Moscow – Day 2

After I had read that no backpacks or cameras were allowed at Lenin’s Mausoleum, I decided to skip it. It sounded like a time-waster to find some place to put my stuff. Instead, I decided to visit the Winzavod Museum of Contemporary Art. It had been recommended to me by the Erarta Museum in St.Petersburg, and it was also included in the Top Ten Things to Do in Moscow by TIME Magazine. Here’s Winzavod’s English website.

In spite of TIME Magazine saying it was just “behind the Kurskiy train station”, this museum was not easy to find. I’d taken several screen shots of Google Maps before leaving my hotel and still I wandered around looking for it, until I realised the manned gate for trucks I had walked past earlier was actually the road with no name on Google Maps where the museum entrance was supposed to be. And not a single sign in English to be seen anywhere. This is very strange for a museum of contemporary art with an English website. Maybe people in the neighbourhood would object to a sign in English while a website in English is OK?

Trying to find the art was equally difficult. No-one I asked spoke any English, and when I finally understood that the truckers’ booth at the gate was actually the ticket office, did I realise that Winzavod opens at 12.00 noon or 2.00 PM (unclear which). Since I didn’t want to wait up to 4.5 hours for the museum to open, I left. Hugely disappointing. I took pictures of the only two outdoor exhibits I could find: one corny crocodile and a cool-looking eye.

Quickly checking with my Lonely Planet guide, I discovered that the thing to do on Day 2 in Moscow was to visit the Novodevichy Convent. With no time to lose or much time to do any research, I headed for the Novodevichy Convent. And I was not disappointed. The convent was set in beautiful grounds inside high thick walls.

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The main Smolensky Cathedral had gilded domes, just like the churches in the Kremlin.

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But unlike the Kremlin, taking photos was actually permitted (if you paid an extra fee). The iconostasis was pretty impressive.

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And the frescoes covering all the walls were also very beautiful.

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The lady supervisor in the cathedral was very conscientious. I think she told me four times not to touch the frescoes, even though I never walked near them (it was raining outside). In the end, she told me to put my backpack in a corner. Maybe they normally have got lots of visitors wobbling around on unsteady legs with wet raincoats?

The lady who checked my ticket was a bit more positive. She was so delighted every time I showed her pictures I had just taken on my iPad, and she kept suggesting different things to photograph.

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Another large church at the convent, the Assumption Church, was incredibly beautiful as well. It was also one of those moments I will remember from Moscow. As soon as I entered the church, it started raining heavily. I just sat there in the very back, listening to the pouring rain and watching visitors lighting their candles.

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With very little time left before my train, I decided on a quick visit to Gorky Park. It was on the way there, I walked by the first and only cafe I saw for the whole two days I was in Moscow. A huge difference to St.Petersburg, where there were cafes everywhere. Do Muscovites disapprove of cafes? Anyway, this cafe was very busy and had super-yummy sandwiches.

Gorky Park was green and lush, and had I stayed longer in Moscow, I would visited it for longer. However, this was the moment to head for the Yaroslavsky train station and my train.

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