Monday, April 25, 2011

Shoot for the Stars: A Day at the Cosmonaut Museum

Check out the weather in Moscow yesterday:

18 degrees!! Pretty amazing, huh? Around 1pm, Natasha, Stuart, Colleen and I set off to ride the rails into Moscow (for just move along from cart to cart on the train when you see the woman coming around to inspect tickets...not that I advocate ripping the system off or anything, but it DID end up saving us about 200 roubles each!).

Our plan was to meet up with Nina, one of Natasha, Stuart and Colleen's metal friends from Ukraine, and her boyfriend who was visiting for the week from Sweden. Nina had organized a belated "Gagarin" Day in honour of the recent Cosmonaut's Day, so we met at Prospekt Mira and walked over to the Moscow Cosmonaut Museum.

The museum was built in 1964 to commemorate the launch of Sputnik twenty years earlier, and it is housed in the base of a VERY cool monument to the "Conquerors of Space," a soaring rocket that stretches 100m up into the sky.

For the Motherland! The side of the base
of the Conquerors of Space monument

The museum was fantastic, and I highly recommend it to anyone in the Moscow area or visiting Moscow. The admission is only 100 roubles (about $3 CDN/USD) and it is definitely something kids will enjoy too - lots of hands-on activities! My only complaint (and I feel like a self-centered Westerner writing this, but...) is that I wish the information in the displays had been in Russian AND English. Luckily, Natasha and Nina could translate for us, but I felt bad constantly going, "Natasha, what does this mean? Nina, help!" Otherwise, though, I would have had a tough time figuring out what some of the displays were about.

The museum did a great job not just focusing on Soviet/Russian contributions to space, but worldwide efforts as well. There was an interactive screen with photographs of all the cosmonauts who have worked for the Russian space program, and you could touch each individual photo to zoom up on their face and see stats on the cosmonaut's nationality, age, how long they were in space for, etc. Unfortunately there were no Canadians, but there were plenty of Americans, Czechs, Indians, Germans, and more! Museum employees were dresesed up in a variety of costumes, from the historically accurate space suits to ones that seemed to be more Star Trek-inspired than Soviet! It added a touch of whimsy to the experience, though. You could also try "space food" at the cafe, although it was a little on the expensive side.

Belka (squirrel) and Strelka (arrow) - two famous
Soviet space dogs who survived their journey and went on to live
healthy long lives back on Earth. These are the actual original
dogs, but obviously stuffed after they died.

Space food in a tube - mm mm good

Instructions on the outside of a space capsule for any passers-by
who might stumble upon a crash landing in the woods!

The chair that simulated what it would be like
in space - if a cosmonaut-in-training survived this ride
without throwing up, he moved to the top of the list
of candidates for space!

After working up an appetite at the museum, we
headed for Yalki Palki, a restaurant on Prospekt Mira,
for dinner. Delicious traditional Russian food and very
good prices!

The mini United Nations: representing America,
Russia, Ukraine, Sweden, Canada, and Scotland
outside the Cosmonaut Museum

No comments:

Post a Comment