“Do what you must do, and let be what will be.” Leo Tolstoy
On the subway early this morning from the train station, there was this guy straight out of Eastern Promises, scary, scary, scary guy with lots of visable tattoos. He’s standing over this little old woman and her teenage son, radiating threat and menace, but when they get up to leave he gently kisses her and shakes the teenager’s hand. More proof that scary mobster looking guys can care for and show love for thier mothers.
It was a bit chilly so it didn’t take me too long to decide to buy a hot chocolate at Kokoladshin and it was relatively complicated to order, at one point a random businessman stepped in and help out, and expensive at $5. And it was more than sugar and milk (!!!), think Mexican hot chocolate, melted dark chocolate with the barest hint of milk. Later I was told that in Russia, cocoa was milk with some chocolate and hot chocolate is chocolate with some milk. Yummy! Sadly, I’m so used to Korean hot chocolate that I get confused and a bit boggled when I see or taste the good stuff. And now that I’m back in Korea, the times that I’ve had hot chocolate or iced chocolate, I’m stare at the drink thinking, ‘this is it?’
The Pushkin Literary museum is a wonderful place to visit and obviously if you speak Russian, you’ll get more out of it than I did. But I did get a lot out of it. It’s the cheapest museum at 80 r and definitely a steal. It’s far more than simply a house museum, you get to see what things shaped his life and even some of the influences for particular works. I had no idea that he was part Arab, I always attributed his darker looks to being part Siberian, but that does explain why he had a far more positive view of Arabs in a period where they were mostly portrayed at thiefs, murderers, etc.
Next was the Tolstoy Museum. It was 200 rubles for the entry ticket, but they put so much time, thought, and care into its layout and presentation, you leave thinking I only paid 200 rubles for that, what a steal! I personally think that you should make a point to see it if you ever visit Russia. Each room was dedicated to a different idea, period, literary piece in his life, every piece of artwork, painting, piece of information was carefully selected to continue the theme of the room. And handily they had this styrofoam board written in English that you could carry around and look at what particular pieces that they were pointing out.
I’ve apparently read many of the same books as both Pushkin and Tolstoy, but I’m not any where as talented as either of them, what happened?
The thing that I really liked about both museums is they were so much more than a recreation of their lives or recitation of their biographies that you could simply read on-line, like many house museums are. And they definitely were not shams of information, ie: Tolstoy had a cigerette holder sort of like this, Pushkin had a robe like this but not in this color because this is actually his least favorite color, We think that Tolstoy had a desk like this, etc.
I’ve also found a dream job…to be one of the babushkas who sit in the museums directing illiterate tourists to the correct room, safeguarding the treasures in their assigned rooms. If anyone knows what I need to put on my resume to get one of these jobs, please let me know.
Oh, gold star to who ever thought up the art subway train. It’s only on the blue line and they don’t come that often. So the outside is painted and several cars have three paintings in each car.
I met Margot for lunch and we walked down the Arabat, think Grafton Street in Dublin, just older and better. I had it on my list of things to see was the Wall of Peace. It was really sad. The original concept was a wall made of handpainted tiles showing different wishes or images of peace. The were only a couple of tiles that we could find that didn’t have any graffetti or spraypaint etc. on them.
I had thought of getting a Hard Rock Cafe glass to ass to my collection but the more I thought about it, the more I decided that I’d rather spend that money on a nice icon or a nicer matrushka doll. We walked by the Hard Rock Cafe and to be honest it was a bit laughable, it’s a beautiful building but with the very vulgar and garlish green Hard Rock Cafe banners and signs. Darn them Americans. 😉
We had lunch at this blini chain place called Teremok. I had a mushroom and cheese blini and a red caviar blini with most.
Next up was the Tretyakov Gallery, home of a beautiful chapel, the Church of St. Nicholas in Tolmachi, that is the home of the 12th century icon, Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God. It’s only really used for special occasions. In the museum itself has a remarkable collection of local artists, catalogueing the change in Russian art, particularly graduates from the Moscow School of Art.
Some notable things that I saw:
- Dmitri Grigoryevich Levitsky
- Orest AdamovichKiprensky
- Matvei Chizhov
- Fyodor Alexandrovich Vasiliev
- Mikhail Alexandrovich Vrubel
- Ivan Nikolaevich Kramskoy’s Christ in the Wilderness
- Arkhip Ivanovich Kuindzhi’s Moonlit Night on the Dnieper
- M. Antokolsky’s Not of This World (The Christian Martyr) – appropriate because Pope Benedict declared that this is the year of the martyr
- N. Ghe
- Igor E. Grabar
- Maria V Yakunchikova-Weber
- Mikhail Vassilievich Nesterov
- Vladimir Domogatsky’s Boy in a Fur Coat
- Konstantin F. Bogayevsky’s Morning
- P. Utkin’s Water-medow
- Icon Our Lady of Great Panagia
- Icon Christ “the King of Glory”
- Icon “Glory be the Only Begotten Son”
- Icon Our Lady “The Consolation to All the Afflicted”
There were a couple of icons that I felt were questionable, the one that Jesus has angel’s wings; Icon the Trinity, which was of three angels; and icon St. John the Baptist, the angel of the wilderness.
Save me from the Italians, seriously I could even hear my iPod or the random thoughts that fly around my head because there were three tours of loud Italians at the gallery the same time that I was there. I know that Americans have the international reputation for being the loud, annoying, obnoxious tourists, but I think the Italians beat us in that competition.
I was determined to find this particular book of Pushkin’s, it contains several of his poems with traditional illustrations, that I really don’t think that I’ll ever be able to find outside of Russia. I originally saw it on Tuesday, but I had to think about it because I only have my backpack and my purse, in the end I ended up hunting through three museums on Friday and a bookstore to find a copy.
Then I met Margot and a friend of hers for dinner at Tibet, a Tibetian restaurant. After a very delicious dinner, we headed to the Red Square for pictures of the Red Square at night. It was drizzling a bit and the flash from my camera reflected off the drops, so it looks a little like it was snowing, when it wasn’t.