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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Journey around Moscow

On Saturday my friend Joe and I planned on going to the Pushkin art museum in the center of Moscow. For some reason, neither of us looked at a map to see where the museum is located! I remembered passing by it on our bus tour, so I felt confident in my sense of direction. I was soon to find out it was a misleading confidence. First, we visited the Church of Christ the Savior, which never gets old to look at with its beautiful gold domes. Then, we set out to the museum, which we could not find after an hour of walking. After doing a two mile loop around the surrounding area, we ended back up at the same church. Frustrated but determined to find the museum, I refused to ask for directions. This did not help because we ultimately did not find the museum! As both of us turned out to be indifferent to the idea of the museum, we decided to find a snack at Gastronom Number 1 in the massive mall, Guum or Гум, on Red Square. Upon entering, the aroma of freshly baked bread and piroshki made me forgot the day's previous disappointment. There is everything in this grocery store: baked goods, fish, meat, pasta, vegetables, drinks, alcohol, coffee, chocolate. I ended up buying one banana, to the confusion of the fruit lady, and a couple piroshki with meat. We then went to the history museum on red square and wandered around in there for an hour or so. We were both disappointed, however, that the museum lacked a Soviet exhibit.  
On Sunday, I woke up at 6:45 expecting to go on a walking excursion around one of the boleuvard rings of Moscow. It had rained the whole night, and it was still raining when I left home. After sitting on the metro at 8:00, I receive a text from our resident director that the excursion is canceled due to weather. The fact that Jon texted us only 30 mins before the determined meeting time really annoyed me. After a minute of silent frustration in the metro car, I decided to take my own walking tour of the city, despite the rain. First I went to Moscow State and took some great pictures of the impressive main building of the university, one of the seven stalinistic skyscrapers. After wandering around Moscow State, I wanted to see the stadium Luzhniki. However, I got off on the wrong metro stop and got lost. It was a blessing in disguise, as I stumbled across the Novedevichi Monastery. Here, there are some beautiful golden domed churches and outer walls, not to forget the pond next to the monastery. As I believe, here Tsaikovsky gazed on the swans and got his inspiration for Swan Lake. I proceeded to take many photos. Then, I decided to return to Red Square and the center of the city in order to take more photos. This time, I focused on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Bolshoi and Maly Theatres. Here are some pictures, enjoy.  







Friday, June 24, 2011

Today our group went on an excursion to a television tower (Останкинская телебашня), which stands at 540 meters tall! I was not interested so much about the tower's past, than I was in the incredible view from the top of it. Security was tight. You have to give them your passport, so they can register you. They give you an entrance card, and we were told that if we lost this card during the excursion, we would not be able to leave the tower! I wonder for how long. The elevator ride to the top was pretty surreal, since there is a camera above the door showing a live feed of the elevator shaft above us. Additionally, there was techno music playing, but we were not allowed to dance haha. One guy tried to briefly do the Jersey Shore fist bump, but was immediately scolded out by the elevator attendant. The panoramic view from the top is awesome, as you can see all of Moscow from a bird's eye view. It is interesting to see industrial centers and large forested areas in one concentrated area. Unfortunately, the weather was overcast, so it was difficult to see distant places, like the Kremlin. The coolest part of the top must be the glass floor, which makes you feel like your looking down towards your death. It was the first time I've been on a window floor like that. After the excursion, a few of us checked out the surrounding area, which including the space museum. We did not go into the museum (saved for another day), but the outside square is full of interesting monuments. Then, we went to a big park where there is a massive arch and the large building named Дом Народов России (House of the Peoples of Russia). There is such a soviet feel to it, especially with the statue of Lenin in front. I'm not sure what this building was used for, but now it is full of various shops. I discovered this upon entering, when a sketchy looking man tried to sell me even sketchier looking cameras. We ate lunch at this surprisingly good pizza restaurant in the park, where the waitress was actually very nice. I think she was amused that we were Americans, and she corrected my grammar haha. I have been so tired lately without a sufficient amount of sleep, so I crashed this afternoon first on the metro and then back at home. Just now I realized there is a nice supermarket right around the corner, where I can buy a bigger bottle of water for 12 less rubles than my usual kiosk by the university. Who knew? Here are some pics from the day.