Discovering Moscow – Part II: Feeling

I had three full days to visit Moscow, however as you read in the previous post one day was mostly dedicated to run, run, run!

My hotel was well located, only 3 minutes walk to the Bolshoy Theater and 5 more minutes walk to the Red Square. The first morning, after breakfast, Max picked me up and we walked to the Bolshoy Theater, even though we only stopped to see it from outside, I could imagine the gorgeous decoration inside, and I could almost immediately replay in my head the Bolshoi ballet I saw not too long ago in Peru: just one light on the dancer as she performs the death of the swan in The Swan Lake, simply majestic!

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Bolshoi Theater

The next stop was the Red Square, which to my surprise was bigger than I expected, last time I had seen it in films was in one of the Mission Impossible movies, and unlike other places where I’d been and was a bit let down for not finding them as big as I thought, everything in Moscow is huge, and just as I love they take care of details delightfully.

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Entrance to the Red Square – Saint Basils Cathedral on the background

We headed to the Red Square from Tverskaya Street, first thing you see is the beautiful entrance with arches from which you can spot the colorful roofs of St. Basils Cathedral, I just can not explain the joy of those moments previous to enter the square, where to the right is the Kremlin (including Lenin’s Museum), to the left is the beautiful GUM shopping mall, which is by far the nicest one I’ve ever seen. You can also see the State Historical Museum, and the Kazan Cathedral.

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To the left GUM Mall
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Kazan Cathedral

Past St. Basils Cathedral there is the Bolshoy Moskvoretskiy Bridge from which there are unrivaled views of the city to both sides. The architecture of the city is unlike some other cities I saw, the architecture style, the pastel colors of some buildings, the golden top of churches’ roofs, mixed with enormous plain buildings, which look like they were designed to be intimidating at a simple glance. In one spot in particular you can see very tall modern buildings which appear to have just landed there, because they have really not that much relation with the rest of the city style, kind of breaking the harmony that the other buildings have somehow achieved.

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The Kremlin from Bolshoy Moskvoretskiy Bridge
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Modern buildings on the back

Later on we visited the VDNKh amusement park, which holds different pavilions dedicated to themes like education, engineering, space etc., also beautiful fountains. Here one can see mostly families enjoying time together, taking lots of pictures and admiring the different colors of lights as the night unfolds.

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Space Pavilion at VDNKh
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Fountain at VDNKh

One of the things I was very curious to see with my own eyes was the art and decoration of some underground stations, and I was definitely once again not disappointed, each station has a theme, and I particularly liked this one with the children statues, though I don’t remember the name of the station, but surely you can find it around the city centre.

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Underground in Moscow
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Walking out of the Metro station

On the last day as it has become usual of me, I walked until I was exhausted. In the morning I had a very nice walk accompanied by an incredible view and atmosphere on both sides of the Moscow river as I walked from the Kremling to the Christ the Saviour Cathedral, the details create the nicest looks in the city, judge by the picture below, that bridge is pure beauty.

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Christ the Saviour Cathedral

I met Max for lunch at Academia, where a traditional soup was the protagonist, all soups I tried were very nice, but my top one is the white mushrooms soup! And Coffeemania was a perfect spot to also warm up with a Latte Singapore, trust me it’s easy to get addicted to that coffee, luckily there are a few Coffeemania around the city.

Then he dropped me close to Ulitsa Pyanistkaya street, somehow worried I could get lost, mostly because unlike other cities, it is not that easy to find signs in English in certain areas, I of course can’t speak Russian besides a few words, and let’s not even think of reading it. On top of that I had no internet service so I couldn’t rely much on google maps.

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View of Ulitsa Pyanistkaya street

However, that was not a problem, I used mostly straight roads so I could remember the way back. This area of the city has a beautiful architecture, it has probably more churches than I can remember finding in any other city, I walked from the Bolshoy Ustyinskiy Bridge to the Paveletskiy Railway Station, then reached the river and walked back to the Red Square, but before I stopped for a coffee at Coffee Bean. Distances were surely closer than they appeared on the map, or maybe it was just that I enjoyed my walk so much that I didn’t realize how much I walked.

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Paveletskiy Railway Station

On my way back to the Red Square I had the chance to take some pictures of the city and the river as the sunlight was disappearing among the clouds, one perfect prelude to what was coming next. Seeing this view made me feel true love for the present, for what I can experience and feel at one given moment in life, sometimes what I can only feel but words can not describe.

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Sunlight over Moscow river at sunset

With this feeling I walked to the Red Square, smile on face, there I had another moment of pure joy. Now really try to imagine what I am about to tell you. I was in the middle of the square taking pictures of everything in 360 degrees, when my camera had no battery I used my phone, after a few minutes it’s battery was also gone! Bad luck you must be thinking.

When I had nothing else than my own eyes to appreciate the charm of everything around, that moment when out of technology my body started to use all my senses. I was fully aware of the sun coming down, of people and the sounds of different languages being spoken simultaneously, the buildings around, there was no breeze, it was rather warm. This time it was me slowly spinning to capture every single angle in my memory.

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Favorite place in Moscow

Being aware of my feelings and thoughts at that very moment, of my own voice telling me silently how amazed I was, how happy I was, how incredibly lucky I felt to be there, so far from my country, yet not feeling as a stranger. There is no technology that can generate or replace those emotions. So I would strongly recommend you to remember this and stop when you are in a wonderful place like this, then you feel everything as you should with all your senses, for those emotions will never go away. Those emotions will make you smile everytime you close your eyes and remember everything as if it was happening all over again.

That day I was probably the only Peruvian around, but now there will be thousands of us, not just in Moscow but in other cities as well, especially where our football team will play the first round of matches. Why is this especial and I make such a fuzz to dedicate part of this post to it? As I said in the previous post Peru has not been in a World Cup in 36 years, and this team in particular overcame lots of obstacles along the way.

When I grew up, every time the world cup approached, tv programs hurried to find the old films of the 1982 world cup in Spain, telling how great some of the players were back then. Our hopes would rise time and again, just to be dropped at the end of each match, “the team had played like never before, yet lost as always” we knew that by heart, and I particularly had lost hopes and interest for this eliminatory phase, I didn’t watch most of the games and was skeptical every time I spoke to my friends about it.

Great my surprise when I saw the last four matches last year and quickly recognized the talent of the players, this time there was a team and not just eleven people trying to kick the ball and hopefully make a goal to shine individually. I shared the joy and happiness of nearly 32 million of Peruvians celebrating what we thought would be once again impossible.

This time we didn’t have to console ourselves remembering the bright past, this time the present showed a promising future. With the classification people jumped all at once, and even earthquake alarms were activated in Lima. We all made a mental and emotional journey from frustration to pride, now not only our food has made it to international news but also our football team. The general mood increased for the first time in a long time (hopefully it will last to give us the strength to keep working to progress as a society).

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Photo from: Fifa.com

Soon after, however Paolo Guerrero, the capitan of the team was disqualified to play, after a long process of good, bad and worse news he was finally able to join the team. Again general joy, because we all respect and genuinely admire him. More than his skills to play football, to me, his passion and determination are inspiring, he did not resign when it looked like there was nothing left to do, he went more than the extra mile and got what he deserved, to join his team and play the World Cup. He gave us all a lecture on resilience, tenacity, search for truth, sense of justice, and fight for his dreams. A Warrior as his surname tells when translated into English.

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Photo from: Fifa.com

So if you are in Russia and see Peruvians screaming, crying, jumping or celebrating depending on how the game goes, just understand that they will be living the moment like never before, literally!

And for everyone attending the World Cup, remember that countries and their people are more than what we see or read in the news, that some stereotypes are not true, and that you should meet people with a genuine open mind. Remember that we all have things in common, and in this particular occasion, yes, football does unite people from around the world. Let’s celebrate all reasons to be united regardless of our nationalities.

I had an extraordinary experience visiting Moscow, sharing time with my friends, exploring and learning more of their culture. Treasured memories of that trip make me want to go back soon, who knows! In the meantime…Hasta pronto! See you soon! Auf Wiedersehen! A presto! Au revoir!