Monday, May 23, 2011
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!
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
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
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.
Lots of photos here