Tuesday, October 29, 2013

the family in moscow

Notice written on Oct. 28th: I believe this post is unfinished. When I go back to read them I may make additional statements in a new post to finish this. But I don't know because I haven't read it yet.

The family in Moscow:

We arrived relatively early in Moscow on Tuesday the 16th, I believe around 7 or 7.30. On Monday night some of us had coffee or tea and unlike other experiences of us going to the carriage conductor and purchasing it, he offered as we were sitting in the compartment and brought it to us. He hesitated as he left and we wondered whether or not his hesitation was caused by waiting for a tip or not (we didn’t know if we should tip or not), but he left quickly enough that we couldn’t react. In the morning again offered some coffee and tea, but as I was waiting in line for the bathroom, I noticed that the sign next to the kitchenette did in fact state it was for sale. He wasn’t waiting for a tip, but for the payment. He again brought us our drinks, which was nice unlike the Karelia trip where we had to walk back and forth, but we also paid him for both the previous night’s drinks and the morning’s drinks. Another difference between the two trips is that we had nighttime snacks and then breakfast boxes.

Construction has changed the train station from when I was there last August and the entrance to the metro was in a different place, but we quickly found our way, and the police were actually quite helpful in answering my question even though last summer I had been told that they different than American police and don’t often help people with questions of that sort. When I ordered the metro tokens/pass (it’s all on a paper card now) they put them all on the one card and I panicked a little thinking that the card won’t work multiple times for entrance (in SPB I can’t do multiple charges on my single person card). Fortunately we were able to all use the one card, although I had to be urged to ask someone if that was possible.

More adventures came as we exited the metro and couldn’t find the hotel, which was supposed to be right near the metro. We walked into one hotel and asked and they told us it was the giant building that looked similar right across the street (probably once one hotel in two buildings, but was now two different hotels), but lacked the signage on front to tell us so. Once we established the location it’s quite easy to figure out where to go, but if you have 10 or more floors in your hotel, it would be good to have a sign out front. The hotel itself was comfortable and pleasant (and I even stayed for free because we only registered the 4 of them and I slept on the floor on a bed made of blankets). Some of us took some morning naps. Yes, we wanted to see the city, but I think everyone was tired, them after a long time travelling, me after burning the candle at both ends, and all of us for staying up late playing cards on the train.

Fast forward through the morning and into the afternoon. We went to the Kosmonaut Museum (Air and Space, whatever you want to call it). It was really neat to see Belka and Strelka (the actual dogs thanks to the technology of taxidermy), some replicas of satellites and other various vessels, even on a scale of 1:1, and some of the original suits worn by some of the original cosmonauts. And that was just the first room. Ok, upon entering the room I honestly thought that was everything and it was quite cool, but who knew how big this place was and how deep underground it went. By now, it definitely is more than just the USSR/Russian Cosmonauts because they had a lot on the international front of air and space exploration. There was: an entire wall and room for the female astronauts and cosmonauts, suits from different people and different time periods; an exhibit on every country who has sent a person to space, when that happened, etc (and for first satellite, first this, or first that . . .); a gift from President Nixon to the USSR about the USSR’s accomplishments, an awesome video about different parts of the history of space exploration; different modules and rockets used and what their purposes were; just totally awesome. I don’t think I would have chosen to go there on my own, but I’m quite glad I went, and now I highly recommend it for anyone who goes to Moscow. As for the video, so my mom ended up seeing it, and it’s not on a regular schedule so I ended up asking if they would show it as we were getting ready to leave. Because I asked, after the technicians agreed, the C (museum) ushered other people into the theatre and we had a large group able to watch the film.

We went from the Air and Space Museum to Moscow State University, one of the largest single building universities in the world. It inhabits one of Stalin’s gigantic structures and Matt was just absolutely in love with the building. We tried to go in, but the guards wouldn’t let us through without proper documents and he had a friendly laugh as he told us no. The building is just absolutely magnificent and the view from the ground (on top of a hill) has a gorgeous view of Moscow. I’m sure if you get to one of the higher floors in the building it just gets better and better. I also laughed to myself during this time as I recalled one of my Russian lessons that talked about the university and the hill and the breathtaking view of the city. I was able to experience it that afternoon and it is absolutely wonderful.

We each got dinner at different kiosk stands near there, walked back to the metro (one stop up from where we exited), which is under the bridge that the cars drive on, but over the river. Remarkable. We had a little trouble finding our way down the hill to the entrance though, asked a couple in a car, and they had no idea, but he tried to find it on his iphone to no avail. Eventually we got there and we did have a pleasant stroll through the park on the way. We also saw the first example I’ve seen in Russia of divided waste bins (one for paper, one for bottles/cans, one for trash, and one for green waste). I don’t know how well used they are, but they were there in the park.

Not a bad day, for day one in Moscow.

Wednesday, the 17th.

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