He knows no fear!

Russia

My travels to Russia in 2014 – part 6

Today I was going to do some more sightseeing around Saint Petersburg and visit the sights of the Russian Revolution of 1917.

Finland Station, also known as the Finlyandsky station, is a train station in Saint Petersburg. The station is famously known for the arrival of Lenin by train from exile on 3rd April 1917 to start the October Revolution.

Finland Station where Lenin returned from exile in 1917.

Finland Station where Lenin returned from exile in 1917.

The event is commemorated by the Soviet statue of Lenin dominating the square in front of the station.

Lenin's Statue in front of Finland Station.

Lenin’s Statue in front of Finland Station.

Obviously times has changed now as in 2009, a bomb exploded at the statue of Lenin, creating an 80 cm-100 cm hole in the back of the statue.

Me posing in front of Lenin's statue.

Me posing in front of Lenin’s statue.

Afterwards I went over to see the Russian cruiser Aurora. At 9.45 p.m on 25th October 1917 a blank shot from her forecastle gun signaled the start of the assault on the Winter Palace, which was to be the beginning of the October Revolution.

The Aurora fired the blank shot that started the October revolution.

The Aurora fired the blank shot that started the October revolution.

It was now time for me return back to the UK and ready my troops for nuclear war and WW3… oh well so much for the Crimea peace talks!

Me wearing a Soviet army hat that I got as a souvenir.

Me wearing a Soviet army hat that I got as a souvenir.

– The End –

For more information about Russia please visit:

http://www.visitrussia.org.uk

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My travels to Russia in 2014 – part 5

For my rest of my trip to Russia I was going to fly from Moscow to Saint Petersburg.

On the plane to Saint Petersburg.

On the plane to Saint Petersburg.

It is located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea. It is Russia’s second largest city after Moscow with 5 million inhabitants.

Saint Petersburg was founded by Tsar Peter the Great in 1703.

The Bronze Horseman, monument to Peter the Great.

The Bronze Horseman, monument to Peter the Great.

The historic centre of Saint Petersburg constitute a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city has 221 museums, 2000 libraries, more than 80 theaters, 100 concert organizations, 45 galleries and exhibition halls, 62 cinemas and around 80 other cultural establishments – obviously I was not going to see all of them.

Saint Petersburg is also home to the Hermitage, one of the largest art museums in the world. It was founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great in 1764 and been opened to the public since 1852.

Me at the Hermitage.

Me at the Hermitage.

The collections occupy a large complex of six historic buildings along Palace Embankment, including the Winter Palace, a former residence of Russian emperors.

The entrance to the Winter Palace.

The entrance to the Winter Palace.

Its collections comprise over three million items including the largest collection of paintings in the world.

Next on my sightseeing was the Church of the Savior on Blood. This Church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory.

The Church is situated along the Griboedov Canal.

Construction began in 1883, work was finally completed in 1907.

Construction began in 1883, work was finally completed in 1907.

Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907.

Me admiring the domes.

Me admiring the domes.

The church never functioned as a public place of worship, having been dedicated to the memory of the assassinated tsar. The church is now one of the main tourist attractions in St. Petersburg.

Detail of the richly decorated façade and onion domes.

Detail of the richly decorated façade and onion domes.

The Church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics.

During the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted. During WW2 the church suffered significant damage. It has now been restored.

Inside the church.

Inside the church.

The next day I was going visit the sites of the Russian Revolution.

To be continued….

For more information about Russia please visit:

http://www.visitrussia.org.uk


My travels to Russia in 2014 – part 4

Today was my last day in Moscow before travelling to Saint Petersburg.

I decided to visit the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.

The newly rebuilt Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.

The newly rebuilt Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.

It is on the northern bank of the Moskva River, a few blocks southwest of the Kremlin.

The cathedral is the tallest Orthodox cathedral in the world.

The cathedral is the tallest Orthodox cathedral in the world.

With a height of 103 metres (338 ft), it is the tallest Orthodox Christian church in the world.

Me posing in front of Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.

Me posing in front of Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.

The orginal cathedral was destroyed in 1931 during the Communist rule of Stalin. The demolition was supposed to make way for a colossal Palace of the Soviets that was never built. In the 1990’s the catheral was reconstructed.

The construction of the Palace of Soviets was interrupted owing to a lack of funds and the outbreak of WW2. The flooded foundation hole remained on the site it was transformed into the world’s largest open air swimming pool, named Moskva Pool. The pool remained until 1995.

The cathedral was scene of the provocative guerrilla performance of the feminist Pussy Riots rock protest group leading to their arrest and international fame.

The cathedral was the scene of the Pussy Riots protestors.

The cathedral was the scene of the Pussy Riots protestors.

The first Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who died of heart failure in 2007, lay in state in the cathedral prior to his burial in Novodevichy Cemetery.

In the gardens to the side of the cathedral is the monumental statue of Alexander II. The Monument to Alexander II, officially called the Monument to Emperor Alexander II, the Liberator Tsar, is a memorial of Emperor Alexander II of Russia.

This monument was constructed in 2005.

This monument was constructed in 2005.

This is the second monument to Alexander II and was completed in 2005. The sight of Cathedral of Christ the Saviour of the monument was chosen in part because Alexander helped lay the foundation for the original Christ the Saviour Cathedral.

The first monument to Alexander II stood above the Kremlin’s Taynitsky Gardens and was built in 1898 but was destroyed by the Bolsheviks in 1918.

This is the second monument to Alexander II.

This is the second monument to Alexander II.

An attraction that is becoming popular with tourists is the Moscow Metro. The first line was opened in 1935.

It is popular because of the architectural design consisting of reflective marble walls, high ceilings and grandiose chandeliers.

The metro incorporated the Communist Party’s propaganda messages.

The metro incorporated the Communist Party’s propaganda messages.

Many symbols of communist ideology are on display such as statues illustrating images of war and victory.

One of the statues of the Moscow Metro.

One of the statues of the Moscow Metro.

The metro also has very long escalators as this clip shows:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0cT_oDULbI

It appeared that I had spent much of my trip to Moscow on these escalators. Mind these people in Iraq have never seen a escalator before and have no ideal how to ride one!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Anl2ooLNPU4

My last scheduled meeting with president Putin was to take place this afternoon before I travelled to Saint Petersburg for a wee city break.

At the peace talks I was offered a deal by president Putin to exchange the Crimea for the Scottish Shetland islands. After careful consideration, I accepted this proposal as this would led to peace in the Crimea and Ukraine region.

So after signing the paperwork, the Shetlands is now officially part of the Russia federation and the Crimea is now part of Scotland. Peace in our time….

After the peace talks, I went for a riverside walk in Gorky park.

During the Soviet-era Gorky Park used to host an amusement park with fun fairs and rides. Over the years the rides became decrepit, and the park was swamped with cheap attractions and cafes. In 2011 the Gorky Park underwent a major reconstruction.

The russian space shuttle.

The russian space shuttle.

One of the bizarre sights in Gorky park is a Buran space shuttle prototype, which never flew to space.

After my walk I went for a city walk to see one of the Seven Sisters. The Seven Sisters are a group of seven skyscrapers in Moscow designed in the Stalinist style.

One of the Seven Sisters.

One of the Seven Sisters.

They were built from 1947 to 1953.

Brightly lit up at night.

Brightly lit up at night.

It was getting late. Tomorrow I was to fly to Saint Petersburg.

To be continued….

For more information about Russia please visit:

http://www.visitrussia.org.uk


My travels to Russia in 2014 – part 3

For my next day in Moscow, I was going to so some sightseeing inside the Kremlin. The Kremlin is just to the west of the Red Square. The complex serves as the official residence of the President of the Russian Federation. The Kremlin together with the Red Square is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

View of the Kremlin from the Moskva River.

View of the Kremlin from the Moskva River.

Within the walls of the Kremlin are five palaces and four cathedrals.

Cannons outside one of the palaces.

Cannons outside one of the palaces.

Cathedral Square is the heart of the Kremlin.

Me in Cathedral Square.

Me in Cathedral Square.

The square is surrounded by six buildings, including three cathedrals.

One of the four cathedrals inside the Kremlin.

One of the four cathedrals inside the Kremlin.

The Ivan the Great Bell Tower with a height of 81 metres (266 ft). The bell tower today contains 22 bells. Until the Russian Revolution, it was the tallest structure in Moscow, as construction of buildings taller than that was forbidden.

Me posing next to the bell tower.

Me posing next to the bell tower.

The largest bell in the world, the Great Uspensky Bell, or the Tsar Bell, stands at the foot of the Ivan the Great Bell Tower.

The largest bell in the world, the Great Uspensky Bell.

The largest bell in the world, the Great Uspensky Bell.

It weighs 65.5 tons

My next scheduled meeting with president Putin at the peace talks went well. After giving Putin my auntie’s homemade cookies he began to open up in our discussions on peace. He said he might pull troops out of the Crimea if in exchange we can swop the Crimea in exchange for part of the UK! So that had me thinking what part of the UK do I trade for in exchange for the Crimea…. mmm…. maybe the Shetlands? I will have to phone the prime minister tonight.

After the meeting, Putin decided to take me to MacDonalds for dinner.

In 1988 McDonalds got permission from the Communist Party of Soviet Union to open its first restaurant in Soviet Russia and so in 1990 the first MacDonnalds opened up.

The best restaurant in Moscow?

The best restaurant in Moscow?

People from all over Russia wanted to visit this “pearl of the capitalism” so there were literary a mile long line of the visitors to this place.

Lots of funny writing on the menu.

Lots of funny writing on the menu.

Mind, the beefburgers doesn’t taste any better here than it does in the Western world.

To be continued….

For more information about Russia please visit:

http://www.visitrussia.org.uk


My travels to Russia in 2014 – part 2

For my second day in Moscow I was going to visit the Novodevichy Convent. This convent remained virtually intact since the 17th century and so in 2004, it was proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Novodevichy Convent is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Novodevichy Convent is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The convent was founded in 1524 by Grand Duke Vasily III to celebrate the recapture of Smolensk from the Lithuanians.

The entrance to Novodevichy Convent.

The entrance to Novodevichy Convent.

The convent was built as a fortress at a curve of the Moskva River.

A tower on the walls of the convent.

A tower on the walls of the convent.

The oldest structure in the convent is the six-pillared five-domed cathedral, dedicated to the icon Our Lady of Smolensk.

The cathedral dedicated to the Our Lady of Smolensk.

The cathedral dedicated to the Our Lady of Smolensk.

Extant documents date its construction to 1524–1525. Most scholars agree that the cathedral was rebuilt in the 1550s or 1560s.

Me posing in front of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Smolensk.

Me posing in front of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Smolensk.

In 1922, the Bolsheviks closed down the convent but the nuns returned in 1994.

The cathedral was built at the Convent's founding.

The cathedral was built at the Convent’s founding.

The domes were added a century after the cathedral construction.

One of the five domes on the cathedral.

One of the five domes on the cathedral.

In 1812, Napoleon’s army made an attempt to blow up the convent, but the nuns saved the convent from destruction.

It was a clear sunny day for my visit.

It was a clear sunny day for my visit.

Other buildings of note includes the red and white Church of the Assumption and the neighboring refectory, the soaring bell-tower and the north and south gate churches.

Other buildings in the convent includes the Church of the Assumption.

Other buildings in the convent includes the Church of the Assumption.

The bell-tower was built to a height of 72 metres (236 ft), making it the tallest structure in 18th-century Moscow (after the Ivan the Great Bell Tower in the Kremlin).

The octagonal bell-tower.

The octagonal bell-tower.

The convent is also famous for its cemetery, which is the final resting place for a number of Russian cultural and political figures, including Chekhov and Shostakovich.

The cemetery was designed by Ivan Mashkov and inaugurated in 1898.

Novodevichy Cemetery is next to the convent.

Novodevichy Cemetery is next to the convent.

Famous Russians buried here includes Borris Yeltsin (1931-2007). The first post Soviet era president.

Boris Yeltsin monument at Novodevichy Cemetery.

Boris Yeltsin monument at Novodevichy Cemetery.

Boris Yeltsin was the first freely elected President of Russia serving 1991 to 1999. He voluntarily resigned from the post in 1999, leaving the job to Putin.

After visting the convent and the cemetery I went for a walk in the park outside the convent. It was a clear sunny day but the lake was still frozen from the winter.

The lake was frozen.

The lake was frozen.

After my sightseeing I was scheduled to meet president Putin for the second round of talks in the peace confernece that I was hosting over the Ukraine crisis. After the poor start to my first meeting with the president in which he poured a jug of water over me, I decided that I need to be more diplomatic for the second round of talks. Before I flew out to Russia, my auntie gave me a tin of homemade cookies. Mmmmm….. so what if I give president Putin the homemade cookies? Maybe he would more opening with peace discussions.

So anyway, I arrived at the Kremlin (via the back door) and the peace talks began. Putin was very impressed by my auntie’s homemade cookies and he offered me a vodka. We began talking on the serious matter at hand that is the Ukraine and the Crimea crisis. President Putin said that he was not going to change his stance to a cuddly toy negotiator. Oh well…. maybe better success tomorrow with the peace talks.

To be continued….

For more information about Russia please visit:

http://www.visitrussia.org.uk


My travels to Russia in 2014 – part 1

Yesterday, I flew back from Moscow in Russia. I spent eight days in Russia as the head negotiator of a Unitied Nations peace talks to discuss the Crimea crisies with president Putin. Would he listen to the monkey? I also had time to do some sightseeing in both Moscow and Saint Petersburg.

It was cold when I flew into Moscow but not as cold as I was expecting.

Arriving at Moscow's Domodedovo Airport.

Arriving at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport.

After checking into my hotel, I headed to the Red Square.

Me at the entrance to the Red Square.

Me at the entrance to the Red Square.

The Red Square is the heart of Moscow and together with the Kremlin was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990, due to their inextricable links to Russian history.

The buildings surrounding the Square are all significant in some respect. Lenin’s Mausoleum, for example, contains the embalmed body of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, the founder of the Soviet Union.

The Red Square is the heart and soul of Russia.

The Red Square is the heart and soul of Russia.

The Red Square get its name from the Russian word красная (krasnaya) which can mean either “red” or “beautiful”. It is the latter that implies the Red Square. Many tourists falsely thinks the Red Square get its name from the red walls of the surrounding Kremlin walls.

Me in the Red Square.

Me in the Red Square.

The Red Square hosts the annual military victory day parade. Russian military vehicles are paraded through the square. Last years parade is here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjeW74XcAvc

Next on my sightseeing was to visit the Kazan Cathedral on the northeast of the Red Square. This is a reconstruction of the orginal cathedral built in the 17th century.

Kazan Cathedral was rebuilt in 1990.

Kazan Cathedral was rebuilt in 1993.

The orginal cathedral was destroyed in 1936 under orders of Stalin.

The cathedral is very pretty.

The cathedral is very pretty.

The new building is an exact copy of the orginal cathedral.

Next on my visit was the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on the walls of the Kremlin just next to the Red Square. This tomb contains the remains of unknown soldiers killed in the Battle of Moscow 1941.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is dedicated to the Soviet soldiers killed during World War II.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is dedicated to the Soviet soldiers killed during World War II.

Since 1997, a Guard of Honour of the Kremlin Regiment guards the tomb.

The changing of the guards takes place on the hour.

The changing of the guards takes place on the hour.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was unveiled to the public on May 8th 1967.

The soldiers perform their steps in synchronize steps.

The soldiers perform their movements in synchronize steps.

The changing of the guards attracts a large tourist crowd.

I then inspected the guards.

I then inspected the guards.

Next on my visit of the Red Square was Saint Basil’s Cathedral. It is no longer a church but now a museum.

The Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed, commonly known as Saint Basil's Cathedral.

The Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed, commonly known as Saint Basil’s Cathedral.

As part of the program of state atheism, the church was confiscated from the Russian Orthodox community as part of the Soviet Union’s anti-theist campaigns and has operated as a division of the State Historical Museum since 1928.

Me admiring Saint Basil's Cathedral.

Me admiring Saint Basil’s Cathedral.

After visiting the cathedral I went to the exclusive shopping mall next to the Red Square known as the Glavnyi Universalnyi Magazin (GUM). With the collapse of communism, nowadays the GUM is very exclusive and the rich and famous shop here for top end fashions and jewellery.

Glavnyi Universalnyi Magazin (GUM) known as the State Department Store.

Glavnyi Universalnyi Magazin (GUM) known as the State Department Store.

I was looking at the exclusive yellow diamonds at Tiffany and Co. I was considering getting my auntie a yellow diamond pendant. I was quoted 14,000 Euros. On my army salary I will have to save a while.

It was now getting dark and I wanted to see the Red Square at night. The colour scheme of Saint Basil’s Cathedral is best seen by night.

Saint Basil's Cathedral at night.

Saint Basil’s Cathedral at night.

After dinner, I went to the Kremlin for my first meeting with President Putin. I told him that he must not invade the Ukraine. He then pour his glass of water over my cotton fur and walked out of the conference. I have to be more diplomatic tomorrow at the next scheduled meeting.

With my failure at the first day of the peace talks, I decided to get drunk and visit a brothel.

I went to a exclusive gentlemen's club.

I went to a exclusive gentlemen’s club.

To be continued….

For more information about Russia please visit:

http://www.visitrussia.org.uk


My peace mission to Russia

Comrades, I have been selected by the United Nations to led a team of peace delegates to Moscow. I am to act as a mediator between the Russia and Ukraine in the crisies that could trigger World War 3 and nuclear apocalypse if I am to fail in my mission.

As you may be aware in recent news, Russia and Ukraine are on the brink of war over the terrain of the Crimea.

A map of Ukraine with the region of Crimea highlighted.

A map of Ukraine with the region of Crimea highlighted.

The United Nations had instructed me to negotiate a peace deal between the two countries.

Troops are being deployed.

Troops are being deployed.

I am to fly to Moscow tonight and I will have my first meeting with president Putin tomorrow in the Kremlin.

People are wanting blood!

People are wanting blood!

I am somewhat nervous but I accept this responsibility of peace negotiator.

Soldiers are forcing people to strip naked!

Soldiers are forcing people to strip naked!

I may get to do some sightseeing too and visit one of Moscow’s famous brothels! But, obviously my mission comes first.

So this afternoon, I am packing my bags for this mission.

Me packing for my trip to Moscow.

Me packing for my trip to Moscow.

Can I bring peace in our time?

Will he listen to our cuddly toy monkey peace negotiator?

Will he listen to our cuddly toy monkey peace negotiator?

To be continued….