Tour Guide - Itinerary

Russia Scandinavia 1981

Started 13/07/1981 Finished 10/08/198129 Days ITINERARY

Day 20 date 01/08/1981MOSCOW to GORKY STREET, MOSCOW, RUSSIA

↑ Day 19 ↓ Day 21





At the Bolshoi Theatre and folk theatres in Moscow, we made every attempt to use the Russian rubles from the sales of Levi jeans on the black market. The Levi jeans swap was customary practice on Russian trips, and our Courier Carmel Smith and Mark Bannerman took nice snaps of themselves in our double Decker with the jeans and new Levi tags on them.

We ate the best caviar and drank the best vodka, beer, Georgian wine and champanski, but we couldn’t make decent inroads into our piles of rubles. The Soviet Union wasn’t brimming with shops and shopping centres, so we headed to GUM ("Main Universal Store"), the main department store in Moscow (and many other cities of the Soviet Union).

The most famous and best GUM in Russia is the large store facing Red Square.

Catherine the Great commissioned a Neoclassical architect from Italy to design the first building, a huge trade centre along the east side of Red Square. However, that building was lost to the 1812 Fire of Moscow, which started just as Napoleon was occupying Moscow.

The French invasion of Russia, known in Russia as the Patriotic War of 1812, was begun by Napoleon to force Russia back into the Continental blockade of the United Kingdom.

On 24 June 1812, the first wave of the Grande Armée crossed the border into Russia with around 400,000–450,000 soldiers. The opposing Russian forces amounted to around 180,000–200,000.

Through a series of long forced marches, Napoleon pushed his army through Western Russia in an attempt to destroy the retreating Russian Army. Under its new Commander in Chief Mikhail Kutuzov, the Russian Army continued to retreat employing attrition warfare against Napoleon, forcing the invaders to rely on a supply system that was incapable of feeding their large army.

On 7 September, Kutuzov with around 110,000 men fought Napoleon with around 130,000 men in the Battle of Borodino, seventy miles west of Moscow, that resulted in a French victory. The Russian Army withdrew to the south of Moscow.

On 14 September, Napoleon and his army of about 100,000 men occupied Moscow, only to find it abandoned, and the city was soon ablaze. Napoleon stayed in Moscow for 5 weeks, waiting for a peace offer that never came.

Most of Napoleon’s Grande Armee was decimated on the march back out of Russia from Moscow. Napoleon’s artillery is mostly still in the Arsenal in the Kremlin, which contains 875 of Napoleon’s guns as trophies captured from Napoleon’s Grande Armee.

Lack of food for the men and fodder for the horses, hypothermia from the bitter cold, and guerilla warfare from Russian peasants and Cossacks, led to great French losses. Only around 10,000 soldiers of Napoleon’s invading army survived.

No invader has occupied Moscow since Napoleon, not even Hitler’s army.

With a façade extending for 242 m along the eastern side of Red Square, Catherine’s trade centre was rebuilt after the 1812 fire. The Upper Trading Rows were built between 1890 and 1893, featuring a combination of elements of Russian medieval architecture and a steel framework and glass roof.

The GUM Department store was the best shopping in Russia, with Russian dolls and chess sets being the highlights.

Chess was also popular in Gorky Park, where everyone played chess. It seemed that current and past world chess champions would play anyone who was game, often with large crowds watching, between their own chess games.

↑ Day 19 ↓ Day 21

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