The Week in Review

April 10, 2010

Здрвствуйте из Москвы (Hello from Moscow),

All is well in Moscow. The days have been picking up speed, and I think I’m finally getting fully adjusted to life in Moscow. There is nothing too terribly exciting to report from the first two days of the week, but Wednesday was good old Trevor’s birthday. We decided to do most of the celebrating Tuesday night, and because I needed a stable internet connection for a job interview, we started things off at GUM. It’s a little embarrassing to be recognized by the guy who serves beer at the enormous mall on Red Square, but what can I say, it’s a quiet and comfortable place and the beer is cheap.

Afterwards, we hopped on the Metro and headed towards Trevor’s stop, and promptly bought more beer once we made it to Akademecheskaya. It was a pretty uneventful night, and the best I could do for my friend on his birthday was to buy all his beer for him.

The only picture I got of Trevor on his birthday, apologies to friends and family. Also if you look close you can see that the guy sitting next to Trevor has a Chihuahua in a little cage on his lap.

For our weekly Wednesday excursion, we visited the Novodevichy Convent and Cemetery. The convent was kind of a snooze. It was beautiful of course, and it was interesting to hear about its unique place in Russian history, but there are only so many churches and icons you can see before you get sick of them. Despite this fact, I did take some pictures of the place.

Main cathedral and bell tower.

Princess Sofia's personal church.

Another view of Princess Sofia's personal church. Her living quarters are to the left on top of the white wall.

The much more interesting part of Wednesday’s excursion was the time we had to wander around the Novodevichy Cemetery. Novodevichy was constructed in the 15th century, and it’s cemetery is the final resting place of many of the most famous Russians. The Cemetery has everything you’d expect in a Russian cemetery filled with Russian war heroes and former party brass. The place is filled with huge busts of former party members, overgrowth and thin paths, and the words “hero of the USSR” are on many more stones than they should be.

First president in Russian history, Boris Yeltsin. His monument is a billowing Russian flag made from precious stones native to Russia.

This is the grave of a famous Russian ballet dancer as you might have guessed. Her name isn't so important, I just really loved this headstone.

This was a particularly interesting one for me. This is Vladimir Govorov, an Army General from WWII. Complete with shells, rivets, and a particularly strong bust, this may be the most glorious grave I've ever seen.

Anton Chekhov's grave.

Close-up of Chekov's headstone.

And last, but certiainly not least, Nikita Khrushchev. Khrushchev is the only former leader of the Soviet Union not buried in the Kremlin wall.

On Thursday, Trevor’s host mom took us to an orchestra performance at Moscow State, which featured a famous guest viola player named Gibbon Kramer. I really can’t stress enough how huge Moscow State is, and it was incredibly fortunate for us that Trevor’s host mom could get us into this thing. I didn’t have my camera with me on this day, which is a huge disservice to you, and I’m sorry. The auditorium is absolutely surreal. Flanking the stage are two enormous busts with two enormous quotes below them. On the right is Lenin, and on the left is Marx. The backdrop of the stage is a sprawling mosaic of red and gold with waving communist flags, prominently featuring the hammer and sickle as well as the revolutionary star.

The place is truly indescribable, and if you know anything about Soviet history, it’s amazing the number of these symbolic reminders still fly in today’s Russia. I’ll make sure to get back and get some pictures.

I’m looking forward to just relaxing this weekend. I don’t have any plans to speak of, but we did have the idea of heading to bars around Moscow State to try to meet some Russians our age. I’ll keep you in the know.

Ваш,

Кевин

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