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so russia. it was (ahem, is) another world altogether. People from Moscow have something seriously serious about them – like they aren’t happy with their lives and are rudely shocked when someone else appears to be. It’s really expensive to get a genuine smile from them, or any kind of smile at that. It’s more likely that you will get a rude brush-off or you would be treated like a fly on the wall – best ignored or rather swatted away.

The Red Square is very red – in a brickky sort of way – and very cool. GUM – the state department store converted into a mall known better for its architectural feats than shopping, and maybe for its cute little food court, is fun – particularly when juxtaposed against the imposing Kremlin and Lenin’s tomb (which actually has a line that stretches a mile – really – to see a guy engulfed in his own doings).

The Kremlin is actually beautiful – lovely buildings, a host of architectural styles and lovely landscaped gardens. It takes a while to see it all, and it hardly seems real: that is was once the seat of global power. The city is large, very large, but the red square area is really the best part of town, particularly at night – all lit up and sparkly. You can be a real tourist and sit in front of the Kremlin and eat at a café that is a part of a huge consumerist mall. The communists would have balked, Lenin’s probably turning in his tomb….

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