We took a walk the other day to Red Square and the famous Gum shopping centre. This is a grand old building built in about 1893, although is has been a building of some kind longer than that. You make your way over to Red Square on foot after passing through an archway. To your right is Lenin, who lies in his coffin, pickled and preserved for tourists to see. I am not sure if it really is his body or a wax dummy? He is worth seeing, if only to say your friends that have seen 'Lenin'. Be quick as there is talk of removing him from his current home to Disneyland Paris.
Entering Red Square, you feel as if you are on a movie set. We have all seen Red Square countless times on TV news reports as it seems to be the main point for all news journalists to report from. It is seen as a reference point or stereotype for Russia, Red Square is 'Russia' to the worlds media: 'this is Tom Manly, CNN, Moscow, back to you in the studio Brad'.
Red Square, was once the setting of spectacular parades of military strength, unseen and unmatched across the world. Sadly no more. Red Square is just another square, in another city for Japanese coach trips and for other tourists. However, you still get a feeling of history and a sense of the past. No trip to Moscow would be complete without a visit to Red Square. Despite my jaded description, I recommend seeing it if you visit Moscow, it is beautiful and soaked in history. Visiting Red Square is a bit like any tourist must see place, from Big Ben in London to The Eiffel Tower, you cannot leave the country without seeing them.
The Gum shopping centre, or as Americans call it a shopping 'mall' is also worth seeing. It's a beautiful arcade with high ceilings and arches on several floors. I can only describe as a kind Fortnum & Masons of Moscow. A grand old lady, who has seen it all and lived through good times and bad in Russia's colourful and controversial history. Inside, you will be spoiled for choice in luxury goods and brands. There are luxury food markets (supermarkets) selling international luxury brands, wines, fine cheeses and other foods.
The arcade has many clothes shops and perfume shops. You will need a full wallet or a generous Visa or Master card to go shopping at the Gum. However, you don't need to buy anything and frankly why waste your money? Have a look at it just to enjoy the architecture, history and atmosphere. Have a walk through the Gum, enjoy looking in the shop windows and have a coffee. People watch and window shop, look at the Olga's and Sacha's as they peruse the shops, laden down with classy paper bags containing their new perfumes and shoes, Russian's love brands. Have a look at the foods maybe even buy some biscuits or chocolates as a souvenir for mum or dad .
A walk through the Gum and a stroll around Red Square, is the perfect way to spend a few hours on a spring Sunday afternoon. However, the best time to see Red Square is of course in the winter, the square is cleared of snow by our men with moon shaped faces but the crisp winter air and snow covered domes creates a wonderful chocolate box romantic atmosphere that will give you a positive memory of Moscow.
Note: If you shop here, American Express is not very popular in shops, they prefer Visa or Master card.