Month: April 2019

Tonight I became a Russian.

Splean in VTB Arena

Ever since I came to Moscow in August of last year, it’s felt like I’ve been on a quest to become more russian. Besides all the effort I’ve put into becoming a better Russian speaker, that is. It hasn’t always been obvious – sometimes it’s been as simple as learning to appreciate the at times downright bizarre architecture of Moscow where apartment buildings from the Soviet era can be found sharing the outline of the city with skyscrapers from the naughties. But tonight it was obvious – very obvious.

You see, there’s this little band I’ve been listening to since before I could even speak Russian.
I was sending letters to some girl I found on Interpals, and she recommended them to me. They’re only known in Russia and some former Soviet repulics such as Latvia.

The reason? All their lyrics are in Russian. They are known as Splean.

I have been wanting to see them live ever since I started studying Russian, and tonight I finally got to do it, inside a football stadium in Moscow, with a russian girl on my shoulders (technically from Belarus but her native language is Russian so whatever…). I was screaming the words that I knew, and sharing my love for this “little group” – as they like to refer to themselves – with thousands of russians and russian-speaking people. And even though I literally couldn’t understand anything of some of the songs, all of us had one thing in common: culture.

And I don’t just mean “culture” in the artistic sense of the word: I’ve come to realize that besides the ability to communicate more or less fluently in the same language, the one thing that binds a people together is “culture” in the sense of shared values, shared beliefs and, not least, shared experiences and cultural preferences.

Okay, so I didn’t grew up with Splean on the radio, or listened to them because my parents or my brother introduced me to them, or because I saw them on TV. Hell, the first time I heard them I couldn’t even understand anything of what they were singing about. But I love their songs just as deeply as any russian who’s listened to their music all his or her life. Maybe even more so, because I’ve had to go through a hell of a lot of work to understand what they were trying to tell me through their lyrics.

And tonight I got to confirm that: by the end of the concert, my lungs were burning, my ears were pounding, my feet, hands and neck were sore, and I knew that I could go to bed having given one hundred percent of my energy to share an experience I literally had to go through hundreds of classroom hours to be able to enjoy.

Was it worth it? When you’re singing words along with thousands of screaming people knowing that you are all there for the same thing: fuck yes, it was worth it.

Okay, so my Russian isn’t fluent yet – but tonight, I became a Russian. At least, culturally.

Places to visit in Moscow

Having lived 8 months in Moscow, I thought the time had come to open up about places to visit in this magical city.

Esse Jazz Club

Esse Jazz Club, in the charming Pyatnitskaya street, hosts many national and international jazz artists every week. This place is especially recommended during Moscow’s long and hard winter and autumn seasons. The interior and music makes you feel like you’re in New York, and the food they serve upstairs is wonderful. If you’ve never experienced live jazz before, you could do worse than this place.

John Marshall Quartet på Esse Jazzklubb

VDNKh

Offisielt kjent som Det all-russiske utstillingssenteret, er dette en av de største parkene i hele Moskva. Men det er ikke bare en park – som navnet antyder er det et utstillingssenter, komplett med statuer, museer, restauranter, raketter (ja, raketter!), og unike bygninger. Absolutt verdt en visitt, spesielt på en varm sommerdag.

Inngangen til VDNKh, CC BY 3.0

The Red Square

Denne er nesten irriterende åpenbar. Likevel er det nødvendig å gå innom her hvis du aldri før har vært i Moskva. Her vil du kunne besøke Lenins mausoleum, Vasilijkatedralen (som nå er et museum), det russiske statlige historiske museum og handlesenteret GUM.

St. Basil’s Cathedral, by A. Savin, CC BY-SA 3.0

The Tretyakov gallery

This gallery houses some of the works of Russia’s best painters, past and present. If you’re just remotely interested in art, this place is worth a visit!

Tretjakovgalleriet,
avA. Savin, CC BY-SA 3.0

The Zaryade park

Located next to the Red Square, this park was designed by Americans. It includes a bridge that isn’t a bridge. The video says it all, really:

Gorky park

Moscow is a city of parks. Gorky is the park where people of all ages come to skate in the winter, and infatuated lovers will come to enjoy each other’s company in the spring. There are also restaurants here, and many cultural events during the summer.

The entrance to Gorky park

Arbat street

One of the most famous streets in Moscow, at least according to the locals. Here you’ll find restaurants, cafes, shops, street musicians and generally good vibes all year round. The Norwegian embassy is also located not far from here.

Arbat i januar, av
Alex ‘Florstein’ Fedorov, CC BY-SA 4.0

The Kremlin museums

Located next to the Red Square, these museums include the Dormition Cathedral, the Cathedral of the Archangel, the Cathedral of the Annunciation, the Residence of the Patriarchs and the Church of the Twelve Apostles, the Ivan the Great Belltower and the Church of the Deposition of the Robe. It also includes two separate exhibitions, the Kremlin Armoury and the Diamond Fund. All the churches and the belltower can be accessed through one ticket, and are worth seeing if you’re interested in tsarist Russia’s religious past.

The Kremlin Armoury and the Diamond Fund can be accessed through separate tickets. The Armoury has a lot of clothes, thrones and regalia from the tsars, as well as Moscow’s only collection of Fabergé eggs produced for the Romanov family by the Fabergé company.

The Diamond Fund is a unique collection of gems, jewelry and natural nuggets. Amongst other things it has a copy of the Imperial Crown of Russia as made in 1762 for the coronation of Catherine the Great.

Central Children’s Store on Lubyanka

This is a massive store that sells toys for children of all ages. It also houses a large restaurant, a foodcourt, a cinema and a very impressive interior. Here, you can also go up to the roof to get a bird’s eye view of Moscow. Definitely worth a visit!

Central Children’s Store,
by A. Savin, CC BY-SA 3.0

Papa’s Bar & Grill

Located at Nikolayskaya Street 10, this is one of Moscow’s biggest clubs. But it’s not just a club – as the name suggests, it’s also a bar and restaurant. Comprised of multiple stories, this place has everything you need for a great night out!

Interior of Papa’s, photo by Nicolai Antezana

Pivnaya Biblioteka

Pivnaya Biblioteka (literally: Beer Library) at Mytnaya Street 58 is an intimate bar located a bit away from the center of the city, where you can get to know the locals, This place is filled to the brim with everything that is good in the world: craft beer, books, and friendly russians.