Wednesday, 30 October 2013

The Cosmonaut Museum

This really is a great museum, and it’s in an area where there is quite a lot of interest. 

Nearby is the huge VDNK exhibition park (another post needed for that), the Moscow monorail (yet another post to come), and Ostrankino Tower (the tallest free-standing structure in Europe and 7th tallest in the world - see post dated 22 May 2013). Beyond the Exhibition Park is a pleasant forest park, also called Ostrankino, which backs on to the Botanic Gardens. So there’s a good weekend’s worth of sightseeing in this area. If you have a week or so in Moscow, I strongly recommend spending some time around here.

To get there, take the yellow line metro (line 6) north to VDNK. You can’t miss the museum – it has a magnificent statue of a rocket taking off on the roof. 

Every European city square seems to have a statue of some guy on a horse pointing at something in the distance. Statue designers take note - please,  no more guys on horses - THIS is a statue.

  Entry (at the time of writing) was the more or less usual price for Moscow museums of 250 roubles (about $7 US) - plus another couple of hundred roubles if you want to take photographs. 

Yuri Gagarin (first man in space) welcomes visitors. Gagarin is very highly regarded in Russia.
A replica of Sputnik - the first thing humans flung into space, is top left.
Belka (foreground - means 'Squirrel') and Strelka ('Arrow'). They went into space in August 1960 and survived the trip.
One of Belka's puppies was given to President Kennedy's daughter.

There's a full-sized replica of the Mir (means 'peace' or 'world') space station to explore...

...hmm, not quite the Starship Enterprise.
The funny looking craft in the middle (with the solar panel) is a Lunikhod. One was sent to the moon in 1970 and wandered a round for a while taking snapshots. Its still there. The spacesuit on the right was worn by Michael Collins in Apollo 11. I'm not sure how it ended up here - a search of Google shows it was auctioned in 2009, so maybe this museum bought it.

So that's what it's like inside a Soyuz.
I like the little globe on the dashboard - so they can see where they are I suppose.
Diorama of Vostok 2, whose crew landed about 1800 kilometres off target in a Siberian forest.
Pinnacle of contemporary technology one minute - campfire the next.

The space shuttle program that didn't happen. Replica of a Russian Buran shuttle
And if you happen to be in Gorky Park, there's one of the original Buran shuttles there. Unfortunately, you can't go inside.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

The Moscow River

We’ve just returned from a couple of weeks in the south of France. Sunny, with temperatures in the high 20s. Arrived back in Moscow to bleak skies and snowflakes yesterday.

During the Second World War (Great Patriotic War to the locals) the Russians managed a remarkable feat in moving much of their heavy industry east of the Urals, out of bombing range. So here’s a suggestion – move Moscow south to the warmer Black Sea coast. Shouldn’t take more than a few years with a determined effort. Might be a bit of work, but afterwards everyone will be saying ‘why didn’t we do that ages ago?’. Might even see some smiles on gloomy Muscovite faces.   

On to the theme of this post. Many cities in Europe are closely linked to the rivers that run through them. Think of Paris, think of the Seine. London – Thames. Vienna – Danube. Rome – Tiber (did you really know that last one?).

Here’s a challenge – can you name the rivers that run through these European cities?
Berlin -  Madrid – Oslo – Prague. Answers below.

In Moscow it is, sensibly enough, called the Moscow River. 

What to say about it?. It’s quite wide. It flows past one of the long walls of the Kremlin. It freezes in winter. Visitors can cruise up it in tour boats in summer. The banks of the river provide the only hills in the otherwise flat landscape of Moscow (Sparrow Hills even has a ski lift - see my very first post). So there you have it.

Moscow University's 'Stalin skyscraper'.

Moscow City
Another of the seven 'Stalin skyscrapers' - now the Radisson Hotel

Covered pedestrian bridge near Kievskaya

Evening cruise - just add wine

Berlin – Spree; Madrid – Manzanares; Oslo – two rivers, the Akerselva and the Alna; Prague – Vltava (hands up if you said Danube).