Day 15 – Moscow
Currently sitting on the bed of our cozy little room of our Airbnb apartment in Moscow, the air smelling of mushrooms and spices as our host Elena is boiling this season’s harvest of porcini mushrooms for canning to take her through the winter. Her cupboards are filled with a variety of homemade preserves, from apple and cardamom jam, to plums, cherries, and even more varieties of mushrooms. The fruit is picked from her family’s dacha (country home) about 200km outside the city, a setup which many Muscovites are lucky to enjoy.
Elena met us at the metro station just near her home about 3 days ago, on a street of old Moscow with low pastel buildings abound with shops, cafes and restaurants. Our expectations of Moscow were completely steeped in Soviet-era imaginings, so what we found completely took us by surprise. A lively yet down-to-earth city with a massive cafe culture, neighbourhoods lined with churches and colourful buildings, flowers blooming in every park, and pedestrianized streets around every corner (a rosy coloured view, but we loved Moscow!)
Today we lined up to visit the mausoleum of Lenin located in Red Square, where his mummified body has been exposed in a dark tomb since his death in 1924. A truly strange experience of historical significance. After passing through metal detectors at the security gate the guard asked where are you from? Hearing ‘Canada’, his face lit up, ‘Wayne Gretyzky! Hockey! You are champions’’ (complete with mime of a slapshot). Canada had just beat Russia in the World Cup of Hockey, 5-3. Jason followed behind me and was only too happy to talk hockey with the guard, discussing the recent KHL game we went to in Saint-Petersburg. When it comes to hockey, Canada and Russia definitely speak the same language.
After ticking the hockey game off the list, we did manage to squeeze in a ballet in Saint Petersburg on our last night before travelling to Moscow. Unfortunately, as the official ballet season at the world-renowned Mariinsky theatre happened to close just as we were arriving (what timing!), the only ballet tickets we did manage to find happened to be for a very amateur production of Swan Lake held in the theatre of an industrial-looking hotel complex in an unattractive part of the city, where the only people in attendance were tour groups staying within the very hotel. (This we only found out on site as the ticket selling agent in the city only spoke Russian). It was not the ballet I was hoping for, the saving grace being the live music of the very tiny orchestra ensemble, and the wine we drank straight from the bottle in our last row seats. In a country renown for ballet, it was possibly not the best one we could find, but we did have a good time.
The more exciting ballet moment came in Moscow, where in compensation for the mediocre ballet in Saint-Petersburg, we lined up early to get tickets for the backstage tour of the famous Bolshoi theatre (only the first 20 people are allowed in, and this only once per day on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays). The satisfaction of being numbers 10-11 was immense, and the tour was completely worth the wait.
Jason, lying right next to me, just rose up in a panic thinking he had crushed a bed bug between his fingers.
It was lint.
The fear of bed bugs is real people!
On that happy note, good night! 🙂