Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Last day in Moscow

Looking out from St. Basil's Cathedral towards the GUM departent store in Red Square. 4:30 PM. Photo: JH.
A beautiful sunny day with frequent clouding over that was really getting to JH with his Digital. Late with delivering yesterday’s Diary with so much ground to cover and late getting out of the hotel. About two we took a taxi over to the Manege where the Moscow World Fine Art Fair is going on to catch the few booths we’d missed on our previous visits.

At mid-afternoon it was fairly quiet although at these events that doesn’t mean a thing. A dealer needs only to make a sale or two for his or her stay to be profitable. We ran into Benjamin Steinitz and made a date for dinner at the new Turandot, but more about that sensation tomorrow.

Frankly the jet lag caught up with me yesterday afternoon and all I could think about was getting back to the room stretching out and having a good snooze. This was not quite realistic under the circumstances.

We left the Art Fair, spent several minutes hailing a cab in vain and decided to walk back to the hotel. We didn’t quite know what we were doing except that, using the Kremlin as a milestone, we found our way to Red Square which is just about a half mile from our hotel.
However, once in Red Square, we could not resist a few more looks at Lenin’s tomb and St. Basil’s cathedral which we discovered was open to the public. A fascinating rabbit warren of rooms going back to the 14th and 15th century. Walking inside one could quickly get a sense of what the atmosphere might have been like 500 years ago. And, once inside, for a minute there, it was hard figuring out how to exit.

Exhausted, we still couldn’t resist having a few more looksees. And then last night we were invited to join Paris antiquaire Benjamin Steinitz for dinner at Turandot. Now that’s a story but best saved for tomorrow when I’ve made up with a little shut-eye. In the meantime we’ll be back tomorrow with the Moscow final.
L. to r.: The lobby of the Hotel Baltschug Kempinski; Looking out at The Grand Kremlin Palace in the Kremlin while crossing the Moscow River. We noticed the Soviet era cast iron railings that line the bridge.
The Manege, the site of the Moscow World Fine Art Fair.
Clockwise from top left: A statue of WWII hero Marshall Zhukov in front of the Historical Museum just outside Red Square; The park outside the Kremlin walls; DPC and JH standing in front of Lenin's tomb; A bust of Josef Stalin behind Lenin's tomb; A captive hawk on the streets of Moscow.
A bronze statue of Minin and Pozharsky (who rallied Russia's volunteer army during the Time of Troubles and drove out the invading Polish forces) in front of the domes and spires of St. Basil's Cathedral. The cathedral was commissioned by Ivan the Terrible and built on the edge of Red Square between 1555 and 1561. Legend has it that on completion of the church the Tsar ordered the architect, Postnik Yakovlev, blinded to prevent him from ever creating anything to rival its beauty again. He did go on to build another cathedral in Vladimir despite his ocular impediment.
Rush hour traffic along the Moscow River outside the Kremlin walls.