June 20, 2012

Did You Know I Went to Russia?

I did. And it was so fun!

(Side note: Tom visited Russia over 10 years ago on a backpacking trip with a buddy, so it's somewhere we've both visited, but not together.)

I'm going to give a quick and dirty rundown of the events of September, 2011, when I visited Moscow with 2 girlfriends and a guy friend (boyfriend? Why isn't there an equivalent word that doesn't imply dating? Bro?). But, if you want an exhaustive play-by-play, which I highly recommend, check out Lauren's posts: Part Adeen, Part Dva, Part Tri and Part Chetyre (That's one, two, three, and four for you non-Russian speakers. You can also count these posts in the voice of The Count, who is not Russian but is European and mysterious.) You can also see all of my Russia pics here.

So, how did I end up in Russia? As you'll read over at Lauren's blog, Food, Shoes, Booze, our friend, Rosley (that's her last name, but that's what we call her...so that's what you should call her, too), has been obsessed with Russia for a long time. I don't really know why and I'm not sure there really is a "why." She just has been. She's taken Russian language classes, Russian history classes, and she is always spouting out random factoids about the Motherland. I'm always interested in visiting new places, but I can't say that Russia was ever at the very top of my list. But, when the opportunity came up to go for very cheap (thanks to airline pilot friends and Rosley's employment at Holiday Inn), I signed up for a week in Moscow with Lauren, Rosley, and our other friend from college, Ian.

Second side note: Lauren takes pictures of everything on trips...the food, the pillows in the hotel, toll people. I'm not kidding. So I apologize that her posts on the trip are certainly more entertaining than this will be. But I'll try.

Lauren and Rosley live in KC and Ian lives in Florida, so we all flew into DC to meet up before flying from there to Moscow. We were staying at the Holiday Inn in the Lesnaya neighborhood of Moscow (as if you know what the hell I'm talking about). It was conveniently located to a major subway station, which we made great use of, and it was a perfect home base for our galavanting around the city. So, what did we do? We managed to pack quite a bit into our week in Moscow.

The Quartet!

Just me and the Kremlin
The gals and St. Basil's Cathedral

Our attempt at "Russian Face" - A combination of disinterest, sexy and constipation. 

We watched the changing of the guards at the
Tomb of the Unkown Soldier, which was amazing.

We went to the ballet. I left at Intermission
because I was super sick. Lame.

We went inside the Kremlin walls.
(Not a lot of pics because they don't
allow it in some places.)

We posed with things.

We shopped in local markets.
We went to a hookah lounge!

We laughed...a lot.

I didn't inhale!
(It was just pineapple water - we didn't even put tobacco in it!)
We visited the cutest town, Sergiev Posad...

...where we got to wear headscarves and look fancy.
And, of course, there was a lot of food...the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Clockwise, from top left: A hoppy, non-alcoholic drink at a Ukrainian restaurant; The best food in Moscow, The Crapdog; Herring in a fur coat (disgusting), Tired of Lauren taking pictures

Most importantly, there were shenanigans.

Clockwise, from top left: Throwing up Delta Zeta signs in front of St. Basil's; Planking...on the stairs...in the ancient and holy St. Basil's Cathedral; Channeling The Captain in Moscow; Reenacting the great elk fight

My thoughts on Russia:
It was a fantastic trip. I'm so lucky to have been able to go to this unique place with my friends. I love Europe, in general. You wear scarves whether you need to or not. You eat long meals. Drinking midday is totally encouraged. I loved this trip because Moscow was unlike any place I'd ever been before and it's changing so quickly that I doubt it will ever be the same to visitors after me. It certainly was different for me than it was for visitors before me, according to Tom, who visited over 10 years ago. The brightly colored cathedrals are absolutely stunning and left me thinking that Americans could take a note or two about sprucing up the First Baptist Church. (What's wrong with neon pink houndstooth/paisley/checkerboard exterior walls?) But I don't think I'll ever go back to Moscow. If I have the chance to go to St. Petersburg or another place in Russia, I'll jump at it - I love to visit new places. But Moscow had a coldness that I didn't love. The entire time, I couldn't stop wondering what it used to be like because, all around me, the city that was trying to play catch-up with the rest of Europe. This is 100% understandable considering it's communist past and that the country's cultural growth was stunted for so long. But, in the process of trying to hold it's own among Europe's great cities (which it most certainly is), it feels like it's losing some of it's Russian-ness (good word, huh?). The city had great Italian food, fantastic sushi, decadent French bistros...but it was often difficult to find Russian food. With such a unique culture and population, it seems a shame to lose that.

As with any time I travel though, I'm thrilled that I was able to visit. Many MANY thanks to Rosley and the Crosses for making this trip possible. 

You really should read Lauren's account of our trip: Part AdeenPart DvaPart Tri and Part Chetyre.
And you can also see all of my Russia pics here.

No comments:

Post a Comment