Moscow, may 19 (18)

..and already wrong from the start...! The template for this page was prepared back in january and the date set because we already made our reservation for the 19th of may for the hotel in Moscow.

Upon arrival at Yaroslavski station we were on the subway in no-time, heading for VDNKh subway station for a transfer on trolleybus #76. This one takes us the 5 kilometers along Yaroslavske Chossee to our hotel Maxima. Evening rush hour in Moscow means: gridlock on all major thruways. So did our bus the first kilometer, but beyond that there was a free bus lane. We reported at the hotel at 7:30pm. Our names did not show up in the system, and two minutes later the desk clerk found out why: we showed up one day too early... Pete and I exchanged a glance and the ruble dropped finally. Shit! Of course! It is may 18 today! And not may 19! We totally overlooked the fact that long ago we made one change in the train schedule to enable us to catch the Rossija in Irkutsk, resulting in 12 hours earlier arrival in Moscow.
No worries, no panic. Never. After some puzzling and negotiating we could have the executive suite for this night, and our booked room for the remainder of the stay. Deal! WE only wanted three things (and in this order:): 1):food 2):shower 3):sleep. Suite 305 more than suited our needs. Spacious, separate office, Internet at high speed and..: A BATHTUB!! No masseuse though... After taking this package in I immediately returned to the friendly frontdesk and proposed an upgrade to this suite for our entire stay. For a surprisingly low supplement we could. Great!!!

Food OK, bath OK, sleep OK. Whát a bed! So soft! No change-of-engine in the middle of the night. A toilet that does not shake! We spoil ourselves rotten here. Goodnight!

Moscow, may 19 (really!)

7am and fully awake. Our biorhytm tells us it is 10am. We already decided to take it easy today and do ab-so-lu-te-ly nothing else than relax since the weather forecast was bad anyway..

Red Square GUM GUM Novokoesnetskaya subway station

Travelling often means a lot of friends in many places, of which Moscow is one. A lunch-date was our sole social obligation today (and not a bad one at all..) and one has to eat anyway... By trolleybus and subway downtown and had lunch in a typical offway-restaurant that a tourist never would find. Delicious! Since the weather was much better than predicted we walked back direction Red Square. Magnificent, when you turn a corner and you are face to face with the colourful domes of St. Basil cathedral.

The necessary fotoshoot, and a visit to GUM (Glavny Universal Magazin). "Glavny" means "leading" or "head". GUM is a beautiful gallery-like shopping mall, multiple-floor, impressive glass canopies.

Red Square facade GUM Paveletskaya subway station

The weather is changing, the sky is getting overcast. First drops fall. We are tired anyway and return to the hotel but via the huge supermarket next door. We will dine in our room, we are not getting out any more anyway!

Moscow, may 20

..and another blissful sleep.. The weather is promising: 27 degrees and a steel blue sky, so we are going out. On our to-do list we have: Ostankino TV tower, War Museum, Kremlin/Red Square, railway museum, VDNKh funfair. Since musea in Russia are closed on mondays (and sometimes tuesdays as well) we decided to visit the railway museum today. Not too many information on hobby-related railway activities or railway museum, but we had information about the RZD-museum adjacent to Paveletski railhead. After some pictures in the station we set out to locate the museum. Not a single sign anywhere! We located it, the entrance a bit hidden under some big trees. Appears the RZD do not really encourage visitors... The building itself is brandnew and well taken care of, but the collection is limited. Well-documented is the history of Russian railways. Some rail-artefacts but real rolling stock is absent, besides the class U steam engine. Nice, but not what we expected...

Paveletski voksal U127 in Paveletski museum

When we went for the exit we engaged in a conversation with a friendly lady who gave us the golden hint: the museum has another location next to Rizhkii railway station, which houses the rolling stock collection. What fun: Rizhkii is on our subway line to the hotel... If only we knew... We doubled back on the subway to Prospekt Mira and, again after some searching since signs were non-existent, we located the museum. Entry fee R150 and an additional R200 for making pictures and video. (this is common practice in Russian musea: you pay a supplement if you wish to make pictures)

Train interiors through time Rizhskii museum entrance EMU ER22

This is what we were looking for! A magnificent collection of rolling stock, placed alongside two well-accessible platforms. Making pictures is a bit complicated since the units are not really spaced, more buffer-to-buffer, and the position of the sun is not favorable. The museum is open from 10am till 4pm and it is advisable to be there at 10am sharp since the solar position is best for pics. There is an optional excursion on a steamtrain, taking approx. 2 hours. Not operated every day and clear information was not at hand. We suspect this is a weekend event, and only during spring and summer.
The museum has no website, but a British site about the Rizhkii Railway Museum might help out.

We spent almost three hours here and had a good time. Interesting fact is that already electric locomotives are added to the collection that are still in active service like class ChS4, ChS2K, VL10. The overall state of the stock is average and in several cases it is the paint that holds the unit together. Having a history in ancient electric locomotives as technical coordinator of Werkgroep 1501 I was more interested in the inner parts and the electric equipment, but the units could not be visited. What I could see through the windows is that most interior is gone. Only static objects, so to speak. Will never be able to run under own power, unlike our collection.

We conclude that a train aficionado can spend a nice day here, especially when the sun comes out... No cafeteria, no playground, just trains. Below a glossary without captions. Should you like to need specifics, mail us and we get back to you. The data on most displayed units are in our possession.

And now the question for the big prize:
The class-indication of the older types of electric locomotives starts always with "VL". Why is that?

VL8-1694 VL23-131 ..Ostankino TV tower: tomorrow EMU ER200 (200 km/h)
served Moscow-St.Petersburg
ChS3 (Skoda) steam engine class L, nr 2342 EMU ER9p-132 VL10-098
class ChS2k eloc EP200 (250 km/u) carriage WLABm
class P TE2 diesel TE3 diesel 2TE10L diesel
TEP60-1200 diesel
(160 km/u, 3000 hp)
ChS4 TE7 diesel
TEP10 TEM2 nd VL22 class SU nr 214-10 two little boys
in a candy-store

After leaving the museum we returned to the Kremlin and the Pokrovski cathedral (also known as St. Basil) because yesterday the natural light was not optimum for perfect pictures. Today more than optimum, but since it is sunday it will most likely be crowded. Another drawback: the Red Square was not accessible for public and fenced off because of construction works going on for some kind of huge podium. Fortunately we made our pics yesterday...

Another picture galley without captions. We assume most visitors will recognize the Kremlin and its red wall, and the colourful domes of Pokrovski cathedral...

lock your love and dump the key.. Kremlin Kremlin
Kazan cathedral Kremlin Kremlin Kremlin
Kremlin Kremlin Eternal flame.. well guarded
Kremlevskii Proezd Pokrovski cathedral

5pm and hot... Sweat sloshing in our shoes...
Time to head back north to our hotel, do some shopping and empty a few beers. Poka!

Moscow, may 21

Finally the day arrived: the one that is different than the other ones. We start to get exhausted after five weeks on the road. I already started to wonder where the energy came from that enabled us to go for it every day...
The world around us contributes to our suspicions and makes things go wrong. We set off for the Ostankino TV tower early since prediction for today is hot and humid. Already at 9am it was 27 degrees...

The TV tower is 540 meter tall and visible from our hotel. It meets all the conditions for my list so it had to be scaled. When we arrived to the location we could not find the entrance since even the description was misleading. We seriously start to suspect Russians really do NOT want visitors to their attractions...

Cosmonaut museum Ostankino TV-tower (540 m) Ostankino church Monument for the field workers

When we finally made it to the entrance (after having missed the ticket window..) we were stopped by a seedy, wanna-be cop security man who pointed back to a building across the field. There we found out that in order to be admitted to the tower it was mandatory to hand in your passport, buy a ticket for the next available tour and sit down and wait... We clearly did not feel like this procedure, even more because our passports were back in the hotel safe. I am not going to die if I cannot add this tower to my list and I can do it next time I am here. Take your tower and put it where the sun doesn't... There are more high locations in Moscow...

Sightseeing on a dedicated bus is possible but you will most likely be surrounded by tourists and the inevitable explanations. A relaxed way is to select a local tram, bus or trolleybus that runs a long line. We selected tramline 17 from Ostankino to Medvedkovo terminal. We assumed this would be our subwayterminal as well, since we knew that our subway terminated at Medvedkovo. It turned out that subwayterminal and tramterminal were still a mile apart... Outside temperature 30C? Forget it. We returned on tram 17 to VNDKh-node. The funfair was on the list as well.. The ferris wheel has the summit on 73 meters. By far no match for the TV-tower but better than nothing.

Ferris wheel in VDNkh (73 m) ... ... ...

Pete spotted a few Ho-scale trainmodels in the RZD-museum and was set on acquiring a model of a Rossija-carriage and a ChS7-locomotive. He is a fervent collector and does not have any Russian models yet. We found out there should be a model-train shop close to Prospekt Mira subway. We went there, only to discover they do not have any Russian models for sale. Bizarre: in Moscow we can buy DMU-models of small Dutch private operator Syntus, but not a single model of worlds' largest railway operator...

Back to the hotel. Temperature rose to 33C, walking getting more and more difficult. Sprained an ankle in the subway yesterday and it now really starts to bother. Our energy is drained as well. The only things that would be nice now are shower, shadow, cold beer and a Panther...
No shower: water cut in the hotel due to works. See? Nothing works for us today... We do not mind too much. The party is over. One more day tomorrow we are going to take easy since Pete is travelling to Amsterdam tomorrow and needs to prepare and charge.

..1pm.. Tram 17 to Medvedkovo ..evening rush hour

Cold beer and Panther were OK, in the shadow under a tree next to the hotel... Za zdorovhje!

Moscow, may 22

Again a deep and long night sleep. It proves we are out of energy. The temperature at 7am already is 24 degrees, not ideal for much action.

Prigorodnii (suburban) train VL10u-040 Train from West-Europe, containing
Amsterdam-origin carriage..
..inspected on entry of Belorusskaya

Pete set out early to Belorusskaya station to make pictures of the train from West-Europe, which also takes the cars from Amsterdam. He is going to return with these tonite to Amsterdam. We reunited at Kievskaya subway station for our last two missions of Moscow: to visit a few of the most beautiful subway stations, and to visit the Museum of the Great Patriottic War (1941-1945).

"Pobeda Park" being dressed up
(Pobeda means victory)
The obelisk in front of the museum Central hall Stalin

In front of the museum stands a 142-meter high, sculpted obelisk. 10 centimeter for each day the Great Patriottic War lasted. Neither of us are true-blood museum goers, but this museum is an exception. Not only for the impressive collection and the six impressive diaramas, but for the structure of the museum itself as well. We sat speechless in the central " Hall of Glory " for half an hour, taking in the walls and ceiling. This is so overpowering! The purpose of the Hall of Glory is described on a table which can be found in one of the images below.

Diarama Red Square Diarama Stalingrad Veteran explains to
school class
Diarama Berlin

The museum houses a huge collection of vehicles and arms outside but that we keep for next time. It really is too hot now at 35 degrees and no wind, and we want to take a rest as well.

Of the seven subway stations we selected we only managed 4 which we could visit without too much changes of lines. Moscow metro is, for me, the most beautiful in the world when it comes to the architecture of many stations. Many stations in the city centre are works of art. Frescos, marble, sculptures, colourful illumination. Making pictures is difficult, partly because of light conditions, partly because of ever-passing crowds making long-exposure pics impossible. Just go there and see...

Diarama Berlin Hall of Glory Hall of Glory Hall of Glory

The lay-out of the subway network is effective: one central loop in the centre, with radials extending in all suburbs in all directions at all stops along the loop. Navigating is easy enough, even if you do not read Cyrillic. Just remember the name and color of the line you need and the name of the terminus on that line and you just follow name and color.

has nice mosaics
Revolution Square
(everyone strokes the dogs' muzzle..)

Back to our VDNKh subway and change on bus 903 to our street. We should have known before! Bus 903 is an express service, skipping many stops and overtaking several slow-going trolleybuses #76. It only took us 10 minutes to get to Yaroslavske Chossee 44/2, being our hote. A final round of shopping in the NASH-mall (NASH is Russian for "us") and stocking up for travelling...

Short lecture on the system of addresses in Russia (and former USSR-nations): each building along a street, boulevard or road has building number ("dom"), and if that building is divided in offices, houses or any other subsector, that section has a unique sequential number (in case of residential buildings it is called "kwartira", meaning quarter.). If a new building is erected between existing numbers, it will be numbered with a suffix. For example: 58A is a new building between existing Dom 58 and Dom 59. You can imagine with all the constructions going on it is going to get more and more complicated...

Subway station Pobedy Park.. ..modern and quiet.. ..because outside the centre loop Mayakovskaya

Our common adventure ends here and now after 5 weeks. I regret I am flying back tomorrow instead of continuing by train with Pete but this decision was based on insights related to work that were valid back in January when we booked.
It is going to be weird for both of us when we wake up tomorrow and have breakfast alone. But most of all we are going to miss our legendary one-liner we threw back and forth every time we visited another must-see or enjoyed a good meal:

"I do NOT enjoy this at all, I only do it to please YOU !!!"

Back to START Continuation Onno

Continuation Peter

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