Wednesday, August 08, 2007

москва and the Урап; train no.16


Moscow seems like London, but with signs in cyrillic. The Metro system is incredible, and much larger than LU. The station halls are like ballrooms, with chandeliers and sculptures, sparse signage, but no unnecessary frills like advertising - or arrival time signs. For me, these halls made a great impression about the city.

The Schushev Architecture Museum had a reasonable exhibition dedicated to a recently deceased 40-ish architect, but the students we met there were a find. Саща and Ариана gave us a brilliant city tour, from Arbatskaya Metro to a Constructivist Fuel Station and ArtPlay interior showrooms, after which we had a meal at very cool Keks.

The souvenir market in the northern suburbs was a strange Disneyesque theme park for bus tourists but had a poetic quality. I am glad we took time to get an overview of the city and river from the lookout point near from the University, where there was a movie shoot going on.

We arrived at the Ural train just in time, and it was beautifully decorated and very efficiently staffed. The train climbed slowly east and into the mountains and we got to know our co-passengers, Ekaterinburgers, a journalist and coach, the latter of whom introduced his daughters. Dasha and Katya had been competing abroad in athletics (including an event wearing stiletto heels) were later to show us around Ekaterinburg, including the night life. The Ural train was very comfortable, with a kitsch overpriced restaurant car, but the arrival in Ekaterinburg welcome. The crumbling Hotel Sverdlovsk opposite the station provided adequate accommodation and convenient services.

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