Written by KO on 24 Sep, 2001
The Gum, very cool, a marble mall with a variety of shops and plenty of interesting things to observe. The Gum was the old Communist Party appartchik shopping grounds. Where the elite members of the Communist Party could buy Western consumer goods. It was only…Read More
The Gum, very cool, a marble mall with a variety of shops and plenty of interesting things to observe. The Gum was the old Communist Party appartchik shopping grounds. Where the elite members of the Communist Party could buy Western consumer goods. It was only available to those party members to the exclusion of Russian commoners. It is still a very beautiful shopping mall, with a variety of Russian goods not all hyper expensive.
Kremlin, still houses the governing body, Russia's legislature. There is a causeway on the West side, where you can buy tickets. This located just south of the tomb of the unknown soldier (very impressive) and the blocks of granite identifying the cities captured by the Germans (and recaptured by the Red Army) during WWII. Lots of WWII symbolism and Russian disdain for the Germans. At the base of the causeway there are usually English speaking guides which are inexpensive and well worth the price. (highly recommended)
The Arbat; From the Southwest side of the Kremlin, walk down Znamenka west to the Arbat. The street is cordoned off like a farmers market/ Promenade. Shops, restaurants, carts full of Russian trinkets, lacquer boxes, Matrushka dolls, pins, hats, etc. There are street performers and and vendors selling art. The shops along the street have more of the same only larger more ornate and valuable. In short a wonderful opportunity to purchase inexpensive Russian collectables and watch local people on a very leisurely basis. My American compatriot was very good at working the prices and the inexpensive items became really cheap. The food can really travel the gamut from inexpensive sandwiches (4-5 bucks) cut from sizzling vertical roasters, to multi course meals at the Praga for 200$ per person. I went for the sandwiches and Russian beer and they were very good. There is also a Pancho Villa Café at the west end of the Arbat with bandoliered Russians serving taco's, very weird, very Russian and very expensive.
Written by roza4 on 03 Mar, 2002
Moscow has 4 airports: Sheremetyevo, Vnukovo, Domodedovo and Bykovo. All the airports are located beyond the city limits. Sheremetyevo is an international airport, and this is where everybody lands and departs from if they come from Europe or the US. The…Read More
Moscow has 4 airports: Sheremetyevo, Vnukovo, Domodedovo and Bykovo. All the airports are located beyond the city limits. Sheremetyevo is an international airport, and this is where everybody lands and departs from if they come from Europe or the US. The signs here are in Russian and English. Vnukovo is the oldest Moscow airport and people fly from here to Ukraine, Belarussia, Baltics and the Caucusus. Domodedovo is the second largest airport and serves such destinations as Siberia, Far East, and Asian republics of the former USSR. Bykovo is a small airport and people fly from here for short distances. I’ve flown from Sheremetyevo and Vnukovo and both are large airports. You can get into the city from Sheremetyevo by taxi, rental car or by bus. The buses bring you to the subway station “Rechnoy vokzal”, which is located on the light green line of the metro and will bring you directly into the center of Moscow. Close
Written by afb on 15 Jan, 2003
While traveling, I am an inveterate walker. In my view, it is the only way to see a foreign city. Walk. Walk until you can do nothing but collapse in late evenings when returning to your hotel. Walk until the balls of your feet are…Read More
While traveling, I am an inveterate walker. In my view, it is the only way to see a foreign city. Walk. Walk until you can do nothing but collapse in late evenings when returning to your hotel. Walk until the balls of your feet are blistered (but be sure not so much that they are tender the next morning.)
Some city maps are deceiving. For example, Beijing, on paper, looks like it is a manageable labyrinth on foot--that is, until you learn that traversing a block might take a half hour. Moscow, however, is a walker’s city. It is the perfect combination of maze-like lanes and broad views. For example, from Red Square to the Arbat is a half-hour walk that winds through lanes bordered with begrimed yellow buildings; the Chekhov museum, Tchaikovsky conservatory, and Vrubel mosaics are all treasures to discover before all roads spill out onto the New Arbat, a garish, proud avenue that rivals 42nd Street. Forking off to the southwest is the Old Arbat--a tourist ghetto, indeed, but a decent place to haggle a bit and, if alone, meet fellow English-speaking travelers.
A Moscow winter poses interesting challenges to the walker. The combination of snow and cobblestone creates a slippery ground, yet I noticed most Muscovites have mastered a few techniques for staying upright. First, there is the one-knee bend: try to imagine a cross-country skier braking on a downhill slope--this is an essential move for keeping yourself bruise-free. Second, there is the wide base approach: this will reduce the likelihood of a tumble but it drastically slows you down. Finally, there is the cartoon scramble, which demands that if you lose your footing, you kick out and in and wildly throw your arms around in order to regain your balance. Truth is, people fall, yet that doesn’t keep most from moving about.
A walk across the Bolshoi Kamenny Bridge is essential, particularly in a snow squall, when an atmospheric white veil emphasizes the illusiveness of the great buildings around the Kremlin. The graceful golden onion domes of the Assumption and the Annunciation cathedrals sneak up from behind the unyielding Kremlin walls. Christ the Savior Cathedral is a big white ghost to the distant left. Set beneath the masts of a monumental ship, a statute of Peter the Great beckons westward--although apparently immortalized in a moment of departure, the frozen figure of Peter the Great is oddly consistent with a city sodden with snow and ice. Even the ice on the Moskva River seems permanent, visible through gaps in the bridge’s iron guardrail adorned with Soviet stars. The air here makes the cheeks smart and eyes water, but pausing for a moment is worth a brief sting, for the sight of the Sofia embankment is an eternally grand view of Russia.
Written by suartd on 07 Aug, 2006
Well arrived at my hostel and there really was only one way to describe it. Crap. Cockroaches were having a field day in my room and in the bathroom, the fridge smelled as though many things had died in it and my room was without…Read More
Well arrived at my hostel and there really was only one way to describe it. Crap. Cockroaches were having a field day in my room and in the bathroom, the fridge smelled as though many things had died in it and my room was without curtains. Luckily some smart packing of bed stuff meant that curtains were made from the bed sheets I was provided with (only thing they were useful for). The fridge remained closed for 6 weeks and a diet of bread and fruit followed. As for the cockroaches...well you just have to get used to them. Nice pets??? Just don't leave any food uncovered. Oh and who needs air conditioning when the windows can be left open 24-7. The cockroaches had friends to play when the mosquitos came in. All was well though as insect repellent was always around. Close
Written by Wasatch on 01 Jul, 2006
Another Member’s journal titled “Capitalism in Russia” discusses some micro-economic trendsattributable to the introduction of capitalism in 1991. Here, I discuss the macro-economic impact ofcapitalism in Russia.There are three sources of information on the effects of capitalism on Russia in the post-Soviet era: 1]what we…Read More
Another Member’s journal titled “Capitalism in Russia” discusses some micro-economic trendsattributable to the introduction of capitalism in 1991. Here, I discuss the macro-economic impact ofcapitalism in Russia.There are three sources of information on the effects of capitalism on Russia in the post-Soviet era: 1]what we saw on our trip, 2] what we learned from the ship’s on board lectures on Russian life, and 3]statistics, including the extensive public opinion polling now going on in Russia. A recent article in Newsweek summed up the poll results: “Most Russians remember Russia in the1990s as a country of instability, lawlessness and banditry. They believe that Boris Yeltsin bankruptedthe country, handed its assets over to his cronies and spent most of his time drunk and dysfunctional.Russians see Putin, on the other hand, as having restored order, revived growth and reassertednational pride. Why? For the average Russian per capita GDP has gone from $600 to $4,500 duringPutin's reign, much, though not all of which, is related to oil prices. Poverty rolls have fallen from 42million to 26 million. College graduates have increased by 50 percent and a middle class has emergedin Russia's cities. Russia today is a strange mixture of freedom and unfreedom. (The country publishes90,000 books a year, espousing all political views.) Polls in Russia show that people still ratedemocracy as something they like and value. But in the wake of the 1990s, they value more urgentlyconditions that will allow them to lead decent civic and economic lives.” – Newsweek.What Newsweek found in the polls squared with what we saw and heard in Russia, and with the hardstatistics: so far, capitalism has been a disaster in Russia, and is well on the way to destroyingRussia’s incipient democracy.In 2005, Russia’s GDP grew 6%-10%, depending on whose statistics you use, the highest rate ofgrowth since the end of Soviet rule, or maybe 2004 was. The average annual economic growthunder the Soviets was 17%, the longest sustained and highest rate of economic growth in worldhistory. During the 1990s, Russia’s first decade of capitalism, Russia was the only nation on Earth toexperience negative economic growth. It took until 2003 for capitalism to return the nation to theincome level of the last year of the Soviet regime. Russia’s per capita income is somewhere between 12-29% that of the USA*. The true economiccondition of Russia became obvious the further away we traveled from Red Square or old St.Petersburg. This is a real advantage of the Russian waterways cruises– you get out of the showpiececites into real Russia (about 12% of all Russians live in the two showpiece cities). Don’t be misled into thinking the natives are Commie brainwashed braggarts by the obvious pride thethey take in their nation’s progress. Russia is little more than one generation away from Tsaristpeasantry, life much like what the West experienced under feudalism, and the very bad pre-revolutiondays and even worse WWII are the people’s standard of comparison, not Beverly Hills 20901. Compared to life back then, things are good today, but they were better under Communism. Compared to Communist rule, capitalism made income, poverty, housing, inflation, unemployment,crime, health, prostitution, life expectancy, health care, standard of living, and the schools worse thanthey were under Communism. Today, although the average income has finally passed the best Sovietyears, the economic situation of a large part of the population, especially the elderly, is still worsethan it was under Communism because the income distribution was much fairer then.A friend summed up Soviet life like this, “In my former life, I frequently traveled on the EasternShuttle. I once sat next to a member of the Count Basie Orchestra. He was on his way to Moscowwhere he had played many times over the years. His observation was ‘no bums on the street; everyonehad a job; no crime; no ass.’ ” Note that the Soviet Communists had better family values than theRepublican Party USA-- no crime, jobs for all, and no prostitution or promiscuity.From 1990 to today, under capitalism, Russia is the only industrialized nation in the world toexperince a decline in life expectancy, excluding the effects of AIDS.The change from Communism to capitalism was a change from a shortage of affordable goods to aneven worse surplus of unaffordable goods. This is a meaningless difference for all practical purposes, except that capitalism was decidedly worse, especially in its first few years.Pres. Putin enjoys great popularity because he has somewhat alleviated the worst evils of capitalismby attacking the leading Russian capitalists.At great social cost, capitalism, after 15 years, is beginning to show some small signs of progress, butit remains to be seen if and when capitalism will ever manage to make the average Russian’s lifebetter than it was under Communism. So far, on the economic front, the Commies are wining(democracy is a separate issue)-- had the 7.7% annual GDP growth of the last Soviet decadecontinued through 2005, the average Russian PPP-GDP would be over $25,000, more than doublewhat capitalism accomplished. Had the historic Soviet 17% growth rate continued, Russian incomewould be almost double America’s $83,000 a year. This is what Khrushchev was talking about whenhe told America, “We will bury you.”* I give a range here reflecting that fact that it isn’t easy to determine the average Russian’s incomebecause the ruble does not freely trade in international money markets. Going by the officialexchange rate, the average income per capita is ~$5,000 a year. Economists generally agree thatPPP-GDP, an adjusted figure taking into account the purchasing power of a currency in comparisonto the dollar, is a better measure. Russia’s PPP-GDP is ~$12,000 a year. This means that anAmerican can buy $12,000 worth of stuff in Russia by converting $5,000 into rubles. This works tothe visitor’s advantage, except that it is off sett by price gouging tourists who pay higher admissionfees and higher tax fares than do the locals. Close
Written by Ksu on 30 Aug, 2002
"Her name is short as most of our contemporaries have and thunderous as the name of a pagan goddess — Maya."Her main principle, which goes through the whole life, is the refusal to do things any way but her own. And "She Did It Her…Read More
"Her name is short as most of our contemporaries have and thunderous as the name of a pagan goddess — Maya."Her main principle, which goes through the whole life, is the refusal to do things any way but her own. And "She Did It Her Way".
If "manners maketh man" as someone saidThen she’s the hero of the dayIt takes a man to suffer ignorance and smileBe yourself no matter what they say
It is a short extract from the song of Sting "Englishman In New York" that I would like to suggest as the highlight of my article about Russian ballet dancer, Maya Mihailovna Plisetskaya.
Once on the television I’ve seen one of her great ballets, it was "Swan Lake"; even now I remember almost all the details of that performance. I was charmed with her passionate manner of dancing and her technique; it was the impression that she didn’t even pay attention to her pa-de-de, it seemed to me that she had forgotten about them. The famous ballerina was concentrated only on the work of her arms, her image as a whole. "Gesture is the second organ of speech, which was given to a man by nature"; she understands it properly and uses it right. Later I found out that the role of Odette in "Swan Lake", which I was fortunate to see, was her outstanding success all over the world. She danced it over eight hundred times from 1947 to 1977. Thirty long years, the whole life, it sounds strange, doesn’t it? Maya Plisetskaya believes that "her manner, trends, several innovations were accepted by younger generations of ballet dancers". She is glad to it.
In her book "I, Maya Plisetskaya" she tells the reader about overwhelming triumph (27 curtain calls) in Paris. She understood that the technique that time wasn’t as good as before, but she could put the accent on her gestures and even on the impression of her eyes. After it she said: "I had forced the audience to switch its interest from abstract technique to soul and plasticity. When I danced the finale of the second act, people’s eyes were glued to the line of the swan’s arms, the angle of the neck; no one noticed that my bourres were not so perfect".
"As soon as I saw her on the stage I knew she had that incredible stage presence which you either have or don’t have. It doesn’t matter how clever you are if you don’t have it you can’t hold the audience", these are the words that can be heard after every of her performances. It should be added here that her repertoire includes just about all the significant roles in classical ballet, such as Raymonda, Odette from "Swan Lake", and, off course, a cold and brilliant Odile in the Black act, which I’ve mentioned before, Kitri from "Don Quixote", "Carmen", "Anna Karenina", and "The Lady With A Dog". In spite of a great number of divine ballets Maya Plisetskaya is always critical to the work she does. She can never be satisfied with what has already been done, always looking for something new, extraordinary and even shocking. That’s why, in my opinion, she was interested in working not only with the Russian Ballet but also with foreign too. She danced nearly everywhere she was offered, collaborating with such well-famous choreographers as Alonso, Roland Petit, Maurice Bejart (the passage from her book about Bejart left an indelible impression on me, it’s dynamic and bright, I think it’s worth reading), taking part in the performances, which were staged especially for her in Paris, Brussels, Marseilles, New York, Buenos Aires, it wasn’t the tour of the Bolshoi Ballet, it was her own unforgettable experience of collaboration with other ballet schools of different artistic trends. But most of all Maya Plisetskaya likes the stage of the Bolshoi’s Theatre.
"Three beats left. Two beats left. One beat. Here it is. My music. I step on my stage…" It’s the place where she made her first fouettes and where the Bolshoi’s gala celebrating of her 75th birthday took place. In her memoirs she says that this stage was "a close friend of her, animated partner, whom she talked to and thanked for all."
"But a man always lives at present, only at present!" Now she travels around the world giving a series of lectures, and not long ago she decided to do something new, something unknown to the general public, which knows only about her ballet life. Her memoirs "I, Maya Plisetskaya" were published in Russian and English. I believe, she has done her best to render the appearance, atmosphere and people of Russia. The prima ballerina has also allowed her imagination some play. And there can be no doubt that the average reader would gain more from her not long but original book, and better knowledge of the Bolshoi’s Ballet background than he would from any of the detailed but dry and dull monographs. And we don’t know what else she can offer to the world.Once she was asked: "What’s the main trait of your character?""Spontaneousness", she replied.
Written by akakd on 02 Nov, 2001
"And now at last the goal is in sight:
in the shimmer of the white walls gleaming near,
In the glory of the golden domes,
Moscow lies great & splendid before us!
Ah, how I trembled with joy
When this be-towered, shining city,
Once again, of a sudden,…Read More
"And now at last the goal is in sight:
in the shimmer of the white walls gleaming near,
In the glory of the golden domes,
Moscow lies great & splendid before us!
Ah, how I trembled with joy
When this be-towered, shining city,
Once again, of a sudden, stood before my eyes!
Now often, in profoundest grief,
In the night of my wandering fate,
O Moscow, have I thought of you!
Moscow: how violently the name
Plucks at any Russian heart!"
-Aleksandr S. Pushkin- Close
Written by IWW639 on 28 Aug, 2000
I am of part Russian heritage. My great-grandparents were first generation Americans, and I knew them well. They came to America before the Communist revolution in 1917 so the Russia that I visited in 1989 was most likely worlds apart.…Read More
I am of part Russian heritage. My great-grandparents were first generation Americans, and I knew them well. They came to America before the Communist revolution in 1917 so the Russia that I visited in 1989 was most likely worlds apart. They were from Southern Russia, near Turkey and would have never seen Moscow in thier lifetimes if they had remained there. Instead, they raised their family in Bakersfield, CA.
When I had the opportunity to visit the Soviet Union, it was too late for my great-grandparents to be excited for me. I felt like I was going to view a piece of my heritage that would soon be lost forever in The Great Melting Pot of America.
Knowing very little about the culture itself, I signed up for the trip that included Moscow [Paris and London too]. What I knew about the former communist capital was minimal, but I felt a connection that I don't think any of the other members of the group felt.
Arriving in Moscow, via Brussels, I leaned over to look out the window. I was suprised to see a vast forest of conifers. The hue of green is ingrained in my memory as one I've never seen before. I had expected to touch down in Siberia, I guess.
The airport was chaos.
Moscow is a big city, and I was from a small semi-rural town. I was unable to grasp the granduer of Moscow outside of each site as it was presented to me. That's just how it was, too, presented. We had a very tight itinerary, and while part of that was the nature of the trip, I also got the feeling that we only got to see what 'they' wanted us to see.
The military presence was everywhere, soldiers marched around town, and patroled in vehicles like police. The police themselves, we witnessed, were on the take.
Outside of our hotel, in the park, black market traders scattered when a police officer walked up. They seemed to just disappear into the bushes. The cop stood around for a while, then a man appeared from the foliage. They talked for a while, made a small hand-held exchange, and parted. The cop went on his way and the traders gathered around a statue. I ventured down with the others to try my hand at the barter system that we all take for granted.
I felt like I was dealing with third-world natives and not oppressed capitalists. They spoke perfect English, and the guy I was dealing with and I both parted thinking we had duped the other.
My prizes were a CCCP watch and a one-sided USSR flag. The watch, back at home, was worth $100. I still have it.
Stalinist sculptures were all over the city. The commies weren't down on art and culture they just made it so that it catered to them. The metro stations are like museums with the walls covered in mosaics. The art of the city was more than I expected, they were really trying to do what was right for thier country.
Written by tretjak on 11 Aug, 2000
After lunch we decided to go by Metro to the Novodevichy cemetery. This is probably the only graveyard you must pay to enter (2 USD) but it´s worth every penny! Buried here among many are the famous aircraft designers Tupolev and Iljusin, Gromyko, the son…Read More
After lunch we decided to go by Metro to the Novodevichy cemetery. This is probably the only graveyard you must pay to enter (2 USD) but it´s worth every penny! Buried here among many are the famous aircraft designers Tupolev and Iljusin, Gromyko, the son of Stalin and Stalin´s second wife, Nadezhda Alliueva. Her gravestone had to be protected behind a plastic cage due to the fact that people threw stones at it and, on one occasion, broke the nose off the bust. Buried along with the above mentioned 'celebrities' are those the Soviet authorities considered skillful people. The headstones have busts that show the occupation each one of them had during their lives. A pilot has an aircraft on his stone, a doctor portrayed with a stethoscope. The coolest gravestone belongs to a tank general and has a 3m. long tank placed upon it! Close
After lunch, Henrik and I decided to walk to the impressive TV tower, one of the world's highest buildings, reaching 540 m in the sky. At the ticket office we were confused by the Soviet behavior as we needed a permit to be allowed to…Read More
After lunch, Henrik and I decided to walk to the impressive TV tower, one of the world's highest buildings, reaching 540 m in the sky. At the ticket office we were confused by the Soviet behavior as we needed a permit to be allowed to go up. In order to get one we had to visit an angry 'bureaucracy person' and show him our passports and visas. This is probably a surviving memory from Soviet days. Finally we were allowed to enter the elevator which took us up to the viewpoint at 337 m. The view was great. We could see the park and the rocket, but, unfortunately, not the Red Square. We then went for a beer at the slowly rotating cafeteria. Nice. Close