27 October 2012

Dawn on the Moscow River (Рассвет на Москве-реке)

Another BB photographic failure!
As the sun rises on a clear autumn morning in Moscow, it picks out the golden domes and brilliant colours of myriad churches and the gorgeous colours of St Basil’s Cathedral and the buildings of the Kremlin. In conditions like this, it is staggeringly beautiful: but unfortunately in conditions like this I don’t care to run far. Uneven sections of pavement house extensive puddles, which in the early morning are still frozen – later in the day, every Muscovite I speak to remarks on how cold it is, and Muscovites are experts in cold, although to me it doesn't seem exceptionally so. Perhaps it is the first sub-zero day of the year, and in England too that strikes everyone as cold.

I have another reason for not running far: determined to secure photographic evidence of where my Luna sandals have taken me (six days after they took me to the end of the Abingdon Marathon), I am not wearing the most appropriate footwear for icy conditions. Although the shortcomings of Luna sandals in the insulation department are plain to see, in fact my feet do not feel cold (and that is not a matter of numbness, as I feared might be the case) so long as I keep moving. I am more concerned about slipping on ice, but they turn out to have remarkably good grip.

Unfortunately, like any big city, there are many road junctions to negotiate so a lot of standing waiting, and cold feet. Especially as the pedestrian lights operate to a strange routine: I wait at one junction while a red man signal is accompanied by a countdown which takes a minute or so (another I see later is counting down from a figure greater than 100!). Assuming that when it reaches zero it will turn green (just as a green countdown precedes a red phase) I stand and wait, but all that happens is that the numbers disappear – the red man remains, and eventually I cross warily, looking constantly to each side for for approaching traffic, especially if it be our driver to whom 120 kph on a shopping street, in the wet, seems to be acceptable.

On the bridge that offers a fantastic (literally so) view of St Basil’s, I find a lampost and low wall which enable me to snap a Blackberry photo (which I define as a photo of barely acceptable quality) with my Luna-shod feet in the foreground and the Kremlin (unfortunately I can't get the cathedral) beyond. Unfortunately it involves holding the phone down near ground level so I cannot sight it very well, but it should do the job.

I continue down the embankment alongside the canal, catching sight of the Peter the Great statue or memorial which seems to be universally reviled but which is certainly spectacular, but my efforts to get to it are thwarted as the paths and roads I am following seem to finish at Bolotnoya Square, which for reasons of recent history I am pleased to have visited anyway. I could cross the river and attack the end of the island from the area of Kropotkinskaya metro station, but these road bridges are formidable affairs which, as road bridges often do, deliver the traffic to a point some way away from the river bank – I fear I would end up near Revolution Square before I could get away from the multi-lane highway. And now I’m at a junction, waiting for the elusive green man, with a police officer standing in a little sentry box next to me ready (I am sure) to apprehend me should I infringe the incomprehensible rules. Better to head back for breakfast.

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