Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Moscow in June

Got my luggage (and my camera cord), so here are a few pictures of Moscow. After spending the day on the 23rd (my birthday) in Petersburg, we headed for Moscow on a night train, complete with delicious almond birthday cake. (Thanks guys!) We arrived on Tuesday morning and I was to fly out on Thursday morning to Morocco.

As this was not my first time at this rodeo, I don't have many pictures of the stuff you'd expect:

A few from inside the Kremlin:

. . .including this mess of black BMW's and other fancy official cars, a type of official ride collectively and lovingly known in the lyrics of a popular song as the"chornyi boomer."

And the obligatory group of Russian school kids posing for a picture (while I surreptitiously snapped one of my own!)

Otherwise, the food the group got was great. I've not eaten quite so well in a long time (being mostly contained to what I can cook myself!)

And finally, a trip to my favorite Moscow coffee shop - If you'll remember its the same kind as the one in Vladimir. I love you CoffeeBean!

I also got a chance on Tuesday night to steal away from the group and meet up with a friend from Vladimir, Katya, who now lives and works in Moscow. I also got to meet her husband, Nick, for the first time.

I finally arrived in Rabat Thursday night, after a day that started at 2 am Rabat time and included extra time in Rome and searching for a lost bag in Casablanca (which I finally got on Saturday afternoon.)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Summer Solstice - White Nights

One of our last nights in Petersburg, we went out on the shore of the Gulf of Finland and made shashlyk, BBQ - Russian style. These pictures are from about 10:30pm:

I will try to put a few pictures up from the two days I had in Moscow, but as yet that is not possible until I get my bag and camera cord back from Alitalia in Rome or wherever in the world it ended up!

Got to Morocco last night. It's hot! (About 20 F hotter than Moscow) and humid and I'm not adjusted yet, but it won't take long: reminds me of July back home in Indiana! Will try to post a little more about Morocco experiences when I can, but for now, just going to enjoy it!

Friday, June 20, 2008


The group took a day trip to Novgorod, which is several hours on a bus. Lunch was great and, even though I've been there, I had fun.

This one is essentially the pimp-ride of the Soviet era, a long black limo that bureaucrats and bigwigs got as a perk of the job. Now doing duty as a wedding transportation and I have to say it is much better than a stretch Hummer that is the usual fare.

Monday, June 16, 2008


A fairly large group of us took an elektrichka (suburban communter train) trip on Sunday to Vyborg, which is the last city before you get to the Finnish border. It was for a long time part of Finland, but was taken by the Soviet Union in the course of the Winter War of 1939-40 and WWII. It has an old castle from the 14th century and then an old town with buildings ranging mostly from the 18th to the early 20th centuries. I especially like the Art Nouveau style, which is represented below. The town is not large, there's not tons to do, and it rained most of the day, but it was still cool to get out and see something new.


Also, Lenin:


Last Thursday, June 12, was "Russia Day" a holiday of recent origin that marked the day that the Russian Federation claimed sovereignty from the Soviet Union. We took advantage of the day off to arrange a night-time cruise on the Neva, under the night skies and raised bridges. It was raining when we left the hotel at midnight, but by the time we made it to the center of the city and got on our boat, it turned out beautiful. The pictures won't do it enough justice - but here they are:

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Pictures from Pavlovsk

The group went to Pavlovsk on Saturday morning, beautiful and sunny, but chilly. As I had already been to the palace before, myself and a couple of others skipped out and went for a walk in the large imperial park that goes with it. The pictures turned out pretty well, but they hardly do justice to the beauty of the day.

There was this tree, a huge hollow in the middle. It's amazing that its still alive!

And this picture of some crazy guy:

Also: baby ducklings:

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

A Room With a View. . .

. . .of a typical Russian apartment building, as seen from the window of our hotel. It may look like the projects, but people keep their personal spaces very neat and clean.

Sunday, June 01, 2008


Thursday night we left Petersburg headed for Tallinn. We left on overnight train from Vitebsky train station, which I had never been to before, and looks like it came from a Hollywood lot for old European train station.

When we arrived the next morning, we got a guided walking tour of the upper and lower parts of the medieval city, complete with great views from the upper to the lower town. The weather was gorgeous, as it stayed for the whole of both days.

Likewise, we climbed to the top of the tallest church steeple for a different view.

Tallinn had tons of little shops, restaurants, and cafes along the narrow, winding streets of the Old Town.  

The rest of the time we spent wandering around some in the new city, but mostly in the old town. Souvenirs, good found, friendly people and a neat atmosphere, relaxed despite the tourism, all added to the ambiance of the place.

Tallinn definitely gets a big recommend.