I must say my first impressions of Moscow were not great. The city was overwhelming with hordes of grim people riding the metro, intimidating Soviet officials and hard to navigate streets. But after only four days here, I have been totally drawn in and want to know and experience more.
The culture is deep and vast and it’s impossible to even begin to understand its depth in such a short period of time. I know that I must return to dig deeper into the people and the city that lies beneath the surface.
We’ve seen the “must see’s” in the past couple of days – Lenin’s embalmed body, preserved at a young age, the treasures of the Tzars on display in the Kremlin, great art and magnificent architecture
from diverse eras. So much to absorb in such a short period of time but such as it is when circling the globe in a mere three month time period.
Seeing Lenin was an experience I will never forget. After waiting in a long line, we arrived at the security checkpoint and were instructed in not so pleasant terms to get into another long line and check in our cameras and cell phones. After fighting through the hordes of other tourists we were allowed into the mausoleum. It was dark and quiet. Outside of the hushed footsteps of people walking around Lenin’s preserved body, the only sounds I heard were the cry of a baby and the loud Shhh from the Soviet guards. It was almost hard to comprehend but yet memorable.
Perhaps because it is June
with its long days and the “white nights” it’s a popular time to get married and we saw wedding parties everywhere.
From pirate themed weddings to brides that looked like they were right out of fashion shoots, we encountered bridal parties at every landmark. One thing I have noticed these past days is that Muscovites
have a style all their own and they show their flare in many ways, especially when posing for photos. They don’t just stand there and smile at the camera – they “pose”. It was quite a joy to see and made me wonder even more about the character of these people.
One thing a bit bewildering was all the open drinking in public. An odd sight and a contrast to what you’d expect in a society that is seemingly structured and authoritarian. There is a definite sense of chaos amongst the bureaucracy and a laissez fare attitude. Not what I expected at all and a bit like the “Wild West”. It’s observations like this that make me want to understand more about this culture.
We’ve walked miles, navigated our way through the labyrinth of the metro system, seen the jewels of the Tsars and the
golden domes of the churches, been surrounded by women in babushkas as we entered the Cathedral of Chris the Savior, the “Mecca” of the Eastern Orthodox religion, were at arm’s length from the embalmed body of Lenin and drank beer with the locals at cafes. Our days have been long – the sun is up at 4AM and down at 11PM and we are pleasantly exhausted. My impressions of this great city have changed for the better since we’ve arrived. I’m no longer overwhelmed but invigorated and I will have to return to see more of Moscow and the rest of this vast country.