Sunday, March 29, 2009

Shashlik -Шашлык

Shashlik is my new favorite food! It is much like shishkabob. It is cooked outdoors over charcoal.

Yesterday, I went to the souviener market. First, I had to eat this wonderful food! The smell of the bbq and the charcoal is wonderful! And here, you sit outside in the cold. It has been warmer the past few days, but in the US, we would never do this....
A few weeks ago, when it was colder, we walked by McDonald's at like 8 pm, and tons of people were sitting outside eating.
Something else interesting from yesterday - so I was sitting eating, and and an older man came up and asked if he could sit with me because there were no more tables. I am not sure what he said, or which language he was speaking, but I told him in Russian, "please, sit down." Turns out he was from Hungary and was here on business. He did not speak much English, but he spoke Italian (which is sort of similar to Spaish). So we spoke in Spanish and Russian.

When we were done eating, we walked aroung the flea market and he kept telling me what poor quality all of the stuff was... I bought some more magnets, but that was it.
Today, the weather is warmer... I walked to the office for the first time. Takes like 10-15 minutes.
Here are some pics I took of the canal near the office the other day.

I am excited I am going to make yoga again today!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Pictures from St. Patrick's Day Parade

The St. Patrick's Day Parade was last Sunday. It was quite an unusual event here in Moscow. It lasted about twenty minutes, and was a collection of flat-bed trucks (floats) and people walking. Also there were some dogs with green ribbons for collars.... Here are a few pics.

So, this girl was not in the parade, but she did have a small white ferret in her coat!

Nice shamrock flag.
Guinness - of course!
I am pretty sure the sign says something about butter. Kerrygold - I guess that is an Irish brand?
This was at the Shamrock bar. He was a pretty good bagpipe player. See the screen behing him? They were showing "Riverdance" or something like it - and it was very entertaining to watch this girl there dancing along with them on TV.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Kyiv Sightseeing!

This was a church near my apartment.

I hear that Kyiv is laid out on 7 hills. This was one of them!

I believe this is the house of the "crying widow" you can see how the stone has become stained and it looks like tears.

House with Chimeras
I found this to be one of the most fascinating buildings I've ever seen.
Please read about it here!

In Ukrainan - this says "President Ukraine" People like to have their pictures made here!

I found this amusing. This is a sign for Papa John's Pizza. So, this is what he looks like?!

Lover's Bridge... people put locks here to symbolize something... I suspect it is meant to be undying love, but I find it interesting that they chose locks!

A beautiful park along the Dnepr River. I am sure this place is more gorgeous when things are green!

Nice Soviet staute....

I am ashamed to say I don't know which church this is... However, I can tell you it is at the top of a hill!

Dpner River View

Statue in Independence Square

Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra
This is what makes Kyiv the "Russian Jerusalem"
This statue of a young girl was right outside the entrance to the Lavra. Not sure what it was about, but I thought it was quite beautiful.

Mural at the entry way of Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra. Now, this was like a small village with many buildings. The main thing I wanted to see were the caves.

The caves were down this way. Notice the huge statue in the middle left. Sure were alot of hills :)

Going into the cave was the highlight of the trip. You go in, purchase a candle for like 20 cents so that you can see where you are going. Remeber, there are remains of many important monks here. The people who were visiting (who were not tourists), were obviously here on a spiritual mission. So, you go through the underground passages, and the people are there - a painting, and then the bones (I suppose) are wrapped in cloth, and displayed in a glass coffin. Kissing these things must remove sin or do something to ease suffering.There were also places to get holy water here too. Women have to cover their heads, and holding hands is not allowed!

The first signs of Spring!!!!! Little blue flowers on the grounds at the Lavra...It was snowing in Moscow today.... We have a while to go.

So, it WAS St. Patrick's Day! So, some of us went to this Irish Restaurant. There were some young kids there who were learning about Ireland. Apparently, they had studied alot of geography. The new Nashville was the capital of Tennnessee, and knew about country music! Just a random shot out my apartment window... park on the sidewalk and sleep in your car! I think within the last year, Ukraine has eased it's visa requirement for US citizens - as none are required. The story I am told is this - there was a contest much like American Idol, and the winner was from Ukraine. They figured they could boost their tourism revenue if they did not require visas! So, any of you who don't want to deal with the cost and hassle of a Russian visa - I think Kyiv is your spot to visit! It is much smaller and cheaper than Moscow, and more people speak English. I certainly want to go back!

Something I never looked for in the US was Georgian food. This is really the best food I've had here. Shashlik, much like kabob, is cooked on charkol (however you spell), and the kachapuri (cheese bread) is sooooo good. I ate at the same restaurant all 3 nights I was there... And yes, I had chicken Kiev - twice.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Ok, so I saw very few of the things they teenage guys put on facebook. Here is what I did see that I found quite amusing:
  • I did see a very young boy trying to buy beer in the grocery. Thankfully, the clerk would not sell it.
  • However, right outside the grocery store on the main street early Sunday evening, I saw a girl about 12 drinking some "King's Bride" premixed canned drink.
  • In the metro, you see people selling all sorts of things.... One quite creative service to offer is a "weighing service." Just take your bathroom scale, and see if people will pay to get on it!
  • This morning on TV (it seemed to be a music channel), people had submitted pictures of drunk people passed out... I must say I saw somethings they would NEVER put on US tv.
  • The fashion I saw was quite tame compared to Moscow - however, at the airport, I saw a lady in a pink fur coat with spike heels, along with a woman wearing flip flops...(it is not warm here! it was snowing a bit this evening)

Kyiv is much cheaper than Moscow, and I really enjoyed that part. I think tonight, I'll just post a few pictures, and leave the sightseeing ones for tomorrow.

It is good to be home. And it is really feeling like home more everyday.

Here are some pics of my apartment building in Kyiv!

Don't worry, I didn't open the door for any strangers!

There was a really good Georgian restaurant right around the corner. I ate dinner here all 3 nights! Was very good - and cheap too.

Kyiv is really beautiful. It built on 7 hills (I think). Beautiful parks and buildings and churches.

I'll post more tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Kyiv, Ukraine - Warning, this contains some foul language/references

I will be making a trip to Kyiv next week. It is a very short trip - Sunday to Wednesday. So I have been researching what to see.

One site I came across was a Facebook site I found hilarious..... I will actually paste (instead of post the link here...) I am sure this was written by some teenage boys....

All of you who either live, have lived or plan to live in Kiev know(or should know) that it's a special place for veery special people. yes, it's rather a unique place...and we love it for that:DThat is why we shall make a long long list of things that you can see ONLY in Kiev (&things that are very common in this lovely place).*If anyone has any suggestions as to the list, then send us a message!*ONLY in Kiev..........................
1. Seeing a 10 year old kid with a bottle of bear in one hand and a cigarette in the other is no surprise, in fact, it's a given.
2. Are the insides of a public bus decorated to look like the interior of a church..however, maybe with even more icons plastered all over the walls.
3. A national protest is an everyday occurence.
4. You see half naked call girls being advertised on every other TV channel.
5. Have you or someone you know been beat up by skinheads.
6. Are there more political parties than you can count on your fact, there are so many that i don't think using your toes would help either.
7. Do you (only for girls) get a flier asking what kind of husband do you prefer, the choice is broad actually.
8. Do you find a 60 year old guy with an 18 year old wife. In other places it's regarded as paedophilia.
9. Do you see a building process overlaping 10 years.
10. When you speak a foreign language do people look at you like at an amusement site.
11. When you smile at a stranger at night do they run and hug you and start talking to you as if you're their long lost friend (that is in the case they are drunk...which is most likely).
12. Do people have topograficheski kretenizm- sorry, untranslatable...the closest we got was: topographic kretenism.
13. Do clubs resemble a whore shack.
14. Does the red light mean absolutely nothing to the driver.
15. Can you buy any document you will ever need.
16. Can a girl rape a guy and pay only 15hrv ($3) for moral compensation.
17. When you wear bright orange do people associate it with politics.
18. Do you see a Soviet-time tractor driving on the highway.
19. Do you come across kisosks that are open 24/7 and sell anything ranging from food to condoms to vodka.
20. Will you see babushkas selling overly priced cigarettes by TGI.
21. When driving on the opposite lane (in case of trying to avoid a jam) can you get hit from behind.
22. When walking on the sidewalk can you get hit on the ass by a car.
23. Can you see owl, monkeys, and ponies paraded infront of Kreshatik metro by creepy guys.
24. Can you see men trying to lure you into taking a picture with a monkeys in diapers.
25. Can you see a camel walking down the central street with tourism promos during winter.
26. Can you stay in a by-hour-pay hotel.
27. Can you see women dressed in spandex.
28. Having a full unicolor/sweatwear outfit is fashionable.
29. Do hospitals have the same discount cards as nightclubs (Kasirnaya Karta).
30. Paying 10$ can get you a feast for kings or food poisoning- the 'class' of the place is not a factor.
31. Can you can do whatever you like...provided you can pay for it.
32. Has camping and fireworks have lost all festivial meaning and if there arn't any then something must be wrong.
33. Can you get paid more for sitting in a certain colored shirt and campsite playing cards and having fun drinking then going to work.
34. Do people consider seat belts a waste of time and such an annoyance that they are flipped around the seat to stop the safetly alarm in the car from beeping.
35. Do you see men jacking off in the middle of the street.
36. Do teletubbies not only drink and smoke, but swear and flick you off.
37. Do you avoid speeding tickets depending on how much your license plates had cost.
38. Is the underground recognizable by its distinct smell of flowers and urine. Lots of urine.
39. Are most traffic signs an 'eksperement' (experimental).
40. Do you see tanks getting fuel at local gas stations.
41. Do you mostly see fences of green color as everything is under constant construction.
42. Do you see babushkas selling religious books in the metro.
43. Is there a minister for unexpected accidents and a minister for relations with the opposition.
44. Is it more common to see stray cats and dogs then squirrels and birds (the reason for that could be the high levels of pollution, in which the birdies obviously cannot survive).
45. When a worker says he can do everything, it means that in fact he can do nothing.
46. Do people visit their local voting places more often then they visit church.
47. Can a driver be a taxi driver at his free time.
48. Do real estate prices rise 100% per year and people still buy houses/apartments.
49. Do politicians have enough time to have debates on a talk-show every day.
50. Do people have to reserve a place to chill for the weekend a day before.
51. Is every other day a religious or national holiday.
52. Do u have to pay for your ketchup in McDonald’s.
53. It is more extraordinary to see a black guy then to see on the news that one got stabbed.
54. Do you need to look both directions before crossing railroad tracks to avoid being hit by cars that are by-passing a traffic jam.
55. Do people furiously debate about the spelling of the city when it REALLY doesn’t matter. It still stays the same city!
56. A taxi driver doesn't bother to drive on the road if there's traffic: why not use the pavement? Coincidentally only in Kiev the police doesn't seem to notice that.
57. Can you find one of the highest per capita of the most expensive cars in the world.
58. Does every restaurant have sushi and borsh in the menu disregarding the restaurant's cuisine.
59. Does the word "face control" refer to how pricey you're dressed.
60. Does the phrase "My father i don't give a f**k" open doors

I also found a church with underground catacombs... I think for sure I will go there.

I hope you get a laugh from the list above.

Today, I saw something I had never seen before - the escalators going down into the metro are VERY steep... I actually saw a guy in a wheelchair on the escalator - holding on to both sides - just as Dima had told me... I just didn't believe it :)

And I thought nothing could surprise me.... Well, I guess only in Russia.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Sergiev Posad - Russian Vatican

So, after Abramstevo, we decide to take the train a few more stops to Sergiev Posad. As you saw, the train station was deserted, so there was no way to purchase tickets.... We took our chances that we would not get caught by the train police. Actually, here you can pay on the costs a bit more, but I guess you are paying for the convenience.

We arrive with no problems, and start walking to the city center. Here is a picture of a wooden house with huge icecicles (I really don't know how to spell that word).

Here is the first view of the Trinity Monastery.

I don't think we realized we were at the Russian "vatican"...

Here is a link to information about the place. (I hope you read these links, because they contain important facts that I do not want to re-type!)

Our walking route took us by this little building. It was a well house. We went in. Apparently, this is holy water. You can buy water here. It was quite interesting.

The entry way. People were making the sign of the cross, kissing the icons. We did not know we were at a Lavra - the highest ranking church in Russian Orthodoxy.

Since I had been yelled at eariler in the day for taking pictures, I was trying to limit myself - as there were clearly signs posted NOT to take pictures...
I am not sure if this is the same building, but one place we went in had frescoes on the ceiling - of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and being cast out. It was amazing artwork. Who knew this was in Moscow?

Another holy-water place.
I am not exactly sure what the little lights mean, but I really liked them. I need to research Russian Orthodoxy.... especially so I can know when Easter is here!

I was pleased about our journey. I certainly want to go back to Abramstevo in the spring (or even again in winter). The pine trees are so tall - it really reminded me of Colorado - and people were cross-country skiing - although there were some hills that would have been deadly.

I may have a friend that wants to go to Sergiev Posad - so I would do that again as well..

My next adventure will be doing my taxes....:(

Sunday, March 8, 2009

March 8th

Today is Women's Day! We are off work tomorrow (but I think I will work in the afternoon). Here are some of the gifts I received in the office Friday.

Today we made our journey to Abramtsevo. It was me, Katie and a lovely girl from Azerbaijan, which was really good because she speaks Russian.

Of course, our planning was not detailed. We knew which train line to take, and that was about it. The first train car we got on, we decided to move - it seemed most of the men were still drunk at like 9am.

The trains are quite interesting. It is like a moving variety show/flea market. People go from car to car selling whatever it is they have to sell. They come into the car and start making a really loud announcement about what they are selling. Today, we saw the following things being sold on the train:

  • super glue
  • flowers
  • perfume
  • wallets
  • newspapers
  • cd's
  • ice cream
  • chocolate

    For our entertainment - we had an accordion player with a small child who sang, and some sort of religious guy with a bell.... They are quite creative!

Ok, back to Abramtsevo. It is a old artists village. Here is a link to a page with much more information.

Notice the article says you step off the train platform into a "dark forest." That really was the case. The train station there is quite small, and we could not find anyone working there... We peeked in a half open door, but thought it best if we kept on.

We found a path in the snow, and decided this was the way to go. It was really nice being out of Moscow. The forest was so quiet, and no one was around. Part of the path seemed a bit shady at first - sort of like an Indiana Jones movie - bridges with parts broken out....

We saw a sign that said "museum" in Russian, so we were pretty sure we were going the right way. The other girl said the sign also said something about animals.... Now, I've always wanted to see a bear, but I am glad we did not see any today!

We finally came up to the settlement. We paid our entry fee, and were told that our guided tour of the house would start at 12. We could go in the rest of the buildings until then. There were several buildings with drawings and paintings. Russian art is quite good. It is a shame we don't learn much about it in the US (at least I didn't).

One of the things I enjoyed the most was the church. It was very small, but the Icons were incredible (of course you can't take pictures inside any of these buildings), but here it is from the outside!

We had a picinic of hummus, pita bread, cheese and fruit outside of the church. It was freezing! We did not eat too much because you had to take off your gloves and our hands were too cold! It was fun though.

After lunch, it was time for our tour.

Here is the main house - the tour was all in Russian, so I really missed most of it.

The wooden houses are very common outside of Moscow. The woodworking is quite intricate.

This is an example of a "Russian Heater" Very beautiful tile work. I was not supposed to take this picture....I got yelled at for it.

We also went to Sergey Posad. I'll post that tomorrow.