History Trip to Russia
On the 22nd of March, at 3am, a group of barely conscious year 12s assembled at the front of school. We got on a coach, and travelled to Heathrow airport. Before most of us had properly woken up, we had stepped off the plane and onto Russian soil.
We arrived at our first hotel, the slightly faded, but still extravagant Hotel Cosmos. It was a Soviet era hotel, with a huge statue outside the front of General Charles De Gaulle. Our time in Moscow was accompanied by severe weather, with temperatures reaching almost -20 degrees on our last night. In Moscow, we saw one of the many circuses available, we visited several interesting museums, and we visited Novodovichy cemetery, the place where highly regarded Russians were buried in the Soviet era and since. As well as all of this, we had an excellent guided tour of the city by our highly knowledgeable guide. Everywhere in Moscow the influence of Communism is highly noticeable. Stalin’s skyscrapers, 7 of the tallest buildings in Moscow, tower above the rest of the city. Monuments and statues from decades of Cold War are everywhere. The highlight of our time in Moscow has to be the last night in Red Square, which was an unbeatable experience. The House snowball fight in Red Square was a close call, but I think Simpson probably clinched it (a hotly debated topic amongst historians!). At midnight of our last night in Moscow, we boarded the sleeper train to St. Petersburg, a new experience for all of us.
In St Petersburg, the temperature barely dropped below minus 5 the whole time we were there. To us, this was tropical! I only had 3 layers on the whole time, and I was still hot whilst we were walking. St Petersburg is a hugely different city to Moscow. To start with, no buildings are taller than 5 stories, and almost every building in sight is hundreds of years old. We saw many important places in the October and February revolution, including the balcony where Lenin delivered his April Theses, the gun which fired the shot to signal the storming of the Winter Palace in October 1917, and the Winter Palace itself. We also visited the burial place of all Russian tsars, which was quite a haunting experience. For me, the highlight of the entire trip was in St Petersburg, the room where the Provisional Government was arrested and the Bolsheviks seized power. Amazingly, the clock was stopped at the time of the revolution, where it still displays the time of it today. The Hermitage art museum, which is also situated in the Winter Palace, was also a tremendous experience. Most of us on the trip had never seen art by the likes of Michelangelo or Rembrandt before, and certainly not any by Da Vinci.
Everybody who came on the trip has brought home memories which I’m sure will last a lifetime. All of this wouldn’t have been possible without the staff that helped to organise it. As well as the fantastic trip, they organised many nice touches, such as the circus, or the jazz club, which ordinarily we would not have seen. On everybody’s behalf, I’d like to thank them again here.
E Hardy 12SPAC