Russia and the Baltic travel blog


Moscow to Nizny Novgorod May15

Today we did not have a lot of time before our train out of Moscow; but every day we had been looking from our hotel across the very busy street at a cluster of buildings and monuments. We figured out how to duck under the expressway and emerged on the exhibition grounds. The first thing we got close to was a soaring 100 metre high titanium sculpture with a rocket at the top of it. Carved at the base were all sorts of people who had been involved in the space program including construction workers, astronauts and Leica, the first dog in space. He looked like one of the mixed breed sled dogs we have seen in Yellowknife.

We wandered down the monumental road, through the monumental gate, towards another very large building. Behind it was a gilt-covered fountain and all around were more large unusual and imposing buildings of various styles. This is a place that tells the story of the rise and fall of the Soviet dream. Originally, created in the 1930s, the VDNKh (Exhibition of Achievements of the National Economy) was expanded in the 1950s to impress upon everyone the success of the Soviet economic system. Two km long and one km wide, the VNDKh has "wide avenues, and a huge range of architectural and and ethnic styes. Here you will find the kitchiest social realism, the most inspiring of social optimism and now, the tackiest of capitalistic consumerism".[Lonely Planet]

Our transfer to the train station was right on time and he zoomed us to the station. As we were very early, we identified our track on the notice board and then went to the palatial cafeteria to have a snack. After eating, we thought we knew where to go for the track but suddenly Andrew veered off to a window that said "disabled " travellers. Then he totally disappeared and the clock was ticking. Finally he came galloping back. He had been shown by the Assistant Station-master where our track was and it was definitely not where we thought. We could easily have missed the train!

A very nice train person helped Grammar get her bag onto the train and showed us our seat. The car was wider than a Canadian cat with three seats on one side and two on the other. Windows were very big and squeaky clean so we had a great view of the countryside and the towns we blasted through. Announcements were in English and Russian both on a notice board and through loudspeakers. Also the train ended at Nizny Novgorod; so we had no trouble getting off at the right station. A large man was waiting on the platform right where we got off the train with a sign saying: Mr Currie, Mrs Seale, Mrs Currie. He grabbed Grammar's bag and we raced after him down stairs, up stairs, along the street. With four canes among Ruth, Andrew and Grammar, it looked Biblical. Andrew decided the crippled troop were Shadrach, Mishach and Abedego with him being Abednego because of his gimpy leg. We all got giggling so much it was hard to walk.

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