Friday, April 27, 2007

Mockba = Moscow
Ballerina inside a metro station.

Map of the metro.

One of many scowling Russians.

Moscow's version of Starbucks.


Sorry John, but I actually hope tonight IS my last night, and day, in Moscow. Moscow and I just didn't "click" like say Paris and me or Florence and me. But (s)he started it!--(s)he just wasn't very nice to me right from the start. What with the film of dirt everywhere, the nasal-burning air pollution, the masses of people, the pushing masses of people, the scowling & pushing masses of smoking people, the busy and nearly indecipherable metro system, the lack of any language other than russian, AND the fact that they use an almost-entirely-different alphabet! When you don't even recognize the letters it becomes extra difficult to track words.

But we made the best of it, or at least the best we were able to make of it. We navigated our way around several times on the metro all by ourselves (and the 7 million other daily riders), meaning WITHOUT a russian-speaking guide, as some lightweights are known to use. Once we got the hang of it and understood how to determine the direction of the various train lines, it felt do-able, and is a seemingly comprehensive system---it has a lot of differing lines and stops anyway.

Observing some of the cultural differences and/or customs has been facinating. People park pretty much anywhere, including on the sidewalks and the rounded parts of street corners. Crosswalks are "use at your own risk" and on more than one occasion I watched drivers speed up to get into the crosswalk as people stepped off the curb. It appears perfectly acceptable to crowd and push in front of others when there is a bunch-up at say an escalator or a train. It's ok to drink beer or whatever on the street or the metro or was odd to see people sitting on the train, beer bottle in hand. Thankfully the metro is one place smoking is not allowed.

Today we went to a well-known convent with more cool onion domes. Tomorrow Craig is off to Bucharest, and I am bailing and heading home!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Today I almost got eaten by a wolf!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Moscow sights.

Pastels in Mockba.

Proof we were indeed in Moscow.

One of my all time faves!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Last night was our final evening in Praha. We got a bit lost on our way back to the hotel and came upon this wonky building pictured above. I don't know what it is, don't really care, just think it is fun. Quite a contrast to the rest of the architecture of the city. Have I mentioned that Praha is rather expensive? Not as much as London, but still. We ordered two americano's at the airport this morning, and they were FIVE DOLLARS each. Not even 12 ounces worth, either. Last night I wandered through a department store in Wenceslaus Square, and was astounded at the prices. The merchandise was comparable to, say Mervyn's or Kohl's, but the prices were more like Macy's or Nordstrom, or even higher. Weird.

We arrived in Moscow this afternoon and I immediately proceeded to take a nap. Followed by dinner in one of the hotel restaurants* then back to the room to cuddle up to my computer. This is what happens when I pass the two week mark while traveling: I hibernate in the hotel and am determined to find nothing else interesting nor amuzing ever again. Until tomorrow. Should be a rockin' party in Red Square what with Boris being dead and all. I am SO there.

*ok, so the restaurant: apparently the waitstaff here has apprenticed with the good and kind and ever-attentive waitstaff in India, as they are expert hover-ers, watching every move a diner makes. Quite frankly, this pisses me off as much in Moscow as it did in Bangalore. I understand that culturally it must be thought of as a good thing, but all it does is make me feel like a captive animal in a zoo. Good thing I didn't start scratching my bum and throwing feces.

Um, ok, a cute cuddly cartoon teddy bear with an assault rifle? Oh, I get it, communism has something for everyone, from kids to grown men! No wonder it was such a big hit.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

On our second day in Praha we rode the subway to the area near Praha Castle, walked up the hill to it, then wandered through. It is more like a village than what I would normally think of as a castle...many impressive buildings rather than a single one. We then meandered back to the subway and took it to the old jewish section where we toured a synagogue and an ancient graveyard. Inside the synagogue many thousands of names have been hand painted on the walls as a remembrance of the tens of thousands (or more?) who were murdered during the Nazi era but for whom there is no grave. These names cover all the interior surfaces of the building, downstairs and up, and represent a small evidence of what we are capable of doing to one another.

Another section was a generous display of artwork, and a few toys, done by children during that era. What struck me the most about it was not the art but rather my own heart; the display room was not large, and many of us there were. I was ready to leave, and yet there were people shoulder to shoulder with me on every side. They were not concerned with getting out of my way, as I felt they should be. As I excused my way brusquely through, I was realizing how immediately my self interest manifests, and how I wish that were not the case were I REALLY put to a test...a real test, not just clueless people in my way at a holocaust museum.........Indications are not good......God help us all, me especially (or would saying "you especially" be less selfish? if so, then by all means, you first).

Barbie made it to Prague Castle! Who knew?

St. Vitus church in the background.

St. Vitus church inside Prague Castle. The Castle is more like a small town rather than one building.

Cappucino break.

Shutters on a puppet store.


A jewish cemetary spanning many centuries.

Vintage cars may be hired for sightseeing tours. We walked.


I can never resist a cool clock.


Our first day in Praha (Prague). It is a beautiful city with surprizes around many corners. There was a scouting jamboree in one of the city squares we wandered into...hundreds of youngsters, a live band, and a display of many kerchiefs---see the photo of triangular colorful shapes below.