Wednesday, October 14, 2009

парк победы is so big, so russia is probably hiding something in it

hey everyone. it's me again. let's see, where should i start.. last weekend i didn't
do a whole lot. on friday night we went out to the ballet to see what i believe was originally
a french ballet. it was pretty interesting but by the time it was over i was definitely ready to
leave. the story just wasn't that great, but the dancing was amazing, obviously. afterwards
i went with kelly and amanda to mu-mu, the cow themed restaurant chain in moscow. we met
two russian guys there who spoke english, and they invited us to come to a dance club
where they played old, retro american songs. we ended up going and meeting some of their friends, all of whom were extremely nice.

saturday and sunday i was pretty tired and i didn't really do all that much. it has been raining
a lot lately and the weather has definitely gotten a lot cooler. i have been saying i needed to buy
a heavier coat for a while now, but the expensive prices and the effort involved in shopping here
has made me procrastinate for a while. i originally had decided to go on monday and seriously look until i found one, but it rained all day and so i had to forego the trip and wait until tuesday.
on tuesday i left right after class by myself (because i never get anything done when i am with
other people haha) to a supposedly giant mall i had never been to before but had heard about
through several other russians. it was right by the kievskaya railway station, one of the largest
if not the largest railway station in moscow. i exited randomly from the metro and lo and behold
i picked the right exit and found myself right at the entrance of the mall.

now, i originally had thought the underground mall was huge that i had previously visited outside
red square, but this mall was gigantic. it was at least 5 floors, i think a parking garage on the 6th,
and had hundreds of stores. in the middle was an atrium and a fountain with exposed elevators,
and in the fountain was a gigantic clock that lit up and told time by the second with really
creative lights that lit up in a circle all the way around the rim of it. it was probably
the coolest mall i've ever been to. sorry, king of prussia. so anyway, i walked around for a while
but it's so difficult to shop in russia because i always feel like i am being watched. although
i suppose it doesn't help that i have shopping anxiety in america anyway haha, so i always
get nervous and just walk out of the stores. i ended up finding a not crazy expensive store
(aka the coats were only $100 as opposed to $300+) and i found a coat i actually really liked.
i wanted to try it on. now, as is the problem in many places in russia, nothing makes sense,
which includes dressing rooms. there was a large line, all with women, even though the store had men's clothing. i got in line and was told "no" by the lady in charge. i had no idea what she said to me after that, but i thought she meant it was only the lady's dressing room, but there wasn't a men's, so i have no idea what the problem was. i ended up trying it on outside and just bought it because it fit well enough, was a good price, and looked nice.

i also found a long scarf that i liked at another store and then i decided to go up to the food
court and eat something, which i did (pizza and mashed potatoes mmm). i walked around a little more but didn't really feel like staying any longer so i left.

my plan for tuesday night was to visit park pobedy, which is a famous park just outside the center of the city which is dedicated to WW2 veterans, and just WW2 in general. i didn't really
know what to expect because i had only read basic things about it. however, it was a huge surprise because the park was amazing. you exit the metro onto a giant cobblestone promenade, and in the distance is the main park pobedy memorial, an enormous obelisk and a semi circle white stone building surrounding one side of it. it was a HUGE memorial and the area it was in was really lively and seemed clean and more modern. i walked around for a while and found a small church before i made my way to the actual obelisk. it's even taller up close, almost like the washington monument except with a bunch of enscriptions and engravings all the way up the sides of it. what i was disappointed by although were the fountains around the monument, which are supposed to be on, and they are also supposed to glow red at night to commemorate the blood of the killed soldiers. they weren't even turned on, let alone red haha. i think they were doing work on them, but i am afraid they are already off for the winter for good, which would really suck since i wanted to see them. either way, it was still fun. i walked further into the park and it was so nice to have a nice relaxing walk in fresh air by myself for a change, and to get out of the dirty city/metro/freaking vykhino. it was a huge expanse of trees and woods, with paths through all of it, and there were also a bunch of monuments and small chapels and building scattered throughout the park. i eventually found a really neat artificial harbor which had replicas of old WW2 boats and artillery. they even had fake mines floating in the water. and the best part was that there was hardly anyone in the park, so i didn't feel crowded at all. it was starting to get dark, so i headed back out of the park towards the main monument. it was all lit up at that point so it looked even more imposing that it did during the evening. park pobedy metro stop also has great views of moscow in general, you can see the new moscow business center, also, straight down a huge main highway off to one side, you can see a ton of highrises, and it's all lit up at night of course. and of course i was all warm and toasty in my new coat haha. but i had a really great time and i think the park was my favorite place i've been to in moscow yet, maybe besides red square. it was nice to just explore myself and do what i wanted to do. i am definitely going to go back sometime soon.

so yeah, i think i'm almost at the halfway point of my trip, and i feel like we've had a lot of
excursions and we see a lot, but moscow is such a huge city, there's still a lot more to see.
some of us were talking about possibly taking a day trip one weekend to see one of the golden
ring towns, which i really want to see while i'm here, since they're so historically important.
some of the other upcoming excursions i know about are lenin's tomb, the tretyakov gallery, which is this weekend, tolstoi's house, and then also i believe a famous monastery somewhere on
the outskirts of the city. st. petersburg is also in less than 2 weeks and i'm really excited
to see the city and the hermitage, winter palace, and everything else. in general, you learn a lot
more about st. petersburg cultural sites/churches etc in russian culture classes back in america
because there tends to be a larger spread of architectural styles (baroque/rococo/classical etc)
there than in moscow, i believe. so i'm super excited and will probably take a ton of pictures just there haha. my camera has been getting a work out is for sure.

tonight, we're going to the circus, and we haven't really been told anything, so i'm not sure
what to expect, since i haven't been to the circus since jeez, i was probably younger than ten.
it will be fun though i'm sure and i hope the food is good, haha.

other than that, everything is going well, my cold is gone (woohoo!) and my foot is nearly 100%
so that's also good. this next week and a half before stpete i am going to try and do a little
more exploring myself since i always enjoy when i do that, and once we get back, it will
feel like the home stretch and i don't want to feel like i've missed out on seeing anything.

so yeah, i think that's it, and maybe i will try and post sooner again this weekend. i know i always say that but internet says otherwise. also, postcards still in the works (aka stamps are hard to get here and i don't know french). hope all is well at home. out!


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