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Moscow Metro: Palaces for the People

Metro systems in the United States tend to be usually outdated, inconvenient and too expensive. (Plus, U.S. cities are quite spread out) Hence, that is why metro systems are not used very much. Moscow is quite a different story. The Moscow metro system is the 5th busiest in the world and has the most frequent service. For IMG_2843example, during rush hour, there is a train every minute. Any other time it is 3 minutes. Around 7 million people use the metro system everyday. This June, I was one of those passengers for a month and loved it!! Practically every station is amazing and different in its own way.

Why are the stations so grand in Moscow? Well the answers are rooted in Communist ideals. Before the Communist Revolution, the royal family would enjoy the palaces and finest things leaving the workers with nothing. The best way was to give the palaces to the people. Since Moscow was the capital and everyday people would use the metro, the stations would serve as palaces.

If you want to divide the stations in two styles; 1930s and 1950s. (Let’s not explain why stations were not built in the 1940s) In the 1930s stations were built with an Art Deco Style. The 1950s were created in more classical style. Those stations are larger and feel more open.

During WWII, the metro stations played a much different role. As Moscow was the target of many Soviet attacks, Moscow moved underground. Each station had a different purpose. For example, the Kurskaya station was used as a library. Other stations had hair dressers, hospitals, playgrounds, etc. After the war, they were used as bomb shelters.

Sometimes the trains have themes. Some have art and others showcase classic Soviet movies.

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MOSCOW METRO LOGISTICS:

Cost: One Trip: 50 rubles (~85 cents) However if you get a ‘Troika’ card you can top off your card as much as you need. Also, each ride is 32 rubles (~50 cents). Also, a good working knowledge of the Cyrillic IMG_3358alphabet is helpful when riding. Not to be too worried, there will be a Latin alphabet station translation nearby.

If you want to know more about specific stations than just its beauty, I suggest looking into taking a metro tour.

Here are my Top Ten stations with honorable mentions. DISCLAIMER: You may disagree with my choices. Then again I can probably see why. My favorite Eurovision songs do horribly, I enjoy plaid and find a way to add cabbage to all my meals

  1. Ploshad Revolutsii Площадь Революции

This is by far my most favorite station. It is located right by Red Square. Sometimes I would get off a station early just to see it. Russians can be quite superstitous and this station is no exception. This station showcases statues of the most important people in Communist society; the farmer, soldier, student and athlete. You will notice that some statues have been touched many times. Looking for love? Touch one of the student’s shoes. Looking to get good grades without studying? Rub the dogs nose. Money problems? Rub the rooster.

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Looking for love in the metro? Hope it all works out!

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I guess one guy on our tour group doesn’t need to study.

2. Kievskaya Киевская

Kieveskaya is the metro station that takes you to the Kiev Vozkal (Train station) which is the station for trains heading towards Ukraine. It is not on metro tours but I love the mosaics and was one of the first stations that I was immediately awed by. I was not expecting anything but right away I needed to take time to took around.

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I am glad they appreciated the farmer. However some agricultural practices during Soviet times were quite short-sighted. (We’ll cover this once I get to Kazakhstan)

3. Novoslobodskaya Новослободская

If stained glass windows are your thing? This will be obviously number one for you. I enjoyed  each of the 32 panels. Every massive stained glass window is different. Of course it promoting and giving praise to good jobs in a Soviet society. Notice that they nicely changed the mural in this station. It used to suggest Stalin was peace. This was quickly changed after his death.

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I am glad they loved the factory workers! I do as well since I am quite biased. 

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Making hay for little pay. I am sure that was said by both under communist and capitalist systems. However one system allows you to sing about it in a country song. 

4. Arbatskaya Арбатская

This my station for my language school. It is named after Arbat Street which was home to some of the best writers in Russian literature. We timed it one day, it took 2 minutes for the escalator to go from top to bottom. This station was quite deep which also was used as a bomb shelter. This is one of the deepest stations in the system. The deepest is Park Peobody. The deepest in the world goes to the Arsenal Station in Kiev, Ukraine.

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Yeah I didn’t have the patience so I usually walked up and down. 

5. Komsomolskaya Комсомольская (Brown Line)

There are two stations but make sure you see the one on the Brown (Circle) Line. This is the biggest station in term of size. On the ceilings are painting of major points in Russian history.

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6. Elektrozavodskaya Электрозаводская

A little out of the way but I do enjoy the design of the station.

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7. Mayakovskaya Маяковская

This is usually both locals and tourist’s favorite station. What makes it unique is that the arches are supporting the weight of the ceiling of the station. Many architects thought the design of the station was impossible and it would collapse from the weight above. The paintings on the ceiling get deeper as you walk across the station. During WWII, they held sessions of the Duma (Congress).

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8. Maryina Roshcha Марьина роща

Intricate mosaics of different seasons are what makes it quite a nice station.

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9. Belorusskaya Белорусская

This station is in honor of the Belorussian Soviet state. It has a lot of painting of life in Belarus. This metro station also is for the train station for trains heading to Minsk, Belarus.

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Yes, they have cow in Belarus too! 

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10. Mendelevskaya Менделеевская

This made the list for my science friends. Many in Russia believe that Mendel also invented vodka but we know for sure he was the Father of Modern Genetics. So here are some gene designs in the station.

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Honorable Mentions:

Partizanskaya  Партизанская- This station is in honour of the Partisans who fought during WWII. A partisan was someone who could not be part of the army but wanted to fight. Most of the time it was women, injured soldiers, older men and sometimes children.

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Park Pobedy Парк Победы– This is the deepest station. It leads you to Victory Park and the WWII museum

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For the love of the Hi-Line

The disdain for long highways with little topography, no major cities or curves have made Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska not top choices for American travelers. Its always a place one rushes through to get where they are going. US Highway 2 in Montana (known as the Hi-Line) is out of the way for everyone and not considered worth going out of their way for.

Why travel the Hi-Line? Small towns that the world forgot and an open road where you can see for miles. In a fast paced world, you don’t get the time to calm down and think. Process your thoughts on IMG_0133[2] the open road. Before I left North Dakota, I HAD to drive the Hi-Line one last time. I wasn’t the same person that arrived in Williston in 2012. I was not sure it was a good or bad thing. Was spending almost four years of my 20’s in a boomtown worth the sacrifice. A nine-hour drive on the Hi-Line could put those last few years into perspective.

Nine-hours later (add in extra time for small town museums and coffee) it was evident that I needed to go to North Dakota to confirm that I could anything that I wanted and succeed. The only question left was, what? After nine hours, the answer could only be answered once I traveled the world.

 

Personal highlights of the Hi-Line.

SMALL TOWN DINERS – Cheap coffee and pie. Need I say more? I have always loved saddling up along the counter and talking with the locals. They are wonderful and excited to find out why someone is actually visiting. If I wasn’t in a slight time crunch (aka 15 hours max) These stops would turn my trip into three days!

FORT PECK DAM – The massive dam was not made by concrete but rather by dirt. It is a massive and it took me about five minutes that I was not going to see a structure similar to the Hoover dam. The dam was built under the Public Works Administration during the Great Depression. (Aka PWA, you know one of those acronyms you had to learn in US History) There is a little wildlife museum near the dam showcasing some of the fish found in Fort Peck dam along with details about the construction. In the summer, there is a theater group that performs plays at the Fort Peck theater. Below is a panorama from the top of Fort Peck Dam along with the memorials of the men who died while making the dam.

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BEAR PAW MOUNTAINS (Chinook) – This area was the location of the last battle of the Nez Perce War. This was the location where Chief Joseph surrendered. Take time to visit the battlefields or visit the Blaine County Museum for some great information.  And yes the high school mascot is the Beeters. The image is a half sugar beet- half egg beater.

HAVRE, MONTANA – This is the largest city along the Hi-Line until you get to the Flathead Valley. This town was originally started as a railroad hub along the Great Northern RR. This town wIMG_1519[1]as also a hub for some classic vices that we still see today. After a fire in 1904, the entire downtown was completely ran underground. Today, you can take the Underground Tour of Havre. It is a great showcase old machinery and artifacts used during the turn of the 20th Century. Havre, had its IMG_1523[1]vices and you get to see the opium dens and prostitution house. I have suggested this a place to visit for anyone traveling the Hi-Line. Being a good midway point, it has plenty of places for lunch.

(Left: This is the Madam’s room)

SHELBY – As you head towards town, look north to see the Sweet Grass Hills. There some good places for coffee and its your last chance to see a Interstate until Spokane or Grand Forks. I got pulled over here once so I usually don’t stop.

CUT BANK – It is home to a massive penguin to remind us that it was the coldest place in the continental US. Just outside the city, is the river that gives its name. I visited Montana mostly in the winter and spring so its a reminder to always pack a hat.

GLACIER NATIONAdscn1288L PARK – This will start off your trip or end it. The place speaks for itself. It is amazing that the majority of your trip is so flat and then all of a sudden you are in the mountains. I have
been through Glacier by train and by car. Both ways are phenomenal. When you drive outside the summer, the road is mainly all yours.