Curious price differences

March 26, 2010


Today was our first day of classes technically, and it started with me waking up later than I wanted to and busting it to get to class on time. My host mother woke me about 20 minutes before I wanted to leave home, after my alarm didn’t go off.

Our first class was intensive language, which is what we desperately need right now. Our professor, Svetlana, started off by assigning us alter egos (mine was Yury) and having us sing and do charades to remember certain things in Russian. It was a really low pressure situation and she was very entertaining and interested in what we were doing.

After classes, Trevor and I struck out on our own to find the gigantic statue of Peter the Great. The statue of Peter was designed by the Georgian (the country, not the state) artist Tsereteli, who is widely panned for being too gaudy, too over the top and just an all around terrible artist; you’ll see why in a minute. What Tsereteli lacks in talent, he makes up for with close ties to the iron-willed mayor of Moscow, Yury Luzhkov. Thanks to Tsereteli’s friendship with Luzhkov, his work is all over the city and there is even a gallery filled with just. his. crap.

You really can't get the full effect from this side of the river, so I'll be going to back to more accurately capture its true ugliness.

Anyway, pretty much everyone in Moscow hates this thing for any number of reasons, and one group even tried to blow it up not too long ago. For one thing, Tsereteli designed the thing to be a sculpture commemorating Christopher Columbus, but no one in the states wanted it; mostly because it is god-awful. For another, it makes no sense to have a sculpture twice the size of the statue of liberty in the middle of the river of the guy who hated Moscow so much that he moved the capital to St. Petersburg.

The fun part of this excursion was the getting there. We walked all around downtown trying to find this horrible statue, all the while stumbling on interesting sites we might not have seen if we knew where we were going. It took Trevor and I probably an hour to find this horrible thing, and afterwards we decided to exercise our rights as Russians and buy dirt cheap, high alcohol content beer and drink it on the street in front of god and the whole world.

Trevor's beer was Белый Медвед, which literally means white bear, but I'm guessing in this context means polar bear?

This brings me to the working title of this post. On Thursday, we went to a little cafe and I got an Americano for 125 rubles, about $4. Good coffee is a very expensive commodity in Russia, I knew I would have to pay more. Today when we went to buy alcohol on the other hand, I bought a 16 oz., 8% alcohol by volume, quality beer for 32 rubles; that’s about $1. In addition, you can buy beer in these three liter plastic bottles for about the cost of one cafe Americano.

Once we finished our beers, it was time to head home. For dinner, my host mom cooked up a steamin’ pot of borsht, and it was absolutely delicious. I might even say it’s the best thing I’ve had so far.

Tomorrow is our first Saturday in Moscow and our first day completely on our own; no school or excursions etc. Around noon I’ll be meeting up with the other people in our group at Red Square to do a little exploring, wish me luck.

На завтра




4 Responses to “Curious price differences”

  1. ian Says:

    are you eating meat while you’re there?

    • Kevin Says:

      Luckily my parents are vegetarians, but I am eating more dairy than I could ever want. Cheese and butter seem to be important food groups in Russia.

  2. ian Says:

    word. try something fucked up while you’re there. miss you guys.

  3. […] known more for skyscrapers and horrific statues by Zurab Tsereteli. The example above is from Kevin Zieber, who entertainingly describes this most prominent of many Tsereteli statues erected during […]

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