Moscow was going to be plain sailing!

All the back up equipment was in use by the time I arrived at the level crossing in Viaz'ma at 11pm. I didn't know the time, only that it was dark, concentrating only on avoiding the endless deep potholes and moving forward.

On my knees earlier in the most violent storm that took place (navigating around a remote industrial plant) I knew weather was key to progress. The dust tracks became almost impassable - my journey doubly hard!