This weekend was full of adventures - starting with the tour of the Russian State Library on Friday, Red Square on Saturday, and the Tretyakov Art Gallery on Sunday. Again, like it always goes in Russia, nothing comes easy. In order to get prime admission to see Red Square and Lenin's mausoleum, we showed up early, so we could get through security. We weren't allowed to take pictures when we got through, but we saw the gravesites of some of the most famous leaders and innovators from the Soviet Union era. Included were the graves of Josef Stalin, Leonid Brezhnev, Yuri Andropov, Konstanin Chernenko, and other Supreme Soviet leaders who have passed. In addition, the grave site of Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin (the first man to be in space) was a popular site. Of the weirdest sites of seen so far, Vladimir Lenin's grave has topped the list. Lenin died in 1924, and his body is STILL on preserve, making it just over 88 years old. Another student informed me that his body has decomposed up to the chest area, which makes it even more eerie to look at.
Area outside Vladimir Lenin's Mausoleum (Мавзолей Ленина)
Our next site to see was around Red Square or Krasnaya Ploshad (Красная площадь). This is easily the most famous area in Moscow, and it has the widest range of Russians I've seen to date. From clowns and pirates to entertain children, to soldiers on horseback, and a ton of foreign tourists speaking a myriad of languages. We saw another famous site, known as St. Basil's Cathedral or Prokrovsky cabor (Покровский собор) with its multicolored, twisted domes. Littler known is the statue in front, which depicts the heroes of the Russo-Polish wars of 1612. These two men, Minin and Pozharsky, gathered an all Russian volunteer army, which helped expel the invading Poles from Moscow. Its amazing that the historical references in the square run from the Russian Imperial era to the Soviet Union to the current Russian Federation.
Outside St. Basil's Cathedral
Monument to Pozharsky and Minin (Памятнк Минину и Пожарскому)
On Sunday, we made a trip to the Tretyakov Gallery, which features art from the pre-Soviet era in Russia. Before photographs were able to be taken, this gallery featured some of the most beautiful art I've ever seen, it depicted paintings of writers Alexsandr Pushkin and Fyodor Dostoevsky. There were also religious themed paintings of Jesus Christ, the angels, and even some of the Tsars like Peter the Great. On top of which, we took a bus tour around the city to get acclimated. Lastly, I wanted to end this post with an update on classes and my host family. The former is going great, there are always struggles, since my classes are completely in Russian. However, my language skills are improving, and I'm only on my second week. My host mom, Elena, and her son, Volodiya, have been helping me greatly with homework and being my conversation partners around the home. The only real way you can learn this language is being in the host country. Its such a great experience so far!
A home-cooked meal from my host mom (моя хозяйка)
My room (моя комната) in the apartment
In front of the Moscow skyline
Countdown to returning home: 98 days