a trial run

I took a bunch of pictures today, but I brought the wrong kind of USB cord to Russia.  There aren’t any Radioshacks in this vast country, so until I figure something else out, no pictures of my trip.  But I assure you it looked exactly like this picture I have stolen from the internet.  That impenetrable-looking square in the left side of the picture is where Lenin lies mummified.  I think he must be undergoing his periodic submersion in Soviet designed Lenin preservatives because he’s not on view for the time being.  Moscow still loves Lenin. 

Today I went to Moscow on my own.  First, I took a car (free! provided by the school!  Only they tell you it’s a Ford and then it turns out to be a Volga… ) to a bus stop at somewhere called  Sin’kovo.  Sin’kovo is a field full of dirt.  Then I took the bus to Kyntzevskaya, a metro station somewhere outside the Sadovoye Kol’tso (Garden Ring) which is the circle encompassing the center of Moscow.  Then I got on the metro until the Arbatskaya stop, which drops you off at the head of famous Arbat street in the center of the city.  (On the way back late this afternoon, I admit, I got off at the wrong dirt field.  Fortunately it was only a little way off from the right dirt field, and I made it back to my apartment in one piece).

I am lucky to be here for such a generous length of time, because if I weren’t, I would be totally frustrated with today’s tourist failures.  I stayed outside for way too long in the rain, the Cathedral I wanted to go to (my guide described the interior as being mazelike and psychadelic) was closed, and I didn’t get to see the Tsars’ treasures because I screwed up the timing, walked the long way around the Kremlin when I was trying to get back to metro.  I even had a shitty ice cream cone, which is really tough in Moscow, and I couldn’t find the Georgian restaurant I had researched and planned on going to because I went to Little Gnezdnikovsky Lane, not Big Gnezdnikovsky Lane, which was about ten feet beyond Little Gnezdnikovsky Lane.

It’s okay, though.  Since I have plenty of time here, I can justify today as a trial run.  Hopefully the next time I’m there, I’ll be more prepared and aware.  And I also got to experience the city, with its vast spaces and strange, harsh colors, on my own time without feeling like I was making Moskvichi bored in their own city.  I picked out some used books on the Arbat stalls (collected works of Anna Akhmatova and Drugie Berega or Other Shores, an early version of Nabokov’s autobiography Speak, Memory) and made friends with a couple of Uzbeks who needed directions.  I took a museum tour at the Historical Museum, which showcases ancient and medieval art and artifacts from Russian lands, and I seemed to understand pretty much of the Russian.  Not a wasted day.

By the way, I find my current level of Russian skills totally frustrating and perplexing.  How is it that I can understand the details in my tour guide’s talk about stone age burials, and I understand my fellow teacher’s discussion of various educational methods, but when someone in a cafe asks me if I want a lid on my cup of coffee, I go, “huh”?  By the way, it was a four dollar cup of coffee, and the tiniest cup of coffee I’ve seen in my life.  I’ll never buy coffee in Moscow again.

til next time,

R

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