Saturday, March 10, 2007

Day 2, Moscow: War and Pivas

Vodka, beer, VVTs, cognac, beer, Mojito, beer, lesbian horseriders

I am awoken from my sofa-slumber at around 10am by the sound of Tadich clomping through the lounge, singing “Vodka in the morning, vodka in the mor-ning!” over and over again. I hear a bottle being slammed down on the table, open my bleary eyes and see a bottle of vodka. An hour later, as Russian tradition dictates, we start drinking the vodka.

After lunch at a US-style diner where no one speaks English, Tadich introduces us to the fact that it is socially acceptable to walk along the road drinking beer (piva) – regarded as something of a soft drink over here – by buying us four from a street kiosk then telling us to drink as we walk. Bottles in hand, we head to VVTs via the space obelisk, a 1964 Soviet monument honouring Russia’s space achievements. Its shape is highly pleasing, and shown below.


If this shape was a noise, that noise
would probably be "Schwooooooo"


Then onto VVTs, previously known as the Exhibition of Economic Achievements. It’s a big Stalinist theme park with lots of huge pavilions, a goldie lookin’ fountain, the obligatory fearsome Lenin statue, a couple of passenger planes, and a rocket monument.


Lenin – rad


Clowns foiled by snow


Our walk wasn't all plane sailing


Pretty fly, eh?


Transliterated, this is pronounced "Paliozlektronika".
I'm guessing that means "pavilion of electronic
equipment", or "pirate DVD market"



Rocket on

VVTs also features an Armenian building; we go inside and drink some cognac. Then, when we’ve done our wandering, we go to a café and order some vodka. Unfortunately, they’ve run out of vodka. Tadich can hardly believe it, cross-questioning the waitress like his life depends on it. But it’s true. We get beers instead.


The pretty café window, which helpfully
protected us from the cold of the elements


***

In Russia, there is a tradition of citizen taxi-driving. It’s not that hard to flag down drivers and negotiate a price for a lift to wherever you’re going. Our lift, soundtracked by the odd mixture of Missy Elliot, Vanilla Ice, Kanye West and UB40, takes us to Leninskii Prospekt. We buy a few more street beers and sit on a bench by a dirt track in the freezing cold. Then, in total contrast, we head up to Skylounge 22, an ultra-posh bar on the 22nd floor of the Russian Academy of Sciences. When the RAS ran out of money, they decided to add a few floors to the top of their building to house a trendy and very expensive bar-restaurant. They purposefully designed the additional floors to be look like a giant golden brain. Uh, yeah.

[Jamie did a short post from his mobile phone from the Skylounge, which is here.]

The evening ends in the excellently-named Krisis Zhanra, where it seems to be Britpop night. We dance, whipped up into a frenzy by a heady combination of the Spin Doctors and New Order, and all is great, until a real live Russian band come on. They have a song which involves the lead singer crooning, without irony, “I am a very complicated person / So complicated, oh yeah.” It's awful.

***

As the taxi home rounds the corner of Tadich’s street, me and Jamie spot the sad-looking horserider from the previous night. She’s riding along the pavement of the main street, parallel to another girl on a horse. Both girls turn to look at each other, and suddenly, something extraordinary happens. They kiss each other, on the lips.

The two of us spend the next hour trying to convince Darren and Tadich that this actually happened.

1 comment:

Red said...

Maybe the girls on the horses were Tattoo rehearsing for their comeback video/single...