Once again, I made it back to the hostel safely today. I am still
feeling very overwhelmed by everything but i’m starting to focus on
drawing and I’ve walked around a lot of the city in the last couple of
In spite of what I have heard about Moscow being an international city, I never seem to see any other non-Russian people outside my hostel. Even in touristy areas, all of the tourists are Russian. Almost no one in this city speaks english, and there is almost no english on any of the signs. I have never been in a country where I understood so little of the language, and it is a huge barrier. It’s also very different being completely on my own, although occasionally I meet nice people at the hostel.
The city reminds me of Florence in some ways, only dirtier and weirder. Everything looks very capitalist here, but no one on the
street seems especially well-dress or bathed. The weather was really nice the first couple of days but it’s been getting hotter and today I could really feel the dirt of the city. I am trying to do the siesta approach to working: getting up early (8 or 9 AM) and go out while it’s relatively cool and uncrowded, then coming back in the afternoon to shower and nap whlie everyone else is out, then going out drawing again in the evening. Apparently in St. Petersburg today is the last of the “no darkness” days, but even here it is light out until 10:30.
Yesterday I walked around Red Square, went into St. Basils (like the
Mona Lisa, surprisingly small in person) and walked around the outside
of the Kremlin. I then followed my guidebook’s recommendation and did
a walk along the river and onto the island in the middle, saw a few
more churches and a ridiculous statue of Peter the Great on a boat.
Mostly, though, I have been avoiding doing touristy things and drawing like crazy instead. I will put up some stuff whenever I get around to photographing/uploading it. In keeping with the theme of my college work, I have been looking for “threatened” architectural sites in the city to draw. There are a lot of abandoned/disrepaired buildings here, but the city is very careful about covering them up with tarps, and I have also seen a lot of places that are in the process of being rehabbed. There are a lot of issues here with new developer tearing down old historic sites, and there is probably a good theme for my work somewhere in there. Yesterday I went to see a Russian Baroque church South of the river that’s slightly dilapidated and under threat from new developments in the surrounding areas. I forgot that there was mass (“liturgy”) because it’s sunday, but the people there were very nice and one person spoke english and told me some stuff about the church, and was happy to let me sit outside and draw it. He said all the churches in Moscow were closed during the Soviet era and 2/3 of them had been destroyed during that time (which means Moscow was probably like 50% churches before the Revolution. I can’t walk anywhere in this city without seeing onion domes). Pictures will happen whenever I get around to uploading them.