Wednesday 10 October 2012

Lenin and Gorky


Our tour guide had pointed out a few places of interest for the remainder of our time in Moscow and we liked the sound of the 'underwater' interior of the Gorky House Museum. Inside it was less of an underwater theme and more just a smooth, fluid-lined staircase but I enjoyed walking around nonetheless. I was excited to stand inside the very room where during the Soviet Union, writers discussed Socialist Realism and what it meant for their work and Russian literature in general. Many of the writers who convened here were considered too radical to fit the mold (Including Boris Pasternak, the author of Dr Zhivago). Gorky was brought to live in this house as literary royalty but he was uncomfortable with it's luxury and used only the ground floor. He disliked being referred to as the 'master' of the house. He welcomed all writers into this house and liked to think of it more as a place for the literary community rather than his own private residence. 

Another place I visited in Moscow was Provokiev's house. I wouldn't recommend it however, the lady who 'showed' us around was unfriendly and as everything was in Russian there wasn't much for us to understand. Even when we tried to write a few notes on our phones to research about later the lady came over to stop us, presumably as she thought we were taking photos. 

I will admit here, I didn't like Moscow. There aren't many places I've visited that I really have not liked, or places I would not like to visit again. Manila is the only one I can think of at the moment. In Moscow, I did not feel welcome. Things were confusing, as they often are for visitors in a foreign land, but no one seemed approachable or was particularly helpful. The subway was atrocious. Built in the early 1930s, quite frankly it seemed not to have been updated since then. It's dirty, loud and old. I know I had come from Seoul, with one of the best subway lines in the world. But seriously, getting on the train in Moscow was downright depressing. There were no maps inside the train carriages, and the name of the station only displayed at one end of the platform so impossible to read as you whizz past on the train, even if I were able to read Cyrillic. The announcements were impossible to hear over the noise of the train. Tickets were confusing as you pay for how many journeys, not for how far you are going. I now realise we paid for 4 extra journeys that we never took.

The night we left Moscow added to my dislike for the city. Our train was late at night, and as we arrived at the train station and made our way up from the bowels of hell (The Subway) we exited the station and after a while and some confusion realised we were the wrong side of the road for the main railway station. Finally finding the correct place, there was no English. None at all, not even an EXIT sign. We got to left luggage and it looked like our bags were locked in. Panic began to rise, and thankfully Mary stayed calm and got someone from another counter to free our bags. Then began the hunt for our platform. We found our train details on the departures board, platform 6. But can we find platform 6? No, they appear to be numbered 1,3,5,7... We asked a couple of people, one of whom was helpful and could speak good English. He explained that the platform numbers would change in about an hour ready for our train. Of course, that makes absolutely prefect no sense. We found some seats in a cafe and waited out the hour or so until our train left. The station was full of shifty looking people, lurking in alleyways, noiselessly creeping up behind you, in doorways. It was so unnerving and I was very glad to board the train to finally be on our way to St Petersburg.

Gorky's desk, very tall and without drawers, the way he liked it.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

And we stopped for a cup of tea!

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