After nearly a month of nothing but grey, drab skies, Moscow has been blessed with a string of sunshine days over the past week! I’ve found that I don’t mind the cold (in the 20s during the the day, about 10 degrees at night) but I can’t live without the sunshine. No amount of my SAD light will replace the feeling a blue sky brings. As a result, I’ve been spending as much time outside as possible, which is great for exploring more of Moscow.
My school offers bi-monthly cultural outings to us and I sign up for as many as I can. They often come with English tour guides and offer a really unique opportunity to access parts of Moscow life that are not readily available to foreigners. On the flip side, the touristy nature makes me feel like I’m on a bit of a permanent vacation here in Russia.
Last weekend a handful of us journeyed to the Memorial Museum of Cosmonauts. I absolutely love outer space, particularly the space program, so I was pretty interested to hear about it from a Russian perspective. Our tour guide was a cosmonaut in training and her passion for the program was evident.
The Moscow Times reports, “At the height of the Soviet Space Program in 1989, over 1 million people were employed in the space sector.”
The underside of a landing module, painted bright orange-red to attract the eye of search planes. One such landing in 1987 required cosmonauts to spend a night in the Siberian cold next to their module.
Another gem of my time in Moscow has been the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art. Located in Gorky Park, just one metro stop over from mine, the museum features top notch exhibitions, up to three shows at a time. I haven’t been disappointed by a show yet and this show below was no exception. Featuring work compiled during Eastern European revolutions and independence movements, the show was a fascinating take on the late 1980s/early 1990s, a time I know little about as I wasn’t old enough to remember the events.
Printmaking and poster art have played huge roles in Eastern European history, particularly freedom movements as a call to arms of sorts.
My friends and I all appreciated this modern art which really reminded me of the work of Kandinsky, a Russian born painter who became famous as an Abstract Expressionist. It’s not his work but you can see the influence passed down through the decades.
These days, with sunrise at 8:30am and sunset at 4pm, I could go the whole day without seeing the sun. Luckily, I have big windows in my classroom and enough downtime during the day to sneak a quick walk in the neighboring gated community. I cherish that time, especially on sunny days, but find it just as necessary on the grey ones.
As a result of all this chilly grey weather, Muscovites make their own fun, refusing to stay home. The arts are hugely valued here and I had the chance to experience Moscow opera first hand last Wednesday evening at a performance of Bach’s Coffee Cantata. A slightly bizarre show, this short opera (the best kind of opera) features a full string ensemble and three opera singers who actually brew coffee as part of their act, serving it to the audience as the denouement. The coffee was delish and warmed us up before heading back into the cold Russian night.
With only three weeks left until I fly to Boston for the holidays, it’s time to seek out some fun Moscow tchotchkes to share with the folks back home. Today I journeyed to Izmailovsky Market with a couple ideas in mind. I had some luck now I’m counting the days until break!