Sunday June 10, 2012 – Now it’s time to leave the capsule

We go to VDNKh, the fairground that used to exhibit Soviet technical prowess – comrade Greg called it orgasmic Stalinism. On the way we pass a giant monument to the Soviet space program:

Look – it’s Laika!

Stone rocket exhaust:

The technical celebration is still in evidence, but it’s hidden behind placards for camera equipment, kvas and cotton candy.

Poor Lenin:

This marble was not designed for cell phone ads:

I liked the mock-up of the rocket at the end of the giant promenade – one thing I love about the USSR is its obsession with getting to space.

I know the space race existed in the U.S. as  well, but I get the sense that Soviets were encouraged not only to be proud of their country’s accomplishments, but to expect that they would themselves, in a not-too-distant future, be living on the moon or travelling in rockets. Plus the rocket was next to a mockup of an electrical transformer showing off how the Soviets had electrified the country, and a hundred meters from a hall of agriculture, decorated in horns of plenty and wheat sheaves, now abandoned.

I take the nearby monorail (Monorail… monorail… monorail! Mono! D’oh! Sorry, that’s what’s going through my head at the time) to the Ostankino tower, which looks like a spaceship itself, complete with portals:

They want $32 to go up it, and I’m really there to just get pictures of the tower so I decline the entry fee. But there’s an exhibit of Soviet-era cars at its base that quite enjoyable; the exhibitors are eager to explain that these cars competed successfully with western models when they were exported to Europe. They still look small and underpowered to me, but they’re definitely cute – I would drive one if I had a mechanic as a passenger.

The Moskvich 405, produced until 1997:

The descriptions took pains to show how these cars were incredibly popular and competed well in the west as export models:

Mini-Ostankinos! There were even some in blue-and-white porcelain:

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