Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Прекрасный день

I saw a runner this morning!  And not just any runner, but a female runner!  I also found a lovely running route along the Moscow River.  I can't wait to explore more of the path tomorrow morning.

After my morning каша and some vocabulary help from my host mom, I hopped on the Metro to go to the Academy.  I had two classes today: Russian language and Russia and the SCO.  My language class was a bit of a struggle, though my professor seems pleasant enough.  She is strict, but I think I will learn a considerable amount as long as I devote enough time to studying.  Balancing my time between study and exploration is going to be difficult.  There is so much to see here!

My second class, Russia and the SCO was excellent.  I certainly will be taking that class.  The professor explained and addressed many interesting concepts, such as the Russian culture of power and property.  In Russia, power brings a person property.  Meanwhile, in the United States and other western cultures, property brings a person power.  My professor also addressed the geography of Russia and how the 4 month growing season predisposed the nation to collectivization.  A single farmer could not survive with a small plot of land because it would not yield enough of a harvest.  He needed to rely on his neighbors.  Thus, communes developed.

When class ended, I decided to explore more of Moscow.  Many of my friends needed to go to their internships, but I had a free afternoon since my internship with the Institute for the Economy in Transition has not begun yet.  So, I grabbed my guidebook and camera and rode the Metro into the heart of Moscow.

From the "Lublyanka" Metro stop, I photographed my way down "Ulitsa Linka," a street that comprised the Moscow Stock Exchange and now houses the Chamber of Commerce and the Supreme Court.  Then, I arrived at Red Square.

I was slightly disappointed to find so much construction at Red Square.  Soon, there will be a Circle of Lights Festival, so construction crews were setting up large stages and cranes.  Nevertheless, I could not believe I was actually there, standing in front of the stunning St. Basil's Cathedral and feeling the warmth of unexpected sunshine.  For so long I had wanted to see this site and now I could finally indulge my inner rusophile.  I burned out the battery on my camera.  Thankfully, I had a back up.



After seeing the Red Square, I wandered through the ГУМ, a gorgeous mall in a building that dates back to 1893.  This area of Red Square served as the Upper Trading Rows of square, which was initially a marketplace.
ГУМ

I met up with Patrick and Ron outside of St. Basil's Cathedral.  Their internship at an English language pop culture magazine had ended for the day and they wanted to explore some.  We began our trek along "Ulitsa Varvarka," stopping at many of the churches and historical sites along the street.  The Palace of the Romanov Boyars was open for visitors, so we decided to tour it.  I didn't take any photographs of the interior because I did not realize that I needed to purchase a ticket in order to photograph inside, but the interior was beautiful.  The building itself, which was the home of the Ramonovs until Mikhail Romanov became tsar in 1613, was cramped and low-ceilinged.  Nevertheless, gilded leather adorned the walls and intricate wood carvings decorated the ceilings.  I may have to go back and purchase a photography ticket.

After our tour, we searched in the guidebook for a unique restaurant in the area to try some ethnic cuisine.  A Uzbek restaurant was not too far from the Palace.  None of us had ever eaten Uzbek food, so we decided to try it.  We scoured the menu for the strangest, most Uzbek thing we could find.  Among descriptions of lamb testicles, tongue, and veal liver, we saw chicken hearts.  Ron didn't want to know what we were ordering, so Patrick gave the waitress the order in Russian.  We also ordered a dessert, "Chak-Chak."
Ron and Patrick

Chicken Hearts.  Yum.
The chicken hearts were surprisingly tasty and the "Chak-Chak" was delicious.  I didn't eat much since I knew I would be returning home to a huge dinner from my host mom.  Sure enough, when I arrived back at my home stay, exhausted, my host mom greeted me at the door with her usual question, "do you want to eat?"  After such a long, fun day a dinner of borsht and pan seared cod with cauliflower hit the spot.
Очень прекрасный день.  Я люблю Москву.    

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