For my first days in Moscow, I booked a room ‘chez Michel’, a nice small hotel located on the fifth floor of a building near Barricadnaya metro startion with a restaurant also called ‘chez Michel’. Contrary to expectations, none of the staff spoke French (or even English) so I was very puzzled why they chose that name for their hotel and restaurant, unless they wanted them to look French (they did decorate with some French artefacts). I was the only non- Russian Teddy Bear there and I was probably given the smallest room possible. I like cosy places, so that was fine, even with my suitcases. Anyway, I was only there for one night just to get my registration (a document foreigners need if they stay more than a week in Russia, and only easily available from hotels).
My plan was to start my Russian class and take the advantage of spending two days in this part of Moscow to explore it. On the Tuesday, I was woken up but the sound of people I mean clearing snow from the pavement, and I knew before opening the blind that it has been snowing over night. I was very excited and looking forward to dipping my paws into the snow.
To get to my school, I had to take the famous Moscow metro. It is a piece of history and art. My nearest station was Krasnayapresnenskaya and only two stops from my school. On my way, I admired the elegance of the stations Bielarusskaya and Novoslaboskaya.
After my class, I decided to explore the area around my hotel. I discovered that there was more than just the zoo where some of my Russian cousins live.
I initially thought of having a look at the Russian White House, home of the Russian government and Prime Minister since 2016. My route took me to the back of the building, where remains of the attempted 1993 military coup were scattered along the street. At that time, the building housed the parliament which have moved since 1994 to the Duma building near the Red Square. To my surprise, sadly I found stones marking the death of young people and red and black ribbons knotted to the branches of trees and other railings.
There were also poems dating back to the Great Patriotic War (Second World War to westerners) hanging on some railings and panels explaining the events.
I carried on my way and went around the White House, leaving on my left the monument dedicated to those who fought in the 1905 revolution.
In front of the White House, I met two interesting and opposite individuals. On one side stood a lady with a large board denouncing the corruption of prominent people in the Moscow administration and on the left side, a keen supporter of the president. I was invited to attend a meeting which I kindly declined… a Teddy Bear should never get involved in politics. But reflecting on those two individuals, I thought that probably this was an accurate picture of the current situation in the country.
Finally I headed off to the historical and memorial museum of “Presnya”.
This little museum is not only about the events who took place in 1905-1907 in this part of Moscow, when workers rebelled against the Tsar and his army which led later to the revolution in 1917 but also about the evolution of home interiors and the way of life in soviet society during the communist period. Not many people visit this little museum and all the staff was whispering behind my back while I was looking at the exhibits. Maybe they have never seen such a soft visitor like me!
I finished my visit with the diaroma of the december 1905 revolution. Now I understand why metro stations in this district are called: Barrikadnaya, Street 1905 and Krasnopresnenskaya. I thought that this part of Moscow must have been pretty ‘red and communist’ and maybe this is still the case.
For my evening, I had a plan to catch up with a friend who works at the French Lycée in Moscow. The lycée is named after the French writer of the Three Musketeers, Alexandre Dumas. The book is so popular in Russia that all Russian families have a copy and reading it is part of the Russian education… alas not any more in France!
My friend and I entertained ourselves in a Uzbek restaurant. A lovely evening where I could delight myself with the Uzbek tomatoes: unbelievable delicious!
Before going back, I took a few pictures of the festive decorations still in place on Loubyanka. It was rather magical but I was a very tired Teddy Bear, ready for my night.