Sunday, September 6, 2009

I'm Ready for My Close Up

Yesterday, we went on a tour of Мосфильм (Mosfilm), also known as the Russian Hollywood.

The event was noteworthy, not just because we got to see the extensive film studios and grounds, but because I am, as of this writing, no longer either a trolley bus nor a marshrutka (маршруткa) virgin.

That's a big deal for me.

Perhaps I have mentioned this before, but, odd as it may sound coming from a serial expat, I abhor new experiences. Really.

If you want me to be intrepid, you basically have to drag me by the ear to try anything new.

My comfort zone is pretty damn small.

But getting to the film studios required taking the Metro (in which I have an advanced degree) and then either a bus, a trolley bus, or a marshrutka.

The last form of transportation is a sort of fixed route minivan. You pay the driver 20 rubles (he will make change), and you can get off anywhere along that route. But you have to know where that is and pipe up. Besides being a bit language intensive, the other potential drawback to this form of transportation is that the drivers like to wait until most or all of the seats are full before embarking on the route. If you are in a hurry, this might not be the mode for you.

But we were a large group, so we filled up a van and went off, en masse, to Mosfilm. Coming back, there were not enough places in the marshrutka for all of us, so we took the trolley bus.

This is slightly more expensive (25 rubles each). You buy a ticket from the driver (again, he will make change), and then put it into a slot that allows you to pass through the turnstile. Don't forget to retrieve your ticket. I seem to recall a tragic story about a brave expat who ventured onto a tram not realizing she was required to retrieve her ticket. When she was berated by the driver, the rest of the tram rose to her defense, shouting back at the driver to cut her some slack and just drive the tram!

These are the tales that chill my blood.

But now I might actually try taking the B trolley bus. It goes around the Garden Ring and could be pretty darn useful. There is a stop practically in front of our building. If I had any idea how often it runs, I'd be in business. I suppose I could sit there for a while with a notebook and a pen and see if there's a recognizable pattern.

But what about the tour, you ask?

Blogger is a clumsy vehicle for uploading lots of photos. So unless you are my Facebook friend, you will have to content yourself with these paltry offerings from the tour.

There is quite an extensive collection of vintage vehicles, all fully-restored and operational. If a director needs one, it be started up and driven to the site.

There were lots of costumes from famous Russian movies.

No animals were harmed in the making of this film.
Apparently, if an animal needs to move in a scene, they use live animals. But if the animal is merely a glimpse of something in the background, then they use mock-ups like this one. The guide assured us that it looked quite real in the finished movie. Ew.

My favorite part of the tour was the back lot of Old Moscow. All of this was facade, made of Styrofoam and plywood. But it looked convincing, even at rather close range.

The facility is remarkably kid-friendly. We had six children in our group, and they were encouraged to climb on and in things. I was very pleasantly surprised.

I was also pleased that everyone seemed to enjoy the tour. It's one of those Something-For-Everyone experiences. I recommend it.


hka said...

Go now on the Bolshoi workshop (also organised by Larissa), you'll love it.
You know that tram 39 (I will have to double check the number) runs from Chistye Prudy to University - the best way to see a massive part of Moscow on a sunny day. It's the longest tram line in the world, or so I was told. And we both now know how the ticketing works!

Jenn D said...

Hiya! What metro is this Russian Hollywood? I didn't know it existed...sounds fun! Glad you had a great time. I finally braved a trolleybus last week-after living here for 5 months--it was an experience! Hope you are well!

The Expatresse said...

hka: ha, ha ha. Thanks for sharing you story.

Jenn D: It isn't anywhere near a metro. That's the problem. We all met at Kievskaya, outside the train station. There are marchrutki there that go to Mosfilm (it says so on them). We took number 11 there and the 34 trolleybus back. There's a bus/trolleybus stop RIGHT in front of the studio, which is on Mosfilmovskaya ul.

Jojo, Julz, Julianne said...

What's your facebook name?
I am jojogreen
I would love to see your photos and such!

traveler one said...

Really! You're so very brave!

I've been here in Albania for 4.5 yrs and have never dared to try public transportation- except maybe once or twice- a taxi!

I'm in awe :)

The Expatresse said...

The last time I was in Bratislava, they had this very cool thing where you can pay for a tram/bus/trolley ticket by SMS. There were signs that explained what number to call and how to save the return message in case you got controlled. I think it was slightly more expensive than buying a paper ticket, but there are a lot of places in town with stops but no kiosk or machine for buying tickets. It was right progressive of them.

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