Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Moscow 2008

Saying

you've been to Los Angeles and thus have seen the United States is like

saying that you've had french bread and thus are a connoisseur of

French food. So, after seeing St. Petersburg in 2007, I felt like there

was still so much more to Russia to see, least of all the capitol city,

Moscow.... I still do not claim to have seen Russia.

Moscow

in May is a great time. It's nothing like the cold, gray city that we

see in the Borne Identity movies. Moscow is a faced paced city with so

much life, culture, and 1980s Ladas next to brand new Mercedes.

Actually on just the first 500m out of the hotel I spotted no less than

5 Porsche Cayenne S. No joke.

Now

while I was fully willing to navigate Russia by myself, I was still

very accepting of the help offered by Dad's Russian and Russian

speaking colleagues. This would start with learning to navigate the

Moscow Metro. Moscow is famous for its underground. While much life,

decor, and beauty was sucked out of Soviet life, the metro maintained

some of the greatest architectural masterpieces of the world

underground systems. The hardest part I think, of being an American

navigating the Russian subways are getting off and on at the right

stations when everything is in Cyrillic. In the end I would just have

to memorize what the word looked like, because by the time I was able

to "decode" the Cyrillic into Latin, then try to pronounce it, I would

have missed my stop.

Often

times I resorted to walking around the huge city, and in the process

found some of the most amazing museums. In true Russian fashion, down a

dimly lit basement hall, in an unassuming building next to the main

building of the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, is the entrance to one of

the greatest collections of fine art that I have ever had the pleasure

of viewing. Including the amazing "La Ronde des Prisonniers" by Vincent

Van Gogh.

While

the Pushkin Museum is a art lovers must, the Kremlin is on the list for

everyone! Dad and I were able to walk around some of the Kremlin

together, taking in the great cathedrals and cultural masterpieces (the

world's largest bell that never rang and the world's largest cannon

that never fired). We even found, what I believe to be the world's most

expensive Pepsi... $8 for one 16 oz. bottle

.

On

one of my solo days at the Kremlin, I was most grateful for the help of

my father's Moldovan colleague who through just our own experiences

that morning, realized why even Russian citizens just give up on seeing

some of their country's greatest relics. The morning started with

waiting in a very long line for tickets into Kremlin. There we tried to

buy tickets for the State Diamond Exhibit. We were told to go to

another line. Which other line? "I cannot say." Egh. Babushka! We find

another long line that another babushka led us to, waited, only to find

that this is the line for the audio tour. When we finally find the

right line, we discover that they only sell the tickets to see the

exhibit at certain times and that they only sell those tickets at

certain times. We were would have to wait at least an hour. But could

not wait in line until they started selling those tickets. Remember,

the Moldovan's first language is Russian. Well, once we got tickets we

had to find the hole in the wall entrance. That was fun too. .........

But once I finally got in (solo, the Moldovan had to go back to work)

it was well worth the trouble. Of course this is an exhibit where you

will never be able to get a photo (very sour Babuskas in this exhibit

to control that), but when you can please look up the State Diamond

Fund pictures. As someone once said, the State Diamond make the British

Crowne Jewels look like K Mart. Just take for example the 190 carat

Orlov Diamond or the Imperial Crown of Russia that has a 400 carat ruby

as a center piece. Completing the collections are thousands of other

amazing and beautiful jewels that you leave feeling like a millionaire

for just laying eyes on them all.

After

my trip to St. Petersburg, I had quickly developed a distaste for

Russian food. Fortunately, the two capitals are so abundant with other

cultures that finding a restaurant of another ethnicity is fairly easy.

One Georgian restaurant across from the hotel had amazing cuisine and

such a unique atmosphere that I will never forget dining in an upstairs

room next to a chicken and cow... live.

Did

you know that the world circus is Russian? Do you think that Cirque du

Soleil is a distinctly French Canadian thing? Well the Moscow Circus

are the origins of the great North American touring act. All of the

acts are just as amazing as the ones from the Quebec company and

because PITA has no representation in Russia, there are animal acts

that will blow your mind.

I

still have not seen much of Russia and perhaps one day a trip on the

Trans-Siberian Railroad will be in order, but for now, my taste of

Russia through Moscow has offered even greater perspective to the

world's largest country.


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