26 September 2007

Getting out of Moscow

Moscow isn't all about blonde supermodel wannabe's riding the best custom built sportscars to their exquisite cafes where they pay hundreds of dollars for the latest French desserts unheard even in Paris. It is a big city with a lot of concrete megablocks (that we call home) , thousands of cars of every producer and millions of frowning half-drunk people. (Saim has ultimately noticed that Russian guys somehow manage to smell cheap beer, even in the Red Army Pool)

So living here for some time has its inevitable results on both the mind and body. (As I said before, nobody smiles (if sober, or even half-drunk) in Moscow, as if some secret decree has been signed to forbid all immediate gestures of happiness.) Dissappointed by my latest visit to the Polytechnical Museum (in Lubyanka, right under the shadow of KGB) I decided to see the neighboring attractions to Moscow and discover some nature without getting so far away from Moscow (and radioactive-free zone)

This weekend I have visited Arhangelskoe, a historical estate that is roughly 20 kilometers away. All I had to do was to go to Metro Tushinskaya and get on a bus or marshrut (that is what we practically call Dolmus in Turkey); but as I have embarked from the underground, I was shocked by the change of environment. Actually it was still technically Moscow but it looked like a remote trading fair in the Turkmenistan wilderness. Platoons of hungry Russian policemen were scavenging on the starving guest-workers from Central Asia and the one whom I watched rather enthusiastically for some time, even managed to collect a good sum of rubles from a group of Tadjik boys who were on their signature black sportswear outfits and big bags (with probably all their belongings).

The drive took no more than 15 or 20 minutes and the marshrut nubber 151 takes the passengers right to the neo-soviet gates of the estate.

The estate was, like all pre-revolutionary ones, belonged to a rich family (Yusupovs) but then roughly and nationalised-by-force by the Bolsheviks and used once as a hospital then as a sanatorium, since the surroundings forestry and nature gave an unexpected solitude and fresh air to the occupants.

The amazing lawn attracts many visitors (and daysleepers like Dinc)

The Main Palace is now open for visits (with a guide in Russian)

You can ask for the tickets for classical music concerts (every Sunday at 17:00) in the Colonnade

After the collapse of USSR, the estate was renovated and become a de facto center for Jazz and Classical Music concerts and gatherings. Also every weekend couples and families flock the grass for an escape from the hectic routine of Moscow and enjoy shashlik with beer (the national pastime in Russia)

The estate is still under renovation but the gardens are already amazing (compared to the Tadjik gardens in my courtyard)

Three babushkas lead the way to the secret pathways in the forest

A typical Russian lake...and they actually swim in it (No wonder why they come to Turkish shores in millions a year)

The virgin Russian nature...still unconquerable

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