26 October 2008

Moscow: a worm-hole and a Red Rectangle

Don’t try looking for a shower in Moscow. Our mission to get clean cost us four of our eight hours in the city, via a non-responsive hostel (thanks, Lonely Planet) and an over-priced taxi ride to an extortionately priced hotel… where a room booking for a shower would have required taking out a (non-sub-prime) mortgage. Sometimes when you get to a new city the whole experience is so confusing that it can take several hours of wandering endlessly to adjust. This was the Moscow worm-hole: a parallel reality where metros only ran in the wrong direction, and maps consistently failed to match up to places on first attempt. The fact that the taxi played Hotel California and Moon River added to the sense of things being curiously out of time.

Eventually we gave up on the washing plan, checked in our left luggage at Yaroslavl station (where the Trans-Manchurian and other Trans-Siberian trains leave), and headed to Red Square – or ‘Red Rectangle’, as one of my friends more accurately dubbed it. We arrived at night to find the building opposite the Kremlin lit up like a Christmas tree, which somewhat spoils the post-Soviet ambiance of the whole scene. That building is now a shopping centre, with a ‘Cartier’ store standing directly opposite Lenin’s tomb. The old man must be turning in his mummified grave.

3 October

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