Moscow Day 4

March 3, 2010 at 12:42 pm (Uncategorized)

Today our whole group went to the Tretyakov Art Gallery (I’m sorry, I really don’t know how to spell that in English).  It was the first time that I’ve been exposed to Russian art, so it was all very new and fascinating for me.  In the lobby of the museum we had to check our coats and put little plastic booties on our boots so that we wouldn’t get mud and snow all over the museum.  It was especially funny to see women in four-inch heels walking around in these booties.

A lot of the paintings were political portraits, which really aren’t my cup of tea, so I powered through those sections.  Kelly and I seemed to go at the same pace through museums, so we were together the whole time, but the rest of the group branched off.  I saw some very famous Russian paintings, which were interesting because they all involved Jesus, death, or exile to Siberia.  My favorite painting was of a Russian princess who was trapped in a prison cell during a flood.  Water was flooding into the cell, and she was standing up on her straw bed trying to get away from it.  It must be horrible to know your death is inevitable.  There was also an interesting painting of Ivan the terrible, cradling his dead son after he committed suicide.  I really liked the Russian landscape paintings as well.  There were at least eight paintings named “Rye,” and Kelly noticed that two of these were in the same room.  The last part of the museum was all religious icon artwork.  I wasn’t incredibly interested in that part either, but I did learn which Madonna and child pose was “Our Lady of Vladimir.”

Kelly and I were the first ones to finish with the museum, but Joely and Sarah were not far behind us.  We all wanted to go to the Nunnery, and were going to leave without waiting for anyone else, but I realized that Erin and I had checked our coats together, and I had the number.  I couldn’t leave without her.  Everyone else was nice enough to wait with me, even though we had to wait for an hour and a half because Erin and Jeff went through the museum very thouroughly.

The Nunnery in Moscow is a very beautiful, historic place where men used to send their mothers, sisters, and/or wives if they quarreled with them.  If a man tired of his wife and wanted a new one, he could also send the first wife to this Nunnery.  When we got there, we all split up because we only had a little over an hour to walk around.  It was very beautiful because there was a lot of snow, which made everything look very serene.  The inside of the cathedral was gorgeous as well because it was filled with gold and chandeliers.  I have pictures of everything up on facebook, so go look!

Right next to the Nunnery was a very famous graveyard where anyone who is anyone is buried.  This was my favorite part of the day because I thought it was absolutely gorgeous.  The weekend we went to Moscow had the most snow Moscow has gotten in years, and it made the graveyard very symbolic and quiet.  I saw the graves of Chekov, Bulgakov, Yeltsin, Khruschev, Tolstoy, and Gorbachev’s wife.  There were also many soviet-style statues on the graves, so it was interesting to look at the graves of people who aren’t famous as well.

We went to dinner at Pancho Villa, the Mexican restaurant, which turned out to be quite an experience.  We were immediately seated in “jail.”  Each booth in our section was supposed to be a cell and had bars and everything.  They had it that way because Pancho Villa was an outlaw, but any Mexican-American who saw it would probably be none too pleased.  The waiter asked us if we wanted menus in English, Spanish, or Russian, so we said English.  Of course, some of us got Spanish menus anyway because the people who worked there could not differenciate between the two languages.  Erin, Sarah, and I could read Spanish, so we dealt with those.  The Spanish menus said “Amigos” on them, whereas the English ones said “Gringos.”  Sarah came back from the bathroom to inform us that the stalls played barnyard animal noises.  Sure enough, the bathrooms were made to resemble a barn, and when you went into a stall, a sensor went off and began blasting cow, donkey, horse, duck, and cat noises.  There was also an official sign in my stall that said (in a terrible mix of sort-of Spanish, and sort-of English) “Virginity causes cancer, get vaccinated today.”

The food was very good, just like we hoped.  I ordered a burrito without vegetables.  The waiter gave me a really weird look when I told him without vegetables, and couldn’t understand why I would want that.  This is yet another example of why Russia is the weirdest country in the world.  Normally looking for regular vegetables is like trying to find a needle in a haystack, but when you finally find them, they’re ruining an otherwise perfectly good food.  And, naturally, they can’t understand why you don’t want them there.  But anyway, the food was very good once I finally got it, about twenty minutes after everyone else had gotten their food.  Clearly, not putting vegetables in a burrito confused the kitchen.  Although, Sarah didn’t get her food for a full forty minutes after most people had theirs.

Right before we ordered dessert, a live band started playing.  They played only Mexican style music, but they were under the impression that Mexican music was accompanied by frequent, very loud, and very long blasts of a whistle.  Even though we listened to the band for forty-five minutes, we couldn’t stop laughing every time the man blew his whistle (even though it happened every two minutes).  It was by far the most bizarre restaurant I have ever been to.

That night, in the dorm, we spent forever trying to find an interesting place or two that was not closed on a Monday.  Many places in Russia are closed on Mondays, and many places, if they weren’t usually closed on a Monday, were closed for the holiday.  Finally Erin, Jeff, Emily, Drew and I decided to go to the Garden of the Fallen Heroes, where all the old Soviet statues that had been torn down were displayed.

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