Moscow - August 29, 2015
So I've had my day in Moscow. A little disappointing in some ways. Well, it just comes down to the fact that Red Square was rather junked up with grandstands, light towers, fences, you name it... all for a horse exhibition of some sort starting tomorrow and running for most of the month of September. A lot of the square is dedicated to a riding arena, complete with sand or whatever they use. Then of course there are the tents to house participants, judges, police, whoever. You are confined for the time being to one very narrow side of the square which is filled with souvenir and ice cream stands. So there are really no good views of anything... even St. Basil's... and so you don't get any of the feeling of the expansiveness or even of the rather incredible history of the place. Bad timing on my part.
But I did get to see the Armory where all the treasures are stored. Again, I found the dresses to be some of the most interesting exhibits... Catherine the Great's wedding and coronation dresses. Just beautiful. It's amazing that they have survived till now. Also saw all the frescoes in the gold-turreted Assumption Cathedral and even went to Lenin's tomb. I can't believe that they are still parading past this guy. Well actually, it was just me and a bunch of Chinese tourists doing the parading. A few Russian tourists, but not many. He really does look like plastic mannequin now. Just bury the poor guy! Also went to the Gum department store. It's more like a glass-covered arcade housing many stores and restaurants rather than one store. Maybe that's something new. Or maybe they are just all run by Gum, hard to say.
So I only really lasted until about 2 PM. My back is still nagging me after the bike resurrection incident and that cuts down on my walking time. So I came back early and have been working out logistics since then. I heard back from the shipper in London and his quote was a joke. The packer wants $700 just to strap the bike to a metal pallet. It was $400 in Vancouver and that was an outrage. So starting with that, and adding things like a $700 fuel surcharge, a $100 War surcharge (which War are we talking about I asked him.. he didn't know, apparently it's just a general term and a fee for fighting all things bad) and quickly we are at the G.F.Y. level. Anyway, it seems my old shipper is having an end-of-the-season sale on motorcycle shipping. It would be the lowest I have ever shipped for. Unfortunately they do not ship to Halifax and so to cut to the end of the saga, the Halifax-Kamloops ride my not happen. I'm still trying to work a few angles but may just wind up flying the bike back to Vancouver from London as I have done in the past. Guess that was my original plan anyway...the Halifax thing came about because I had time, feeling OK and the bike was running well. Plus it sounded cool. So hey, why not? Well, the shipping costs are why not.
So I'm headed off to Saint Petersburg tomorrow. Should be a two-day drive. Stopping at a resort area about halfway. Looks like a pretty lake area. My sense is that it is quite forested up there. It certainly was coming to this hotel. Yesterday I was getting deeper into Moscow and of course more and more high-rises, then turned off the main road onto the road to this place. Total surprise. Dense woodlands all around with trees arching over the road... dark and cool. Just beautiful. And right in Moscow. Who would have thought?