I’d smelt the honey beer in SPb and so I wanted to try some. I was at the ВДНХ (the soviet national exhibition built first in the 1930s) and was simply blown away by the carnival atmosphere. There was something for everyone. I walked into the monumental entrance to the old Soviet Assembly, replete with a massive crescent staircase rising to a giant colonnade of Corinthian columns. When I entered it was a run down market hall full of tacky shops selling everything from Russian dolls and electronics to automatic rifles and handcuffs. I stumbled upon a guitar shop and ended up buying the only small sized guitar in the shop. A Russian made one. A bit rough round the edges. No case. But the body fits nicely in my day pack. With a spare set of strings and a pick thrown in I headed on on into the sun and crowds. Past soviet emblems, statues and giant pavilions, each one different to he next. On the outskirts of Moscow this ВДНХ complex covers 200 hectares and the promenade runs two kilometres. Having sampled the Квас (the malted non-alcoholic liquor brewed from bread) I was still on the look out for honey beer. I suddenly spied ‘Medovukha’ (Myodavukha) and went to investigate. Ended up buying two litres. Lovely stuff! Gave the hot afternoon a fuzzy glow.
On the way into ВДНХ you can’t miss the Cosmological Museum and the 100m high titanium-clad monument to Soviet prowess in space. Built in 1964 to commemorate the Soviet-first wih Sputnik, it’s the first thing you see when you emerge from the ВДНХ metro station.
As I was leaving ВДНХ, happy on Мед Meade, guitar in the backpack. I walked past the entrance to the temporary Euro 2012 fan zone complex. Out the front young women in prerequisite tight-fitting Russian football outfits were trying to get the crowds to enter. Enthusiasm had waned since Russia was ejected after losing to Greece. I went over to ask them to take a photo of me in front of the fan zone just for a laugh. They then insisted that a few of them jump in the photo with me. I wasn’t objecting!
The carnival atmosphere was palpable. I came upon a small muscle man with a makeshift chin up bar erected and a huge crowd gathered. After finally finding someone who spoke English and who knew what the game was all about, I learnt that the man was challenging people to hang from the bars with whatever grip they preferred for longer than 1 minute nineteen seconds. The bar was fairly thick and was like a barrel in that it rotated. I didn’t give it a go but apparently you paid a small amount in the hope of bearing his record. He had a little portable PA on his belt and he stood spruiking quite proudly in his gym suit. Every now and then he’d stand up on the chair under the bar and demonstrate the favoured under arm grip in which he kept his arms bent and the top of his wrists beat over the top of the bar. All that was missing was the snake oil.