We didn’t really visit any ‘serious’ museums in Moscow aside from the Gulag Museum, and we were both quite okay with that. John had discovered that there was a Vodka Museum a short metro trip away, and as it was apparently located inside an old kremlin I was doubly interested.
We did take the scenic route from the metro station but made it there eventually.
The Izmailovo Kremlin is possibly the most garishly unattractive one we saw in Russia. It looks as though someone with absolutely no taste [and possibly colourblind] picked up a bunch of tins of paint and attacked all the edges. These days it seems to be the place to go for a tacky wedding reception, although for tourists there’s also a huge souvenir market just outside, with prices mostly far more appealing than those in the centre or on Arbat St.
We wandered inside and found our way to the vodka museum. There was a pretty big sign, so it wasn’t exactly difficult. Apparently you get a free shot upon entering, but this wasn’t offered to us. We thought we found the free shots when we were leaving, but the vodka didn’t look too appetising.
The museum isn’t very big, although they do have a reasonable amount of information in English. Mostly it was long glass cabinets holding a huge collection of different vodkas. Along the walls were pictures of old royalty involved in making vodka, as well as the history of vodka-making in Russia. It was a nice diversion, and especially so on a rainy day.
Of course there was a little shop in there selling numerous kinds of Russian vodka. I was sorely tempted to buy a few bottles of vodka in rather cute little matryoshka doll bottles, but they were a little pricey and besides, I didn’t want to be carrying them for two months! Also, there was a big stuffed bear. Not sure why.
We visited the market on a separate day, having somehow missed most of it on our first visit. I was intent on buying a matryoshka doll and I wanted a nice one with the Arbat St prices. I’m aware that the nesting dolls were only introduced to Russia around 100 years ago, and that people love to argue about whether they’re really ‘Russian’, but I like them and ultimately when you see the dolls, no one thinks of anywhere but Russia.
It was another rainy day and we had only one umbrella, so John was a little wet by the time we got to the market. I like to look at everything and so we spent a reasonable amount of time walking around and checking things out. Eventually I found what I think is a rather gorgeous doll, a little different to any I’d seen previously – and to my surprise, John also found a matryoshka doll that HE liked.
Yes, it was a set of nesting dolls painted with different memes. My boyfriend is a serious geek! Unfortunately his bad influence means that I was able to recognise a few of them. It was strange though – I didn’t realise memes were so international. It was the only doll we’d seen painted like that and I wonder if it was some guy who thought that eventually there would be some strange fellow who would think it was amazing. Well, it appears he was right!