Our translator/driver had told us the afternoon before that walking to Red Square from our hotel was safe, it was a walk but definitely manageable so we decided to go for it. The walk was pretty much a straight shot and we were doing fine, could even see the Kremlin buildings until we came up against this...
That would be our destination in the distance, across this major road which you can see some Russians bravely crossing. This was taken during the approximately 5 seconds that the lights kept cars out of the intersection. Since it is not possible to actually make it across in that time it seems that the Russians have painted some sort of "safe" zones into the crosswalks but we were a little concerned about being stuck in the middle of the road with the pot hole dodging, NASCAR manuevering Russian drivers zipping by so we sought an alternate route. A block or two down the road we found an underground crossing which was much more to our liking. It was pretty neat actually, there were shops and stands set up all along the underground tunnel so we browsed awhile.
We finally made it across and found a seemingly random crowd of people who we soon figured out were waiting to watch the changing of the guard at what my husband tells me is Moscow's equivalent of our tomb of the unknown soldier. So we watched too and took bad pictures because everyone was trying to get pictures and well, we were at the back of the pack.
There were lots of people around, everything from school kids on field trips to tourists like us. It was pretty obvious where the entrance to the square was as that's where most of the people were headed and there was a line of souvenir stands leading up to this entranceway...
We stepped through and got our first look at Red Square.
That's GUM on the left, St. Basil's Cathedral straight ahead and Kremlin buildings off on the right along with Lenin's mausoleum though I'm not sure you can see that in this picture.
Here's a closer pic of St. Basil's but honestly no matter how good the picture, you just can't capture how beautiful a building it really is.
Here's a better one of Lenin's mausoleum. We thought about going to see him but it turned out that the building was closed the day we were there.
Our last stop that afternoon was GUM and it was well worth it.
The Russians call it a department store but in America it would be considered a high end mall. Most of the shops there sold clothing and shoes and the prices were way out of our range but it was fun to look. We also found a specialty grocery store inside and wandered through that. It was full of fresh foods and delicacies. We bought a sampling of chocolates there to bring home and share. While wandering the top level (there are 3) we found an Apple store where Erich priced ipods and other electronics but we definitely did not buy, they did turn out to be cheaper at home just in case you were wondering. We also found the food court on the top level and had some wonderful Russian pancakes. We ordered the savory variety filled with bacon, onion, and mashed potato but they had some filled with ice cream and chocolate that we might have to try if we make it back there on Trip #2.
That was about it for our adventures in Moscow that day. The trip home was much quicker than the trip out to Red Square now that we knew about the super secret underground crossings. We walked through Arbat Street again in the evening and did a little souvenir shopping which turned out to be a smart move on our part as you'll see next time.