Today, we visited the Russia Museum of Cosmonauts. A Cosmonaut is a Russian Astronaut. When we walked in, we could see many models of Soviet spaceships and satellites. We got a special behind the scenes private tour from a real Cosmonaut. When we walked into the museum we met our guide, Alexander who was a former Russian Cosmonaut.
We learned that he spent six months on the Russian Space Station, Mir. We also learned that three times a day, he would look out and spy on the US during the Cold War in the 1980s (he said that he knows the land of America “very well” and then giggled).
We looked at many models of Sputnik, the first man-made satellite. We also got to see the suit that Yuri Gagarin wore. Yuri Gagarin was the first man who went to space. In 1961, he orbited the earth once and then came back to Earth. We also got to see a life size model of a section of Mir. It is a closed exhibit, but he just lifted the rope and we all got to walk into the space station with him and sit and stand on everything. There was a table with some food, a bed and a treadmill. We walked over, until we came to a model of some Cosmonauts around a fire. We learned that the model was of when the Cosmonauts land and have to wait to be rescued. We also got to see the survival kit they use in the case they aren’t rescued the same day as their landing. Alexander showed us a small Soviet Union flag that Neil Armstrong brought to the moon, that had a packet of moon rocks attached to it. We then got to touch some meteorites (they were really heavy).
One of the coolest things we saw was a Russian rocket that was only declassified the week before today and was being prepared for exhibition. We had an amazing, really interesting and maybe a little scary tour of the Russian Cosmonaut Museum.
After visiting the Cosmonaut Museum, we rode the Russian Metro, which is their underground rail system. The Russian Metro is famous for having the most beautiful stations in the world. The Metro was originally built as a bomb shelter during World War Two and the Cold War. The Metro or Bomb Shelter has four levels. The deepest is 85 meters underground. That is one serious Bomb Shelter. The neat thing about the Metro, is that it was all designed by women. Each station is dedicated to something. There is one for WWII, Ukraine, agriculture and many others.
In Moscow alone, there are 200 stations and 10 million take the metro daily! In rush hour, the trains come every 30 seconds. We stopped to view four stations, then switched directions and headed all the way back to our initial stop, near our hotel. I had no idea that riding an underground train and getting off at every stop would be so fun.
After lunch, we took a biking quest tour of Moscow. We all got on our bikes and started by riding around the Kremlin.
We biked through many side streets, and alleyways until we came to a huge white church that had golden-onion dome roofs. We learned that this Church was dedicated to the victory of Napoleon in the War of 1812. We crossed a pedestrian bridge where we got a good view of a huge statue. This statue was originally built as Christopher Columbus, and was offered to some American cities, but they all rejected it, so the Russians renamed it Peter the Great. Now the Russians call it the Strategic Reserve of Non-Ferrous Metals. Otherwise known as a scrap of Iron. They are funny.
Another renamed Russian structure we saw is a radio tower. The radio and tv station is owned by the government, so they broadcast what Putin wants them to hear, and so the Russians call it the “Ideological Injection” because it is owned by the government and it looks like a needle. I found that as much as the Russians are very serious people, they also have a very sarcastic sense of humor. Live with them, and you will be just as sarcastic and funny.
We rode all the way out to Gorky Park, through a sculpture garden, and then took a break from biking and took the Pepsi challenge. If you have no idea what this is, ask your parents or grandparents. All of the Russians drink Pepsi, but not that much Coca-Cola, because Pepsi had a sales and distribution deal with the Soviet Union and so the Russians always win the taste test. In fact, our guide shared with us that Pepsi was given as a Christmas present to children and was a very treasured gift.
It was fun biking through Moscow and seeing another side of this huge city that you don’t see on a standard guided tour.
I learned a ton and had a really great day visiting the Cosmonaut Museum, The Moscow Metro and biking around Moscow, Russia.