Welcome to the second in the series about my trips to Russia with trivia about the people, culture and country and more photos.
If you did not read the prior essays, please do so before reading this essay. I STRONLY urge you to read the priors in this series.
NONE OF THE PHOTOS OR TRIVIA FROM ONE ESSAY OF THIS SERIES WILL BE REPEATED IN THE LATER ESSAYS. ALL OF THE NEEDED BACKGROUND ON MY TRIPS AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION WILL ONLY BE IN THE FIRST ESSAY OF THE SERIES.
Here is the link to number one, so you can start at the beginning.
Each of the diaries ends with a link to the next diary in the series.
Pico, don’t be too tough on me today. I know you academic types like perfection-J I am a very sensitive guy.
Don’t forget POLL. Rec’s appreciated. ENJOY.
Let’s start with a couple photos. These are inside one of the bazillion (sp?) churches in Russia. These two are from a church in my wife’s hometown of Tomsk, Siberia. I got scolded by an old woman and told not to take photos in the church. I did stop, she looked like she would and could give me a good whippin. There are many, many amazing churches all over Russia with such beutifully hand painted areas. Photos are cockeyed (too easy, no comments-:) because of my scanning ability, not painters fault. Many photos are cockeyed, just tilt your head.
– Moscow is the New York City of Russia except no skyscrapers. It has a larger population than New York City. 10 to 11 million in Moscow, NYC 8 million. It’s an interesting experience every time I go there.
– Red Square, public transportation (particularly the metro), the amazing architecture and churches. There is a memorial to World War II that is nearly the size of central park. At night red lights illuminate the hundreds of fountains that are there. There are 20 foot tall stone statues of concentration camp prisoners standing in line naked with their possessions (boots, shoes clothes etc) lying on the ground near them. They 20 or so statues are gradually falling backwards from front to back. It is very moving and truly captures the brutality of the concentration camps. Unfortunately, I went there at dusk to get the fountains lighted and photos of these were too dark. Really, it is worth finding on the internet.
– Russians have an immense pride for having won the final battle to end World War II. Yes, the Russians struck the final blow to win the war when they took Berlin. They made the final march into Berlin sustaining a loss of nearly 400,000 troops in the process. Interesting story of how Stalin pitted his two greatest Generals against each other going in from different sides knowing immense pride would make each man press forward harder to beat the other. Russia lost over 8,000,000 soldiers and about 20,000,000 civilian lives in World War II. Yes, those numbers are millions. Their casualties were about half of the total in the entire war by all involved.
– Gorke park is interesting. Nothing like the movie. It is a large amusement park like great America or any of the others.
– Moscow is one of the most expensive cities in the world. In the last ranking I read it was number three. The first American city on the list was New York City and it is around 23rd. It doesn’t seem to me to be any higher than New York or Chicago or Los Angeles for a traveler regarding lodging, food or transportation. I think it’s expensive reputation applies more to those who live there and in relation to their incomes.
– There are more billionaires in Moscow than any other city in the world. These are the top of the “new” Russians. ‘New Russians” are the wealthy who made their money by jumping on the capitalism band wagon that started after perestroika. Many of the wealthy are those of the Russian Mafia which is rampant and their cruelty makes our mafia look like gentlemen. Many of the others were government friends of the times.
– A fair percentage of people in Moscow speak/understand some English.
– Even after all the time I have spent in Russia, I would not want to try to go it alone more than a few days even in this city with the highest percentage of Russians knowing some English.
– Like any large city you must be cautious of criminals, thieves, pickpockets, scammers and the like. Americans stick out like a sore thumb and thus are a good mark for these people.
– The streets in the city center of Moscow at about 5am have cleaning crews sweeping up the thousands of beer bottles that are literally everywhere.
– The first time I saw this I was surprised but I learned it was not uncommon, a guy in a suit on his way to work at 7am walking to the train and drinking a beer.
The view of Moscow in this first photo better be good because it is taken from the window of one of the better hotel rooms in Moscow and cost me $300/nt.
WORLD WARII MEMORIAL
Street musician in Moscow
Cop Car – Imagine this on a high speed chase. Cop came up and told me I couldn’t photo car, oh well, already got one. Ha ha.
– Russia does nothing to promote their country for tourism.
– Having such a small percentage who speak English makes it difficult for a tourist to navigate their country.
– Very few people ever think of taking a vacation to Russia. That is unfortunate. Even without going there to see a specific person, this is an experience as rich as any place you could go. Besides the culture, history, sights and more, it has a great deal of natural beauty. There are an immense amount of forests and wooded areas. Maine, where I live, is known for white birch and pine trees. There is as high a percentage of these trees and forests in Russia as here.
– The problem for the average American about going to Russia is, if you don’t speak Russian and don’t have a guide who does, there are only two cities you have even a chance to really navigate. Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Although I like these cities (especially St. Pete.), these are my least favorite places of all places I have been in Russia.
– Russia’s population is about 150 million. About one half of the US. It’s geographic size is more than double the USA and that is after breaking the USSR into 15 countries in 1991.
– About 25% of the population lives in a half dozen cities.
– A majority of the population lives in the eastern one third of the nation.
– Each of the other 15 FSU (Former Soviet Union, including Russia) countries have at least 25% of their population in just a few cities.
– The history of Russia is endless. There are tons of interesting characters and stories and events. Think of all the people and events in our countries history that every American is familiar with (at least I hope they are). If our nation is an infant, Russia is an old man. Everywhere you go there are buildings, statues and reminders of an often troubled, often courageous and always interesting past.
– There are stories about why several cities are abundant with beautiful women. It is said that years ago some royalty had the most beautiful women in all their domain shipped to specific cities and thus their beauty was passed on to future generations. One of those type is on the Black Sea in what is now the Ukraine and this beauty importation was done to keep the sailors there that they needed. There was a shortage of women, so, simple, bring the most beautiful women there to keep these horny sailors here.
– Many Americans think Russians liked Stalin. At one time their internal propaganda forced them to. Today in schools he is taught as what he really was. A Hitler in his own right. He spread death and destruction through fear and force where Hitler “sold and convinced” his people to carry out his mad plan. Stalin forced them to do his cruel tyranny with an iron fist. Almost all Russians now loath Stalin. On one trip, my friend would not even take a photo in front of one of the many statues of him.
– For most Russians their personal past and its impact on them is not seen as important but rather a waste of time and “beating the air”.
First one, my step son on left, then me, Oxana, my mother in-law
Next one, out to dinner with friends. Oxana and I on the right. I am the ugly one. Man on left is a neurologist and the ONLY man Oxana has ever know who after divorced, paid child support and saw his children. He was very interested in my brain surgery. When he picked up his steak knife, I got a little afraid as he may have thought I needed more work. Guys, Tanya in the back left nearest the wall is single and a very nice person. Phone number 1-7-002-3564-2957-658-142-258-3645. She asked me more questions about America than almost anyone I met in Russia.
I know, these are not as interesting as the architecture and other stuff.
– If someone figures out how they decide apartment numbers, I hope they will also tell me this. I was in a seventh floor apartment and the apartment number was 28. A third floor apartment that was number 65. One apartment address I sent mail to was 1/36 Electric Street. Before I visited, I assumed the one was the building number in the apartment complex and the 36 was third floor. When I did go there, there was no building number and the apartment was on the ninth floor I don’t know why it is 36. Only in Russia! Maybe Pico knows.
– Maybe this address situation is the reason the mail is so slow. Even the mailmen don’t know what is where or why.