Saturday, June 17, 2006

In Moscow

Nobody got off on the right foot in Moscow. Not John and I, who spent our first hour in the city stuck in rush hour traffic with a driver who had no idea where our hotel was. And definitely not my mother, who got bumped off her Aeroflot flight in New York and got here a day late.

And don't even get me started with the metro, which is truly the most beautiful system I've ever seen, with art in almost every downtown station, but which is also the most confusing system imaginable.

Yesterday, though, was a great day and I've forgiven the city for the rough start. My Mom and I went to a flea market and spent the morning shopping for trinkets. It was bright and sunny and even the Russians seemed to be in a better mood.

After lunch, the three of us went on an organized tour of the metro system. It was explained to me that Stalin knew he coudn't afford to give every Russian family a car, so he decided to give the people the next best thing: A really beautiful subway system. And it is. There's art everywhere. Some stations are full of absurd propoganda poster-style sculptures showing hale and hearty Russian youth defending the Soviet motherland with all their fuzzy-cheeked might. Some have chandeliers and ornate paintings, and look a little like Versailles. One has stained glass everywhere. My favorite one is kind of art deco, with stainless-steel arches and mosaics telling the (dubious) history of Russian aviation.

After dinner, my mom and I went to Red Square with the idea of watching the lights that illuminate St. Basil's cathedral come on. But because it never really gets completely dark this far north in June, we had to settle for watching the sun set until 10:30, when we got tired and had to go home.

Tonight we all take a night train to St. Petersburg, where we'll be for the longest day of the year. I'm actually looking forward to this city more than I was Moscow because it's supposed to be so beautiful. (Smaller, and less overwhelming, too.) It's also the last stop on my trip, which is both sad and exciting.

Moscow photos here!

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