As a traveler in Russia, one of the best and most powerful accessories you carry is American dollars. Despite the fact that it illegal to carry this currency, you will find ATMs all over Moscow that dispense cash in $USD. If you want to buy souvenirs expect a cheaper price when you pay in US dollars. Before I arrived in Russia I was warned well in advance of this fact.
Three days before I arrived in Moscow tragedy struck. A bomb had been set of by rebels from Chechnya. This is not an uncommon occurrence, luckily this time no one had been hurt. Moscow was a frozen city. Tourist attractions were closed, the museums all shut for the day. Only the major shops were opened. My brief three day stay was beginning to look like it would be a quiet one.
Traveling with a group of friends, we still tried to make the best of our time. We visited churches and markets, we bought souvenirs. A museum that had been bought out by a private buyer opened its doors, the new owner even suggested we make offers on anything we liked as he had no interest in keeping it. Again, this is a highly illegal practice and not recommended if you are traveling.
When we arrived at red square a police car blocked the entrance. An officer told us in English that the square was closed. No one was allowed inside, especially not to visit Lenin’s tomb. For many of us, this was a planned highlight of the trip. He said if our visit was of a matter of importance he could ask for special clearance.
On of my friends said he had an idea. He shuffled up to a police officer and said something quietly to him. He came back and told us;
‘Twenty US dollars each, we can go in on special clearance. Oh, and a pack of cigarettes.’
With an armed police officer at either end, we were led single file into red square and into Lenin’s tomb. During the time we were not allowed to speak at all, and definitely not to take any photos.Write a Comment
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