Thursday, July 20, 2006

Wednesday-On-Thursday Vacation Blogging: Moscow

At the beginning of this month, I traveled with my mother and my sister to Moscow to visit my sister-in-law and my niece, who live there. The trip was fascinating, though far too short. I didn't get to see and do nearly as much as I would have liked, but in the brief time I was there, I did get to see the Kremlin and Red Square and Gorky Park and the White House, I took a river cruise and went to the Bolshoi ballet, and I added a few Russian words to my very limited vocabulary (before I went, I had about three words that I knew, including da and nyet; now I have about a dozen). I ate caviar every day and I drank some good Russian vodka. And of course I took some pictures. See?

Moscow is mad for military monuments, much like this one.
At this WWII memorial, the red water in the fountains symbolizes the blood shed by soldiers in that war.
Russians love pickled everything, including garlic, peppers and tomatoes.
Along Old Arbat Street, you can find all sorts of entertaining diversions and tourist schlock. This street game invites people to test their strength by punching this wooden fellow in the stomach and lighting up the board.
At another spot along Old Arbat, a guy in a nesting doll costume advertises discounts on the souvenirs found inside.
A theater and Metro station near Old Arbat Street.
Kazan Cathedral in Red Square.
On a new, modern bridge spanning the Moskva River.
Resurrection Gate, the north entrance to Red Square.
One close-up of the ironwork on the gate...
...and another.
Savior's Tower.
Probably the most widely-recognized structure in Moscow, St. Basil's Cathedral.
Inside St. Basil's.
The Historical Museum, Red Square.
The Kremlin. The word "kremlin" simply means "wall." (And "bolshoi" just means "big.")
One of the seven massive wedding cake-style skyscrapers commissioned by Stalin and built in the '50s. Not sure what this one is (it's near Red Square, on the Moskva River); the one across the street from our hotel was the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where, I assume, out-of-towners go for their trysts.
The Cathedral of Christ the Redeemer.
One of the many churches at Sergeyev Possad, about an hour outside of Moscow. For a country that was supposedly filled with godless communists for most of the 20th century, there sure are a lot of churches and religious sites.
Our driver and guide. Walodya, left, is a friend and coworker of my sister-in-law; Olga is the daughter of another friend and coworker. They were very helpful in getting us around and outside the city and in negotiating the language for a group of Russki-challenged Americans.
We stopped at Walodya's dacha on the way back from Sergeyev Possad, where we were treated to a traditional Russian meal, complete with meats, cheese, bread, lots of pickles, garlic, a tomato and cucumber salad, fresh strawberries from the garden and, of course, vodka.
My mother, my sister and my niece at the Ministry of Silly Hats.
Me and my sister outside GUM department store at midnight.
GUM during the day.
Inside the massive department store, where the shops are decidedly upscale, and the cafes serve Baskin-Robbins 31 Flavors ice cream.
Looking straight up.
Poisoning the world with their hamburgers. They're evil, and they're ubiquitous. (I'm proud to say, though, that I have not patronized any of their outlets in any country I've been in -- including the US -- for well over 20 years.)
All of Moscow is celebrating my 50th birthday this year.
Some street performers play with fire on Old Arbat Street once the sun goes down (which doesn't happen until nearly 11 PM).
The Golden Ring Hotel is where we stayed. Nice place, very expensive, but mostly worth it.
The sunset view from the Panorama Room at the top of the hotel, where we had dinner one night. Dos vedanyah!
Free Counter
Online Universities