So yesterday (the 16th) we woke up to this;
Which makes exploring a unfathomably big city on foot a tad inconvenient. It doesn’t take too much of a stretch of the imagine to gather that we planned our day around activities that could be enjoyed indoors.
Firstly, we travelled via the metro 11km north of our hostel to VDNKH. I have no idea if that stands for something or if that is the actual name of the area but we went there to visit the museum of Astronautics.
Space travel, and especially Russian space travel is a extremely small droplet in my fountain of fruitful interests. However, I put that to one side and went in open-minded. It didn’t even live up to my low expectations. Even if I had been a space travel fanatic, only 20% of the informative descriptions were in English. Almost as if they (whoever they are) didn’t want us to know how they managed such achievements. But for myself who is more interested in the Winter Dulux colour range I didn’t find it too appealing and especially not after the 30 minute metro ride. Maybe I am being too harsh, there were some cool exhibits. Laika, the first Dog in space made an appearance and the presentation of the museum was nothing more than spectacular.
I also tried some Russian space food, but with no English descriptions or without an employee who spoke English I chose the most boring thing ever. Cheese biscuits. It cost me £3 to eat 6 little crackers the size of a 10p coin. I suppose that’s not the museums fault I did that but if you are in Moscow for a short space of time I would go somewhere better, even it was only £2 to go in.
Note: reading back over that paragraph makes me sound like a whiny douche that wants everything to be understandable in my language in a foreign country, but it’s how I feel and I’m going to stick with it.
Afterwards we headed back into central Moscow to check out the Museum of Illusions. At first when we entered it looked certain to be another disappointment but once we got into the groove of things it was pretty fun. Definitely a good place to go to take some hilarious pictures. Tickets were only £3 and it made the rain outside feel like a distant memory.
The day went really fast and before you know it we were parched and hungry. We got a metro to Mayakovskaya and ate at a really affordable and ‘weather spoons like’ Czech restaurant. The food in Moscow is served in pretty small portions in my opinion but this place offered a decent sized plate of food oozing with flavour, spice and taste. After sinking a few Russian beers (we’ve had so many I never remember their names) we decided to head off back to the hostel for about 11pm and chill out.
Today we woke up with the aftermath of yesterday’s sleet and rain in the form of the slippiest ice, where one wrong move could result in you breaking your neck. After slowly crunching our way over the frozen puddles we headed for our beloved local metro station (Kropotkinskaya). It’s really strange to get an emotional attachment to your local metro but something about it makes me feel like I’ve been here and used it before, which I know I haven’t. Maybe I should seek a psychiatrist when I get back to England.
After a 6 stop journey we arrived at Partizanskaya where the Izmailovsky market runs from 10am – 6pm Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
It wasn’t quite what we were expecting. For some reason we got into our heads it would be like the flea market we visited in Riga, instead it was more of a place to buy souvenirs. Nevertheless I thought it was awesome! From Russian dolls and cigarette lighters to army gear and beautifully made urns and teapots it is a great place to buy stuff to remind you of your trip to Moscow. Me and Georgia bought a pin to add to our collection and G also bought a Vlad t shirt for her Dad as a gift. Although haggling is encouraged it almost felt like a wasted effort as it was so cheap anyway, at points you were haggling over 10p. A good couple of hours passed and followed by a scrumptious lunch at an authentic cafe close by we wondered to the side of the market and came across a hidden gem of buildings.
Some were churches, some were insurance firms, one was the ‘Ministry of Joy’ which I loved, but the building that caught our attention was the Vodka History Museum. When in Rome eh?
It was actually really interesting. I feel like a know a lot about the history and origins of vodka, which I won’t bore you with but it cost £1.50 roughly to enter and I thoroughly enjoyed it. At the end you are also given the opportunity to try this watered down honey vodka (only about 7%) which was delicious. So good I bought a bottle of it. I also bought a small bottle of pepper vodka (35%) which was £1.50) I think Georgia had a good time there, but every time I turned around to see where she was I saw her stroking the cats in the corner who had taken refuge from the unbearable -7 cold outside.
One thing me and Georgia are ever so slightly struggling with is our budgeting! Some days we think we’ve done really well, some days we think we overspent. It’s really hard to gauge your budget when you are 1 and a half weeks into a 8 and a half month trip.
So with that in mind we decided to avoid eating out and cooked a Pastina which from memory Georgia told me was a Sicilian peasant dish. It is essentially a broth of boiled vegetables, with lots of water. The outcome is delightful and we made enough to feed the whole Khamovniki District.
With a cheap dinner sitting satisfyingly in our stomachs we walked 100 metres to a local bar where we had the most pretentious cocktails ever! One of mine came in a small bowl with a large spherical ice cube plopped in the middle, scented liquid nitrogen (I think) froffing behind my cocktail which the waiter took away 5 seconds later and then him spraying Rose aroma all over our table. He was a great chap though, he was called Andreas and was from Greece. He’s lived in 6 different countries including England and recommend some places for us to go. It was nice to speak to someone other than Georgia (sorry Georgia) in English as speaking broken Russian all day long is quite exhausting!