Touring around town

The Hotel Ukraine, in all her glory, sits just down the street from my house.

After nearly a month of nothing but grey, drab skies, Moscow has been blessed with a string of sunshine days over the past week! I’ve found that I don’t mind the cold (in the 20s during the the day, about 10 degrees at night) but I can’t live without the sunshine. No amount of my SAD light will replace the feeling a blue sky brings. As a result, I’ve been spending as much time outside as possible, which is great for exploring more of Moscow.

 

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Even a trip to the doctor’s office can feature amazing architectural finds just down the street. The colors just pop against the grey Moscow skies.
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In Russia, Future chooses you 😉

 

My school offers bi-monthly cultural outings to us and I sign up for as many as I can. They often come with English tour guides and offer a really unique opportunity to access parts of Moscow life that are not readily available to foreigners. On the flip side, the touristy nature makes me feel like I’m on a bit of a permanent vacation here in Russia.

The Memorial Museum of Cosmonauts is located in the northeast part of Moscow, near the VDNKh metro stop.

Last weekend a handful of us journeyed to the Memorial Museum of Cosmonauts. I absolutely love outer space, particularly the space program, so I was pretty interested to hear about it from a Russian perspective. Our tour guide was a cosmonaut in training and her passion for the program was evident.

The one that began it all – Sputnik. This is a model as the original burned in the Earth’s atmosphere.

The Moscow Times reports, “At the height of the Soviet Space Program in 1989, over 1 million people were employed in the space sector.”

A wall of all the cosmonauts to have served, two of whom were on their way to the international space station as we toured the museum. Only 4 women have served.
Not sure you could convince me to enter a de-pressurization chamber (at right) dressed in that suit. Both look way too flimsy to support life.
One of the stranger exhibits at the museum featured the stuffed bodies of the first dogs to return from space travel alive, Belka and Strelka. They lived to ripe old ages and were only stuffed A.D. (yikes). A descendant of one of the dogs was gifted to Jacqueline Kennedy during President Kennedy’s term.
Solar panels adoring the outside of the International Space Station model featured on site. It’s truly amazing how space explorers make the most of the space they are allowed.

 

The underside of a landing module, painted bright orange-red to attract the eye of search planes. One such landing in 1987 required cosmonauts to spend a night in the Siberian cold next to their module.

 

 

Another gem of my time in Moscow has been the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art. Located in Gorky Park, just one metro stop over from mine, the museum features top notch exhibitions, up to three shows at a time. I haven’t been disappointed by a show yet and this show below was no exception. Featuring work compiled during Eastern European revolutions and independence movements, the show was a fascinating take on the late 1980s/early 1990s, a time I know little about as I wasn’t old enough to remember the events.

 

Printmaking and poster art have played huge roles in Eastern European history, particularly freedom movements as a call to arms of sorts.

My friends and I all appreciated this modern art which really reminded me of the work of Kandinsky, a Russian born painter who became famous as an Abstract Expressionist. It’s not his work but you can see the influence passed down through the decades.

 

 

These days, with sunrise at 8:30am and sunset at 4pm, I could go the whole day without seeing the sun. Luckily, I have big windows in my classroom and enough downtime during the day to sneak a quick walk in the neighboring gated community. I cherish that time, especially on sunny days, but find it just as necessary on the grey ones.

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Moscow has fabulous sewer caps – some of which would make fantastic prints. I keep an eye out when wandering the city and every once in a while spot a cool new one like this guy.

As a result of all this chilly grey weather, Muscovites make their own fun, refusing to stay home. The arts are hugely valued here and I had the chance to experience Moscow opera first hand last Wednesday evening at a performance of Bach’s Coffee Cantata. A slightly bizarre show, this short opera (the best kind of opera) features a full string ensemble and three opera singers who actually brew coffee as part of their act, serving it to the audience as the denouement. The coffee was delish and warmed us up before heading back into the cold Russian night.

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We toured the Helicon Opera House prior to the performance. Restored since the Soviet Era, the space is elegant and intricate in detail. The performance space was in a small room off of this main hallway.
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Chandelier close up. I couldn’t get enough.
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The entrance to Izmailovo is over the top and ornate – a Russian trend I’m catching onto 😉

With only three weeks left until I fly to Boston for the holidays, it’s time to seek out some fun Moscow tchotchkes to share with the folks back home. Today I journeyed to Izmailovsky Market with a couple ideas in mind. I had some luck now I’m counting the days until break!

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Ingenious coffee-on-the-go stand.
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Catch you next time 🙂

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Touring around town

  1. I am loving these photos of the different buildings, in all colors and styles! Also…those peaks of snow and the jackets people are wearing! Glad you are stocked up on warm winter wear 🙂
    Good luck with the last three weeks before the holiday…SO CLOSE. so close.

    Like

    1. Thanks, friend! I guess the color attracts me, amongst all the grey. I’m learning a lot about embracing the cold – no one stays inside here! Thanks for the encouragement on the final push. Best of luck to you, too! ❤

      Like

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