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Update: Fri 19:45

I would say I gambolled down the hill to the Kremlin but I'm getting on a bit so it was more of an enthusiastic stagger. At the bottom I was faced with the first hurdle, how to cross the road. At least this was something of a minnow, the ring road up the other way is eight lanes each direction. Great fun last night at c. 9pm as you blast across the tarmac until you realised you couldn't quite remember where your U-turn was. Anyway, you have to use a subway which is also the Metro station so you have to make sure you actually cross the road rather than catch a train.

I wandered further round than the northern entrance to Red Square to see the "stunning art nouveau" Hotel Metropole -- quoted from the LP, of course. It's OK. It is opposite the Bolshoi Theatre, not that you'd know it if you were walking past. I didn't see a single sign and just presumed the large pretty building with the horse chariot bursting out over the front colonnade was it. Though that was where the LP said it was (helpfully not marked on its map) so it could be anywhere.

I then trotted into Red Square which is somewhat smaller than I expected (isn't everything?) and took the usual photos. Lenin's tomb is closed on Fridays and the all important heroes of the revolution tombs are fenced off from nosey tourists. Fenced off a little too far for my eyes to identify GH's great great grandfather's grave.

So I beckoned a guard over and asked if it was possible to see the graves. Tour tomorrow 10 o'clock, he rather helpfully replied. No, no, not Lenin's tomb, those over there, I said pointing at the wall. Kremlin? No, the heroes of the revolution. Tour tomorrow at 10. Hmm, OK. Re-reading the LP it does suggest that after visiting Lenin (tomorrow's job) you can inspect the graves of the high and mighty. They did have the gardeners in keeping it all spick and span so maybe tomorrow I can check up on things. No pictures though as it's immediately post-Lenin and pictures of the old boy are prohibited.

I trotted about taking pictures in amongst the throngs of wedding parties braving the chill wind blowing through. The brides seemed to be toughing it out (perhaps they were all in rapturous mood) the ladies of the groups huddling in coats until the photographer yelled "Cheese!" (in Russian).

I went to buy tickets for the Kremlin and the Armoury (state jewellery collection) to find that prices had broadly doubled since the LP was published. (At least this edition isn't brazen enough to claim to be 100% updated.) I plumped for just the Armoury for 700R and whisked myself back to the entrance and to the end of a long queue.

Inside the audioguide was free, which was handy as there was no sign of any other kind of guide. I was required to put my jacket in the cloakroom but they refused to put my bag with it. This is Russia where I've learned that things are a little unexpected.

The collection has a lot of gold and silver stuff, the sort of things the ordinary man never gets to see and had he been so informed might be rather displeased to see his tax roubles spent on. Early days saw a lot of finely wrought bible covers (only ever seen by the top men in the church) before the ruling families decided that it would be much better to turn those giant nuggets of gold into enormous soup ladels and other key goods designed to keep the economy going.

They have some Faberge eggs which are slightly less impressive than the secret gifts contained within which were often exquisitely carved/created objects -- a train set, ships, animals. Then a large section on all the elaborately (baroque) decorated platters, jugs, incense burners etc. that ambassadors were obliged to donate to the royal family on a regular basis.

Oh and they throw in a few suits of armour and guns (although a large number of them were from abroad -- Iran and Turkey for some reason) just to pretend it has something to do with an Armoury.

Interesting but not nearly as opulent in terms of sheer bling as the Iranian museum ("lets put some glue on the handle of this fork and roll it in diamonds and other gems, yup, that looks good, do the same for the entire dinner service").

So that was a useful diversion out of the wind (and another $23 -- I might suggest that rather than the institutionalised stopping by the natives I have taken on some institutionalised giving away of my money).

Much more importantly I've ID'd a spot next the the GUM (big department store on one side of Red Square) where I should be able to roll up on Sunday morning on my way out and grab a picture of the bike with Lenin' tomb in the background across the square. Of course, that requires navigating across Moscow into what is clearly a one-way system and then not getting hassled by the police for stopping -- though they must be used to it. Should be fun.

I've come back to the hostel for a cup of coffee and to scribble this update. The hostel woman seems to take pity on me and fed me three fudge sweets early on and as I type has rustled up a pasty and a beer! You want a beer? I'm OK thanks. No, no, a gift! Well, OK, then! Top!

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