Happy Birthday, Moscow!

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On the first weekend in September, Moscow celebrates its birthday, and it was 5th-6th September this year. I went out to two places where they actually celebrate the day in a grand manner–the city centre and the victory park.

The midday parade of young highschoolers and university students seemed almost farcical when it was done on Tverskaya-Ultisa–Moscow’s own Champs-Elysees. They were waving their colorful flags and chanting some Russian gobbledegook, blocking the road before the United Colors of Benetton and Tiffany and Co.

The security was intense, and there were a lot of metal detectors and bag searches. However, it was full of holes. Taking a shortcut through a nearby park, we found ourselves at the vanguard of the parade. Getting out of that route was far more difficult than getting in.

It was a sunny, toasty day, so I walked around the town centre–the Duma, the Bolshoi Theatre, Hotel Metropol, Lubryanka KGB building, etc., stopping for occasional concert stages. There were five or six of them all around this square area, erected for the city day. Some of them played Western music (Katy Perry was a favorite there), some displayed ridiculous spectacles, a singer in magenta tutu, a mezzo-soprano screeching in the acoustics-devoid square and some awkward breakdancers ranking among them.

Then I turned around, walked past the Revolutionary Square (with its tourist trap, superexpensive shops) to the gardens west of the Kremlin. The Red Square, sadly, was closed–these Russians always randomly close off that place, according to my friends.

There was the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider at 4 p.m., but I skipped it since my stomach was loudly demanding its tithes. After this very belated lunch, I dashed off to the Victory Park for another celebration.

The Victory Park was built to commemorate the WWII, and apparently someone thought it would be a great idea to commemorate the Fallen by putting big marble slabs lettered with the war years. So there it was, a big obelisk and half-circular colonnades preceded by five slabs saying 1941, 1942, so on. It is an elegant, be-fountained place nonetheless.

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