Here we are in this mid-autumn afternoon finally arrived in the magnificent Red Square on the east side of the Kremlin Palace, the sun that is setting over the crenellated walls of the castle and its gothic Spasskaya Tower whose clock is ringing. Everything around us is full of history, art and majesty.
If you have arrived you also means that you have done your homework as a good tourist by having a visa at the Russian embassy in your country, a procedure that will not be easy, given the complexity of the documents requested. But now the visa shows off in your passport so you’ve managed to gain access to Russia.
We are in Moscow. It is certainly not like experimenting Russia with the exterminating spaces that unite Eastern Europe with the Far East, a melting pot of different races and a country with the largest surface in the world. But it is still your first experience in this land.
Moscow, however, is the gigantic monumental capital of one of the oldest states and has most played a part in the recent history of mankind, at least in the last three hundred years. Moscow is the access for all of us to a dimension of the experience of the world that could not be done otherwise.
150 million people live in the boundless Country of which Moscow is the Capital, enclosed in 5 time zones and two continents, the Country with the greatest geographical extension to the world and the endless natural resources and which contains the most potentially strong economic structure in the world. This is a Giant that sleeps and that is slowly waking up.
If we do not reach Moscow for the first time, we can not find the key to this world new for us “Westerners”, made of history, human and cultural experiences, socio-economic awareness, and then exterminated nature and spaces. Like entering the antechamber of a palace with many rooms to be discovered.
Therefore Moscow means mystery and research of new keys to the reading of the world and of history. On this Red Square where you find yourselves were victorious and defeated sovereigns, processions of prelates, deluded armies, invincible armies which fortunately never entered into action and workers demonstrating for their rights. Where you are, the story has always passed powerfully and continues to hover. Why needless to say, Russia is the most powerful nation with the greatest economic potential in the world.
Before this trip, you had ideas and preconceptions about Russia given by having lived for many years in the West. But according to the ideas of this blog trying to go beyond our pre-established mental formats, you realise that, as each person can see positive and negative sides, even in this country you risk losing the many positives focusing only on the defects.
But Moscow has grown too fast especially in the last twenty years and not all that glitters is gold. Along the road that brought you to the Red Square you have met an incredible level of traffic on the gigantic 7-lane highways and the silhouettes of gigantic buildings where thousands of people live in silent hives. And among the people you met who live in these suburbs, depression and resignation reign. None of them will be able to participate in the benefits of this economic explosion because they are like the obscure stokers of the transatlantic who sailed the seas in the nineteenth century and they are needed only to move the Giant we were talking about.
So much history has passed on the Red Square. The images that are most vivid in my historical memory are those of the soldiers of Napoleon’s Grand Army who arrived there occupying the Kremlin Palace but that after a few days had to abandon it having finished the provisions that had been taken away by the inhabitants. Or those of the Red Army parades in front of Lenin’s Mausoleum in front of the hierarchy of the Communist Party.
Traces of the history of this city can be found in the Kremlin museums or in the History Museum on the Red Square. If you are also lucky enough to visit them with a kind local guide the visit will be even more appreciated!
Needless to say, this country will be back on these pages in the coming months hoping I will be able to document the other features and possibly the evocative corners of this majestic Capital.
Our first experience in Moscow, however, could not but conclude with experimenting the Russian cuisine in a typical traditional restaurant, an experience that will leave us pleasantly surprised. My menu of the day is obviously made of “Russian salad”, then the traditional beetroot soup of eastern Europe Borscht, “Vareniki” stuffed pasta rolls and chocolate pancakes as dessert, all wet from the traditional cherry lemonad. Delicious!
All around us the place exudes Russia, the skis shoes, the mural painting with Yuri Gagarin, the CRT TV and the old refrigerators that have to populate the past and the experiences of most of these 150 million stokers who keep the Mother Russia moving. People who will not participate in the success of this huge Giant and that day after day will be consumed in traffic, with almost no hopes for a better future and to whom we wish good luck while we redo suitcases to return to our world of security and illusions.
“Dasvidania” and “spasibo” for your attention!