During half-term 35 boys travelled to Russia and were met by the first throes of the Russian winter. The Moscow Metro and Red Square by night on the first day was a great introduction to the superb historical sites on the trip. The Kremlin, with its present day buzz of government and the Tsarist treasures in the Armoury, provided a focus on the heart of Russian history. Unfortunately, Lenin was undergoing scientific cleaning so we could not visit the Mausoleum in Red Square, but we did feel his spirit at Gorkii Leninskie where he died in 1924. Stalin’s secret bunker and a visit to the souvenir market for obligatory purchase of Soviet-style hats ensured the Moscow experience was excellent.
The overnight train to St Petersburg left many boys bleary eyed, but the sites of St Petersburg could not be ignored by sleeping. The Hermitage Museum in the Winter Palace, the Tsar’s Summer Palace at Tsarskoye Selo, the history of Leningrad in the October Revolution of 1917 and the siege of 1941-44 were all aspects of the visit among many others. The boys were left with the lasting impression that Russia is a country with a rich history, a vibrant present and a promising future now the post-Soviet problems are being tackled.