Tuesday, 10 December 2013

A little jaunt to Moscow....Day 3.

As promised, our third and final day in Moscow :)

Knowing that we would have to wander the streets of Moscow til 10.30pm when our train left, we took advantage of the late check out at the hotel and had a lay in. Luckily, reception (i.e. the guy who sometimes sat in the kitchen, using the wifi) agreed to keep our bags til 9pm so we weren't weighed down.

What better way to end a trip to Moscow than a visit to the souvenir market?! Admittedly, going on the coldest day of the week (a nippy -8!) was probably not the best idea! We were frozen -especially our hands! Gloves are not an option when handling Russian dolls and beautiful lacquered boxes - way too fiddly. Luckily, we managed to warm up half way round with a tea inside. I would love to share all the souvenirs I bought with you guys, but most of them are Christmas presents for the family (I will schedule a post so you can have a peak once they are all opened). For now, here are some of my favourite pics...
Just one of many stands of Russian dolls..
Soviet leader Russian dolls...and of course Putin lurking in the back
Even Cheborashka (famous soviet cartoon star) has a Russian doll...
Beautiful Russian Гжель
 Dolls in Traditional Dresses called Sarafan's
Samovar, for traditional Russian tea drinking...
 Kitch Russian decor in the cafe
Never been so grateful for warmth...
 Russian traditional trays - to go under your samovar of course!
 Beautiful lacquered boxes
and last but by no means least - my personal favourite - cold war chess....the US vs the USSR!

By the time we had browsed and bought everything we wanted to at the market it was already 3.30pm! As I am doing my dissertation on the memory of WW2 in Russia (here known as the Great Patriotic War), I wanted to take a peak inside the famed Great Patriotic War Museum in Victory Park. Everything I had read about it talked about how grand and imposing the building was - they weren't wrong. You definitely can't miss it.

The famous obelisk monument.

These monuments (dozens of identical ones) line the path up to the museum and are separated in to sections according to the year of the war that they commemorate. Each one is dedicated to a specific significant front and the battalions who fought there.
The view from the Museum looking back towards the Obelisk.

Though we didn't have time to look around the museum, the nice security guard let me sneak in to buy some books on the topic. I'm sure I'll have fun reading those in between placements in January - I'm sure I'll do a dissertation post at some point (just to share the agony of 5000 words in Russian!).

By this point we were pretty hungry but decided that we couldn't visit Moscow without going to the Arbat (Moscow's most famous street!). Combining the two seemed the best option, so off we went in search of shelter and copious amounts of whatever dishes were on offer. After traipsing in and out of restaurants with no tables, we stumbled across a branch of the american diner chain 'Johnny Rocket's'. We were greeted with a sunny 'HELLO' shouted by the staff and were treated to dance routines every half an hour for the duration of our stay...and the food was DIVINE. Huge american milkshakes, burgers and ketchup with a smile (literally)!
An obscure thing to come across in central Moscow but delightful none the less.

I wish I could say that our return train journey was as delightful as the start of the evening...

Arriving at Kazanskii station, we were greeted with absolute BEDLAM! The station has a lot of international departures to Kazakhstan and beyond, so some of the passengers were literally dragging their lives possessions around on carts and in to luggage carriages! There was a lot of shouting and a lot of dodging obstacles before we finally got to our carriage.

We bundled back in to плацкарт and found ourselves surrounded by lots of rather large, loud Russian men. As the train pulled off, they proceeded to prepare themselves for the long journey ahead. They covered their table in newspaper and produced a whole cooked chicken from one bag or another. The biggest jar of pickles I had ever seen and then a large bottle of vodka added to their ever growing picnic...one bottle of vodka turned in to two and it was well past 2am when they finally decided they would go to sleep....

Just when we thought that our prayers had been answered, they began to snore. I have never in my life heard such a noise! IT DIDN'T EVEN SOUND HUMAN! For the next 5 hours until we pulled in to Voronezh station, I tossed and turned whilst contemplating suffocating the perpetrators with pillows.

After a snowy mile and half walk home from the station, I was greeted with smiles and warm breakfast with just enough time for a nap before work.


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