A visit to Lenin

Moscow, Russia
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A visit to Lenin
It is hard to imagine what Russia (Soviet Union) would have been like 25 years ago. The guide books like to describe all the showy wealth and commercialism and make a joke about "Lenin mist be rolling around in his mausoleum". So we went to visit him. It ...
It is hard to imagine what Russia (Soviet Union) would have been like 25 years ago. The guide books like to describe all the showy wealth and commercialism and make a joke about "Lenin mist be rolling around in his mausoleum". So we went to visit him. It is an interesting experience. We first waited in line to enter the area, then another line to check our bag, then a slowly moving line into the mausoleum. We couldn't be too slow through, because stopping got us yelled at. We entered and first saw two young guards who simultaneously mimed "turn right" and "be quiet". (This was a rather more effective way of communicating the rules than when I visited nine years ago.) Lenin himself is laying peacefully, and still, and rather younger looking than one might imagine. It's kind of sad, really, because he wanted to be buried next to him mom. As for why he might be turning around with the state of Russia today, it must be very different. There are stores and commercialism everywhere you look. The wealthy here have a lot of opportunities to spend their money, including $1,000 sequined Hammer pants.
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Transportation
Kurskaya Railway Station
A ridiculously nice and modern bullet train, like the Acela in the US: unlike the other trains where everyone has a bed (and the upper bunk person sits on the lower in the day), this is all seats. While the other trains have a top speed of 140km/h and occasionally get near that, they average a comically slow 70; this trip to Vladimir averaged 125. It even had dual announcements in English. Passengers still brought a lot of food, but no samovar in every carriage, and there is a different feel: no one is walking around half-dressed like this is their home.
Hotels
Godzillas Hostel
This was really our first "real" hostel since San Francisco. It was much larger and professionally run than the hostels of the Russian East. The decor was nice, and there are fun warning signs saying it you don't clean up after yourself Godzilla will eat you.
Points of interest
Lenin's Mausoleum
Absolute must visit, such a presence in history and, uh, unique decision
Muzeon Park of Arts
Across from Gorky Park, a mix of displaced Soviet monuments like these as well as modern art sculpture. Many Lenins are still in public places, but they took down some of the excessive spares, as well as most of the more ambivalently remembered figures like Stalin and Brezhnev.
Ploschad' Revolyutsii
Most of the subway staions in this expansive system are very grand, particularly on the circle line - lots of marble, statues, chandeliers, stained glass and frescos. You don't have much time to admire the surroundings though because the cars usually come in less then 2 minutes.
Smotrovaya ploshchadka na Vorobyovykh gorakh
Great view of Moscow and the university building, and you can take a chairlift up to it!
Park Pobedy
A great park, hosting an outstanding World War 2 museum
All-Russian Exhibition Center
Like a Soviet Epcot, variety of pavilions with now a mishmash of content
Novodevichy Convent
Where Peter the Great sent his attempted-assassin sister and nagging first wife for life (penalties for those crimes are equal)
Kolomenskoye
One of my favorite spots in the city, a sprawling park filled with historic buildings from different periods
Restaurants
Grabli
An upscale stolovaya-style place with all the typical Russian foods--various yummy combinatons typically featuring cabbage, potato, meat mangled beyond recognition, and mayonnaise. And of course borsch. Strangely, a caged squirrel was in the entryway.
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