I left J & N and headed over to VVT Park, formally VDNKh; ‘the Exhibition of National Economic Achievement.’ I was told I’d find it interesting as it was full of old Soviet statues. It also houses the ‘infamous’ (as I’d read) ‘worker and collective farm girl’ statue, which I actually never managed to find despite it being seemingly obvious on my map and I walked around the small park area again, and again, and again. After an hour I was done taking photos of the ‘fallen heroes’ and wondering what to do with my time, when I realised I had not even entered the main park. This place was huge. I made my way past the Peruvian panpipe band and the Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics (Space Museum to you and I…) and then tried in vain to order a coffee from the coffee van man.
After ten minutes of queuing;
‘Cafe? (pointing at a cup and then a random menu item, I didn’t really care what kind of coffee he gave me.)
(Passer by in Russian) ‘Hey, do you want a coffee?’
*Exchange in Russian* ‘He says he has run out of coffee.’
He then turns to me shaking his head ‘No coffee.’
Lost in translation.. or he just didn’t like me…?
Before entering the park I noticed a line of (predominately) old ladies each holding a couple of kittens or puppies. My surprised guess was an outdoor pet shop, which later Nastya confirmed with a shrug. I explained this was not a usual site for me. I suppose it’s like the lepers on the overpasses in Hong Kong; you just get used to it and walk on by.
I walked through the grand entrance arch and headed straight to the rollercoaster. They don’t generally phase me, but I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a point on this ride I thought my untimely death would be caused by flying off a track in a cart, smooshed onto the concrete.
The park itself seemed very confused, but fascinating; like a living history museum. The architectural grandeur of the decadent pavilions and fountains looked more like they belonged in Ancient Rome or Greece rather than a Soviet Republic. Originally built to showcase various exhibitions en-capturing Soviet Greatness they are now rented to a mishmash of upmarket shops and cafes, as well as some pavilions giving off a more flea market type impression.
Part amusement park, part art gallery, musical venue and shopping centre; was definitely worth a visit. I also could have taken a camel ride, but decided to pass.Viva Communism?
I then headed back to town to watch Arsenal and drink beer. My happiness of winning was short-lived when I started to get concerned that my foot-chauffeur to Jenya’s gig, Nastya still hadn’t shown. Concerns not helped by dropping and breaking my phone… concerns that were helped by the lovely non-English speaking bar staff who gave me free wifi on my iPod and free-on-fire shots of god knows what (think Absinthe played a part in there.. I also vaguely remember some small kumquat type fruit that I was sure was inedible. Of course I ate it. It was odd.) Joined an hour later when my guide woke from her ‘5 minute’ nap and rushed down to pick me up 😉
It was International Record Store day so Jenya’s band were playing in the record room in the back of an independent book store. It was amazing watching a hardcore band in a cramped room with people moshing over the shelves and tables of records. I also enjoyed laughing at the punk getting pissed off people were disturbing him whilst he was looking at the records. Umm. Maybe come back tomorrow mate?
Afterwards I met some other non-Muscavite English speakers (one, affectionately known in my head as ‘American guy.’ Later I found out he knew me as ‘British girl.’) We headed to a local park to spend the rest of the evening drinking street beers & wine until the early hours of the morning. Nastya and her mates constantly feeding me snacks as ‘she doesn’t eat in Moscow.’
My last memory of the night was Jenya upside down with his head in a bin.
On my final day (the day of feasting!) I was determined (still drunk) to get a proper breakfast. This ended up being a pasta dish in an upmarket Italian chain that was apparently the only place one of Nastya’s mates would eat out, so at a stretch I could say I was getting a real Muscavite experience.. maybe…?
Despite Nastya texting me to dress properly as the weather had turned (and I’d been cold the night before the beer blanket kicked in) I was, to anyone that knows me, unsurprisingly underdressed. Hoorah for her spare socks. We met outside Lenin’s Library and spent the next few hours walking around the Kremlin complex, going in and out of the various churches. It wasn’t until I’d got home did I find out I’d been there before. We laughed. A lot. Who would have thought the Kremlin would have been so amusing. Our favourite piece, (even beating painting after painting of Russian Beauties ‘did they actually look like that? With melty faces?’) was the chicken man goblet. One day I shall own one such trinket.
Jenya had been raving about this Hare Krishna Vegetarian Restaurant for the last couple of days, but not being the biggest fan of either Krishna consciousness or Indian food I was actually slightly reluctant to go. Hoorah for my British manners and not wanting to appear rude or ungrateful to my incredible hosts. What I had really been after was some Eastern European food, and this place had loads of it. Of the vegetarian and vegan variety. It was food heaven for me. Incredible.
(Side note: I am slowly starting to really love Indian food thanks to places such as Open House and Haandi in Nairobi, and my due to my colleague who feeds me incredible homemade Indian food on a regular basis.)
Leaving Moscow and saying bye to Nastya left me feeling pretty sad. In the last couple of days I’d rediscovered a lot of my independence and met some incredible people, on my own, doing what I wanted with no-one propping me up (if you don’t count Humpty or my Dr. S bible.) I was eternally grateful to that little voice in my head that made me book that flight to Moscow back in January. And to me, for being me, saying ‘well why the hell not?’