Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Lenin and Red Square

After all of the excitement at breakfast of learning of the death of Patriarch Alexei I headed off stupidly early to meet my friend and queue to see Lenin. For some unknown reason you can only see Lenin between 10 and 1 on certain days of the week. After we had queued and then failed to pass security as we had the audacity to try and carry cameras into Lenin’s mausoleum how exactly this was going to upset the body of a man who has been death for years I fail to see but there we go. After having to pay 60 roubles for our cameras and mobiles to be kept safe Sophie and I headed off to the mausoleum. After walking past the plaques and graves of past leaders we entered the crypt. There were what felt like a hundred guards inside pointing out the direction and making sure that no one stopped to look at Lenin for too long and to make sure no one talked or smiled. It is hard to describe how I felt seeing the body of Lenin, the man who brought about so much change, was the First Minister of the Communist Party and a man who was so beloved by the Soviet peoples that they built him a special mausoleum so that future generations could have the opportunity to see him. Part of me was in awe at the people’s love for him and part of me was thinking this is such a pointless exercise I got up stupidly early to see a corpse.
After seeing Lenin we then passed by the grave of Stalin, which was tiny in comparison and only had a few flowers placed on it. It seemed strange to us that the man who was modest about himself ended up in a bloody huge stone crypt and the man who was an ego maniac and had a cult of personality ended up in a simple grave behind the mausoleum.

Having done enough historical stuff for one day we then spent the rest of the day in Red Square watching the ice skaters then taking pictures of St. Basil’s then looking around GUM department store, while in there we went to the Bosco Sports store where a part of track suit bottoms cost about 6000 r (about £120) and a coat is upwards of 10,000r (about £240). Shocked by this we beat a hasty retreat from GUM to be cultural outside of Red Square by taking pictures of the Stalin, Lenin, Putin and Nicolai II look alikes when they weren’t looking, if they see you then you have to pay them.

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