Ice, Vodka, and Russian History

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Yesterday, we headed out from the center of Moscow in search of slightly more offbeat museums. Our first stop was the Ice Museum, billed as the largest such museum in Europe. It was located in Sokolniki park, which had, surprising both of us, a skating rink/road, a Ferris wheel, a carnival atmosphere, and pony rides!

This seemed ample evidence to us that Russians don’t let winter ruin their fun, which was a relief, since that seems to be the condition for the majority of the year.

We found the Ice Museum with minimal confusion, and were treated to spectacles including a knight in armor

A fossilized dinosaur

A home complete with table, chairs, fireplace, and bed

And for a grand finale, a tree, complete with fruit encased in blocks of ice.

We left the Ice Museum after grabbing a quick bite to eat, and headed back to the metro to make for another park, Ismailovsky, where there was supposed to be a vodka museum, as well as a kitschy souvenir market. Our journey took us through some pretty awesome metro stations, full of murals and fancy light fixtures.

Getting to the park proved to be easier than actually finding the market, however, primarily because the Moscow pamphlet we picked up that had descriptions of the vodka museum and the park included the phrase “before you enter the park you can’t miss the kitsch Ismailovo market”, when it really meant “you should really visit the kitsch market opposite the entrance to the park”. However, we were eventually able to find the museum after calling them (so the cell phone did come in handy).

The vodka museum only had a couple rooms, and covered the pre-vodka era where Russians made only mead (honey wine), and moving on to bread wine (the precursor to vodka), and then to the actual distillation of the vodka itself. It even had a full-size replica of a monk distilling vodka.

The other room covered the standardization of vodka through the communist era, and had a central display of bottles of all the types of vodka now made. Interesting fact: early in the standardization period, the only take-out containers for vodka were 12.3 liters. Imagine drinking that!

The vodka museum itself was located in an “olde tyme” Russian village with some pretty seriously cool architecture.

More to come in part 2


Alicia said...

You guys and your busy days and awesome sightseeing are making me feel like I am lazy and suck at life. I wanna be doing cool things! That ice museum looks amazing.

Asim Shaikh said...

I learn some new stuff from it too, thanks for sharing your information.

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