Bolshoi Theater Tour and Pushkin Cafe

Today was a long but fruitful day. The second (and final!) week of classes started with a bang as Russian 203 took survival (КРА) and mass media Russian (ЯСМИ) and Russian 303 took academic Russian (АТ) and ЯСМИ. Afterward it was revealed that our group would visit two exciting sites: the world-famous Bolshoi Theater (Большой Театр) and Cafe Pushkin (Кафе Пушкинь). 

We first visited the Bolshoi Theater, a world-famous building in which some of the best ballets and operas are performed.

We listen to the tour in Russian at the Bolshoi Theater.

We listen to the tour in Russian at the Bolshoi Theater.

The building was designed by Joseph Bove and opened to eager audiences in 1825. The building is in Teatralnaya Square in the Tverskoy District of Moscow and is near a bustling theater district that holds the Pushkin Cafe. Notably, the Bolshoi Theater underwent a 21 billion ruble ($888 million) renovation in 2011, which at least partially accounts for the luster and acoustics of the place.

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Although we saw no performances tonight, we were given an excellent tour in Russian and were able to visit various levels of the very tall building. We were able to sit on the first and seventh floors and watch the stage as lighting and stage crews collaborated in setting up equipment. We even saw the light levels of the stage and surrounding chandeliers adjusted. We also visited another smaller stage on the tenth floor and below ground level where actors, dancers, and musicians can practice. All in all, it was an enchanting experience!

We next took the opportunity to assuage our sweet teeth and grumbling stomachs when we visited the Pushkin Cafe.

We take a well-earned break at the Pushkin Cafe.

We take a well-earned break at the Pushkin Cafe.

We walked through the theater district to get there as the sky grew dark and the lights started flickering. In Russia it is still the holidays as the Russian Orthodox celebrate their holy days. Christmas (Рождество) was on January 7th and we still see many lit Christmas trees and lights on the street, which adds quite a nice affect to the snow accumulating outside. At the Pushkin Cafe is a vast assortment of desserts that would make any food lover’s mouth water.

The famously delicious Austrian cake Sachertorte (захер)

The famously delicious Austrian cake Sachertorte (захер).

The cafe’s hot chocolate tastes like molten dark chocolate and the macaroons are colorful and savory looking.

The aforementioned fabulous macaroons.

The aforementioned fabulous macaroons.

Desserts come from places in Europe ranging from Austria to France.

Prague Cake (Пражский Торт) is actually a Russian dish found far more often in Russia than Prague.

Prague Cake (Пражский Торт) is actually a Russian dish found far more often in Russia than Prague.

While the desserts are a bit pricey depending on what you order, they truly are a special experience and the atmosphere is wonderful. 

Даша

Free day: The Great Possad, Pushkin Museum, and other adventures

Today was a free day in which we were able to create our own programs and see the parts of Moscow that fascinated us the most. Some of us visited the old courtyards in Moscow’s Great Possad (Великий Посад or Китай Город). One can reach the famous Kremlin (Кремль) from Great Possad by crossing through the adjacent Red Square (Красная Площадь). 

Some students visited Izmailovo Market (Измайлово Рынок), the famous destination in which one can purchase authentic Russian souvenirs. Some of us also visited this location on Saturday. Russian vendors have sold their wares at Izmailovo Market since the seventeenth century, and tourists often visit this locations to score deals on fur hats, hand-painted matrioshka dolls (матрёшки), and even old Soviet posters and military uniforms

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Another location visited today was one of the three Pushkin museums in Moscow: the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts. This particular museum features 19th and 20th century art from Europe and the United States. Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, and other eminent artists’ works were featured here. French, Greek, Italian, and other countries of origin can be found in this museum.  

Here is a room of sculptures including one of the Greek goddess Venus.

Here is a room of sculptures including one of the Greek goddess Venus.

 

A final place we saw was the Borodino Battle Museum Panorama, which commemorates the crucial 1812 victory of the Russian army over the Emperor Napoleon’s forces. During the battle, the Russians burned down Moscow and the French were forced to retreat in the midst of a harsh Russian winter. The panorama was painted by Russian battle painter Franz Roubaud in 1912. The panorama is seen inside the museum, which has a cylindrical shape. 

Cyclorama in Borodino Museum, War of 1812.

Cyclorama in Borodino Museum, War of 1812.

We ate our later meals near our dormitory. Most of us ate at the nearby pizzeria, which features succulent desserts and one of America’s favorite foods with a Russian twist in a pleasant atmosphere. One of our students brought a Russian friend so he could practice his English with us. It was quite a nice experience! 

Даша