Moscow – The First Reading Week

March 28, 2012

We have now rumbled into Week 6 of Russia, and I can’t believe how fast it’s gone. Getting off the plane feels like yesterday and days are just passing by at the speed of light. This week, we hit our first reading week of many, which was the perfect opportunity to get out of Saint Petersburg for a few days. After a few late minute decisions and bookings, we decided to head for the capital, Moscow. I went to Moscow 5 years ago as part of my intensive language course in Russia, but only got to spend about an hour in Red Square and that was it. I was curious to see whether Moscow had changed much in the last few years, and I wanted to see more. So Mark, Roisin, Emily, Natalie and I hopped on a train, and set sail for the big city.

We had booked tickets to travel on the overnight train, but due to Mark and I being idiots and forgetting our passports when we went to book our tickets, we missed out on beds on the way down. This was my idea of a nightmare, but luckily I managed to get some intermittent kip. We arrived on Saturday morning and headed to the hostel to relax and freshen up. After a quick shower, we decided to visit the Tretyakov Gallery, and milled around for a few hours. The paintings were beautiful, but after being on a train for 8 hours with little sleep, our attention started to wane. We then decided to go back round the gallery and give each painting a funny caption, and then photobomb each others photos, which definitely entertained us, and seemed to entertain the little babyooshkas in each room, with some of them even managing to crack a smile. We then headed back to the hostel to play President for hours on end, before we turned in for the night.

The following day we decided to get up early and head for Lenin’s Tomb in Red Square. The weather was absolutely shocking, it was snowing all day and was bitterly cold, so we were fairly disappointed when we found out that Lenin’s Tomb was the biggest anti climax in the history of the world, as we would have definitely appreciated being inside for a bit longer! We took obligatory tourist photos infront of St Basils Catherdal, went inside and walked around GUM. After deciding against queuing for the Kremlin in the bitter cold, we decided to go to the Revolution Museum, which wasn’t particularly my cup of tea but still worthwhile. We then went to a kooky little bar hidden underground to meet some friends who were studying in Volgograd who were also visiting Moscow. Turns out that there are only 6 of them, and that 2 of them are Ultimate Frisbee players! It was nice to catch up with Rachel, and get to know the others in the group. It was nice to see that they had all bonded, and it made me realise that I virtually know no-0ne from School.. There are about 30-40 English students in Saint Petersburg, and outside of the people in my class, I only seem to know the names of about 10 people. We chilled with the group, and turned in for the night.

The following day, we went to the Kremlin, which was brilliant because the weather was so beautiful. I managed to take some spectacular pictures, which was helped by the glorious sunshine. Jack, one of the Volgograd boys who had studied in Moscow in the first semester, took us to a kooky little market located on the outskirts of Moscow. It was the strangest concept ever. The market was located in the middle of an industrial estate, yet it was surrounded by colourful, doll-like houses, which brought a bit of life back into an otherwise desolate area. It was the first non-soviet looking building I had seen in weeks, and I spent ages just taking photos. Innsbruck was so full of colour and life, and I had completely forgotten how vibrant buildings could be. People took this opportunity to buy fur hats and chess sets, with a lot of the girls now looking stereo-typically Russian!  In the evening, we ended to a hidden underground noodle bar, which was strictly non-tourist. The bar seemed like any other underground bar, small, smoky, and authentic. So I was a bit surprised when we had a “build your own stirfry”, as it seemed to be a strange place to be eating Japanese food! We were given slips of paper with food items on them, and you had to choose what ingredients you wanted. I went for thin noodles, chicken, peppers, carrots, broccoli, bamboo and soy sauce, and it was delicious, definitely the healthiest thing I’ve even since arriving! We also had some brilliant cocktails, expensive, but well worth it. 🙂

On our final day, we headed to the Kram (I can’t remember the name of it), which was absolutely stunning. I was told that the Church was only built in 1990, which was staggering, as it was so detailed and grand. I have never seen such a new church in my life, but it was exactly like any other jawdropping cathedral. We then said goodbye to the Volgograd kids, and headed round a museum to do with Pushkin. None of us were really sure what the museum was about, but it was filled with staggering statues and beautiful artworks. We then headed back to the station, and we lucky enough to have beds on the way back. The overnight train was an experience. After spending ages finding our makeshift beds, we managed to befriend some 14 year old Russians, (probably only because they all fancied Mark, ha), and we played games with them for a lot of the journey. It was funny to speak Russian constantly again after a week of chatting in English, but we had a lot of fun, and it definitely made a boring train journey more exciting. We then tried to sleep in our beds, in which ironically I slept better in the chair on the way down. We returned at 5am this morning, waited for the metro to open, and headed home.

So that was my extended weekend in Moscow. I have barely slept and I am shattered. Hopefully I will be able to have a snooze now before Frisbee.

Hopefully I will have some time to write in this before my next reading week, where I will be heading back to Moscow to play Frisbee with Sockeye, one of the best teams in the USA. Whoopee!

Sorry if some of this doesn’t make sense, I’m SO tired.

Lots of Russki love,

Sarah xo


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