Friday, September 27, 2013

Russia Adventure; the Metro System

I am so in love with the Moscow Metro.
So here's what happens:
 You ride this giant escalator down, down, down, far enough that you think you're about to enter the mouth of hell, and then it stops. The current metro system was built during the Stalin era, and it was conceived to function also as a bomb shelter and evacuation system. After riding the long, steep escalator of foreboding (not really, it's actually very fun- I loved people-watching and reading the advertisements; I could spend forever riding up and down and travelling on the metro system) you step off into this concrete hallway. Just when you think that maybe the shuffling masses around you might actually be bearing you to the flaming pit, the concrete opens up into something like this:
 This is underground. This is the equivalent of a subway station. The prettiest stations are on the brown line, which runs in a circle around the center of Moscow (basically in a circle around the Kremlin). Stalin gave the mandate that architecture of public spaces be beautiful and represent the glory of the unified Soviet ideals. So here's a lovely photospam of the different stations on the brown line circling of the Kremlin;

 There were a few more, and they were all really pretty, but I am terrible at taking pictures and for that I apologize. The ones I've missed were
-A station dedicated to Mendeleev. It had a giant carved portrait of him on the wall, and a periodic table of the elements below that highlighting the ones Mendeleev discovered or predicted.
-A station with a giant stone statue of Lenin
-A station with a giant stone statue of an explorer or someone (there was no English placard or anything, but he was holding something that looked like a map and a telescope)
- A station with a giant stained-glass wall
They were all incredibly beautiful. I really miss the Moscow metro. I mean, I miss all of Moscow, but I could spend all my time on the train system. It was so great. All the stations looked very different; my theory was that different architects/designers were hired and assigned a station, because you can really see different styles throughout the stations.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Things I Love Thursday (yeah, I realize it should be Things I Miss Thursday but I'm mixing it up this time)

I'm part of the geeky side, and it's wonderful. Honestly, it actually makes me happy every time I'm on there. I feel like I get to interact with people who like the same things I do, people who are similar to me sometimes on emotional or intellectual levels.
Sometimes I feel like my tumblr. dash is basically what would happen if you took my thought patterns and amplified them and splashed them across a giant scroll of paper. I follow blogs about Star Trek, and the Avengers, and Firefly and Supernatural and Sherlock and Doctor Who and Harry Potter. It's great to see and read what other people have noticed and thought about the things I love.
My favorite thing about tumblr. aside from connecting with people who like the same things I do is that it can be customized really well to reflect and inform me about everything I'm interested in. For instance, between two fandom posts there might be smashed a social justice warrior, or a news update, some kind of feminist point or a Lolita outfit. I can follow blogs about gothic fashion and about architecture and photography and kawaii blogs and DIY tutorials... it's just great to see all the different things people like and to pick and choose among posts and reblogs to see what I want to put on my dash.
Plus, the humor is really great. I do feel like it's twisted my brain a little bit, but I really don't mind. I like being aware of more things, and I like looking at my favorite shows in new ways, and I like laughing at stupid jokes that are never funny outside of tumblr. This site makes me very happy.

Russia Trip; the Moscow river tour

Hello again. I still exist, yes. The time has come ((to talk of many things, of shoes and ships and ceiling wax, of cabbages and kings)) for me to upload more about my trip to Russia. As I mentioned before, it was fun. It was wonderful and mind-blowing and fun.
Moscow. Day one.
Well, I say day. Our first full day spent awake in Moscow.
We started off with a quick walking tour of the part of the city between our hostel and the river. What I mean by that is that we took a very indirect route down to a river boat station. Moscow was very alive, but at the same time it was very... it felt very closed down. It was decidedly non-western, which was a very refreshing change. The way the people behave in relation to each other is nice; everyone is polite but no one is outgoing. You don't have to smile if you accidentally make eye contact, it's considered weird to give unnecessarily large amounts of personal space, and it's actually viewed as helpful to push someone in certain situations, like when you're getting on to a crowded metro. The personal space thing is my favorite; in Russia, they walk on sidewalks like they drive. Picture two people walking straight at each other, with enough space for about one and a half people. Now, in America, a score of seconds before a collision would occur, one person might step off the sidewalk (if that's safe) to give the other more room, or both would turn and move out of the way with a good-humored nod or smile. In Russia, it is not uncommon to be mere steps from the other person before any evasive action is taken at all, and then it's not so extreme. Both parties will turn the slightest bit to avoid contact, with no other acknowledgement of the other's existence. It is not rude, it's simply practical. I like that. I like practicality in my interactions with others.
We had to ride the metro on our way to the waterfront, and I will be doing a more thorough post on the Moscow metro system, because I'm pretty sure that if I died right now, I would go there if I qualified for heaven. Suffice to say, it's beautiful. Here's a teaser of what I will later be ranting about ------>
 The river tour is very fun (if a bit cold) because it goes all the way through the city, and on the left side there are views of everything from apartments to old industrial factories to the Kremlin (pictured, left). And on the other side is an array of public parks, which were absolutely beautiful. The boat moved slowly, so I had ample time to stare at both. It was really a bit fascinating to move toward the heart of Moscow at such a measured pace, seeing everything go by. There were a couple of beautiful boats that had been converted into restaurants docked along both banks, a few lovely bridges, some churches, and an excellent view of Moscow University, which I was intrigued to learn is on a closed campus. Here's a picture of it off in the distance, anyway;
 There was no tour guide, nor commentary of any sort, so I don't actually know what park this is. But I can assert with moderate confidence that it is not Gorky park, as we went there later in the day and did not see this pretty double staircase. 

And now, assorted photos taken while on the river boat;

 In absence of a tour, we were left to wonder why on earth a space shuttle was nonchalantly parked next to the Moscow river. The answer eludes me.

  I've gone and forgotten the name of this cathedral, but it had a really cool back story; the original building was put up sometime in the 17th (I think) Century, and then during Soviet times of anti-religion, pro-public space city planning, it was torn down, and a public pool was installed in its place. When Putin first came to power, he held a sort of fundraiser to fill in the pool and rebuild the church based on sketches and photographs of the original. So now it's back.

 This was one of my favorite sights- a giant statue of Peter the Great on a ship in Moscow. Not sure why it was there, but hey. Why not.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Outfit Post

        While in Russia, I had to sort of blend in, which is one of the reasons I would not very much like to live there permanently, but before I left I wore some pretty cool clothes.
 First off, I had a sleepover with my best friend Jo. She did my makeup all pretty. See? All pretty.

 Dis mah Jo. She wonderful.

 Here I am thinking of myself as punk John Watson. Well, I was wearing a jumper. And watching waaaay too much Sherlock. And I'm blond, so. John Watson.

 And then here's another nice casual outfit :) I liked it. I got this tanktop from my French foreign exchange student like three years ago, and I didn't really know what to do with it, but then I decided hey let's put safety pins all over it. I ripped the side seams and then safety pinned them back together, and added some along one side of the collar.
                                        I likes my jewelry :) especially the fanged necklace and bracelet.

see the side? All nice.

I'm Back (in Black)!

          As you may or may not have noticed, I've been mysteriously silent for some time. Or not so mysteriously, as I haven't been doing so well, but anyway.
           I have been *wait for it* in Russia.
           I don't even know where to begin in writing it all down. So I suppose I'll start at the very beginning, which clearly is a very good place to start.
           A few months back, there was a delegation from a Siberian town called Rubtsovsk, which is the sister city to my town. This program was started while the Cold War was still on, to much consternation from the peoples of both countries. It continues to provide opportunities for travel and for cultural exchange.
           So the plan went; fly to Moscow. Spend about three days being tourists, then fly to Barnaul, which is a three-hour car ride from Rubtsovsk. Then spend a week in Rubtsovsk, and go back to Barnaul. Fly to Moscow, and then to St. Petersburg. Spend four days being touristy there. Fly home.
This was the plan. On paper, everything went according to plan. In reality, it was so much more dynamic.
 Yes this is in Moscow.
The sculpture-fountain above stands in what I was told is International square, and it was a gift from Greece. 

I think I'm in love with Moscow. I take issue with the some of the politics of Russia, but I've always loved the history and now that I've been there I can honestly say that my personal experience of Russia was very positive, especially in the cities. I love big cities, and while St. Petersburg has more history and is more western, I really loved Moscow. I actually liked my whole Russian experience, which is saying something, as I rarely find myself liking anything at all. 
          An account of my trip will follow as I feel like posting.