Here we are, in Red Square, in Moscow. We can hardly believe it! The first thing we notice is not the giant statue of Lenin or the colorful oniony domes of St. Basil's Cathedral, however, but some of the tallest, skinniest woman we've ever seen, and a floofy bride holding her now-husband's hand as they walk towards an enormous stretch limousine.
Russia so far seems to be the land of butt-exposing short shorts, skyscraper-high heels, skin-tight polyester see-through dresses, and over-the-top push-up bras. It seems as though everyone is on their way to the club, but no, they are just for walking around town!
While marveling at how the women can even walk (let alone trek around town all day) we make our way past souvenir stalls selling Soviet uniforms with the hammer and sickle on them. There are at least five tour guides shouting into megaphones in and around the square.
While resting, we observe this woman begging in front of the history museum. She wears a permanent and painful-looking grimace as she makes the sign of the cross repeatedly, bobbing her crouched body up and down.
Somewhat to our surprise, she is making a lot of money. This is a highly trafficked area and we watch as people repeatedly fish bills out of their wallets, and set them in her dish. As soon as they walk away, the woman quietly and deftly takes the bill, folds it up, and tucks it into handkerchief in her sleeve. All that's left in her dish is a bunch of small coins. The next person comes, puts a bill in her jar, and the process repeats itself.
After less than ten minutes, by Tyler's count she has collected more than 500 rubles (just under $17 USD). We later learn that she has been a regular at this spot for years, and that she must pay a portion of her collection to the mafia and the police. Crazy!
Back on the move, we want to see Lenin's preserved corpse. Unfortunately, the line to his mausoleum stretches around the block. As we try to join the queue, the police close it off. Visiting ends at 1:00, so we'll have to come back another day.
Onwards! On our left, we pass the gigantic GUM Shopping Center; I love the detailed curtain draped over the section under construction:
And then we make our way over to the bright and beautiful oniony domes of St. Basil's Cathedral:
Tourists surround the iconic building, along with even more wedding parties! I hit the jackpot with this woman, striking all sorts of ridiculous poses. I wonder if this gesture is her idea, or the photographer's. Or maybe, she about to keel over in the almost 100 degree heat.
Here is a nice couple; they wave at me happily as they pass.
Lastly, a young woman with an older man who seems to enjoy fondling her face for the camera. It all looked a bit, erm, uncomfortable.
And on that note, we head home, with eight kilometers of stick-straight walking in front of us. Navigating in Moscow has been much easier than St. Petersburg so far. After about kilometer four, having already stopped twice at McDonalds to slurp down a cold milkshake and a glass of ice water, and once at a minimarket to buy a cold beer, we tap out. The heat wins.
So, we head underground to the metro. Two stops later, we emerge and find ourselves just a few hundred meters from Evgeniy's apartment.