Monday, 5 March 2012

Episode 24: Rob revisits Novgorod, witnesses a graphic, German film and recovers in Starbucks with cake

At 5:30 this morning the Moscow was strangely busy. I had awoken with a start on the train some 40 minutes ago and had a slight headache and sticky hair. I made it back home by about 6:00 and collapsed into my bed not resurfacing until past midday when I felt more human.

I have, of course, just returned from a quick dash to Veliki Novgorod. This time round the city was colder and covered in snow, though just as sleepy and quiet. After having seen the legendary, birch-wood manuscripts again (and done a better job understanding them) I killed time in the Museum of Visual Arts which was far better than Lonely Planet allowed. One of the highlights was an exhibition of a Soviet artist whose medium was pen sketches and subject seemed to be babushkas. She litters her pictures with proverbs and stories and does in depth studies of facial features. It was nice to see something fresh although after about two rooms of black and white old-lady faces you tend to want a little more variety in a gallery.
Statue of Rachmaninoff in the park

The fantastic bakery (Illmen) was undergoing renovation so my friend and I lunched in "Хорошие Люди" - an expensive-by-Novgorod-standards restaurant where we were looked after very well. The food was great but the staff kept trying broken English on us and gave us poorly translated menus as opposed to Russian ones which actually made ordering food much harder. Nevermind eh.

In a strange flashback to my trip here in November we ended up in the cinema watching a film to eat up the awkward hours before our train. We attended a kind of academic showing of a 1960's German-made film of "Faust" which was complete with graphic nudity, blood, guts and awful Russian overdubbing that jarred with the soundtrack beneath. It was a highly confusing affair made worse by the fact I kept nodding off and waking up and the goriest/oddest moments. I really want to watch them film again, albeit in German, as I feel I failed to appreciate how classic it was. A man in his nan's jumper with a tiny, tony head gave an introductory talk and thanked us profusely for having attended and I was surprised he didn't show up at the end of the film to answer questions...

Anyway today I have recovered by taking myself to my favourite retreat in Moscow, the Starbucks at Gallery Aeroport, where I had my Sunday slice of a cake and luxury coffee with a good book. I know they are a corporate giant but unlike Russian coffee houses they provide simple, filter coffee and play relaxing music instead of eurotrance. I think I shall write a whole post about that anyway.

Sorry for how inane most of this post sounds. I wanted to write something spontaneous and unplanned this time. Toodle pip.

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