Just got back to the hostel. Wet because of a cloudburst on the last 500m. Moscow has a continental climate which means you are always dressed wrong. If you want to get a good impression of what my day was like weather-wise watch the scene in Karate Kid (the new one, with Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith) where Mr. Han has the kid put on/take off his jacket a billion times. Exactly like that.
Complain about the heat in Vienna as much as you want but at least it’s predictable.
Anyway what did I do today? I learned that if there is a sign “we speak Englisch” that means they don’t understand a thing. Moscow has a good affordable subway system. I went to the Red Square.
It’s big and full of tourists (surprise, surprise). And there is indeed a lot of red which is actually surprising because the name doesn’t have anything to do with either bricks or communism. In fact many of the now-red buildings used to be white at times, for example in the 19th century. The Russian name Кра́сная пло́щадь means ‘beautiful place/square’ with Кра́сная meaning both ‘red’ and ‘beautiful’ (make of that what you will) but over time the meaning of ‘beautiful’ fell out of use so now it means only ‘red’ leading to etymological confusion even for native speakers.
Moving on to Saint Basil’s Cathedral:
I have only seen it from the outside yet, I’ll probably go inside some other day. From an architectural point of view – fantastic! It really does look just like on the pictures you always see. Very much like a fairy tale castle. A small fairy tale castle. Because while the cathedral is a lovely piece of art, deserving of its symbolic-of-Moscow status – I have to admit I was less than impressed. It’s tiny. Tbh I imagined it to be at least 4x the size. Perhaps bc the Red Square is so big? But that’s something you can never really tell from a photo, even if you theoretically know the measurements. (For example the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona looked decidedly more impressive irl than on a picture). In the end it’s a matter of taste too I guess which is why we go there and look for ourselves.
I also went into the famous department store GUM but only for long enough to take a picture of the fountain. I had hoped for air conditioning and was sorely disappointed. The upper floors weren’t nearly as populated but I was still way too hot…
I had Блины (bliny) for lunch which are exactly the same as Austrian Palatschinken and then had a nap under the huge St. Vladimir statue because I still don’t get that wheat makes me tired.
Wandered around some more and realised several things:
1. As of now travelling alone is bad for my mental health. Maybe I need to adjust my medication but being alone rn just amps up my anxiety. I don’t know yet if I will blog for the rest of the trip.
2. Few things can’t at least be temporarily fixed by tea and waffles, including depressive episodes.
3. I’m really glad so many food names and other things in Russian are similar enough to German for me to understand them.
4. I bought a Moscow guide book in Vienna before I left which was a good investment. It contains a very good map of the inner city. A map that is completely and utterly useless if you can’t at least read the Cyrillic alphabet (good thing I can). All the street names on the map are written in Latin letters (and only Latin letters) which, great, but the street signs here aren’t. What were you thinking people???