Tijs Metternich 2017-09-16
The Density Of Religious Beliefs Filled The Air

Religion has been always considered as a ground for social and cultural life in Russia. I was impressed by stories I learnt from history and challenged myself to feel it in reality.  After taking the escalator at Sportivnaya metrostation for the 5th time, I finally found Masha and the others. Standing on the escalator going up, that is. While I was going down. Again. Going back up (for the 3rd time), I was thinking about how my impatience would make me looking like a fool to the people that operate the escalator and saw me for the 5th time. Was it a sign from God? I reassured myself and went up. 

So, when we all met outside, we went to a graveyard. Not the first place you might think of for a tourist trip, I know. But actually, it was quite impressive. I guess, there’s no graveyard like a Muscovite one. The graves were highly decorated and there were lots of important people buried there. Like politicians, writers, some sort of clown, singers, scientists. Although we found a Mikhail Kalashnikov, we found out that it was the wrong one, unfortunately. I guess not all dead people are easy to find.

As it was quite chilly and everybody had to hug each other constantly to survive, I might say that I saw joy in many eyes when we went inside to the monastery. Besides that I could feel my own feet again, it was quite an interesting place as we were told. If a royal dude, like a Czar, got fed up with his wife, he would actually dump her at this monastery, as divorce was not ok at the time. Like really, not ok. (That’s why priests and the public highly disagreed on this ‘royal’ method.) And what’s a safer spot for a woman than a monastery right? So everybody would be happy, well sort of, I guess. I have to add that some women also went voluntarily, though. Otherwise history will be angry at me. After we studied some icons and got to know a bit more about the Russian Orthodox religion, we went into a church to see the action for ourselves.

In this church, I did not know how to behave actually. People were there for worshipping and looked really serious about this. So I felt like an intruder which was quite difficult as I was so curious at the same time. As it is so different than in my own country, The Netherlands, I wanted to ask about everything, take a look and just observe how people behaved. It really impressed me and I felt barbaric as I just don’t know anything about this religion, their beliefs, their customs… And still, still it was an amazing experience to be able to see this with my own eyes and feeling the density of their religious beliefs filling the air.

 Food. That was what we needed. Although we received treatment against the weather with homemade pumpkin soup and hot tea, which was ridiculously awesome by the way, everybody started to get hungry. So we went to this crowded place with like 12 people, and we even managed to get a spot somehow. I got some grechka, kotljeti and a fishy dish with beetroot and delicious other ingredients that I forgot. Perfect meal to end the day. We had a great time, during the day and with each other as well. And besides meeting new people, I saw places that I would never have been if I was sightseeing on my own.