Monday, June 13, 2011
One of the components of this trip is that the students have a field trip nearly every day that they are here in Russia. The field trips range from museums to churches to cemeteries. Our field trips are led by the incredible Lena, our contact at GRINT, who leads us around Moscow at a break neck speed in a dangerously high pair of heels. We often find ourselves jogging doggedly behind her trying to catch up as she tosses back a "Come on, guys, you are slow today."
As today marks our first solid week in Moscow, here are some of the places the students have been.
The mandatory things to see while in Moscow. I've seen Saint Basil's countless times, yet I never ever get sick of seeing the candy colored domes.
The Ballet: A Performance of Romeo & Juliet
One of the extras that's included in tuition is various performances such as ballets, operas and symphonies. The first one the students saw was a performance of Romeo & Juliet at the Kremlin Ballet. The theater is a soviet construct which means it lacks the gilded loveliness of such theaters such as the famous Bolshoi Teatr or the Marinskii.
However, even the most ugly of buildings can sometimes hold unexpected treats-such as the amazing near 360 degree view of Moscow from the top level of the theater. With a bit of rain welcoming us at intermission, the view we got was stunning.
This was one of the visits that I was most excited for, for purely selfish reason. When my computer crashed two years ago I lost all of my photos of that trip to Russia including the pictures of this cemetery. Novodevichy is pretty much a who's who of Russian history & culture. Nearly every grave contains someone who had a massive impact on Russian society & culture. It contains such famous Russians as the filmmaker Eisenstein, writers Gogol, Chekhov, Bulgakov & Mayakovsky, Russian leaders Yelstin & Khrushchev and composers like Shostakovich. On top of that, Russian cemeteries are so beautiful and peaceful, they're such interesting places to wander around.
The Grave of a Heart Surgeon.
The Grave of an Actor
Another big treat was our trek yesterday to Yasnaya Polyana--the estate of writer Leo Tolstoy. The field trip was a big one-3 and a half hours each way, but well worth it. The estate was absolutely beautiful, and filled with people celebrating Russia Day. There were various crafts set up for people to try their hand at-from knitting to making dolls out of hay.
The houses and schools on the estate were remarkably well preserved, and filled with items that belonged to Tolstoy and his family including his 23,000 volume personal library.
Tolstoy's unmarked grave on the estate.
The students experiencing Russian culture via tapochki--slippers. They're used at some museums to preserve original flooring.
So that's some of the things we've seen in the past seven days alone. With Lena's speed walking leading the way, we're going to see tons of more things in the next few weeks (and get our heart rates up as a bonus).