Friday, June 22, 2012

Photo Nostalgia = Moscow, Days 6 and 7 (Russia 2009, Days 16 and 17)

My last two days in Moscow were fairly simple = Day 6 featured a trip to Sergiev Posad, home of the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius (the most important monastery of the Russian Orthodox Church), as well as an evening circus performance at the Moscow Circus on Tsvetnoy Boulevard.  Day 7 was even more relaxing = I went to church and walked around the Patriarch's Ponds, made famous by the novel The Master and Margarita, before taking my night train to Kiev, Ukraine.  Here are the photos:

 On Saturday, I headed towards the Sergiev Posad bus stop outside of the center of Moscow.  I saw this church on the way.

 Behind this swooping monument is the Ostankino Tower, the 4th highest tower in the world.  It's just barely visible.

 The All-Russia Exhibition Centre was right near the buses to Sergiev Posad.

 After about an hour bus ride (maybe longer - can't recall), I arrived in Sergiev Posad and made my way to the Trinity Lavra.

 Birds linger at the entrance to the monastery.

 Religious artwork about St. Sergius of Radonezh, one of the two most venerated saints in Russia (the other being St. Seraphim of Sarov).

 Looking back through the entrance once inside the monastery.

 Assumption Cathedral (16th century).

The belltower (18th century).

The grave of Boris Godunov and his family members.

 Whether you're Orthodox or not, I highly recommend visiting Sergiev Posad.  For one, the architecture is above par.  Two, it's in the Golden Ring, which is a ring of cities around Moscow that are touted amongst tourists for various historical reasons.  Three, it's fascinating to see a slice of Russian religious life, since this is one of the busiest (if not THE busiest) place of pilgrimage in Russia.

 The Trinity Cathedral in the background houses the body of St. Sergius.  The lines seen here are for various purposes; the one in the far background is to venerate the body of St. Sergius.

 Pilgrims getting water from a well spring (I believe).

 I'm rather fond of this photo.

 I got into the line to venerate St. Sergius.  I knew I couldn't take a photo close to his shrine, but this should give an idea.

 I barely made it back to Moscow in time to catch the circus.  No photos were allowed, but you know me...

 Russian circuses aren't like American circuses in many ways; I have to say they're much superior to ours.  Don't miss out if you're in Moscow.

 My last day in Moscow was a Sunday.  Appropriately, I had to go to church.  This church, the Church of the Savior on the Sands (interesting name), was just a few blocks from my hostel, off of Arbat Street.

 Next it was off to see the Patriarch's Ponds, which is actually just one pond now.  The area around the pond is fairly affluent, and features embassies galore (including a Cuban embassy, something I've never seen, since I'm American).

 The pond was pleasant enough.  I confess, I haven't finished The Master and Margarita (only made it a few chapters before getting distracted by life), but I wanted to make mental notes for whenever I actually tackle the novel.

 This building was on one side of the pond.

 The ducks had their own home of sorts.

My last picture in all of Russia = soldiers leaving town.  Just like I was.

More old trip photos (Greece, Istanbul, Luxor) coming up soon.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Photo Nostalgia = Moscow, Day 5 (Russia 2009, Day 15)

On my fifth day in Moscow, I went to see the Danilov Monastery, the Dostoevsky-House Museum, the Upper St. Peter Monastery, and the Bolshoi Theatre.  Here are the photos:

 Danilov Monastery is, amongst many other things, the headquarters of the Russian Orthodox Church.  The patriarch of Russia resides here.  The monastery was founded by Alexander Nevsky's son, Daniil, in the late 13th century, before his death in 1303.

 The bells, in front of the katholikon (monastery church).

 The monastery was quite large; there were many buildings which I was not permitted to enter, including the residence of the patriarch (Kirill I of Moscow).

Inside the katholikon, I believe... there was (I was told) a daily 7-hour service, presumably presided over by a rotation of priests / monks.  My stay could only be measured in minutes, and not hours.

 This is the residence of the patriarch (although I'm sure the building has other uses, similarly to say, the White House).

 This photo strikes me as very Russian for some reason... could be all the spy movies.

 After the Danilov Monastery, I went to seek out Dostoevsky's birthplace, which had been turned into a museum.  If you're looking for it yourself, find this square, and go behind the building seen here; the museum is actually on the grounds of the building.  It took me an hour to find, even after asking locals (I actually knew the Russian to be able to ask where the museum was).  None had ever even heard of it.

 You'll see this statue on the side of the building, which is actually a hospital (as it was during Dostoevsky's time - his father worked in the hospital).  I believe it's called the Mariinsky Hospital.

 Of course, the statue is of Dostoevsky himself.

 I think this was the entrance to the museum... could be wrong.  It was certainly near it.

 The Dostoevsky home has been restored according to journal notes about its appearance.

 Dostoevsky's signature.

 Not far away from the museum, I stumbled upon this accident.  Rainy day weather combined with typically Russian methods of driving = bad situation.  And yes, I just did indulge in a stereotype.

 Not sure where this is, but it's back near the center of Moscow.

 Ditto with this museum, dedicated to (possibly) the same guy who did the Peter the Great monument and the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Zurab Tsereteli.

 The Upper St. Peter Monastery, founded in the 1320's.

 The katholikon in the approximate center of the grounds.

 The katholikon and the surrounding iconic buildings.

Inside the katholikon.

 It was getting time for my Bolshoi performance of Cinderella, so I made my way over to the theatre.

 The Bolshoi was, sadly, undergoing renovation.  I would be seeing the performance by the main performers, but in the "New" Bolshoi Theatre instead of the much larger and even nicer main stage.  Sigh.

 Since I had some minutes to spare, I walked quickly up the hill to see the Lubyanka Building, the former headquarters of the KGB (now used by the border guards of Russia and the KGB's successor, the FSB).  Many people were tortured in the prison inside.

 Looking back down the street (the Bolshoi out of view on the right).

 Inside the lobby of the Bolshoi.

 The lobby outside my section.

 Even the nosebleeds had a nice view (although keep in mind this is a much cozier theatre than the principal stage).

 I took some photos at the end of the performance, during the bow.

 It wouldn't be a day in Moscow without a stop by Red Square... and I had some unfinished business (to be discussed momentarily).

 GUM, all lit up with nowhere to go.

 My best friend Adrian asked me to flip off the Lenin Mausoleum.  Since Lenin is one of the top 10 people in the history of the world whom I despise, I had no problems obliging his request.  I was also curious to test Russia's supposed new freedoms - but I still did this when the guards' backs were turned.  Didn't need to end up at Lubyanka.

I may be hypocritical for flipping the bird as an Orthodox Christian, but there are only so many non-verbal ways of expressing one's extreme displeasure at the acts of a monster.

 Anyways... the rainy day had turned into a lovely evening (State Historical Museum).

 Eternal flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

 Finally, it was back to Arbat Street for the evening.

 Wait, what's this?  My dorm roommates (two German girls) had asked me earlier in the morning if I wanted anything from the market.  I told them that if they found matryoshka dolls of the San Jose Sharks, I would pay them handsomely.  Apparently this was the only such doll in the market, but I was overjoyed... even if the face looked curiously like that of Chris Pronger.

 Evgeni Nabokov was still on the team at that point (and the fact that he's Russian had no small part in his being the largest doll).

 Rob Blake and Ryane Clowe rounded out the tiny dolls.

I'm a dork, I admit it.  And yes, I paid the girls an extra $20 US for the trouble.

Day 6 = Sergiev Posad.  Stay tuned.