Два – (dvă) Russian for the number 2
I know. I know…you have all been waiting in great anticipation for this second entry. Well, here we go…
Our second day in Moscow:
More Metros, Surfing the Stations – Moscow metro stations are beautiful! Not only are they some of the deepest subway stations in the world (the longest escalators I’ve ever imagined!) but they are also artistically designed. Some have stained glass artwork, most are made of marble and other gorgeous stone, and several have sculpture art. The metro is a reason in itself to visit Moscow!
(This is in one of the metro stations. The stained glass was taken from Christ the Savior Cathedral before the Soviets demolished it.)
Старый Арбат (Old Arbat Street) – This is basically the Americanized street of Moscow. It was the first merchant street in the city but is now the street lined with McDonalds, Starbucks, Wendy’s, Dunkin Donuts, Subway, and many other American chains, though it has kept its characteristic open-air art market. I am proud to say that I did not eat any American food while in Russia. Even on this street, I had lunch from Tepemok – Russia’s version of fast food (pankaces).
St. Basil’s Cathedral – We got to see the inside today…every inch is covered in colorful paintings. Guess what word came to my mind! Yup, “Wow!” I can’t imagine being the person to paint all of those intricate details. Also, we were able to look out from the arches on the second floor of the cathedral and get a new perspective on Red Square. All the history in this place just felt so surreal!
Christ the Savior Cathedral – This is a large white cathedral with gold onion domes. It was destroyed by the Soviets but completely rebuilt in only two years. I was not allowed to take pictures on the inside of this one, but if you Google it, you will have a visual of why it was so incredible that this was all accomplished in a couple years. As you will see, interiors completely covered in artwork are a typical characteristic of Easter Orthodox cathedrals. This cathedral was no exception! It was probably one of the most beautiful cathedrals I saw during my time in Russia, right below the Church on Spilt Blood (which you will read about later).
Вернисаж (Vernishazh Market) – This is a large, long-standing, outdoor market of handmade Russian souvenirs. I got to practice my bargaining skills to convince vendors to lower their prices. Actually, this was a time when my indecision worked well in my favor! For example, a man would ask for 1,000 rubles for a matryoshka doll and I would offer 500. He would counter with 900. I would counter with 600. He would counter with 750. I would hesitate and prepare to walk away to check another booth and he would say, “Okay, okay. 600.” And I would think, “Mwahaha! Success!” It was fun. But then, there was Mikial. (I have no idea if that’s actually how it is spelled but it is pronounced “Mik-ee-al”) Yes, my friends, this is where the “kisses from a gold-toothed old man in the market” comes in. Let me first give you some relief by mentioning that I was not in fact the recipient of said kisses…Keren, another IWU girl who was in my Comrade Group (CG), was the unfortunate victim. I was held captive at a hat stand by a man who would not stop putting Russian fur hats on my head when I heard Keren yell, “Katie! Help!” I look over to see her shove her hand up between her cheek and his face, push his head away, and shout, “Mikial, NET!” (Net is Russian for “no”.) Then, she ran away, looking back at me with an expression of “YIKES!” as I stood stunned with some giant hat on my head. Mikial then says nonchalantly to the man at the hat stand, “She beautiful, no?” As I started to recover from the shock, the hat man asks, “You have no boyfriend?” I mumbled something that wasn’t even real words, Russian or English, and got out of there as fast as I could! When I got back to my CG, Keren says, “Katie! Why didn’t you do something?” I apologized and explained that I was in shock, like I was in one of those bad dreams where my feet are glued to the cement. She continued to tell me the whole story, including the part where Mikial managed to get three slobbery kisses on her cheek before she escaped. Wow…was I sure glad it wasn’t me! Turns out I ended up being one of two in my CG group who made it back to Lithuania without being kissed by a random Russian man. Thank heaven!
Gorky Park – Gorky Park is basically Moscow’s Central Park. It is quite extensive and beautiful, located right next to the river. While sitting on the cement wall at the edge of the river, my CG met some new friends. There was a group of Russian college students standing just a little ways from us attempting to sing the theme song from Titanic. We decided to help them out by joining in. This led them to come over and introduce themselves. We played a get-to-know-you game with them and enjoyed making spontaneous international acquaintances.
Day three in Moscow:
Mausoleum – How would you feel about visiting a man who died in 1924? Not just that, but a man who died in 1924 and is guarded by 13+ Russian police officers? Yeah, I wasn’t so sure about this either. Maybe you don’t know this, but Vladimir Lenin was never buried. His body was preserved (basically mummified) and continues to be represerved on an annual basis, and is on display in the Mausoleum in Red Square. He even receives an occasional change of his suit. Hundreds of people visit him each year, and on March 11th, I was one of them. Ya know, he doesn’t look too bad seeing as how he has been dead for 90 years and all…
Kolomenskoe selo – This is the old imperial estate in Moscow. It is now a national park that still contains some of the remains of wooden structures built by many Russian Tsars. It is also located on the river and was a beautiful place to walk through on this sunny day.
Then, we loaded up on Train No. 162 AA, Car No. 8 and made our way, at 200km per hour, to St. Petersburg….
- TO BE CONTINUED –
Still to come in Part 3: dancing, palaces, new foods, and canals for miles!
Hi, I'm Katie... just a girl, living this adventure for the glory of God. Thanks for reading!