Last Friday I traveled to the city of Tula for a daytrip with other American Councils participants. Because Tula is about a three-hour bus ride from Moscow, we had to leave super early in the morning. I had to set my alarm for 5am; since my apartment was at the northernmost metro stop in Moscow while the station we were all meeting at 7am was one of the last ones on the south end of the city, I had a long metro ride ahead of me. After over an hour on the metro at 6am, we finally arrived at the station to wait for everyone to meet so we could get on the bus for Tula. Luckily, with the bus ride being so long, I was able to catch up on some sleep to make up for waking up so early.
However, once we arrived, we were lucky enough to have the first sunny weather I’d seen in almost 3 weeks (although unfortunately it didn’t last and the sky soon became intermittently cloudy). The first place we went to was author Leo Tolstoy’s estate. We were able to take a tour of the grounds and see inside his home where our guide talked about his life and his various achievements related to the estate. While most people only know of Tolstoy in the context of his famous novels, we learned on our tour that he was a pioneer of education for the masses to improve society and the idea of educating peasant children near his estate especially, which was something I had never heard about before and was interesting to learn. The grounds themselves were beautiful and the people working there put great effort into maintaining the nature and environment surrounding the house. There were apple orchards, flower gardens, and stables for horses all across the estate. (Below is a photo of one of the flower gardens that we weren’t able to walk in but could see through the fence)
After that we were off to the city center to get lunch and spend a little bit of time walking through downtown Tula. I used my time to take a walk through their Kremlin. While it wasn’t as big or grand as the one in Moscow, it was still very beautiful and a great place to walk through, especially since we had nice weather at that point in the day. (Below is a photo of the church inside Tula’s Kremlin)
After that we went to a store that sold the Russian equivalent of gingerbread. There were a lot of different varieties and flavors of the jam filling they have, as well as designs baked into the bread. They looked and tasted great and were really convenient and inexpensive presents for people at my work and my host family.
Once we had all spent way too much money on gingerbread, we went to Tula’s armaments museum and had the choice of walking around outside or going inside to see the museum. I chose to walk around the grounds and look at the surrounding area, which included an old and seemingly abandoned church that was actually very beautiful. (In the photo above you can see the armaments museum and the flowers in front of the church on the grounds nearby.) After everyone was done at the museum, it was time to make the three-hour return journey back to Moscow. By this point, everyone was so tired that the entire bus was asleep about 15 minutes into the journey back. Even though we spent about as much time on the bus traveling to Tula and back as we did at Tula itself, it was a really cool experience to see one of the other smaller, less popular cities in Russia. I think one of the coolest things I’ve gotten to do during my summer in Moscow is be able to travel to other cities and experience the different cultures of Russia outside of just the capital city.
By: Jess Navan
Program: Overseas Professional & Intercultural Training Program, Moscow, Russia
Term: Summer 2019