Friday, December 9, 2011

A bit of catch up

It's been a while since the last entry. I'm having some issues with the Picasa web site so no photos right now. We made several trips to the Dacha since September. It sure is a nice place to relax and just get away. We took Dice out and she sure had a great time wandering the fenced in area. We also spent a last weekend with friends Mike and Sara. By the time we get from R and R Mike will be heading back to the States and Sara not far behind. One of the downers of our work, making friends and then they leave.

We also had the pleasure of attending our first Marine Birthday Ball. This very formal affair called for the formal kilt to be sent from the US. Photos as soon as I can post them.

I also had my debut with the local house band. Uncle Sam's Band now has a harmonica player.

Check out the two new blog links, on for our friends in Moscow http://chris-n-kala.blogspot.comand the other belongs to intrepid wanderer Suzy http://www.dreamnbig.blogspot.com/

Friday, September 2, 2011

Spartak - CSKA Football match



Red Sox - Yankees, Bears - Packers, Carolina - Duke, Rangers - Celtic, that is the level of rivalry for this Soccer match. One of my fellow workers here has some Russian friends that asked if we wanted to attend when they found out my love for soccer. This is a huge game with all the goings on that surround European matches. I checked with our security folks and said just be careful and follow the normal "hide in the crowd" guidelines. Wouldn't you know the next day a notice came out to avoid the area due to "skin heads" and other security risks mainly rowdy fans, many of who take things way to far. We had tickets and were commited so off we went with assurances from our Russian guides that if we didn't look for trouble we would be fine. The Metro was as packed as I have ever seen it, full of chanting fans from both teams. The riot police were out in full force. There were several "incidents" at the metro stops and we saw some unfortunate folks being lead off in cuffs.
We only had one "oh shit" moment when a big drunk guy came against the flow of fans and grabbed a kids scarf right in front of me. Our friends pushed us to the wall and hurried us on. We passed Militia and Army stationed all along the entry to the stadium area. There were no more problems. The game was great ending in a 2-2 draw, probably the best result for a safe exit. They emptied the stadium a section at a time so we sat for over an hour before leaving. We avoided the Metro on the way out by getting a Gypsy cab (unsanctioned taxi) for the ride home.


My first European Match was an exciting time. I shot some very rough video and some photos, here.

Saturday, in the park, you think it was the Fourth of July...




Seems we spent the whole day in two parks and they were on opposite sides of town. We had our last softball game of the summer at the northern most stop on the Green line (that's Metro speak). After that the fearsome foursome went to almost the southern tip of the Green line to the Honey Festival. We found the park with some helpful locals, yes they do exists here. We entered Lipki Park on the NW end and walked almost to the Moscow River to a large exhibit area. Inside were hundreds of honey vendors. As you passed each vendor you had the opportunity to taste the honey with a small disposable stick. I'm not a big honey person but some were quite good. The vendors were from many different areas and used different flowers to make the honey. There was even some honey wine. Renee tried it and lets just say not good.


After getting our fill of honey we hit the shashlik stands for lunch then wandered the remains of the park. It was odd to find signage in English. There were several beautiful churches on the grounds in varying states of refurbishing or remont as they say here. There was also a log cabin once used by Peter the Great. We wandered for several hours and as we were leaving noticed a group of American Indian style dancers. There is the thought that Native Americans crossed the Bearing Streight when it was a land bridge from Russia. It was nice to sit on the Metro for the ride home after a long day of walking.

Lots more photos here!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

August goings on


A few things happening this month here in Moscow. The first weekend several of us took a trip to the Embassy Dacha. Dacha is the term used by Russians for their get a way or summer places. They very from crudely built shacks to fancy homes. The Embassy Dacha is a single level log cabin maybe about 2500 sq ft. It has a large function room and multiple bed rooms. There is a large outdoor patio area and several acres of tree and grass area. It is still in the city but you would never know it. We barbecued and played some games and just enjoyed the evening. Saturday we walked along the Moscow River and just enjoyed a relaxing day.


We also said good by to friends Pete and Cecile as they start a new adventure in China. We will miss them. We also joined in on a scavenger hunt sponsored by the Embassy. Clues took us all over Moscow, great fun.





Last night there was a fund raiser poker game for a fellow worker hurt in a motorcycle wreck here. Guess who won!.

Final news is Renee is going to start a new job. No more washing windows and scrubbing toilets.

Check out more photos.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Summer in Moscow

Not been in the mood to blog lately so just a quick "catch up". Weather has been wonderful with a few warmer days, nothing like back home in OKC. Tends to be 80s in the day and cools off nicely at night. There has been some rain. No major fires close this year. We have spent time walking and I just purchased a couple of used bikes. We visited Red Square again, so different in the Summer. We often walk the Old Arbat which is the stereotypical European street with vendors and street performers. Check out the Bagpiper:
video


I play soft ball with the Marines every Saturday and we are headed to the Dacha this weekend. I'll try to be a better blogger....

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's day and Happy birthday!


Happy Father's day to my Pop and Happy birthday to my Mom. Mom's birthday great was a little late (16 June), but our family has a 30 day window on that sort of thing!

It's wonderful to have my folks, they've always been such a big influence on my life.

Thanks to both of you!

Monday, June 13, 2011

The great relax......


A beautiful day brought the idea of a boat ride on the Moscow River. John, Jodi, Renee' and myself took a nice relaxing trip. The river ride is very popular and you do see sites from a different point of view. We had seat on the stern and enjoyed a couple of pivas (beer), took in the sites and rode the metro back. The most unusual thing we noticed was people actually swimming in the river. Not many but it's a nasty river.

I'll let the pictures tell the rest of the story.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Golf at Le Méridien, Moscow Russia


Several of us here brought our golf clubs only to find that courses are very few and far between. Out of 3 known places we found two, one by the German Embassy that was a 9 hole and very pricey and a club called LeMeridien. The latter was about an hour from the embassy and not near as expensive at 3000 rubbles a round, about 110 USD. The course is nice, maybe equal to a $75.00 club in the States. It hosts a stop on the Euro Tour of some kind. Fairways we good, lined with water or trees. The greens were a bit rough and hard to figure out, but the snow has been gone for just a bit over a month.

We had 2 groups go out and a good time was had by all. This may be only a once or twice a summer thing, but at least I can say I played golf in Russia!

Check out the photos here.

Also posted some pictures of a Sunday stroll.....

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A little different take on Memorial Day...

DALLAS MORNING NEWS
Sunday, May 29th

This Memorial Day, remember the diplomats, too, says Clayton McCleskey

WASHINGTON — They are the proud, the few and the unarmed. They dodge bullets in the mountains of Afghanistan and brave the deserts of Iraq. They serve as America’s face to the world, from violence-ridden Mexico to the financial hubs of Asia to the capitals of Europe. They promote American
business and protect American citizens abroad. They are the men and women of the U.S. Foreign Service.

On Memorial Day, we rightly pause to remember those who serve our nation in military uniform. But we should also recognize the more than 12,000 members of the American diplomatic corps who serve in Washington and in 271 missions across the globe.

“They are the ones out there on the front lines trying to advocate and explain [American] policies, regardless of which administration they are
serving,” said Karen Hughes, former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy under President George W. Bush. She praised the Foreign Service as “a very dedicated group of public servants” who “work and make sacrifices around the world in some very difficult assignments.”

You may think of diplomats as tuxedo-wearing statesmen sipping cocktails at summits in Switzerland, but American diplomats are deployed in places like
war-torn Africa and Afghanistan, where they often face the same dangers as members of the military. One diplomat I spoke to said he has been shot at
five times in the line of duty.

Yet, even as America’s engagement with the world is growing more crucial, budget hawks are circling over the State Department. Speaking to the National Conference of Editorial Writers this month, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned, “There’s a huge gap between perception and reality … and people think that we can balance our budget on the back of our foreign operations.”

The continuing resolution passed to fund the government cut $8 billion for the State Department and USAID — while increasing the Defense Department’s budget by $5 billion. The demands on the State Department are growing, but the budget isn’t.

“It is so out of whack with what we have to be doing,” Clinton lamented.

Part of the problem is that many Americans misunderstand diplomats’ role. Diplomacy isn’t about throwing money at the world. Yes, foreign aid — which
accounts for only about 1 percent of the total federal budget — is a useful diplomatic tool. But too often diplomacy is dismissed as wasteful global charity or useless hemmin’ and hawin’ at the United Nations. Whether working to secure access to natural resources (like oil), leading reconstruction in Afghanistan or screening hundreds of thousands of visa applicants, diplomats are producing concrete results. They are the facilitators of globalization.

In an interconnected world, diplomacy is becoming ever more relevant to the daily lives of Americans, especially when it comes to the economy. Diplomats pave the way for American businesses to make profits at home by expanding overseas.

“If companies want to grow, if we want to grow our GDP, if we want to be competitive on a global basis in the 21st century, people really have to
step up to export and export more, because that’s where the growth opportunities are,” said Lorraine Hariton, U.S. Special Representative for
Commercial and Business Affairs.

Texas definitely enjoys the dividends of diplomacy. According to the latest figures from the International Trade Administration and Bureau of the
Census, in 2009 the Dallas-Fort Worth area exported $19.9 billion worth of merchandise. And because of the Open Skies agreements liberalizing
international air travel,Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport will see “billions of dollars in new business,” Clinton said this month.

Members of the Foreign Service play a crucial role in making that kind of lucrative international agreement possible, part of a government-wide
campaign to help American businesses increase exports.

“We need to set up partnerships and relationships all around the world so we can understand the market needs in Kenya as well as the market needs in Fort Worth,” Hariton said.

Indeed, to maintain America’s global competitiveness and to capitalize on the opportunities globalization creates, we need a well-funded diplomatic
corps.

“Diplomacy used to be thought of as the quiet, behind-the-scenes, government-to-government communications,” Hughes told me.

It’s now so much more than that. “In order for America to enact the kinds of policies we want to enact around the world,” Hughes explained, “we have got
to build a public case for those policies, for our values and for our interests.”

Our diplomats are out in the trenches doing just that, often at great personal danger — remember the Iranian hostage crisis? Foreign Service
officers have also been the targets of drug violence, insurgent attacks and kidnappings. Yet they man their posts, safeguarding American interests and
protecting U.S. citizens overseas.

This weekend, as we salute our military, we also owe a tribute to America’s diplomats, many of whom are in conflict zones riding in the same Humvees as
the troops. The only difference is that they can’t shoot back.

*Clayton M. McCleskey is a contributing writer for The Dallas Morning News based in Washington. His email address is letters@claytonmccleskey.com.*

Monday, May 23, 2011

Links to the photos...

Just a reminder that to get to the photo site just click on any blue highlighted words with in a post like: Photos or click the top link on the right margin to Craig and Renee's photos or simply type in your browser: Picasaweb.google.com/hairynleggz. Enjoy!

Propaganda Park


Sunday turned out to be a beautiful day, (after a down pour on Saturday that nearly canceled our softball games) so we took the Metro to whats known as Propaganda Park. It's real name is VDNKh Park. This was an expo area where the Soviet State was to showcase product made in different parts of the Union. Each region had a massive building, many with grandiose entry ways and fabulous art work inside. Huge gold water fountains and large green spaces lined the walkways. With the fall of the USSR funding for this center was dropped and many of the buildings fell into disrepair. Now many are homes for vendors and small museums or simply empty. Several buildings are under renovation and there are plans to return the park to its former glory.


The architecture and details on the buildings is something to see and I hope the photos give you some idea. There was even a mock up of a Soviet era power station and a Vostok rocket. We had some lunch with friends at a cafe near the big Ferris wheel and got home in time for a good grillin' evening on the compound with our neighbors.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Star City, the place of cosmonauts.....


On Saturday I had the opportunity to travel to Star City. This is the facility where Russia trains its Cosmonauts and other folks prepping for space journey. US Astronauts also spend time here. I took a lot of photos of the trip out and back along with the facility. It's only 30 or so km from here but traffic is so congested on the route it takes 2 hours to get there. Saturday morning is a bad time for "dacha" traffic, all the folks going to their getaway homes. We passed many of them along the way, many no more than a few hundred square feet with no running water. We also passed a satellite dish that was at least a mile off the road and still looked huge, maybe 200 feet across or more.

The worst part of the traffic was near our destination where 4 lanes goes down to 2 to cross the train tracks, very busy train tracks. We arrived to a very wooded area with lots of rather nondescript 60's era buildings. It reminded me of a rundown or maybe unkempt college campus. The bus barely fit through the gate. When we got off the bus we were met by our tour guide, a very nice gentlemen who spoke some English and was in the space program for 30 plus years, first as a cosmonaut in training and then as an engineer.


We visited three different buildings. First was the Aqua Center where space work is practiced in the underwater mockups. Then we visited the simulator building and finally the centrifuge building. I was most amazed by the centrifuge as it is the largest in the world.
We then visited some of the grounds and the monument to Yuri Gagarin.


The trip back was uneventful and took much less time then the trip out. This was another unique tour I have been able to go on here and hope to do more.

Photos, photos, photos!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Another 3 day weekend....


A busy 3 day weekend. On Sunday we took an electric train up to Sergiev Posad. We had been there back in February to stay at the Pancake Hill Bed and Breakfast. While there Sveta, our very gracious host, asked if we could look at an oven she had that would no longer work. (Renee had told her I was an appliance technician). She could get no one local to even look at it. So John and I did a little troubleshooting and found a burnt switch. It took me a while to find a replacement. John's folks are here from the States and wanted them to see the sights in Sergiev Posad so we all loaded up and headed out. Jodi was in tow along with Renee and one of her co workers, also named John.


The train trip was like dropping back a few generations with hard, thinly covered wood benches. Unsanctioned vendors wandered the aisles hawking everything from hand wipes to socks. We had a little bit of a time finding the right station after getting off the Metro, but with some local help we made it. The trip was about an hour and a half to get there but only an hour back. Lots of scenery along the way with many interesting characters getting on and off. We arrived to some fresh pancakes, fixed the oven, did some sightseeing and had a very nice late afternoon meal that Sveta prepared for us. She welcomed us like family and it made us all feel good!


Monday was one of Russia's biggest holidays, Victory Day. It celebrates the victory over Germany and its allies in WWII. The city is cleaned up from the winter decorated and a major military parade is held. The parade rout is very long but no one marches. Its all motorized equipment so it moves fast for a parade. The whole thing took maybe 30 minutes but there was some impressive hardware. After we wandered the Old Arbat with friends Dawn and Scott, had lunch at the Hard Rock and wandered some more before calling it a day.
video



Lots of photos here

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The weather is here, wish you were beautiful.....


Not a reference to my wife of course, she is always beautiful. Just one of my favorite Jimmy Buffett rimes. Finally seeing some nice, warmer weather. Maybe it's just us because we had some odd looks riding in shorts and Ts. It was around 60 but many were still bundled up like mid winter. Three of us took about a 5 mile ride along the Moscow River and back through the sidestreets. It's a fun way to see the inner city life. Took a few photos along the way.

After we went to Rosinkia which is one of the off compound living centers for a "hail and farewell" get together to welcome new folks and say goodby to those finishing contracts and moving on. A good American meal of chicken strips or burgers. Played a few hands of cribbage beforehand. Good to have a few passionate players of this game passed from father to son, at least that's how I see it.



"Skys are so clear, life is easy today"

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Kubinka Tank Museum


A group of about 20 of us from the Embassy signed up for a tour of the Kubinka Tank Museum. Since it is still on an active military base we had to be cleared by the Russian government in advance. We left about 9:30am for the all day trip. It was a relatively cold day but mostly sunny. Renee did not go on this trip, being more of a "guy' thing. After about an hour and a half ride we arrived at a group of rather nondescript building housing all the tanks. Six hangers that were colder inside than out. A long winter of cold setting into all that steel created quite the cold sink. There was a small cafe and information center. Our tour guide was Russian so we had an interpreter but my Russian classes are starting to help as I could pick out a word here and there.

We spent extensive time in the German and Russian hanger and then had extra time to visit the others without a guide. It was definitely sensory overload. There we many experimental tanks of all different countries. The smallest being a remote control tank to the 2 story behemoth "Adam". I really liked the Motorcycle unit and would love to duplicate that someday.

We learned the origin of the name "Tank". It was the code word the English used when shipping the prototypes to Russian. They just labeled the crates "tanks" as in water or fuel.

Lots of photos here.....

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Links....

Please take some time to check out the blog links posted. There is a lot of good stuff there and, ofcourse, a link or two to my favorite sport teams......

Saturday, March 12, 2011

For Sale



















We now have our house on the market. We have it listed with Rowell Sargeant ,

Keller Williams Realty Edmond

10 East Campbell

Edmond, OK 73034

Office: 405-330-2626

Fax: 866-217-8959

Cell: 405-830-4849

Web: www.RSargeant.com

Email: Sargeant@KW.com

So if any one is interested.....

VIP visit

Or should I say VP visit? last Wednesday Vice President Biden stopped by the Embassy for a meet and greet with the embassy crew. He was in Moscow doing what politicians do. He was staying at a hotel near Red Square and not actually at the Embassy. I signed up to help with courier work during the visit but at the last moment it was decided that we would not be needed. So much for some overtime!. Renee and I decided to put our political opinions aside and go see the VP. After all it's not everyday you get to do just that. It was about a 45 minuet program and he really had a good time with the kids that were there.

A few more photos here.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sergiev Posad


It has been a little tough sitting down to blog. We were a bit depressed for a time about the earth quake in Christchurch but believe they will rebuild and rebound. All of the nearly 600 participants in the USAP were accounted for. Please keep NZ in your thoughts and prayers.

Now on to better things. A group of us decided to take a weekend to the country to Sergiev Posad. It was about a hour and a half drive NE of Moscow. We stayed at a Dacha (or vacation home), kinda of a bed and breakfast operated by a very nice lady named Sveta. It is a famous place for pancakes, www.pancake-hill.ru and several monasteries and one famous cave monastery. The house was very cozy and Sveta was a great host. She lost her husband in a fire at the house five years ago and has been slowly rebuilding. After arriving and having a pancake snack we left for the Troika ride and campfire. Lots of fun and lots of photos. We cooked hotdogs on the fire and drank a little vodka. It was cold but a very good time.

We spent the evening with a delicious Russian dinner, some cribbage and time in the bayna (sauna). Tradition is time in the bayna then a dip in the cold pool or a roll in the snow. Invigorating!

We visited 2 monasteries that were very beautiful and full of history. The Cave Monastery, Chernigovsky Skit, was really interesting and still under renovation. Many of these monasteries were closed or even destroyed during "the Soviet period of time" as Sveta would say.

All in all a great weekend away with a great group of friends and a wonderful host.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Devastation in Christchurch

A major earthquake has hit Christchurch New Zealand. As many of you know I have visited there many times deploying to the Ice. The famous cathedral in the main square has been heavily damaged and there have been deaths and many injuries. Please put these folks in your prayers as well as all the Ice folks coming off the summer season that are being accounted for.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Spaso House visit


Last Thursday there was a reception at the Spaso House. This is the residence of the US Ambassador and has been since 1933. This is a grand residence that is located in the Arbat, an ancient area of Moscow. This is off the Embassy Compound and about a 20 minute walk. There are events held here throughout the year including the Marine Ball. Please take the time to Google this place because there is no way I can describe it properly.

We visited for a few moments with Ambassador John Beyrle who seems to be a down to earth guy. We wore our best jeans (it was very cold that night), had a nice time. Renee got a lot of compliments on her fur lapel. We forgot our camera, so thanks Pete for the use of you photos.

Renee's Ice Museum photos posted


Go here to check them out.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

It's cold outside so lets go to the ice sculpture display......


We spent Saturday the 12th with John, Jodi, Pete and Cecille. We took a Metro ride to the NW side of the city and a large park. We were headed to see an indoor ice sculpture display. It was about 8 or 10 degrees F outside and about the same inside. They gave us bright blue overcoats and in we went. There were some very well done carvings and they sure like to freeze things in the ice. Lots of pictures on the picture site.

We stopped at an Italian restaurant and had one of our better meals here. We don't eat out much because of the prices and there is no Sonic near by.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Stalin's Bunker


This tour started with a mass metro trip as 20 of us made or way to the east side of Moscow. We walked about 20 min through an area near the bunker. We were told that much of the earth mounds that covered the area had been removed for construction of area hotels. The bunker was built pretty much for one man, Stalin himself. It was built in the late 30s when war with Germany was a given. It was built on the east side of the city since the Germans would be advancing from the west. The construction would be covered by construction of the Moscow Metro and a huge sports complex with a stadium planned to hold 200,000 spectators. When the war started the bunker was finished but the stadium was not.

The bunker is connected to the Kremlin by a 17km under ground road that still exists today. It was so well designed that the Germans never knew of its location. The photos take us through the conference room (with acoustics so good you can hear a whisper) to Stalin's study and canteen and out into the stadium. We took time after the tour to revisit the Ismaliva flea market and have shaslink for lunch.

We finished the day with dinner with John and Jodi at a Georgian restaurant.

Don't forget to go to the picture site!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Beer tour and the flea market






On MLK day a group of 12 or 13 of us headed out to a local brewery to take a tour. I think it is pronounced 'O chok oba'. It was a very good tour with a factory store stop at the end and some tasting of product. We had a Russian tour guide and an interpreter from the embassy. The factory was originally built in the late 70's for the 1980 Olympics to bottle Coke and other soft drinks. The day was cold so we didn't spend much time out side looking at the displays but I did get some pictures. We donned boot covers and white smocks and took about a 45 min tour. We finished where we started and did some sample tastings including "live" beer which is basically unfiltered an unpasteurized. Then we went to the company store for a chance to purchase any of their products. I bought a few interesting beers as well as some Kvas (a very low alcohol, fizzy fruity drink) and some canned sparkling wines.

Saturday Jodi, John , Nae and myself went to two different flea markets. It was snowing pretty hard but that stops nothing here. We wandered the rows of fur hats and trinkets and then ate kabobs in the cold. I am sure we will return to this place.



More photos on the link to the right ( Craig and Renee" photos)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Things of Ice Sculpture and Broom Ball

During the last days of our holiday break we took a bit of a stroll down by the White House looking for a fabric store we had heard about so Renee could check it out. We found it without too much trouble after seeing some families sliding down an iced sidewalk in the park. They sure were having fun. We found a discount store that we wandered through and then headed for the Moscow River. It was just a short walk but it was on the other side of a major road so better photos will have to wait. We did spot what we thought to be a Mexican restaurant and will most likely be returning to check it out.
That evening we boarded the Metro with friends and headed to "Propaganda Park"(not the real name but I cannot pronounce or spell the real one), where a Ice Sculpture display was. There were many well done items including a space shuttle complete with slide. The Space Obelisk marking Yuriy Gagarin's first space flight is close by.

I also just attended my first Broom Ball game. John and I traveled to the German Embassy where they flood the tennis courts and make the rink. It is much like hockey with no skates. They use a rubber ball and small hook like sticks. Our friend Jodi was playing in her first game and she did well.... to stay on her feet!. The video clip describes it better then I can.


video


Don't forget to see more pictures by clicking the"Craig and Renee's photos" link on the right

Friday, January 7, 2011

A walk in the Sun and Red Square at night


The Sun has been making an appearance over the last few days and we have proof! Nae and I took a morning walk for some Sun and to stop by Moscow Harley Davidson. It's not a big store but there were maybe a dozen bikes there some new and some used. One of the Orange County Choppers theme bikes was there, the Spider bike from an early show. I bought the most expensive T shirt I will ever buy and finished our walk. One fun fact: The folks there spoke a little English but knew exactly what a Shovelhead was!

We got an invitation from new friends Mike and Sara to go to Red Square at night with them. This time we took the Metro. We all had been craving a good burger and Mike had a place for us to try called Burgermeisters. Great burger but very pricey. Red Square is very festive right now and a good time was had by all.

More photos at:

http://www.picasaweb.google.com/hairynleggz

Monday, January 3, 2011

Walk to Red Square 1-2-11


Renee and I decided to take the hike to Red Square. It was twice as far as we have walked so far and walking in the slush makes it seem a bit further. We cut through a lot of side streets and saw numerous other embassies. We arrived at Red Square (which is much like the National mall in DC but no pond) and wandered the North area. We visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and watched the changing of the guards. We checked out the food court to find the bathrooms which seem to be few and far between. Cost 20 rubbles (66 cents) but well worth it. We wandered a bit then ended up in Red Square proper where the big Christmas tree and skating rink are. We wandered and took pictures and then cut through the famous GUM department store. Huge to say the least and very fancy. Then we started home by just guessing direction. We passed the Bolshoy and wandered home spotting the Greek Consulate on the way back and took a photo for Larry. Another great day of exploring!

http://www.picasaweb.google.com/hairynleggz

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Years Day 2011

Renee an I headed out a little before lunch on New Years day. Not sure how far we walked but we were gone several hours. We were up a bit late hanging out in Uncle Sam's Bar on the Embassy grounds. A group of about 15 of us brought in the New Year. As we left there were hundreds of fireworks going off and Dice was a basket case. Our first New Year in Russia was uneventful. We were told Red Square is like Time Square on steroids and to stay away from there for now.

Now to the walk. As we left the South entrance the Sun was actually poking through and the wind was calm. We could see a lot of buildings that are normally shrouded by snow and clouds. We walked East by the Old Embassy then South to the next major intersection taking in thesites. As we walked along the Novyy Arbat we saw the big Lotta Hotel, passed a Dunkin Donouts shop and a Chilies that will opening soon. There was an IMAX theater and a TGY Fridays. We found a grocery store where we picked up some milk and honey (that sounded strange) and then headed back.
Check out the photos of the walks.
Picasaweb.google.com/hairynleggz