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The Bolshoy Kamenny Bridge over the Moscow River

The Bolshoy Kamenny Bridge over the Moscow River

Bleak. Cheerless. Gloomy. Darkly intimidating.

As a boy, growing up in cold-war America, that’s what I knew of Russia. That and the bomb shelters where we were all going to live when Khrushchev quit pounding his shoe on the podium and began pressing buttons.

Imagine, then, my surprise when I arrived in Moscow and found a city of rampant capitalism and sublime beauty. Google rather than gulags. Lamborghinis rather than Ladas. Marks and Spencer rather than Marx and Lenin. And all around, a city as beautiful as any I’ve seen. This is the Moscow in which we have been living for the past four days.

We have been housed aboard the ship, docked in the Moscow Canal. Viking provides buses into Red Square every day, along with tours and concerts should we desire them. We’ll leave Moscow later today, headed downriver for St. Petersburg.

It’s those trips to Red Square that have astounded me. Red Square, after all, is the place where goose-stepping soldiers and lurking missiles used to parade, filling our 21-inch screens with fear and loathing of the Communist regime. Today, Red Square is packed with tourists, pickpockets, and kiosks selling fur caps. The closest thing to a weapon here is a selfie stick (and there are plenty of those).

And so, with this post, I present a few pictures of Red Square as it appears today. St. Basil’s Cathedral and the Kremlin wall, Iverskaya Chapel and the Resurrection Gate, Lenin’s Tomb and — I’m sure you’ll hear more about this when Louise takes the reins — the colossal GUM department store.

(Click to enlarge)