Vladimir

Posted: June 30, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

The last few days have included a series of adventures both in and outside of Moscow. Friday was my day to be pretentious. I went to my Dutch neighbor’s presentation on her work in the Russian State Socio-Political Archive (RGASPI). Her presentation to some department in RGGU was entirely in French. She was nice enough to invite me and I had fun listening to the discrepancies between what she said in French and how it was translated into Russian by one of the department members. The documents she had been looking at were in French that somehow magically wound their way to the Russian archive. Many of them happened to be letters declining invitations to dinners or balls or theatre programs.

After her presentation a few of the department members were confused by my presence and were surprised when I started to speak to them in Russian. At least I made one of them laugh when I responded with some extremely colloquial Russian. I did not say anything inappropriate. It was mostly how I said “dorm” instead of “dormitory” that made the woman laugh.

Leaving RGGU’s building off of Red Square, we headed to the Arbat to get a few souvenirs. The Arbat is the complete pedestrian tourist street. In addition to tons of souvenir stores, practically every restaurant on the street is an American chain. I counted two Dunkin Donuts, a Starbucks, a McDonald’s, a Wendy’s, and a Shake Shack. There were probably others that I tuned out.

I was completely surprised to see a Shake Shack on the Arbat.

I was completely surprised to see a Shake Shack on the Arbat.

Saturday’s adventure was going to the Kursk Train Station in an attempt to buy train tickets to the ancient Russian city of Vladimir, which is about 120 miles east of Moscow. I headed off to the train station to buy my ticket in person because the RZhD (the Russian railway) website refuses to accept foreign credit or debit cards. Matanja was nice enough to accompany me on my frustrating trip. On the main hall I asked where to buy tickets to Vladimir as different windows only service certain locations and types of trains (long distance or regional electric trains). The lady at the desk told me to go to the far part of the second floor. At the far part of the second floor I went to the window that said it sold tickets for express trains, but the woman at that window sent me to a different window. When I went to the next window the woman told me to go back to where I had started. Seeing no sense so this I quit and returned home. I texted my friend Emily who told me that the tickets for the express train that I wanted are sold in the main hall of the second floor. Why one of the women at the ticket windows couldn’t have told me that I will never understand.

Sunday morning I got up earlier than I would normally do on the weekend so that I could make it to the train station to buy my ticket in time for the 11AM express to Vladimir. Thankfully I managed to buy the ticket and had a comfortable ride. An hour and 45 minutes later I found myself in one of the former medieval capitals of Russia. The city has a few beautiful churches from the 12th century.

The Golden Gate. It has a golden dome at the top, but this is what you get when strangers take photos of you with landmarks.

The Golden Gate. It has a golden dome at the top, but this is what you get when strangers take photos of you with landmarks.

Unfortunately, that’s all that’s really in the city. My friend Emily showed me all of the main sights in the city pretty quickly. After that, we hopped on a bus for about twenty minutes to see a church on the outskirts of the city. We got off of the bus, crossed the railroad tracks, and then walked across a field for about ten or fifteen minutes. The walk through the field was pleasant and it was great to find the small old church located on a picturesque little pond.

The real Russia.

The real Russia.

While there may not have been a lot to do in Vladimir, I’m really happy that I got a chance to see the city. The train ride there and back was interesting and only cost about $25 roundtrip. It was very nice to leave Moscow, which really isn’t like the rest of Russia at all. I enjoy spending time in the extremely beautiful Russian countryside. Plus, the Russian historian in me enjoys exploring other sites important to Russian history even if I’m more interested in Soviet history than imperial.

Does your city have a 12th century church? Probably not.

Does your city have a 12th century church? Probably not.

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