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Ground Control to Major Tom.....

This weekend saw us celebrating International Women's day with a public holiday here in Russia, so we decided it would be a good chance to get out and see a bit more of the capital.   Our plan for Friday was to visit the All Russia Exhibition Centre in VDNKh, which is meant to be a mix of shopping centre, exhibition centre and amusement park, so thought that it would be great to treat the kids to some fun stuff.  Anyway off we set to VDNKh on the metro and upon exiting the station are met with the sight of a huge statue of a rocket sailing off into the heavens which is part of the Moscow Museum of Cosmonautics.   We take a few photos of the monument and decide that as it is so bloody cold it will be better to spend time inside than outside so we head on in to the museum for a visit.   Being Women's Day entry happens to also be free, not that it would have been that much anyway (440 Roubles or $17 for the family) at full price.    Celebrating is something they do well in Russia, on this special day there were things like the free entry to museums, etc and also in numerous parks there were huge programmes arranged to celebrate with women basically being given free entry, they were even handing out flowers to all women as well.

We shed all our coats, hats, gloves and other essential winter / spring outerwear at the cloakroom and head on in.   This is quite an amazing place with a huge assortment of space history from the stuffed remains of the first two dogs in space, the first earth orbiting satellites, right through to the MIR space station, Soyuz capsules and heaps more.   While most of the commentary is in Russian there are plenty of exhibits with an English translation as well so is all very informative as well.   The kids had a ball seeing all this technology, which we never get to see back home, up so close.

There is what I can only presume is a replica of the command module from the MIR space station which you are able to walk into and see what life was like in space back in the '90's.   It is amazing to see just how basically constructed this module was, the fit-out looked like something a couple of kiwis whipped up one weekend in their back yard, but I am sure the underlying technology is a lot more advanced than the finish......   The toilet looked rather interesting as you will see from the photo below....

Strelka, the second dog in space
Inside MIR command module

MIR Capsule
Put it in the yellow tube, now pull the lever to lock it in..........  Don't stand up till you release lever.....

Once we had spent a good couple of hours being amazed by Soviet and Russian space history we headed across the road to the All Russia Exhibition Centre.  This is one of those places built to showcase Soviet power and ideology and was opened in 1939.  It consists of a number of pavilions built originally to honour the various member states of the former USSR, so you can probably imagine the glorious soviet manner in which they are all built.   There is a lot of classical style symmetry and an abundance of soviet era motifs of workers, Stalin and co.   Nowadays the complex is a mix of shops, markets, restaurants, tourist attractions, amusement park and more but it was unfortunately so bloody cold on Friday that we didn't spend too much time exploring, rather found the things we wanted to do and got out before we froze.   We did find a nice little Georgian restaurant here and enjoy Shishlak for lunch, which is essentially a plateful of BBQ'd meats with spices on them and some bread, and you can generally also get a plateful of vegetables and various weeds to munch on as well, which is fast becoming our favourite cuisine in this part of the world.

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