Posts Tagged ‘Metro’

In my final days before departing Russia, I had quite the packed schedule. I returned from Ulyanovsk to go back to finish up a few archival folders. From there, I headed to Taekwondo, where I spent the night sweating and learning Koryo with the Russian national poomsae champion. On Thursday night, I went to ShOR 41 for the last time for Taekwondo. It was super sad. I’m going to miss training with my excellent coach and the cool Russians. I definitely learned a lot of good drills and skills while training with them. I’m going to long for the intense practices.

With my coach on the left and the Russian national poomsae champion on the right.

On Wednesday, I worked in Little GARF and finished my research there. In the evening, I went to Erin’s and we made tacos. The weather was slightly nice enough for us to have a beer on the balcony before we froze to death. On Thursday, I went to Alla’s for tea. She fed me okroshka and a berry pie. After Taekwondo on Thursday, I had some drinks with the Italians and some of their Italian speaking Russian friends. It was a mini-goodbye party for the Italians.

One of the Italians now. Va bene!

On Friday, I got up and went to say goodbye to Alessandra, one of the Italians from my floor. She also had to go to the post office, so we took a taxi to one by Chisty Prudi together. I had to send Jean Louis the coat that he bought and couldn’t get from the dry cleaner in time before his departure. I went to the first window to buy a box. She told me to get a bag and to go to window 46. At window 46, I waited while someone else was in front of me. She told me to go to any other window. I went to a different window. The woman there told me to get a bag from the first window. I went to the first window but there was no one there, so I went back to window 46 and got the bag and filled out all of the forms there. It was an unpleasant exercise as usual. I also had to pay roughly $30 in cash to send the coat. I’m glad that I had enough money with me at the time. Alessandra and I then went back to the dorm and we quickly chugged a beer each in her room while she packed and before I headed off to lunch.

I met Oksana, my former Fulbright coordinator, for lunch at a beer place called Brussels that’s right next to her office. I joked that I want a Russian husband so that I can get permanent residence status and a passport. She said she would help me out. As we ate, the skies opened up to a massive storm. It stopped raining when we left lunch, but the sky was fearsomely dark. I made it to the perekhod in time for it to start pouring like crazy. Oksana messaged to see if I was ok, and I doubled back and had a cup of tea in her office for a bit while the rain lessened. It did indeed slow, and I walked home without getting fully soaked. I then relaxed at home for a short bit before heading off to meet Anton, Aleksei, and Mikhail.

With Oksana as the storm rolled in.

Anton met me at the Serpukhovskaya Metro, and we rode to Profsoyuznaya. Profsoyuznaya has super evident blast doors at the entrance. They have handles and you can see the rubber seals for the hermetic seals. Anton explained that each door has its own generator, and they cannot be opened without the generators. They’re too heavy and would take a massive crew and machines to otherwise open.

Super blast door.

We ended up walking through the rain and meandered our away around eventually to the Rio Mall by Krymskaya. We went in there and got some food before walking to Tulskaya where we parted ways. Nothing much of extreme interest happened while out. The sky was scary and we kept trying to walk away from the storm. At one point, we got somewhat caught in the rain and stopped under a bus stop roof for a while where we drank balsam from a bottle that Anton had. At some point in time Anton found an umbrella on the ground, but it was broken. He walked with it for a while, though, because it did provide a small amount of relief from the rain.

Aleksei couldn’t quite fix the umbrella.

On Saturday, I got up at met Erin outside Alla’s. We had breakfast/brunch with Alla. Alla had made a nice salad as well as a different berry pie. Alla told me and Erin to come back in September. In the afternoon, I went to Tatiana Selvinskaya’s. She is my grandmother’s cousin, who I met through fate while I was teaching in Ulyanovsk. She was excited to see me and said as such. She had two of her students with her, both men. Oleg was about 30 and Aleksei was about 45. They were sweet and helped her out a lot. We chatted about the family as well as her art. She was happy that I took a keen interest in her paintings. Apparently some people come over to her studio and don’t bother to look at her work, which annoys her. She is turning 90 in November and invited me to her exhibition at the Bakhrushkin Museum. I said that I had to teach, but maybe I could be “ill” and miss class for a bit. She found this hilarious and approved of my idea. I have the email of Oleg, and have promised to look for a send her photos of her aunt Raisa, my great-grandmother. Tatiana has never seen a photo of her and wants to badly because allegedly she looks like Raisa. She also insisted on feeding me and made me eat a lot. She’s very sweet and seems sincerely keen on having me stay in touch. I was impressed with how sharp she was mentally at almost 90. She is hard of hearing and slightly slow to move around, but she still paints almost every day. I guess we get our work ethic and good genes from the Russian side of our family.

With Tata.

Finally, on Sunday July 2, I flew home from Russia. The night before I managed to pack everything up. I got up in the morning and then handed my key into Evgeny, the only guy who works at the front desk of the dormitory. He said goodbye to me and was super nice and carried my second bag out to my waiting taxi. I then took a taxi to Belorussky Vokzal to take the Aeroexpress train to Sheremetyevo Airport. Annoyingly, the front of the station is currently under construction and I was forced to carry my two bags up a set of stairs into the station because all of the ramps were blocked off. I then got my ticket and onto the train without an issues. I was happy to see that Russia was being Russia on my way back to the airport. There was a woman across from me who had a cat on a leash with her. The cat looked unhappy and kept meowing at times and she just shushed it.

Russia doesn’t disappoint.

At the airport, I went through initial security with no comments. Last time, they made me turn my computer on at the first security check point. I then waited in a super long line to drop off my baggage. After dropping off my bags, I was told to cut the line and return to the window because I had to pay for my second bag, which can only be done at a separate window. When I put my first bag down to be weighed, I had a moment of anxiety. It turned out to weigh 22.9KG of the allowed 23KG. The man taking my bags laughed and asked if I had been very worried. He then complimented me on my packing skills. The second bag, a much smaller one, weighed less. I then went off to pay for my bag at the other window and was surprised by the even higher baggage fee. Years ago, there used to be two free checked bags between Moscow and New York. This is now down to one bag. In September, I paid $50 to check my extra bag (there is no other option when one bag is boots, coats, and hats to ward off the Russian winter). I was slightly shocked to find out that the new fee is 100 Euros because my flight originates in Moscow. In the future, it might be cheaper to initially book a more expensive seat on the plane in exchange for extra baggage allowance.

A very rainy departure. My friends and I joked that Russia was crying about me leaving.

My flight home was uneventful, but annoying. I’m sad to say that it was probably the worst flight I’ve ever taken on my beloved Aeroflot. The Boeing 777 was clearly one of the first ones that entered service on the airline. The seats were the cloth ones, and they were already worn out. The padding had been worn completely down on my seat to the point that the plastic sides of the seat were jamming into my ribs. The tray table was also worn out. In newer planes, the tray tables fold in half to accommodate for the larger seatback TV screen. Because my tray table had been used, and abused, so much, it folded out past its intended dimensions so that instead of being flat, it almost took the shape of and upside-down V. The result of this was that my food tray kept sliding off of the tray table. I could only eat my food with one hand, the other had to hold my try in place. Additionally, we took off in fairly heavy rain. The rain was so bad that when we took off, a lot of it leaked through the plane and onto me. I was fairly wet for a while, but dried off quickly due to how hot and dry it was in the cabin. Finally, I spent roughly 10 hours being kicked by the small child in the seat behind me and kept awake by the multitude of screaming babies and toddlers on the flight. In the summer season, there seem to be a lot of small children flying between New York and Moscow, which always results in unpleasant flights.

Thankfully my phone was in my hand and didn’t get soaked.

We landed without incident and I quickly passed through customs. Even if you only flight once or twice out of the country, I would highly recommend you get Global Entry if you qualify for it. It’s only $100 for 5 years, and it comes with TSA Pre-Check. I literally spent 30 seconds filling out my customs form, having my picture taken, and talking to the customs official. I then spent 45 minutes waiting for my bags because JFK is a crumbling, third world airport. Nothing says welcome to America like broken and dirty bathrooms and crumbling infrastructure. After getting my luggage and proceeding past the final customs point, I met my dad in the airport and we headed off to get pizza in the Bronx. Life is good, and I’ll be spending as much time as possible passed out in my hammock this summer.

Some post-Russia traditions are sacred.

I’ve been back in Moscow for over a week and a half, and things have been fairly busy after the first few days of recovering from jet lag. Before I cover my recent escapades, I have to jump back in time to December. I had an action packed couple of days before leaving and forgot to write about them during the jet lag haze from returning home.

The highlights of those days were the two days before flying out, Saturday and Sunday. I got up early in the morning on the Saturday, so I could ride down to the end of the green line, to Tsaritsino, to watch a local Taekwondo tournament and cheer on my club mates.

Watching Nikita winning his fight.

Watching Nikita winning his fight.

From the meet, I took the metro to Sokolniki Park to meet Tobi and Micah, my dorm neighbors, to go cross country skiing there. We couldn’t have had a better day for it. The weather was sunny and it in the 20s. The ski rental was relatively easy to find from the park map. It cost 150 rubles to rent skis, boots, and poles for two hours. The annoying thing was that it cost 200 rubles to leave my boots in the hut. For $2.50 for two hours, the skis weren’t too bad. They were probably Finnish made and had rat trap style bindings. The boots themselves had a small hole in them, but they were more or less OK.

No extra charge for the hole.

No extra charge for the hole.

The park is itself great. It was the former hunting grounds of Ivan the Terrible, and was the first national park in Russia. Within a few minutes of skiing away from the center of the park, we were essentially in deep woods of birch trees. At one point, off in the depths of the woods, we came across a babushka just out for a walk in her fur coat. One of the nice things about Russia is that the natives don’t let the cold stop them. The park was filled with lots of people just walking through the woods, as well as others skiing or sledding. The center of the park even had a fairly nifty circular ice rink going around a giant New Year’s tree.

Into the woods we go.

Into the woods we go.

The skiing itself was pretty good. Some of the trails had fairly soft snow, and some were groomed with the double track for cross country skiing. There were smaller, wooded trails as well as open trails that were built as race circuits. It was Tobi and Micah’s first time cross country skiing. They picked it up pretty quickly, though Tobi was fairly bold and fell a few times. In the process of falling, he broke one of his skis, which he didn’t notice until just before we went to turn them in. In theory, we should have only paid 75 rubles for the skiing as students, but we didn’t fight for it. We also had to pay a 1,000 ruble deposit to ski, which Tobi didn’t get back for breaking the ski.

Ooops.

Ooops.

After skiing, I headed to Alla’s for pelmeni night. Alla had cooked three kinds of pelmeni: seafood, potato, and meat. Each had its own kind of sauce. The seafood pelmeni were accompanied by red caviar in sour cream, the potato by an almost Caesar dressing, and the meat ones with a garlic sauce. There was also a salad and some mushrooms as sides.

So. Much. Food.

So. Much. Food.

Some of the other highlights included a Christmas/goodbye party with some of the dorm neighbors.

Only two of us are staying this whole year. There are only three of us on the floor at the moment. One goes home in a few days.

Only two of us are staying this whole year. There are only three of us on the floor at the moment. One goes home in a few days.

Jumping back to the more recent past, I’ve been fairly busy with archival work as usual. I had ordered my documents ahead of time at the military archive via the internet, and they were indeed ready as promised. My bribes at the military archive have also paid off. Before leaving for Christmas, I gave the reading room staff some chocolates, which they gladly accepted. Upon returning, I also gave them a small box of chocolates from America. This had paid off. Recently, I ordered a few different documents. I didn’t know, but one was on microfilm while the others were on paper. In some archives, this is a huge no-no. God help you if you want to order different media on one slip of paper. One employee told me she caught it and filled out a different form for me so that I would be sure to get the microfilm one. She claims that there is some sort of indication in the finding aide as to whether or not the files are paper or on microfilm, but I think that’s just a myth.

The military archive was the easy one. I had to re-register at the State Archive (GARF) and the Economic Archive (RGAE). The process was almost like I had never been there before. I had to get a temporary pass by showing a letter of introduction and my passport. Then, upstairs, I had to hand in my letters of introduction, one for each of the archives even though they share a reading room and ID card. At GARF, the archivist vaguely remembered me and told me that I could still log into the system with my ID number in order to fill out the registration form again. Thankfully, it didn’t take too long to re-register and order documents at these archives. The archivist at GARF was even nice when I asked which reading room my documents would be in, which turns out to be both of them. Despite being on the same physical campus, they have different hours of operation. Because why not.

After registering at GARF and RGAE, I hopped back on the metro to go to the Russian State Archive of Socio-Political History (RGASPI) to register there for the first time. Getting there wasn’t bad because the Frunzenskaya Metro station, the one by GARF, has re-opened after renovations. Now I don’t have to switch from the metro to an overcrowded bus to get to and from GARF, which is a huge plus. I’ve never worked at RGASPI, but I was slightly afraid because friends told horror stories of Misha, the infamous archivist there. Surprisingly, he was very friendly and helpful, and registration was quick and easy. It felt like a trap.

The outside of the building is great. There are giant reliefs of Marx, Engels, and Lenin on the façade.

It's easy to find RGASPI. Just turn left at the trio of Soviet faces.

It’s easy to find RGASPI. Just turn left at the trio of Soviet faces.

The building had a great location to boot. It’s a few blocks from Red Square. The archive is across the street from Louis Vuitton and Nobu. It’s also a few doors down from Krasnodar Bistro, the place that sells the delicious nutria burgers. I might have to escape to there for a lunch break sometime.

Probably why the faces of Marx, Engels, and Lenin look so angry. They have to stare at their enemy. I bet no one could have imagined this would be downtown Moscow 25 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Probably why the faces of Marx, Engels, and Lenin look so angry. They have to stare at their enemy. I bet no one could have imagined this would be downtown Moscow 25 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Outside of research, I recently went to two cool museums. The first was the Metro Museum, which is free. I met with Anne-Marie to get there. We got off at the stop where it supposedly is, Sportivnaya, on the Red Line. We got out, couldn’t find it at one exit, walked around to the other exit street side to find that it also wasn’t there. We walked back to the first side and asked the woman selling Metro tickets where the museum was. She told us that it had moved to a completely different station on one of the newer lines. In total, about 45 minutes had elapsed since we met up to get to the museum. Anne-Marie mentioned how she is only this patient in Russia, and it’s true. At home, I would probably be very angry that things had changed without much indication on the internet. In Russia, though, this is just par for the course and I go with the flow.

Eventually, we wound up at the correct stop. The museum is built above the Vystavochnaya Metro station. It had some cool documents and maps from the planning of the metro back to tsarist times. Then there were artifacts from all stages of the construction of the metro from the 1930s to present, largely broken into eras that showed the growth of the system and the evolution of its technology.

Older Metro control station.

Older Metro control station. This one is from Park Kultury.

One really cool part of the exhibit was a simulator of the metro engineer. There were a few screens plus a full driver’s console. You had to press the button for the announcement about the doors closing, then close the doors, then accelerate, maintain speed, and then brake for the station. An announcement also had to be made for arriving at the station, and then the doors had to be opened. It was fun, but my years of playing GTA made me want to do everything wrong for fun such as driving above speed with the doors open. I miraculously resisted the urge to be a hooligan, though.

New job?

New job?

The other really cool museum I went to is the Central Armed Forces Museum, formerly the museum of the Soviet Army. I went with Anton, who I met at the Buzzcocks concert in December. He took me with two of his friends. First, we got off at an earlier metro stop to see some houses that had been constructed by German POWs.

Central Armed Forces Museum.

Central Armed Forces Museum.

Then, we wandered around the impressive army museum for hours. Most of the museum is about WWII, but it had some good stuff on WWI and the Russian Civil War. There were some really cool White Army uniforms and artifacts, such as banners and medals that belong to General Kornilov’s group, the Kornilovtsy, as well as a really cool painting that depicted the end of White Russia. The painting was of White Army officers and their family members as well as priests leaving Russia on a boat. Although my family members were peasants, they likely were on a similar boat to the one depicted in the painting.

The end of White Russia.

The end of White Russia.

The best part was walking through the outdoor pavilion filled with tanks, jets, and missile launchers. It felt fantastically Russian to wander around those implements in the falling snow.

Like Victory Day but better because of the snow.

Like Victory Day but better because of the snow.

The final moment of interest from the last few weeks was watching a man watch Trump’s inauguration on his phone while grabbing dinner at a restaurant with some friends. It was being broadcast on Russian media sites and had subtitles.img_3256

Thursday started out as a good day and kept getting progressively better. I got up and got on the Metro to head off to the RGVA (the military archive) and was pleasantly surprised to immediately notice someone watching the tv show Chuck on their iPad. Sadly I could not creep on them for very long as I had to get off at the next stop to switch lines.

"Short skirt and a long jacket."

“Short skirt and a long jacket.”

I had planned my trip to Ulyanovsk around when my documents would be ready at the military archive. Their summer holiday ran from July 1st through 14th. They said that my documents would be ready on the 17th. I arrived, handed them my pass, and told them that I was expecting documents. The woman at the reading room window could not immediately find my documents so she told me to take a seat. I waited for about 15 minutes before she came back to me. She said that she had found the request form, but for some reason someone had incorrectly written that the documents would be ready on the 25th, which is great because I leave on the 24th. The woman apologized for the mistake and told me that the documents will be ready on Monday.

Not having the documents ready worked in my favor, though, because a new friend was going to be spending the day in Moscow. As I mentioned in the previous post, Jason teaches English in Ulyanovsk at the school run by my friends. He had told me that he read my blog before going to Ulyanovsk. Now he’s got a post almost completely dedicated to his day in Moscow. Congrats, Jason, you’re slightly famous now. I had planned to meet Jason in the evening after a day of reading documents, but I ended up being free as of 11AM. Jason was staying at the Izmailovo hotel complex and was wandering around the souvenir market there, so I said I would meet him there. Due to the location of the archive, it took me almost an hour to meet him there. The market was fun as always, though many of the vendors were not there on Thursday. We walked around the market on a quest to get souvenirs for his relatives. At one stall, the woman thought that I was Jason’s girlfriend. He was looking at nesting dolls and I veered towards a nearby stall to look at propaganda posters. I heard her ask “Oh, where’s your girlfriend?” I wandered back over, Jason bought the nesting dolls, and she wished us happiness. Another vendor was also quite funny. Jason was looking at cartoon and comic themed nesting dolls for his 10 year old nephew. He told that to the vendor, who replied that the nephew is too old for those. Instead, Jason needed to buy him something manly like a flask.

I don't have a good recent photo of the market. You'll have to settle for this one from October of 2011. Nothing has changed there except for the demolition of my beloved shawarma stand.

I don’t have a good recent photo of the market. You’ll have to settle for this one from October of 2011. Nothing has changed there except for the demolition of my beloved shawarma stand.

We left the market after an hour or so and went into the hotel to see if Jason’s room was ready. It finally was, and we went to drop off his luggage and newly acquired souvenirs before heading to the center of the city. At first we went towards the wrong elevators. The security guard gave Jason a hard time and then demanded that we get a visitor pass for me to go up to his room. I told Jason that we should just go to the correct elevator to see if that guard would say the same thing before we wasted time trying to get a visitor pass. The other guarded didn’t even so much as blink at as when we walked to the elevator.

Another photo from October 2011. The complex hasn't changed at all as far as I can tell. These were built for the 1980 Olympics.

Another photo from October 2011. The complex hasn’t changed at all as far as I can tell. These were built for the 1980 Olympics.

Unencumbered, Jason and I grabbed a quick lunch in the food court of the mini-mall across the street from the hotel before taking the Metro to Red Square. We got off of the Metro and decided to go into Krispy Kreme, where we each got a coffee and donut. The donut was a nice treat. While snacking, a random Russian guy came up to us and asked us where we were from. We had a quick conversation with him. He said that he was from a closed city next to Krasnoyarsk, in Siberia. I have the feeling that he might be from the city that contains one of Russia’s maximum security prisons that had been featured on the National Geographic Special “Russia’s Toughest Prisons.” That is an interesting documentary, but one that I do not recommend watching before going to Russia. Or do, because you’ll certainly be on your best behavior after seeing it.

We strolled onto Red Square to take a series of obligatory touristy photos. It took us three tries to get a semi-decent photo of the two of us in front of St. Basil’s. For some reason, the people we asked to take photos of us didn’t think to actually get the cathedral in the background of the photos.

Third time's the charm, ish. We're still missing the very top of the cathedral, but it'll do.

Third time’s the charm, ish. We’re still missing the very top of the cathedral, but it’ll do.

I also made a point of taking a photo with Lenin while wearing my Ulyanovsk State Technical University t-shirt. And a cup of decadent, capitalist coffee. I’m sure Lenin appreciated that.

This photo is almost as good as the one that I took with my Politech hoodie in -20 degree weather. The hot coffee would have served me better then than in this more recent photo.

This photo is almost as good as the one that I took with my Politech hoodie in -20 degree weather. The hot coffee would have served me better then than in this more recent photo.

When I met Jason earlier, he showed me a flyer for an exhibition at the State Historical Museum on the cults of Lenin and Stalin. We both thought that would be interesting to see, so we went into the building that houses the Museum of the War of 1812 to see the special exhibition. Getting into the museum was easier said than done as they had a very sensitive metal detector. My Mercedes belt often sets those off. The guards at Musée D’Orsay in Paris just laughed at me for my belt buckle, but the Russian guards were not amused. I had to take off my belt, watch, and glasses to pass through the detector before opening all of the compartments in my messenger back. The hassle of getting to the cashier’s window was forgotten when I successfully argued for the reduced student rate. The normal price for adults is 300 rubles, or just under $10, but students can enter for 100 rubles. I told the woman that I study at RGGU. She asked to see a student ID, which I don’t have. I told her that I don’t have one and flashed the pass to get into the dormitory. Magically, she acquiesced. Russian cashiers are notorious for rarely giving foreigners reduced rates. The one at the space museum refused to give me the discount because I had a “bilet slushatelya” (roughly translated as a listener’s pass) and not a “studencheskii bilet” (a student ID). When I did my summer program in St. Petersburg, we were forbidden from speaking in English or Russian at museum entrances until after we had passed the ticket collection point even though we each had a Russian student ID. I was quite pleased by my victory. What I was not pleased with was the 150 ruble fee to take photos of the exhibition. I did not pay, so sadly you’ll have to take my word that it was cool. It wasn’t quite what I had expected, but they had some of Stalin’s and Lenin’s clothes, Stalin’s pipe collection, and a series of great Soviet propaganda posters.

We decided to take a walk to the Arbat after the museum, which required walking past the WWII memorial complex along the Kremlin wall. We happened to pass by at the changing of the guards, which was fun to watch. I’m pretty sure the guards on duty were not the regular guards. They looked to be young students of one of the military academies to me.

Changing of the guard.

Changing of the guard.

The Arbat was kitschy as always. Jason wanted to go to a Starbucks to buy a special mug that you can only get in Russia as well as get a caffeine fix. We chatted on a bench on the Arbat for a while before heading back in the general direction of Red Square so that we could go to dinner at a wonderful restaurant called Khachapuri that specializes in Georgian cuisine, namely khachapuri. Dinner was scrumptious.

Georgian egg/cheese/bread goodness.

Georgian egg/cheese/bread goodness.

After our meal we headed to a nearby bar Kamchatka that has 100 ruble beer on tap. We drank, talked, and enjoyed the people passing in front of us at the back entrance of TsUM, one of the major department stores. Much like its counterpart GUM, TsUM specializes in high end goods now. Right inside the door is a Maserati.

We spent a while at Katchatka and headed back to Red Square to take some photos at night for a contrast.

Must get perfect photo for Instagram.

Must get perfect photo for Instagram.

Jason then expressed interest in seeing the Lubyanka, the former KGB, now FSB, headquarters. We walked there, but were saddened to see that its façade is currently under construction. Slightly saddened we returned to the Metro, where Jason and I parted after riding one stop together.

This was my best of about 5 attempts. The lady across from us laughed at my inability to take selfies.

This was my best of about 5 attempts. The lady across from us laughed at my inability to take selfies.

The past week and a half has been filled with a nice balance of work and having fun. Due to how long it takes to process document requests, I spend about three days a week in the archives. In my free time, I’ve been exploring Moscow, making new friends, and catching up with old ones. Last Tuesday I grabbed a drink with a former member of my Fulbright cohort on Red Square. He’s also a graduate student of Soviet history. We traded stories about our programs and the perils of GARF.

I found an UAZ 469 at Red Square. Ulyanovsk for the win!

I found an UAZ 469 at Red Square. Ulyanovsk for the win!

Saturday was a pretty busy day for me. My neighbor and I met up with my friend Emily from Alaska. Emily and I did a German language immersion program together in Bonn in 2010. We bonded over our mutual love of Russia and watched a ton of Germany World Cup games. She’s been spending her summer in Vladimir on a Russian language program. We decided to meet up and explore a few places in Moscow together. We got our obligatory tourist photos on Red Square. To Emily’s dismay, Lenin’s Mausoleum was closed, despite the sign saying that it should have been open when we were there. I was rather happy that it was closed. Due to a traumatizing childhood experience with bog mummies in a Danish Viking museum, I have a huge dislike of viewing any sort of dead bodies/remains (ask my friends about how I get really unnerved around the Egyptian exhibit at the Met).

Doing the tourist thing at Red Square.

Doing the tourist thing at Red Square.

From Red Square, we headed off to the World War II museum at Victory Park. The museum was filled with all sorts of great exhibits, dioramas, and art relating to WWII.

The inside of the Great Patriotic War Museum at Victory Park.

The inside of the Great Patriotic War Museum at Victory Park.

It also contained a slightly uncomfortable amount of Stalin souvenirs. Being the Soviet history buff, I excitedly poured over all of the exhibits and gave mini lectures about various battles, weapons, and vehicles. Matanja and Emily said they truly appreciated some of the info that I gave them. I told them they should email my adviser and tell her that I have some actual knowledge of Soviet history.

You too could own a Stalin action figure for only 6,500 rubles.

You too could own a Stalin action figure for only 6,500 rubles.

After the war museum we headed to one of my favorite places in Moscow, the Izmailovo tourist market. The market is still as packed and exciting as I remembered. My friends found souvenirs that they needed for their family members. While they left in good moods, I left with my spirit crushed. I had excitedly been talking about the shawarma stand near the entrance of the market only to find that it had recently been demolished. After the market, Emily had to head back to the train station and my neighbor and I returned to our humble dormitory.

The look of pure sadness upon discovering the demolished remains of my favorite shawarma place.

The look of pure sadness upon discovering the demolished remains of my favorite shawarma place.

This week itself has been relatively uneventful. On Monday, I registered at the military archive (RGVA) without much hassle. The people there are all very nice. I ordered my documents and was told that they would be ready on Thursday. I also learned that the military archive is closed for a summer holiday from July 1-14. This will present a slight issue as I have discovered through further research here that the information I’m looking for is probably contained within the military archive. Oh well, there’s always future research trips. The military archive has an interesting calendar at the front of the reading room. For the month of June there’s a quote that says “A future without terrorism, terrorism without a future.” I wish I could take a photo, but it’s forbidden in the archive.

I wound up inside a very old metro car. Dear Metro-North, the Russians keeps their old train cars in running order, why can't you?

I wound up inside a very old metro car. Dear Metro-North, the Russians keeps their old train cars in running order, why can’t you?

Outside of the archives I’ve spent the week watching a lot of World Cup games with my neighbor either on my computer or at a café. On Monday night we met up with my Jordanian friend Anas who goes to RUDN (Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia).

RUDN.

RUDN.

One of the cafés at RUDN has great falafel and hummus, so we grabbed dinner there. After eating, Anas gave us a campus tour, which I enjoyed due to the Cold War history of the university. It was formerly known as the Patrice Lamumba University and gave free education, or highly subsidized education, to people coming from the Third World in an attempt to cultivate Soviet values around the world. Today it’s one of Russia’s best universities, though the makeup of the student body has changed. After our tour we watched the Netherlands beat Chile at the outdoor café.

The Netherlands beating Chile.

The Netherlands beating Chile.