Sunday, June 28, 2009

Random things

So, here is a picture of the building that "collapsed." They've torn it down now, but it is interesting to hear all of the stories about how this was probably not an accident.....
Here is a picture of the "pukh" - it is seeds from the female poplar trees - and it is everywhere! Looks like snow in the summer. Some people have a really bad allergic reaction to it, but it really hasn't bothered me.... except a few times in my eyes and up my nose!
This is the entrance to my apartment building....
There are many apartment buildings near mine, and very near my building, there is this strange place. There is a small church, and what seems to be some monument to sailors... Anchors and plaques...

And this rooster.......... I have no idea exactly what all of this means.
I also have this little park right outside my apartment. It is amazing how quite Moscow is during the weekends... Today, I sat in the park and read a book.
That is one thing I think I am realizing, I think the Russian people really live for the moment...when the weather is nice, they will just sit around enjoying the weather....they don't seem to be obsessed with either the past or the future, and don't seem to plan much in advance..
I think after almost 6 months, I am starting to adjust much better... I have figured out where to get the things I need - like yesterday, I had to go to the pharmacy to buy my $8 contact lens solution - My Russian skills are getting better, and I think the shock of being here is finally wearing off....
Some colleagues from the US are coming to Kiev and Moscow soon, and I will meet them in Kiev next weekend. I had a call with them last week to tell them about some of the things they will see here - and I know they did NOT believe me...
When I talk to people at work from the US - I can tell that my filters for what is appropriate have adapted to Russian style, and I wonder if I will be fit to come back.......

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Building collapse.........

This is very near my home and office...... like right across the street... Interesting thing - this building has been burned out several times (so I hear).... No one was living in it, but apparently there were people inside. Says it was home to a bank....

Glad to hear the people trapped inside are able to talk. Hope all those people standing around were able to rescue them.

Popular Music

I just thought I'd share some of the music I hear over and over here... Mostly, I watch the music channels on tv. There are at least two VH1's and MTV's and Musicbox, and a few others...

Here are links to some of the most popular songs now.. some I am sure are played in the US, but not all.

Inna "Hot"

Oceana "Cry Cry"

Bisso na Bisso

Basic Element "Touch you right now"

Helmut Fritz - Sa M'enerve

Jay Sean "Tonight"

Lady Gaga - Poker Face

Enrique Iglesias -Takin back my love

And I'll throw in some former eastern Russian republic rap just to give you some culture....

One thing that really fascinates me here is the muslim/middle eastern influence. I took advanced European History classes in high school and college, but they really do not teach much about Russia. Quite embarrassing for me. I am thinking at some point, I really want to go to Tashkent and Samarkand in Uzbekistan - that is the heart of the Silk Road - connecting Asia to Europe - but we shall see!

Monday, June 15, 2009


I really love Ukraine. I would encourage anyone with an American passport to come here, because you don't need a visa. So, I can only speak for Kiev and Odessa, but they are incredibly beautiful. I believe relationships are stronger with the US and Ukraine than they are with Russia, so makes it nice for an American. I am pretty sure I will be going here again...
One thing to say first - I really do believe the Ukrainian people - both men and women - are some of the most beautiful people I've seen.... Their features - something about the eyes, and it works on the men here, somehow, not so much in Moscow...

The people are friendlier, and will smile and talk to you, and when usually when I would try to speak Russian, they would tell me they could speak English. They also speak Ukrainian, but I am not sure I ever heard it.

So, here is a picture of me with the seahorse from the fountain outside the hotel... I always wanted a seahorse... but they require saltwater tanks, and that was too much trouble...
A picture of the front of our hotel. I think it had 26 rooms. Was quite expensive - although everything else in Odessa was not :)

First view of the Black Sea. You can see the soccer (football) field. These people really are in good shape. Bicycling, rollerblading, and the men must have some secret for developing 6 packs and upper arm muscles - very nice!

Dolphin Beach. I think it cost $4 for a chair, cushion and zont (umbrella)

Very nice view.

массаж (massage) on the beach... A bit different than in the US - but I tell you, I had a really good one at our hotel for $30.

Other unusual things......... So, there was no туалет (toilet) at our private beach....We had to pay 1 grivna to use the squat toilets.

Something much nicer - the flowers here are incredible. This was from the courtyard at the hotel where the pool was. I hope Katie has some more pics. My batteries were dying.

Here is a map of the Black Sea

It is really a sea for transporting oil and you can see the tankers on the horizon.

The weather was perfect...

Sunday, we took the cable cars up so we could get a good view..... very nice!!!!!!!! The cable cars seemed a bit dodgy,but it was fine.

An interesting bit of graffiti - a clothes line??

I wish I would have taken more pictures.... I am borrowing this from a restaurant we went to... So much outdoor seating here. And they bring you blankets if you get a bit chilly.

It was on a very nice pedestrian street they had blocked from traffic. Very charming.

Some of the architecture is amazing. Like nothing I have ever seen - but it was dark by then.. So, I have no pictures. I really need to do some research on the influences to this country.

Perhaps I'll have a few more pics to post soon.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Odessa, Ukraine

So Friday is a holiday here. Katie and I are going to Odessa, Ukraine on the Black Sea. A two hour, direct flight from Moscow, a beach - Why not?

I was doing some research tonight, and came across this website... which offers "Ukraine Travel Tips - Ukraine Guidlines for Foreign Men"

If you could use a laugh, please read... Also, please note that this was written in January 2008! But sad thing is, this really is serious - it is not a joke.

Some more interesting, sad reading...

I really do think beer is viewed as a soft drink here. I can't tell you how many times I see people drinking, and I have to look to see what time it is.

Well, it is 10:12 pm here, and it is still light outside....but I am going to bed soon.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Clean Apartment!!!

My cleaning person came today! What a wonderful feeling... All these years, I've been very bad at housekeeping, and I never thought about hiring someone to do it! I love it!!!

So, here is my hallway. I took up the carpet runner, because I prefer the tile. Yes, that is a DRYING RACK - we don't have dryers here.... So, my cleaning person brought that, because I have no idea where one might buy that - well, I sort of do, but it is quite inconvenient to travel there and carry home on the metro.

Everyone who knows me, knows I would NEVER make up my bed.... Nice to have it done for me. They also ironed all of my shirts and pants I had over at the ironing board and hung them up for me!

My nice kitchen.... The yellow is actually growing on me.
Nat - my chianik (hot water pot) will beat anything you find in the US. My water is boiling in like 30 seconds!
I love my window!!! I love the little park it overlooks.

A note on curtains... there always seems to be some lacy thing with designs... that doesn't block light at all... Imagine that it doesn't get dark until late - and seriously, it is super bright at 5 am.... So, it is good to have some light blocking curtains.

Last Sunday

This is the view in front of my new apt. I am sort of on an island between the river and a canal. This is one of the Stalin Skyscrapers. I think there are 7 in Moscow.

So, this obviously is a bit outside Moscow! Some of us from work went to the beach!
Then to a restaurant on the water! Very nice!

I am not going to post the pictures here, but it was quite entertaining watching the locals sunbathe. No real need for a "swimming costume" here :), but no, they were not naked either. Lots of underwear!