Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Our walking tour of Moscow - finished!

More walking tour of Moscow. Let me see, where did we stop last time? At the Red Gates, weren't we?



Ok, then, let's start on the outside of the Red Gates then. Just a short walk away is GUM, Moscow's famous "department" store.














It isn't a department store now, and I don't know if it ever was. It is an indoor shopping center - gorgeous, and high-priced. Arched, iron-framed skylight ceilings let in the sun on small shops, fountains, and cafes. Not to mention letting in the sun on the tourists too. Background noise is a dozen languages.










From there we'll walk a block or so in the other direction back to the Bolshoi theater. We buy our tickets and go in to see the Bolshoi company dance. All the seats in the house are good seats. The floor seats are chairs, fitted with red velvet cushions, and held in place by iron frames. Quite comfortable, actually. You can see the six balconies of box seats. The "czar's" box is quite elaborate and large. This all looks as though it was designed and built before the Bolshevik revolution, but then was altered to reflect Soviet design themes. You can see the Soviet emblem over the czar's box, and woven into the luxurious stage curtains.












From the Bolshoi we go to the Metro - Moscow's subway system. We'll get on at the theater station and go get some dinner. Street musicians are common in the Metro and in the street underpasses that Moscow uses rather than mix pedestrians with cars for major thouroughfares.




The metro is a remarkable
underground rail system. Many of the stations are to me surprisingly beautiful. I recall some very beautiful details in some of the older stations in the New York subways, and the Atlanta system is kind of interesting, but these stations are marvelous. The floors, and often the walls are stone. Cream colors, red colors, black colors, many colors of beautiful stone. The ceilings and walls have designs and decorations individual to the station - with a theme for that station. I think the themes may reflect something that the station once served or was located near, but what do I know. I know there is a link that will show you some of the stations, and more of Moscow, too. The trains run frequently and are quite busy. I've included a photo of a Soviet era bronze that I particularly liked. There were some art-deco era lamp fixtures in this station that looked a little abandoned. They would bring a fortune on Ebay. But, I do think the gov't is proud of these stations, and I did see signs of maintenance and upkeep. The cars often looked nearly ancient, but are also obviously kept up with good paint and maintenance.

There are some signs of graffiti and trash, but also it is apparent that this stuff gets fixed. So, it is a city, like most others, and once again, I see signs that the economy and the city are healthy. Speaking of healthy cities, I think I have mentioned that so far Moscow has seemed to have less air pollution than I would expect from a city of this size. In speaking with one of our locals at the office, it turns out that Moscow used to have quite bad air pollution, but the government took measures to either shut down or control industrial polluters. The end result is that automobiles are probably the major polluter now, and the condition there is probably as I noted earlier. Today you can find Mitsubishis, Subarus, Mercedes, and Hummers. Five or ten years ago, the number of automobiles was certainly fewer though.

Anyone for dinner? Traditional Russian dinner! The soup is kvas soup - a chilled summer soup with a fermented non or lo alcohol Russian beverage as the base. Nice fresh veggies go inside - radishes, onions, etc etc and cilantro! Cilantro turns out to be a popular spice here. Next for an appetizer, I have stuffed eggplant. I think I had pork for the main dish, also quite good.



So now I say dobroya noiche - good night - I feel like I'm talking like one of those stupid travelogue films!

Later, y'all.

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