July 2, 2010

I've been in a lot of big cities in my life -- San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, London, Paris, Dublin, Florence.  But Moscow is the first one that feels "overwhelming" to me.  Everything is so big, so busy, so old, so colorful, so historic.  Maybe it was that our tour guide, Luba, tried to do too much, but it seemed that every block had two or three VERY important historic buildings or big colorful onion domes.  My head began to spin.  Add to that the fact that traffic is impossible.  The main drag has EIGHT lanes going in each direction, and both directions were bumper to bumper. 

(this wasn't the 8 lane main drag)

Then there is "parking," if you want to call it that.  Apparently people just leave their cars wherever they want--on the sidewalk, double parked on the street, parallel parked, diagonally parked.  At one spot we found half a block of cars with people standing by them all trapped by cars that were blocking them, all with people straining their heads to try to find the owners of the cars that were blocking them.

Eventually the police will take notice and action will be taken.

Our bucolic time on the river has come to an end and that, combined with lack of sleep and the sore throat Walt gave me has made me testy tonight.  Just too much togetherness.  We both agreed we'd like to take a trip like this again...just not right away, and not for so long!

We didn't actually pull into Moscow until around noon-1 p.m. and our all day (8 hr) city tour didn't start until 1:30.  None of us had slept well the night before and we were all nodding off on the bus.  But we saw amazing things including this nunnery

This salute to the children's book, "Make Way for Ducklings," which was Barbara Bush's state gift to Russia when GHWB was in office

and more metrushka dolls than you can shake a stick at...and this is only a tiny fraction.

We rode the metro and got to see all that famous art work you hear about.

And of course, this...

(I figure with what's going on in DC right now with Russian spies, I had better not try taking this photo except from the safety of the bus!)

We went to a city overlook to get a feel for the whole of the city.

But the best was saved till last:  Red Square.  It's just too much to take in, other than saying to yourself "My god...I'm really in Red Square!"

The crowning glory, of course, is St. Basil's Cathedral.

(That's actually us reading The Davis Enterprise...the photo will need a little work before I submit it to the Enterprise!)

Walt went into the GUM, Moscow's big mall (pronounced GOOM) to use an ATM machine, but I never did go inside, though I hear it's gorgeous...and the most expensive shop in the world.

But we had to get back to the bus because we were going to a concert by a Russian Folk Orchestra (all graduates from music colleges--kind of the Berklee of Moscow) called Moskva, doing Russian classical and folk music and it was absolutely wonderful.  We bought a CD.  The orchestra was balalaika, domra, flute, percussion, accordion, and something like a small sidewise harp in a box.  There was also a female singer and a character performer who was amazing.  We all just loved it.

They played everything from "Lara's Theme" from Dr. Zhivago to some Puccini opera, to the Saber Dance to lots of folk songs we didn't know, including the one everyone did know, which our shipboard choir had performed at the talent show last night.

It was 9:30 before we got back to the ship.  Walt and Mike had the full 4-course dinner. Char and I had salad and dessert.  Now I'm going to try to sleep, but it's hot, even with the window open.  But I so desperately need sleep.  The others are going off on a couple of excursions tomorrow, but I'm staying here until our "Moscow after dark" trip at 10 p.m.  That should give me the chance to rest up and feel ready to go again.



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