Sunday, October 7, 2012

Summer Recap

We have had an active summer.  It all started with`a late April trip to Crete.  Then we spent 4 days in Istanbul.  The last big trip was to Scotland.  This trip was 40 years in the making.  The weather was typical but it did not matter.  We visited Edinburgh, Braemar, Ft Williams, Skye and the Clan home Finlaystone.  We had a great visit with Chief George and enjoyed the gardens.  On our way back to London we stopped by St. Andrews and Ruby Bay.  We had a 80 degree clear day to see the sites in London.  The flight home was delayed so we missed connections and stopped in a few unexpected places, but we made it.  Luggage followed a few days later.

We were joined on this trip by Big Sis Alyson and her husband Richard.  They followed us back to Russia to spend some time here and then a 4 day trip to St. Petersburg.  We really enjoyed traveling together and I think we all had a memorable tip.

Lots of photos being posted on the Picasa site with more to follow.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Photos of Istanbul now posted!


Friday, July 6, 2012

Summer of travel....

I've been terrible at keeping the blog up so I will try to enlighten everyone with the Summer happenings.  Our good friends John and Jodi departed post early in the year.  We will have to see their new addition to the family before he goes off to college.  A big downer of this type of work is having friend leave.  This will be a constant happening this summer as contracts end.  But new faces are arriving everyday with that deer in the headlights look.

The band has play several gigs at the Marine bar and Uncle Sam's bar this year.  We seem to be playing well together but are losing several original members.  One of the highlights was the St Patrick's Day gig.

Late April Renee and I traveled with friends Mike and Kai to Crete.  We had a great time taking in old ruins, a family vinard, Via Beach and some back roads most tourists never travel.  A nice stay at the Knossos Beach Bungalows with several trips to a local restaurant owned by self proclaimed Tom Cruise.

Just recently we traveled to Istanbul Turkey.  This was a much busier trip with lots of activity.  Seeing the ancient sites, shopping the Grand Bazaar and The Spice Market and cruising the Bosporus.  Photos coming soon.

The summer is really just getting warm and we've spent some time riding bikes and Cooking on the grill.  There has been a lot of overtime the last bit, all the good to pay for an upcoming trip to Scotland with Sister Alyson and her Hubby

Thursday, January 5, 2012

R and R

The first year of our contract is now done and that brought our first R and R trip. We decide some time ago to go to the States for a month and in particular to spend a promised Christmas with one Grand daughter, Lilly. We left Moscow on Thanksgiving day and arrived in Jacksonville later, much later, that day. We spent the night and part of the next day with brother Duncan and his family. We then headed to Dowling Park in a borrowed truck to spend an extended weekend with Mom and Dad Bell. Older sister Alyson and her hubby Richard arrived on Saturday. We had a wonderful visit and were sad to leave. We spent an extra day with Dunc and Kim on our way back through.

Off to OKC to spend a couple of weeks with Renee's family. Seems we were never stopped with visits, doctor, dentist, chiropractor, eye exams, CPA, storage shed.....
We got to see just about everyone and wished we had additional time with with everyone. I even had a chance to take the Sporty out for a spin.

On the 19th of December we flew to Seattle for the week. Shaun and Britty both live there now so it made visiting easy. We spent some wonderful time with little Lilly Bug.

After a day back in Oklahoma we hit the plane on Christmas morning to go back to Moscow. Flights were mostly uneventful and we actually got in an hour early.

One of the things I forgot to mention in the last post was a quick trip to Finland. It was actually Embassy related and a good excuse to get away. The trip took me through St. Petersburg but did not get much time there. Like Helsinki, just enough to want to go back.

Looks like the photo situation has been solved so lots to catch up on: or the link on the right.

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

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!