Day 6 was a pretty light day. It started with avisit to the Tretyakov Gallery, the oldest and largest collection of Russian art, followed by lunch at a local cafe, followed by our goodbyes to Moscow as we were off by train (a 26 hour train ride to be exact) to Syktyvkar.
Our first stop was the Gallery. On our way we walked past this:
Which turned out to be the city’s gift to the gallery celebrating it’s 150th birthday. It’s an old gallery that started off as Pavel Tretyakov’s personal gallery that he gave to the city. Do you see the picture frames in the fountain? Pretty neat, huh?
We got to the gallery a little prior to its opening so we took a quick detour to the bridge of locks. Here’s the bridge:
What makes this bridge interesting is that this is where young couples come to get engaged. See the trees in the background? Couples come to this bridge to profess their love. They lock it up by taking a lock, attaching it to one of the lock trees, and throwing the key into the water. This is so cute it made me want to cry…but no fear…I held back. Colby…we may need to come to Moscow later! Just saying!
Here’s a close up of one of the trees:
This tree was very sparse in locks. They get absolutely full. Once the tree is packed with locks, it is taken down the river to be kept on display and a new tree replaces it on the bridge.
This is one of my favorite locks, it’s huge:
And another favorite, it’s pink and blingy, my two faves:
Our next stop was to the gallery. Here is the building from the outside:
We weren’t allowed to take pictures of the gallery inside, but I just wanted to mention how impressed I was with the art held inside these walls. I never thought of Russian art to include any great pieces but I was pleasantly surprised. I just want to mention one painting that I found exceptionally amazing. I can’t remember it’s title, painter, or year (seriously…how awful is that…I’m pathetiс I know) so I tried to Google it but Russian Google isn’t really working for me right now, so let me describe it. When you approached it, the painting appeared to be pitch black. Then you got closer and you could see a glowing moon and a river running through the canvas, then you got even closer and you could see the lights on in the village surrounding the river, then you started imagining creatures lurking in the shadows. It was breathtaking.
I also want to again compliment Svetlana on our guided tour of the gallery. Her knowledge astounds me and I found her tour very interesting and valuable.
Our next stop was at a cafe around the corner for lunch. It was an adorable cafe. Here is a little photo safari of our lunch starting with the buffet:
And some sort of stone kitchen:
The “adult” table:
My lunch which consisted of crepes stuffed with mushrooms with a cheese sauce (YUM):
And Gary with his chocolate cake which apparently was to die for:
My dad would be soooo proud of Gary since he ate his dessert first becaus, as Rastus McQueen (a big ol’ coal miner who worked with my grandfather) always said, “you have to eat your dessert first because you never know when the mine might cave in”.
After our delicious cafe lunch, the bus took us over to the train station where Svetlana guided us to our platform. We said our goodbyes as we began boarding the train for a 26 hour ride to Syktyvkar. I was personally excited about the train ride because I could really use some chill time. I wanted to use the time to sleep, read, sleep some more, and make dent in that book of mine, Gone With The Wind. We had been so busy up until now that I welcomed the down time. Here we are on the train platform:
Here are the tickets (I’m really not certain why I thought this photo was important/blog worthy but here it is anyway):
And here we go down the tiny hallway:
To get to our tiny room:
Which is shared by four people:
I got the top bunk, score:
Let’s just hope that I don’t repeat the freshman year incident. For those of you that don’t recall, my freshman year of college I was sleeping in the top bunk in my dorm and fell out of it. Yes, that’s right, I fell out of my bunk. I ended up with a GIANT bruise covering must of my left shin/calf for the first six months of college. But so far the train is pretty cool. There are neat views of the countryside:
And logging cars that really make me feel like I’m at home:
There really are alot of similarities between the Russian countryside between Moscow and Syktyvkar and with Maine. For a while it felt like I was on a ride home to the county with similar foliage, fields, and climate. The train really isn’t that bad and I’m really enjoying it. There is a dining car that our group spends most of our time in so we don’t end up holed up in our tiny rooms. But to get to the dining car you have to go through about 18 billion doors (I’m really not exagerating…I swear) and cross the danger zone twice. What’s the danger zone you ask? This:
It’s the area where the cars link together and you can see the ground/tracks screaming by below you. It’s scary and I never could get used to it.
So back to the dining car. Apparently, the train staff love it when we come because we spend so much time/money in there. Many Russians don’t use the space because it can get expensive and those using the train are generally poorer. John was telling us that the last time he brought students on the train that the dining care made more revenue in those 26 hours than they normally do in a month! That’s a big difference. Here’s a picture from the dining car:
See the guy in the uniform? He’s a Russian who came and joined in conversation with our group. He knows no English, we know no Russian, we honed in on our pictionary/charades skills from childhood. Turns out he is a 19 year old marine who was stationed in the Baltic. He was on leave to go home and visit his wife and 5 month old son who he had yet to meet. Heartbreaking! But he was vivacious and loved to tell us stories by acting/drawing them out. I really commend him for joining our group as I could never do that. We were a large group with a huge language barrier, but that didn’t stop him. He started turning my idea that Russians aren’t terrible friendly around.
So now we’re off to Syktyvkar and about to meet our hosts. I’m so excited! I’m anticipating our host family stays to truly be the highlight of this trip! ‘Til next time…keep it classy Maine!