Russia and beyond 2013 travel blog

Today we queued up to visit the great man Lenin in his huge granite mausoleum. Lenin died in 1924 and was embalmed following his death and has been on display for his admirers to see since that time. He did look very wax like but interesting I guess. I have seen so many dead bodies that it was not something I would have bothered to do had I not been on a tour. What I found more interesting were the number of guards there to look after him and keep an eye on the tourists. Outside, near the Kremlin wall were numerous other important graves including Stalin.

After a short city tour we arrived at Glav Pivorg Restaurant for lunch. The restaurant is in the building of the former Ministry of Foreign Affairs and had the atmosphere of the 1960-80's where many Soviets worked. The architecture was stylist with high ceilings and large windows. The colour scheme was red and green. At the entrance was a painting of the workers. Unity and for the people. We walked up an elegant staircase to the area we were to have lunch. It felt like a library and was very comfortable. We sat at table for four and had another variation of bortch. More Russian salad which must be a favourite for groups. Our guest speaker was the director of the KGB Museum. He didn't speak English but assistant translated. He told us about how information was sent through spies and about their training. It must have been hard not to even speak to your family about what you were doing. Notes could be written on paper with special ink the paper would then dissolve in a glass of water. It sounds like James Bond but now with technology all it takes is a click of a button and information is sent. The museum is currently closed but it would be fun to see it. The KGB is still very present monitoring the security of the country. One feels as though you are being watched whereever you go by either guards or cameras.

After lunch we visited the Bunker that was used by Stalin during WW11. and the Cold War. The entrance was very plain and near a rundown sports area. Behind the blue door was an interesting museum but it had once been Stalin's office. His huge conference table was amazing. It was a semi circle and placed under a dome so the speaker could speak in a normal voice and be heard with ease. The timber table had shapes like bullets as its design. In Starlin's office there was a game with pieces like chess men but there were three players and seemed like a war game. We wandered through Stalin's office and the dining room that looked like a restaurant with wine bottles and peasant style decoration. We were not told where the 70kms of underground passages were in Moscow but could see an entrance outside that was also part of the complex. No doubt the passages are still used as a security measure.

We were not able to go to the Command Post Tagansky which was an underground command post built in 1951 as they were having problems with the lift. Stalin died in 1953 and during his time as General Secretary of the Soviet Union subjected the Russian people to absolute terror.

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