Back to Moscow
Since I had a couple of extra days to stay in Moscow, with my new train ticket, I had to find a place to stay. My friend Dean at the Povordie Hostel, where I’d stayed before, helped me out again. He got me a reservation to stay there, for two nights, September 6th and 7th, before my return flight.
When I got to Moscow, Dean met me at the train station to help me with my baggage. We got the front desk and I checked in.
Uh, Oh, Another Check-in Problem
It turned out that when in Russia, when you stay at a hotel, you have to get proof that you stayed there, and the ‘Registration Certificate’ is only good for a week. They did issue me a Certificate when I left for Volgograd, but I had stayed at 4 other places since then, none of whom issued me a certificate. So I could not stay there.
Dean, a most resourceful young man, first tried to get an exemption, but that didn’t work. So he went online, and found a two day apartment rental. So that problem was solved. After an afternoon of scrambling around to solve that issue, I suggested we go out for dinner. He knows a great Lebanese Restaurant, where we had falafel, chicken and other Lebanese delicacies.
Hanging Out with Dean
Inside the Lebanese Restaurant in Moscow
Dean, the Syrian man took me to the Lebanese restaurant
Within three days, the temperature dropped by 25 degrees Fahrenheit, I had to switch from T-Shirt to Jacket.
After dinner, we took a walk around Moscow and visited one of the high end luxury goods shops. Most of the brands there are sanctioned, that is, not allowed in Russia, but apparently, the businesses found a way to get the Guccis, Chanels and other brands into the store….for the right price of course. Which would cost me at least a month’s rent or more.
Dean is a very interesting guy. He was born in Syria, but came to study in Russia. The situation in Syria is very complicated, and he explained to me the various factors, which have caused the war there. It’s hard for me to understand, to be honest. But unfortunately for Syria, it’s meant a lot of turmoil for years. Same as Lebanon, which has various political factions, no doubt complicated by outside meddling of ‘Great Powers’.
Kremlin Wall and Tower at Night
The Memorial Flame Outside the Kremlin
The Statue of Karl Marx in Central Moscow, exhorting the Proletariat (working class of all countries)
A Plaque “The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics”
I read, Russian people are very patient, but they don’t forget.
Moscow at Night
One of Many Beautiful Russian Orthodox Churches in Russia and in Moscow
Russian Orthodoxy, Secularism, Communism
I notice that Russian society has those who are adherents of Russian Orthodoxy, the most prominent religion in Russia, and those who believe in the USSR and want at least some elements of it restored, avoiding past mistakes. And there are also completely secular people socalled “Liberals” who are enamored with the West, who don’t support either the Church or the Communist Party (still the second largest political party in Russia).
As we walked around, we came to one of the big fancy department stores, GUM, with many luxury goods
GUM Department Store, Moscow https://gumrussia.com/
We noticed that in this cold weather, Dean took me to a shop to buy a wool watch cap, which cost about $5. We saw comparable hats in GUM for $50. But I guess, if you’re an oligarch, you have money to burn. In fairness, there are a lot of very high end items there, though.
Meeting Tonya Again
Because I’d moved my trip to Moscow up two days, I had an extra day to spend in Moscow. Fortunately, my friend Tonya was still in town. So we did some more touring.
Here’s Tonya, Eating Some Delicious Armenian Food
Visiting the Pushkin Museum
Since I like museums, Tonya suggested the Pushkin Museum. This was an especially good idea because of a special exhibition of painting collected by the Russian 19th Century Patron of the Arts, Ivan Morozov. This article talks about the role Russians played in the development of art. It cites two in particular, Ivan Morozov, and another name you may remember, Pavel Tretyakov, of the Tretyakov Gallery which Tonya and I visited earlier.
5 Russian patrons of the arts who influenced world culture
The Morozov exhibition had dozens of late 19th century painting in the Impressionist genre.
“Russia owes its large collection of modern French art to Morozov. He was an avid collector and spent huge sums of money on art. Together with Shchukin, Morozov didn’t miss a single major exhibition in Europe. As a result, he collected more than 250 works by Claude Monet, Henri Matisse, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Vincent Van Gogh, and Pablo Picasso” Source: https://www.rbth.com/arts/333349-russian-art-patrons
Inside the Pushkin Museum
Painting by Matisse
Painting by Gaugin (I think)
The Pushkin Museum, in addition to the current Morozov also has a large collection of classical and ancient relics from Greek and Roman times, as well as Egyptian and Assyrian Empires.
An Orgy (Artist not known)
A Reproduction of the Famous Sculpture, Laocoon and His Sons.
What I had been told (possibly because I studied the classic poem, the Aeneid), by warning the Trojans about the Greek plan to destroy their city, the Greek gods punished him and his sons. There are other versions of the story, but anyway, this is one of the most famous sculptures in history. Possibly first done in ancient Rome.
I think this is the Greek Goddess Athena, Goddess of Wisdom
An Egyptian Mummy
Ancient Babylonian Sculpture
Dinner at the Armenian Restaurant
Tonya had the idea of an Armenian restaurant. Earlier, Regis had visited Armenia and spoke highly of his experience there, especially the food. So off we went.
Armenia Egg Dish Cooked in a Bread ‘bowl’. Salad on the side.
We spent probably three hours talking about all sorts of subjects, both personal and general. I finally got back to my room at about 11 PM, and then anticipated my meeting the next day with another Couchsurfer family.
Meeting Kirill and Natalia
Since my flight was on September 8th, I had a few hours left to visit my Couchsurfer family.
I took my baggage through the Moscow subway system to get to our meeting place. Here are some of the images from one station, built during Soviet times the Kievsky Station, named after the city of Kiev, which is, not just the capital of Ukraine, but is even considered the original city of the country of Russia.
This is a mosaic showing a scene of Ukrainian solidarity. Note the flag, the solidarity of the people, and the young man holding the white dove of peace. Every Russian I know who has relatives in Ukraine—much intermarriage between Russians and Ukrainians, all see Ukraine as family. They literally ARE family.
It helps to have a friend who knows the city you’re in. One of my goals coming to Russia was to score some real wild salmon. As noted before, Russia has a lot of wilderness and wild areas. The Kamchtka Peninsula is one of them. Beautiful but I think pretty forbidding.
It does have a lot of wild animals and the oceans surrounding it have lots of fish. So I asked Kirill if he knew of a good fish store, where I could get some real Kamchatka salmon. Fortunately, he did, and I got some smoked salmon which was the most intensely flavored salmon I’ve ever eating. A far cry from the denatured farmed salmon which is not even very healthy given the cramped living conditions, antibiotics and fake food the salmon have to eat. The flesh of farmed salmon is so light, that they even have to add coloring so people will assume it’s ‘salmon’.
Wild salmon obviously eats wild food, which gives it both its deep red color and intense flavor.
After taking care of that, we went back to Kirill’s house, where I met his lovely, kind wife, Natalia. The weather had turned cold in the past few days, so she gave me some delicious hot fish soup to eat.
We started talking. Kirill is an independent businessman in the import export business. Natalia is the Chief Financial Officer of a homeopathic remedy company. They have one child from a previous marriage, and a new, one year old baby.
After eating, and while talking, I started nodding off, so they gave me their couch to nap on, which helped a lot. We then continued talking about life in Russia, and current events. There is a wide spectrum of opinion in Russia, and people speak quite freely about it, from what I can tell. Not unlike in the US, some people approve of government policies, some don’t, however, the discussion is done in a respectful way, which is not necessarily the case in the USA.
About 6 pm, it was time to head to the airport, and fortunately, Kirill was able to give me a ride. Getting there by train with my baggage would have been a real hassle. And in fact, the ride there took quite awhile, due to a lot of traffic. But get there we did, Kirill helped me get to the United Arab Emirates check in counter. We said our goodbyes, and still stay in touch.
I very much appreciated my time with Kirill and Natalia, who are both well educated, intelligent and cultivated people, similar to many of the other people I met in Russia.
My flight from Moscow to Dubai went very smoothly, unlike some turbulence that I experienced on the way to Russia. At the airport, I fortunately didn’t have to wait six hours for the flight to Bangkok, and even found a recliner chair where I grabbed an hour of sleep.
When I awoke, there was still an hour to go before boarding my flight. I’ve never been in a Middle Eastern country, so it was interesting to be in an Arab culture. The one photo that really caught my eye was this one…..Talk about Cognitive Dissonance!
“Smoking Kills…Tobacco seriously damages health…Giving the World the Taste of Freedom Since 1954”
My flight arrived in Bangkok at 7 pm. I’d been traveling for 15 hours, with little sleep in the past 24. I had booked a hotel near the airport for the final flight back to Chiang Mai. A taxi is a little expensive, so I opted to take a train. A nice Thai fellow told me he’d show me where to get off, but I passed my station, so I realized my error, got off, and retraced my steps. When I got to the right train stop, I hailed a cab, but it turned out we were only a hundred yards from my hotel. At 9:30 at night and being exhausted, it was worth the $3 bucks to get to the front door of my hotel.
The next morning, I had the hotel breakfast which came with my stay, and got a ride back from the hotel to the airport, saving myself the hassle of public transport. Then, since I was early for my flight, just hung out, got a decent lunch meal, caught my flight at about 3 pm back to Chiang Mai, and got a cab back to my apartment.
So ended my one month trip from August 11, to September 10th. A very memorable trip, with amazing adventures, a few unexpected surprises, meeting with a lot of very nice people, and learned a lot about Russia and its history and culture.