We arrived right in time for the end of the registration to the event and the start of the Welcome Dinner at the Café Russe in the hotel. Time to sit back, relax, and have a nice drink and some great food. It was great to see all of us again after all this time. As space was slightly limited, chairs were swapped all the time so it was nice to share a stories with old and new friends. A very relaxed and joyful pre-Xmas atmosphere...
The night was short and we had a few (or more) drinks. The hotel was conveniently located next to the Kremlin and the Red Square so we met for the guided walking tour on Friday morning, shortly after 8am in the nicely decorated lobby of the hotel.
There were several groups: English, French, Italian, and German. Our German group was quite large with more than 30 event participants from Germany, Switzerland, and Austria.
Getting closer to the Kremlin
The State Duma (дума): The Russian assembly
The security control at the Kremlin entrance was quite strict but fortunately, we were the first Swatch Club Event group to enter. They even opened the Kremlin Armoury Chamber one hour earlier exclusively for the Swatch group so we had enough time to see the treasures. It was forbidden to take photos, though. Also, Friday morning was the only time to get a glimpse of the sun. It was quite cold, though, around -5 to -10 °C.
Our fantastic tour guide explained the history of the Kremlin and its buildings in great detail, including the different cathedrals around the Cathedral Square.
The Assumption Cathedral
The Ivan the Great Bell-Tower complex
Group picture in front of the Annunciation Cathedral
Inside of the Archangel Cathedral
The Tsar Bell
The world’s biggest cannon: The Tsar Cannon (caliber of 890 mm). It has never been shot.
The Kremlin Senate
We made it right in time to see the hourly Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
After we left the Kremlin area, we took a short walk to have lunch at the ***** Hotel Metropol.
Saint Basil's Cathedral
A little more than six months until the start of the soccer world cup in Russia!
Karl Marx close to the Kremlin
A nice room in the cellar was reserved for the Swatch Club. Time to enjoy a few drinks and a nice lunch.
Catch up some sleep....
After a nice lunch, we walked to the Red Square, across a very fashionable small street.
GUM department store is nicely decorated
We enjoyed a huge Xmas tree in front of the GUM department store and also saw a nice ice rink.
One more time: Saint Basil's Cathedral. Beautiful!
Even more beautiful!
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