Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Victory Day at Poklannoya Gora

On Wednesday 9th May, Victory Day, we travelled in convoy to Poklannoya Gora, the site of Victory Park. In period uniform and vintage vehicles, members of the 13th Guards and of Club Divizion proved popular with visitors to the park, so much so that many of our party missed out on looking around the Museum of the "Great Patriotic War" [WW2]. There was a ceremony, flowers and wreaths were laid at the eternal flame, and there was international TV coverage including one of our party, Scott, being interviewed for Russain tv. Traditionally, red carnations are laid, but only in multiples of 2.

On Victory Day the park becomes the centre of Moscow's celebrations, and as many of the remaining veterans and survivors as can do so make there way there, along with scores of the younger generations. In Russia the emphasis is on celebration rather than remembrance, and this is one of the most popular public holidays. We were honoured to be a part of this day with our new Russian friends.

Inside the Museum, at the end of a long Hall of Remembrance where books of remembrance containing the 26,000,000 names of the war dead are housed in glass cases, stands a statue of a mother and her dead son in a circular room. Along the hall and in that room there hang from the ceiling fine chains, some with a crystal teardrop attached, one for every day of the war - 1,418. I was impressed by the ways in which the enormity of the war's duration and the extreme loss of life were represented.

The museum is vast. A number of our party returned a few days later to have a proper look around.

 Many many Russians wanted to have their photograph taken with re-enactors.

 There was a performance of traditional balalika playing.

A stranger smiles - he paused while I was taking a photograph and smiled back when I smiled to thank him. A smile is the same in any language.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

A trip into Moscow

I would have liked to spend an entire day just on the Metro stations, they are something to behold, but as part of a group, with my photography nowhere near the top of the agenda, I had to grab the shots I could without getting separated from the group and lost with no Russian words apart from thank you and goodbye!

I became adept at changing lenses more swiftly. These are taken with a 10-20mm wide angle lens. In the black & white one, I am standing in front of a huge statue - the one in the picture below, above the mouth of the tunnel.

There was disappointment at the market because some stalls were closed due to anti-Putin protests (no evidence of which we saw) and a large number of militaria stalls were closed.

After the market, we experienced another extreme of shopping experiences on a street in a different part of the city. By this time, the sun had gone and it was raining quite heavily. 

Brian does a quick rendition of Gene Kelly's most famous routine!

 Architectural details.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Kubinka Tank Museum, Moscow

The nicest bunch of Tank Anoraks I have ever met - a day spent at Kubinka Tank Museum was a highlight of our visit to Moscow. 

Playing with a new toy in a puddle.

 I was interested to see this visitor recording video clips of tanks on his iPad. Note also the two youngsters with their phones, ignoring the tanks!

Friday, 1 June 2012

Red Square, Moscow

This is one of my favourite shots from Sunday morning's Dress Rehearsal of the Victory Day parade which would take place a few days later in the presence of Putin et al. Even without the main officials in attendance security was high, with numerous checking of passports and official tickets.

 Troops had been standing in the heat for a long time before we arrived. The military band was 1,100 men, each block of troops was 400 we think, but we didn't keep count of how many of those marched by! I read later that 14,000 troops took part.

 There was a silence of several minutes at the point where Putin would make a speech. I would not have understood it, I was thrilled to be there regardless - I never expected to be in Red Square in my lifetime, but we were there, my son and I.

Intercontinental Ballistic Missile.

After the parade we stood in the middle of Red Square in awe and wonder at what we had just witnessed. It would have been worth the exhausting travelling and the stress of getting our visas for this morning alone!
There was more to come.

Early in the morning, at the airport...

 We got up at 3am and left at 4 to drive to the airport. 

The adventure began - a week in Moscow staying with real Russian re-enactors.

We didn't know what to expect, but we did know that Red Square would be Sunday's major event.

A turbo prop!

Overnight stay

Jodie was very keen to take part in an overnight adventure with school at the end of April. I think she started packing about a week in advance!

Jodie and Blue

Jodie has been riding since she was 7, over half her life. Just. Ownership is costly, but she's learning life skills and life lessons...