It was a difficult morning to convince myself that I wanted to get out of bed. After nearly a week of being out and about and marching to and fro every day, exhaustion started taking over. As a result, I spent a quiet morning finishing The Queen of the Tearling in bed, and then re-learning noun declensions and spelling rules for my Russian language class.
At lunch time however, guilt started creeping in. It was, after all, Moscow day- a celebration of the city at the heart of this vast country, the dynamic, artisitic, and culinary adventures that can be experienced here. So we set out again.
One region we had so far not visited was Tverskaya street/district, which is a well known shopping area, and home to many (if not most?) of the theatres in the centre of the city. We therefore took a beeline there, to join the native moscovites and the many visitors on the road which had become a pedestrian-only zone for the day.
After being bottlenecked by barriers to a security control involving metal detectors and a bag check, we were free to wander the streets among ballet dancers, clowns, artists building massive cardboard structures, food stalls, musicians and all of the other visitors. It felt alive and welcoming- so many more people than usual were walking around with broad smiles, and the wafting smell of food enveloped us, and beckoned.
We began to count images of Lenin, and encountered 5, including a grandfatherly old man who had dressed as a likeness of him, and pinned a red CCCP (USSR) pin onto his front (non-ironically). We also saw statues of important historical figues such as the nobleman Dimitry who is said to have finally beaten the Mongol conquorers, countless peices of art along the road, most of which I found simply baffling, a massive sand castle, topped by a large griffin- like animal, the russian version of cadets (I assume by their uniforms), and were nearly deafened from the feedback from a microphone gone wrong during an otherwise lovely performance of some classical music by the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra.
I had some intention of continuing on towards the Red Square again, but quickly dismissed this idea when I saw a gigantic queue that led to yet another security control (we had passed two already at that point). The constant presence of security forces and the police made me uncomfortable, and I was getting hungry, so set off home.
I took a slight (ok, hour long) detour to see if I could find the local climbing centre, which I eventually did- although I was not impressed with their facilities, or the steep price (140 pounds for a month membership, anyone?). I will not say much here, im sure I’ll return to the climbing topic at another point.
After a delicious take on Sophie’s avocado, paprika/bell pepper, caschew nut, rice and sweet and sour sauce dinner, we then met up with most of our corridor and a Russian budy and walked to park Pobedy to see the fireworks that close the Moscow Day celebrations. Again, the way was lined with police staring grimly or bored at the crowd, and we had to pass through metal detectors and a bag check to get onto the square. Interestingly enough we also got a reminder of our ‘security’ somewhat later, when the Russian girl wagered that the reason that the mobile network was partially down was because ‘they’ shut it off in the face of a terrorist threat. Interesting.
The fireworks themselves were beautiful, short and sweet, providing a background to the victory monument that was truely nice to see. Nonetheless, I was delighted to return and have a hot chocolate and curl up in bed- it was late!