Moscow debriefing session

No real post tonight because I have been at a Moscow debrief evening, i.e. listening to 30 young women (aged 16-18) reporting back on their recent school trip. The history, politics, entertainments and culture of this fractured country, so conscious of its own nobility, told through the eyes of these students over a period of a few days – plus the unintentionally hilarious exhortations of Lena the tour guide – were most charming.

However, we do now know that Pushkin is a more famous and greater poet than Shakespeare, that Tchaikovsky composed Swan Lake at the lake of that name in Moscow, and that the KGB building at Lubyanka is exactly equivalent of the MI6 building in London and hence unworthy of stopping to look at or any other comment (whatever may have been promised in the tour documentation). Oh, and a trip to the Moscow state circus is not an adequate substitute for the opera or ballet visit also promised in the tour literature - but we shall draw a veil over some of the turns there, which if nothing else provided the UK visitors with a culture shock. (The loudest applause of the evening from the locals was for the waving of the Russian flag, even so.) And the Hotel Cosmos, built for a 1970s Olympics – forget it.

2 thoughts on “Moscow debriefing session

  1. Strangely I quite like the Cosmos. Sure it’s not the most opulent hotel you’ll ever stay in (by a country mile in fact) but it adds a lot to the inherent alien nature of Moscow – looking out over VDNKh with the fantastical architecture, Mira Prospekt resembling a scene from Solaris, and seeing the skyline of downtown Moscow in the distance really tells you you’re somewhere very different and exciting.
    There’s also the intriguing ‘street theatre’ playing itself out in the lobby most evenings – but I appreciate this might be a touch less appropriate for a school group…

  2. Thanks Ian – the school group was banned from the “street theatre” as you so discreetly and kindly put it, and from the casinos. There were many ironic photos of girls looking at view (out of grimy windows they were not allowed to open), excitement at fridge, excitement at Gideon bible, etc. I think they enjoyed it enough (apart from the “fish in jelly” they were given for one meal). My daughter’s diet consisted entirely of potatoes and spaghetti by the way, as she’s a vegetarian but did not trust anything after she took a helping of cheese and found it full of pieces of ham.

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