1 Try if at all possible to be...
1 Try if at all possible to be first in the line when meeting passport control in Moscow. When I arrived only one of five passport check points was opened. My airplane seat was at the back of the plane and it took over one hour and a half for me to be put through after everyone else. Typical! Therefore when checking in at your home airport ask for a seat near the front and 'run' for that checkout!
To get the best look at...
To get the best look at Moscow, spend a few days walking or taking public transportation around the city's neighborhoods. Especially in the center of the city, there are some wonderful historical areas that are best appreciated on foot or from the window of a slow-moving bus or tram. One excellent route to explore is the streets just off the Boulevard Ring. This is a circular road that passes through the prettiest of Moscow's old neighborhoods, such as Patriarch's Ponds (a must for Master and Margarita fans). Farther out, the streets get wider and the buildings more massive and imposing, such as those on Kutuzovskiy Prospekt, which travels east from the outer end of Noviy Arbat: these sections date from the early and middle Soviet periods. Still further on, you hit the rather hideous bedroom communities of Moscow that were built in the 1970s and 1980s: worth a look, if only to marvel at the utter disregard Soviet planners had for the people who would have to live in these places.
I'm including here a link to a quirky, yet interesting page on Moscow Tram Routes--while you don't have to take a tram, this page is an excellent photo archive of Moscow's streets and neighborhoods.
The symbol of the power of the Russian army
THE TSAR CANNON (Kremlin)
Only the most desperate patriot would call the Tsar Cannon a symbol of the power of the Russian army.
Nowadays, probably only the most desperate patriot would call the Tsar Cannon a symbol of the power of the Russian army (perhaps adding the former). The problems of the Russian army, of course, bear no relation to this outstanding monument of Russian cast-iron art and in no way diminish its artistic and historical value.
The artist who created the Tsar Cannon was called Andrei Chokhov. Not much is known about him. He started as a caster in Ivan Groznys court, and later headed the school of casting art at the Moscow Cannon Yard. Once, before casting an old bell he the royal family bestowed him with 15 arshins of expensive cloth made from 40 martens (each cost 12 roubles).
The Tsar Cannon was cast in 1586 on the order of His Majesty Fyodor Ivanovich. Its dimensions even by these days standards are incredible: length 5 metres, diameter of the barrel 120cm., calibre 890mm., and weight 39 312kg.
Andrei Chokhov had created the largest cannon on the world. It was never, however, used in battle and became a work of art. In the old days it was called the Russian shot-gun, despite the fact that Chokhov called his creation a cannon, as can be read on the inscription moulded on it. Historians have solved the mystery of the dual name in order to fire it, it was necessary to use a crusher (case-shot) like in a shot-gun and so the second name came to be.
In actual fact, the shots, beautifully set up next to the cannon, are not at all connected with it. They are ornamental and were cast a whole 250 years later in 1835 in St. Petersburg.
At the end of the 16th century the Rus overcame the tartars. In 1591 when the troops of Kaza-Girei were approaching Moscow, the Tsar Cannon was positioned at Kitai-Gorod, on Red Square by the place of execution. It was supposed to defend the main gates to the Kremlin and the crossing over the Moskva River. In 1702 Peter the First issued a decree about the construction of the Tseikhgauz a depository for weapons and trophies built on Kremlin territory and later called the Arsenal.
The Tsar Cannon was moved to the Kremlin with the help of log rollers. It was placed on a wooden gun-carriage, which was burnt in 1812, when the French army retreated from Moscow and the Arsenal was part destroyed.
A new iron carriage was acquired in 1835 for all of 1400 roubles, made by the contractor Mikhail Vasilyev.
The story does not end here. In 1843 it was moved to the Armoury and put to rest for almost 120 years. In 1960 when the Kremlin Palace was being built, the Armoury was sorted out and the cannon was returned to the Arsenal.
It was then moved to its place by the Cathedral of the Twelve Apostles on Ivanovskaya Square, where it stands today.
The historian Tromonin called the Tsar Cannon the Moscows first wonder. It is miraculous not only due to its dimensions, dark beauty, and age, but also because during the 400 or so years existence of the battle (!) cannon, it never killed one person. Now, it's truly worth admiring a weapon like that.
Georgian Food Part I
Because Russian food can be quite bland, they sometimes like to eat Georgian food. Although not spicy by our standards, it is more lively than most Russian cuisine. Shown here in this picture are some common Georgian dishes. One is a simple loaf of bread, long and rounded low. The dominant dish, is a kind of flat bread stuffed with cheese and spices, called Hatchipouri. The last dish, whose true name escapes me, was made of mushrooms stuffed with fresh cheese and mixed with some kind of sauce. It was excellent. Notice I'm holding a glass of red wine, uniquely served cool, because Georgia is a warm climate. The wine was excellent and easy to drink once you got used too the idea of drinking red wine cool.
Packing list for Moscow in November
Bring a waterproof rucksack if you intend to walk around a lot.
A money belt or neck purse - recommendably a waterproof one. With temperatures around or below freezing I would recommend bringing:
Sturdy shoes with lots of grip (the pavements may be rather slippery!)
An umbrella (is might rain or snow - especially useful if it is sleeting)
A scarf (Moscow can be pretty windy)
A thick coat (ideally something like a thick waterproof anorak)
Sunglasses - if the sun comes out on the snow you can struggle without them! NeoCitran - if you think you are coming down with a cold but want to keep on going! You might need more sets of batteries for your camera - as the temperatures plummet so can battery life.