(Quick little post here!)
After coming back from a great hour and a half session of tutoring a fantastic 5 year old, I met up with my roommate/colleague/all-around good guy and one of the native teachers at our school to walk around Moscow. While I like to think that I’ve seen a fair amount of this massive city, it was amazing getting to see some quieter neighborhoods and sights. Tatiana, our colleague who so generously spent the day showing us around, took us to the northern region (starting from the red line), which was a region of the city relatively unexplored by this blogger. However, we took a bus that wound around our very own district where we live and work; it reinforced that not only have we not seen much of our neighborhood, but Moscow is massive beyond one’s own perception.
Most of the day was spent walking around the quieter neighborhoods, and it was the best part of this mini tour. For me, finding a frozen pond in the middle of a neighborhood was awesome! People were skating and walking on it, and it made me very (irrationally) upset with myself that I didn’t bring my skates. Hey, at least I know where to go next weekend! I had fun slip sliding and dancing (there’s a video of me breaking out the moves!) on it, regardless of the potential for the ice to crack underneath me. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting to see quaint and bohemian neighborhoods, given the history of massive apartment complexes, but there were small houses that totally bucked the old Soviet mold-score one for individuality! On the way through the little circle our “tour” was taking, we passed by a jazz club, making the now-former jazz musician in me pretty nostalgic for the UMW Jazz Band; our colleague/guide told us that she used to come here a lot back when she was younger, so this place was the hip place to be. Over the last couple of years, I’ve learned to never underestimate how global jazz is, and this reinforced that!
If you’re a literary fan, especially of Russian authors, then you’d love what I’m about to say next. In the previous paragraph, I mentioned the neighborhood with the frozen pond. Well, this was where certain events in the novel The Master and Margerita took place! Admittedly, I haven’t read it, but just seeing where a novel is set is pretty spectacular. Along the way, we saw statues of other famous scientists and novelists in various parks, namely Nikolai Gogol.
To end the day out in town, we stopped by the Church of Christ the Savior. After Red Square and St. Basil’s Cathedral, the Church of Christ the Savior is arguably the other image of Moscow that’s frequently seen in ads pertaining to Russia/Moscow. (Random fact of the day: in communist times, there was a pool in the basement.) I’d been by it before, but never inside. Let me tell you, it was spectacular! Since we stopped by on a Sunday, services were being held, albeit in the basement. While I’m not religious, being in that atmosphere was something else. It’s just so exciting and awe inspiring to see a different religion, even more so when plenty of Russians partook in the service. Before we left, we stopped by the little gift shops in the basement. To clarify, the gift shops were strategically placed by the exits, so you had to walk by them to get out. Neat little business technique for sure. The only thing that piqued my interest were the replica medals/tokens from the Olympics, so while I could’ve gotten souvenirs related to this year’s Olympics in Sochi, I opted to pass.
I’ve been here for exactly three months, and yet Moscow still surprises me. Days like today absolutely reinforce how it’s become a second home to me, and I look forward to exploring more that it has to offer!