When Mama and Papa tried to take us round the newly opened Central Circle overland railway line round Moscow, it did not go well. So this weekend they snuck off and did it without us. This post is not about that, though, but the impromptu side trip they made when the train stopped seemingly in the desolated middle of a forest at Belokamennaya (Whitestone). A brand new station in the middle of nowhere? Clearly they had to get off to check what, in fact, was the point.
Well, at first glance, this newly renovated train halt seems to be servicing someone’s well protected dacha (country retreat) and sauna complex. Although Papa did note that if you follow the reasonably well trodden footpath through the woods in that direction, you get to somewhere a bit more populated fairly quickly.
You can also admire one of the old turn of the century stations built for the original iteration of this passenger service.
But it seems the real attraction lies on the other side of the tracks.
First, this is a sort of back entrance into the large forested nature reserve, ‘Elk Island’ (yes, with actual elks. Also, wild boar, beavers and some kind of egret). As you may or may not have noticed if you follow Mama on social media, the snow has made a seemingly permanent arrival in Moscow already. Clearly one of the things you can do in Elk Island woods at this time of year is go cross country ski-ing, and the parents did indeed encounter a number of people setting out to do just that. Although they also saw a very determined young couple who had taken their stroller out for a breath of fresh air and were manhandling it back across the completely non-existent pathway towards the station entrance too. So general hiking in the area is also a thing, winter, summer, whatever.
What caught Mama’s eye, however, were the abandoned buildings.
Now Mama is not sure that she entirely approves of the schadenfreude photography fetish for ruined Soviet structures, but on the other hand there is something a bit more interestingly voyeuristic about poking around someone else’s stuff from the recent past rather than two thousand years ago.
Mama has never been one for standing in the middle of a field and feeling the vibrations.
Plus, it turns out that at Belokamennaya, there is also graffiti.
So given the authentically dystopian atmosphere of the distressed concrete, the large amounts of rubbish, the godforsaken location and the epic street art, it’s not surprising that Mama and Papa tripped over Russian citizens secretly preparing for what she understands is the imminent invasion of Latvia.
Or indulging in a bit of free range laser questing. Your choice.
Mama is afraid that she and Papa spoiled it a bit, by wandering around, clearly unafraid of being shot and taking photographs. Especially as she had on her heeled city boots, a natty flower strewn hat and a Cath Kitson-esque shoulder bag. Not very suitable for the urban warfare look, Mama.
But also not very suitable for yomping around offroad either, so once they had got their fill of the clean crisp cold air, they got back on the train and continued their journey. Which is a story for another day.
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The Moscow Metro’s Central Circle Line website.
This is what the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has to say about Kyselak, a graffiti tagger who left his mark.
Address: 55.8298°N 37.7018°E
Opening: Trains on the Central Circle run from 6am to 1am, and the interval between trains on this line is between 5 – 15 minutes, depending on the time of day.
Admission: One shot Metro tickets are 60 roubles (more expensive per pound than a year ago, less expensive than five years ago. I dunno. Google it). You can travel anywhere on the network making as many connections as you like within 90 minutes for that. It’s cheaper if you have a Troika card (like London’s Oyster).
By public transport: Well, it’s Belokamennaya, innit. On the Central Circle line.
By car: Mama couldn’t possibly comment.