Our first free day in Moscow was Sunday, no tours, no classes, no schedule! It was tempting to stay cozily in the dormitory all day, but we braved the -14 degree weather and headed out to the Tretyakov gallery. The Moscow metro alone was worth putting on many layers of socks and sweaters, but the gallery was truly spectacular.
The Tretyakov houses the finest collection of Russian art in the world, from pre-Mongol icons to the legendary landscape painters of the nineteenth century. We saw works by Ivan Shishkin, Ilya Repin and Ivan Kramskoi, as well as Andrei Rublev’s famous Trinity icon. The gallery was also free for students, and to celebrate we treated ourselves to lunch in the cafeteria.
There are numerous cafeterias (столовые) in Moscow that serve delicious lunches for bargain prices. The only drawback is the lack of labels, in either Russian or English, so we have been pointing in the general direction of the thing that we think we would like to eat. Some experimental pointing has resulted in surprises like strawberry juice (pleasant) and beef tongue (not quite as pleasant).