Days Fifty-Nine – Sixty-One: Moscow (part 1)

Day 59

My first full day in Moscow got off to a quick start as two people from my hostel, a Swiss guy and a Brazilian girl, invited me to come with them to breakfast. I didn’t register that this would develop into a full day of wandering around, and they were ready to go, so I didn’t bring my things… such as my camera (although I had my iPhone) or my passport (illegal to walk around without, so it’s good that I wasn’t stopped, as apparently frequently is done to tourists by over-eager policemen). The Swiss guy had a flight out that day, but we met up with a guy from Michigan and his soon-to-be nanny from Crimea, whom he had met online when he accidentally posted something in auto-translated Russian to the effect of “I don’t want to learn Russian and I don’t want anyone to help me” on a forum.

We saw a lot of things, but didn’t stay in one place long enough to really appreciate anything or in some cases even figure out what we were looking at.

Old Arbat street
Old Arbat street, on our way in search of a Pushkin museum which wasn’t where we thought it was and was also closed. But, the Arbat is famous in itself. Also we were in search of the Hard Rock Cafe (or Hard Hock in Portuguese) where we were going to meet the others. How much more un-Russian can it get? (I guess McDonald’s and Burger King would be.)
A Vladimir Putin keychain, depicting him, I guess, as steering the ship of state. In Kiev I would find polar opposite political views depicted on souvenirs (stay tuned).
A Vladimir Putin keychain, depicting him, I guess, as steering the ship of state. In Kiev I would find polar opposite political views depicted on souvenirs (stay tuned).
Aleksandrovskiy Garden near Red Square. For Red Square pictures, scroll down a couple days...
Aleksandrovskiy Garden near Red Square. For Red Square pictures, scroll down a couple days…
Inside the GUM shopping mall on Red Square. It seems very un-Soviet, but apparently it's been a department store for a long time. Inside was the most overpriced restaurant I have ever been to, where (only partially realizing this) I split one lemonade with my new Michigan friend, for which my share came to $13.
Inside the GUM shopping mall on Red Square. It seems very un-Soviet, but apparently it’s been a department store for a long time. Inside was the most overpriced restaurant I have ever been to, where (only partially realizing this) I split one lemonade with my new Michigan friend, for which my share came to $13.
The State Duma. I didn't know they needed such a grand building to house a rubber stamp machine.
The State Duma. I didn’t know they needed such a grand building to house a rubber stamp machine.

I’m leaving things out, but the other major activity with these new acquaintances was an river cruise. Unfortunately, the Brazilian girl who was my connection to the others went to the wrong place and missed the boat. On the way to the pier, I passed a Rolls Royce dealership. In general, in Moscow I saw a high concentration of the most expensive cars I have ever seen in my life, putting Darien and Greenwich to shame by leagues: Bentley, Rolls Royce, many that I had to look up. A Mercedes G-wagen doesn’t merit a second glance for the car-watcher there.

From the boat! I think this is the building that was imitated in Astana by an oil company.
From the boat! I think this is the building that was imitated in Astana by an oil company.

Day 61

Being on my own this time, I headed in the general direction of Red Square again. On the way I stopped in a park bookended by two monuments: one to the heroes of the Sieve of Plevna in the Russo-Turkish War (I don’t know if I’m just biased, but it seems like pre-Soviet monuments that were never destroyed are rare…) and one, built after the fall of the USSR, to Sts. Cyril and Methodius. The Plevna monument has inscriptions in authentic pre-reform Russian; the Cyril and Methodius one, however, is done in Old Slavonic written in the 1990s, and apparently it is riddled with errors. This is especially ironic considering why these two particular saints are being honored…

Plevna monument
Plevna monument
Cyril and Methodius
Cyril and Methodius

Finally, Red Square:

I don't think anyone goes to Moscow without taking a picture of St. Basil's Cathedral.
I don’t think anyone goes to Moscow without taking a picture of St. Basil’s Cathedral.

IMG_7126 (1280x853)

There’s an underground shopping mall just by Red Square.

What does this cultural reference mean to Russians??
What does this cultural reference mean to Russians??
Just outside the Kremlin walls
Just outside the Kremlin walls
The Moscow River
The Moscow River
Inside an upscale grocery store, you can see the fish you're going to eat.
Inside an upscale grocery store, you can see the fish you’re going to eat swimming around.

To be continued…

The GPS isn’t very accurate in an urban canyon.

Posted from Kyyiv, Kyiv city, Ukraine.

One thought on “Days Fifty-Nine – Sixty-One: Moscow (part 1)”

  1. I’m exhausted just following your footpath of fascinating sites and commentary. Take care and pin your passport into your pocket! Love always, G.J.

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