Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Post-Soviet Chronicles Part 6: Moscow Part 2 -- A Place Where You Can Drunkenly Ride Horses at Night

You should definitely read this first if you haven't, because it's part 1. And this is part 2. So logically you should read part 1 before part 2. So... read it?

Are You Ready for More Churches? GOOD!

...because apparently that's what the Kremlin is? Maybe I'm the only idiot American who was confused and thought the Kremlin was some government building where there were those crazy guards and if you looked for long enough you might see Jason Bourne do some acrobatic stuff and sneak into the building. I really hope I'm not the only one, because it turns out the Kremlin has a government building but is actually more like a bunch of churches in a really small square together.

"You shall not pass!"

So you walk into the "Kremlin" which of course you need to buy a ticket for and you go through this cool big red gate and you're thinking Oh man, oh man. Jason Bourne. Kremlin. Ahh. And then you're greeted with this grey square building with some escalators and you're like Okay. Where's the building that's the Kremlin? And then you realize... that's it. This is "the building".
Turns out that this it the government building in the Kremlin. Not what you expected right?

So you continue along into the "Kremlin" and you find some churches. And a lot of gold. Always a lot of gold. I don't remember any of the names of the churches, but each one served a particular purpose. I have information pamphlets from each of the churches so I could go through and match them up... but I'm not going to do that. Maybe if you're lucky I can show you the pamphlets and you can learn all about them!
A church.

More church.

Look a church!
One of the churches was particularly cool because it housed all of the sarcophagus's of Russia's past Tsars. So that is actually kind of cool and historical. You can't take pictures of it though :(.

We went around and entered all of the churches, got some tour guides from some of the curators (kind of?) and then walked around the rest of the gardens. Really the area is quite nicely kept, with some beautiful parks and a whole lot of people. You can tell that this isn't just an international attraction, but it's also a national attraction for many Russians.
Ohh what a pretty church fountain!
In the Kremlin is also a treasure vault. They call it the diamond fund. It's apparently really difficult to get tickets to the fund, but we lucked out and got tickets. So we got to tour around the diamond fund, though unfortunately they were really strict about pictures and there was *no* information in English. Thankfully, Dan's mom translated the entire guided tour for me.

In the vicinity we also saw a small protest of people wanting to return to the Soviet/communist system. Guess they wanted some of the diamonds.

Bring back the good 'ol days! I want my beat rations back!

The Moscow Party Scene

I almost think the picture speaks for itself, but that night Dan and I found ourselves going 'out on the town'. We went to a few different places, including what seemed to be a pretty happening local spot that had a habit of playing Celtic music with Russian lyrics. We eventually landed at this place quite literally in the middle of the city that reminded me a lot of Project X.

I mean, I saw some pretty ridiculous things. The best part about this bar, though, is that it's mostly outside like a house party. Just inside the door is some keg beer that costs only 60 rubles, but they don't have change so you have to pay exact or pay with 100 (which is probably the most common note) and lose the 40 rubles. Anyways, then you just go chill outside where there is music and tables and lots and lots and lots of drunk people. Doing things like... riding... horses...
It's exactly what you think. (A drunk girl riding a horse in the middle of Moscow).
Red Square

The Red Square is less red and more grey/stone-ish with some red buildings around it. I suppose it's really important, but unfortunately we couldn't get inside the square itself because it was closed. You might be surprised (or not) but there were also some churches there! Including Saint Basil's Cathedral, which is that building that we all think of when we think of Moscow!
A church.
It also has a mall inside of it. It's written "GUM" but pronounced "GOOM" and I found that really funny. But when I walked into this mall I found it really creepy because the mall looked really familiar. And for whatever reason, the familiarity I was feeling felt... creepy. Then it hit me.

The mall was totally featured in some horrible SciFi film where aliens attack and the main characters are in Moscow. The Darkest Hour. Take a look:

The same mall
I would have shopped, but Moscow is expensiveeee. I looked at some of the prices and didn't want to look anymore. After GUM we went to St. Basil's. It is really quite a cool looking church, and I liked it quite a lot. Apparently each of the spires/domes houses another church. What I was surpised at, however, is how small the place actually is. You have this image in your head of it being gigantic or at least pretty big, and honestly? It's quite small. 

I like my St. Basil's with trees.

I like my St. Basil's with sun.
The Moscow River Tour

We finished off our epic Moscow whirlwind extravaganza with a scenic two hour tour down the Moscow river. It was a gorgeous day, there was beer to be drank on the boat, and it was nice because Dan and I got to hang out alone and just chat. All in all, the boat tour was my favorite part of Moscow. It was such a nice change of pace from Dushanbe.
A church...? No! A government building! I think!
We saw all sorts of things on the river, including some government building that looked pretty impressive, the business part of town, and some pretty cool statues and parks. One of the statues included a depiction of Peter the Great, who founded the Russian navy.
Moscow's Business District

The Statue of the Dude Who Founded the Russian Navy

A ministry... I think?
After the tour, we wandered around the city for a little while to get to Dan's favorite piroshki place. We had some yummy piroshkis and said our goodbyes.
Before I departed Moscow, I had one last meal. On my own, I broke under the pressure of seeing signs for Sushi restaurants everywhere and bought sushi. It wasn't nearly as good as some of the sushi I've had in the past, and for the price I was a little underwhelmed. But to completely honest? It was just nice to eat fish. Man I really miss fish.


All in all, I really liked Moscow. Some of the people were more friendly than others, but the city itself was pretty vast and I wished I had more time to explore it and spoke a little more Russian. If presented with an opportunity, I would love to return to Moscow someday, to see more and experience the culture a little more.

If I ever go to Russia again, I will definitely make sure I visit St. Petersburg. I've been told by everyone that it's a sight to see, so I should probably see it when I have the chance next time.

Thanks for reading-- I'll have a post about a funny story that happened in Tajikistan soon!

No comments:

Post a Comment