In the Land of Tolstoy

Even though I am currently miles away from Moscow, I shall still share my Russian memories with you.

Hans Christian Andersen in 1869 (Wikimedia)
Hans Christian Andersen in 1869.

Moscow certainly was no gastronomic experience. The stable food of our stay was soup and a pancake-wrap-look-alike with meat filling. Our first restaurant visit was however a pleasant one. The lady behind the counter in the café-looking eatery did not look pleased about us wanting to consume our dinner at this place, and as the menu was only in Russian, we tried to interpret the pictures. However, a very friendly young Russian lady approached us, asking if we needed help in decent English. Whilst all the guidebooks you read about Moscow/Russia may be correct in stating that few people are willing to speak any English with you, the few sunshine stories you do encounter fill you up instead. And as much as most guards and policemen do seem withdrawn and unwilling to engage in conversation, every 5th of 6th person really did try to help us out.

Another sunshine story was when we crossed one of Moscow’s 5-lane-sized streets by using the underground walking tunnel, we went into one of the tiny Russian souvenir shops. The owner wanted to show us every item in the shop, and seemed to know a lot about Hans Christian Andersen and Danish fairy tales. We parted by him giving us farewell key chains, if only we promised to come back.

It was extraordinary visiting some of the touristy sights of Moscow. I remember my high school years vividly, where the only history we seemed to be learning was that of Russia’s. Standing on the Red Square, walking around the Kremlin, the power apex of Russia, and seeing dead Lenin were all wondrous and surreal experiences.

Being somewhat of a Russian literary geek, I quickly drifted away – into my literary memories. Tolstoy, Pushkin, Chekhov, Gogol and all the others, all found their inspirations, characters, settings in these very streets, rivers and districts. Their works would later become some of the best literature the world has ever seen.

The highlight of my stay in Moscow was without a doubt seeing the ballet ‘Swan Lake’. Movements practiced to perfection. Music delicately accompanying the choreography. Stage and props leaving little to the imagination. All in all, a magical performance where my depiction of it does the production no justice.
Photos taken by myself or awesome Mette Nielsen. Click to view in Carousel mode! :-)


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