Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Photo essay - Russia

Cielo is finally back in the water and with a little help from the weather and a lot of hard work, we should be able to leave Havre de Grace in just a few days. Currently, the weather is cold and getting colder, so the race is on for us to get down the Chesapeake Bay and through the first part of the inter-coastal waterway to Beaufort, NC, where according to, it's about 10 degrees warmer (or more) than where we are now. At the moment, that would mean it's 48 degrees instead of just barely above freezing...but anything has got to be better than here.

So, while we continue to shiver and attend to the mundane (wiring solar panels, splicing line, sewing canvas), I thought I'd share a few memories from our Moscow trip that were captured on film. And when next we write (hopefully) it will be to re-count the start of our trip south.

Memories of Moscow

The following pictures are in no particular order and represent just a fraction of our wonderful experiences in Russia.

Lenin's tomb...and Lenin!
Unfortunately, we were only able to take a picture of the outside of Lenin's tomb and not the man himself....but if you find yourself in Moscow, you can wait in line on certain days of the week to enter his tomb and see his body, which is preserved, encased in glass and protected by many gruff looking soldiers. It's hard to capture in words just how weird it was to descend three flights of dark stairs amidst gun-toting guards in order to glimpse the body of a Soviet leader who's been dead for decades. One the one hand, you know you're seeing something truly historic...and on the other hand, what you're also seeing is a short, waxy corpse in an old suit, something that seems straight out to Madame Toussard's. This tomb and its contents are truly a relic of the Communist era. During those days, people used to make pilgrimages from all over the country and stand in line for hours to get a glimpse of their revered (and reviled) leader.

Going to the chapel...and all around town
Getting married in Russia is a big deal and Russians have some interesting ways of marking the occasion. The picture on the left was taken in Red Square on the first day we arrived in Moscow. As our visit continued, the site of wedding parties at the places we visited became common. It seems that on one's wedding day, it is a tradition in Russia to visit local historic sites to get pictures taken. The bride and groom pose for photos while the wedding party gathers around them and chants "bitter, bitter" (in Russian of course) until the couple kisses in order to create "sweet". Then everyone takes a drink and its off to the next photo opportunity.

Another wedding tradition in Russia is that newly married couples write their names on a lock, attach the lock to a bridge that crosses a river and toss the key into the water below. The picture on the right shows pad locks of all shapes and sizes locked on a bridge in the city. The locks in this picture are attached to sculpures that adorn a bridge that crosses the Moscow river.

Get this party started

Michael and Dina threw a party at their apartment a few days after we arrived. It was wonderful to get to meet their friends in Russia, all of whom spoke good, if not fluent English. The group was also fluent in drinking, more so than Kevin and I. The difference between the picture on the left versus the one on the right is that by the time the one on the right was taken, Kevin and I had already hidden in our room in order to get some sleep (and to get a break from the vodka).

MacGyver to the rescue

OK, so this isn't one of Russia's historic sites, but I couldn't resist including a picture of Kevin hard at work trying to fix Michael and Dina's cappuccino machine. With few tools (I think they only had a screwdriver) and a few hours, he had the machine as good as new (for the most part). Interestingly, Kevin's talents may indicate that he's part Russian, as we were told by a guy traveling with us in the elevator one night (right after he suggested a jury-rig for our broken apartment access card) that in Russia, "we are all MacGyvers".

View from the top

Average airfare for two to Moscow, $3,000. Nightly stay at the Ritz, $1,500. Cocktail at the Rtiz roof bar, $40. The panoramic views of Red Square, St. Basil's and the Kremlin...priceless.


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