Wednesday, April 14, 2010
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.