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Moscow, June-August, 2000Summer'2000 is leaving Moscow. This year the season was relatively comfortable for us poor guys who had to work through the summer. No too muggy (most of the time), not too hot.
In a sense, this summer was perhaps the most regular and normal in years - if we forget about disasters, but it turns out we got used to them. Endless political storms of Yeltsin times ceased to be severe now under Putin, and they rock only a few boats with top political players. For the first time in years we were just living, well or not so well, but living - not struggling, not fearfully expecting a major turmoil.
That's why this my posting will be just a photo album with comments rather than a long illustrated story with some idea or plot in it. Let me present random pictures of Moscow life - life within the city. Next feature, coming really soon, will tell about the countryside: the dacha again and new bike trails through the woods, sunflower fields and forest strawberries. In short, let me show you a peaceful summer.
Where do we start? Offices are so much alike all over the world that any one of them is hardly a good starting point. Of course a birthday party is a nice interruption of a routine job at the keyboard (relax, it's after hours), and good light wine is perfect for the season (one of the nice changes in Moscow stores, best genuine Georgian or Moldavian wines now fill up the shelves). Well, let us go out. Into the streets where even trolley buses are joyfully painted as juice packs, right for the season.
As always in my stories here, you can zoom in on any picture. Just click on an image and a larger and better quality photo will open. Many of the photos are worth looking at in postcard size.
Water feels, looks and sounds wonderful in a summer city. I do not mean the rains - though they are also welcome after drying heat. Still, now I am talking fountains. Not for the first time in my stories - but there are enough of them to let me take new pictures every year. And enough for the kids to frolic in and around.
Of course there is also Moskva river. Every year I tell guests of our city that the best and most pleasant way to look at the city is taking a boat ride. This year along with standard boats one can enjoy a copy of an ancient Russian strug. It does not go far, but is fun.
On the first September weekend we are supposed to watch an interesting engineering show on the river. Last year, one of the old railway bridges was moved half a mile along the river and converted into an overpass for the visitors walking to Gorky Park. That walkway over the river was opened on September 3, 1999. Precisely a year after, on September 3, 2000, another bridge, the twin of that already moved, will change its location. A huge and heavy metal bridge majestically going up the river is something truly spectacular - I expect quite a few people on the embankments along its way watching the performance. The photos below show the preparations. One of the most professional construction teams in Moscow is working on the project.
At the location where the first traveling bridge was once sitting, now a new one is under construction, and Moscow motorists are looking forward to see it ready. Traffic is getting worse by the day, and the new wide ring road inside the city may slightly shorten the jams. It looks like not only drivers want wide and empty streets, horseback riders also evidently enjoy the already opened parts of "The third ring", particularly on a weekend, when many Muscovites disappear from the city.
Speaking of a weekend. In the next my report you will see pictures of how Muscovites enjoy the countryside around the city. Here, we stay in Moscow even if it's a bit hot and uncomfortable. Are there any options besides horseback riding? Sure! There are enough quiet and green places in the city to walk or to ride whatever you like riding: bike, or skateboard, or rollers, or... well, it's up to you!
...Yes, beer festival (the picture on the right in the row above) is an option too... It was serving endless mugs of beer and variety of snacks for almost a week. A large area in the Luzhniki was full of kiosks, stands and long tables. All sorts of roasted meet, shish-kebobs, prickles and fresh vegetables were consumed by thousands of beer enthusiasts tired by the sun and city heat. I must admit, that for some time I joined the crowds and spend some nice minutes tasting Baltika brewed especially for the event.
Showing pictures of Moscow to foreigners on these pages I should perhaps post a few photos of tourist attractions in the central Moscow that every visitor remembers. Here they are for you - reminders of the city you maybe once visited...
Along with the churches and cathedrals everyone sees in Moscow (Cathedral of Christ the Savior, St. Basil, Kremlin cathedrals) there are other places located off the beaten tourist path and giving much more adequate idea of Russian Orthodox Church and its flock. Donskoy Monastery is definitely one of them - and in fact it takes less than half an hour to get there from the Red Square. That’s the place where one see the only genuine fragments of the old, real Cathedral of Christ the Savior and feel the old cemetery where many famous families of the old Russia are buried. Now only very few selected people closely related to the Monastery may count on resting here.
For most Muscovites the end of their lives means moving from an apartment block in a bedroom community to a columbarium block, a sort of dorm for the ashes... The space is expensive in and around the big cities, and the piece of land for a grave, too.
But we are alive so far, and fortunately there was no need for me this summer to attend any funerals. So after a solemn walk in the monastery yard a good move would be to visit a restaurant for a nice food and maybe even good music. The choice is wide, I have alredy mentioned in the stories posted here a large boat converted to a restaurant, now you can look at the tram serving the same purpose. Lots of less pretentious places can now be found all over the city, from Sbarro Moscow chain to endless cozy basements of old Moscow houses. All sorts of cuisine or music styles (and prices, too!) meet the expectations of very diverse Moscow population (and guests of the city too).
Sit on a terrace or on a roof, enjoy the view or the sound (and, of course, the menu). Most of all, enjoy the company, dining out is the way to please the soul more than stomach. Well, at least that is my viewpoint, so perhaps I fail to pass a gourmet test. Anyway. Good dinner becomes a part of Moscow weekend, and then it is the question of your preferences and tastes. Do it at home, at the friends’ or in a restaurant - whatever you like better.
The story is getting too long. And is hardly as random as I promised above. Good time to show few more pictures and finish it.
Just a few glimpses of a big city, mixture of styles and paces, busy haste and strange meetings…
It’s getting late. Time to go home, and there open the door to the balcony, turn the music volume in the living room higher and stand for a while looking at the peaceful scenery below, foliage and windows in the twilight. The music blends perfectly with the evening sounds of a small street - hissing of tires, occasional laughter, shouts of playing kids.
Two more sips of the last drink today - and time to get back to the keyboard and monitor, to type and upload the next story. I have promised that the next story, the one about summer out of the city will follow soon - and I am going to keep the promise. (Hey, here is the update - the promised story is already available - Aug.23.2000!) The pictures are ready, and fortunately there are fewer of them than here so the next story will not be as horribly long as this one.
... I like playing with all these modern high-tech toys - and recently get more and more opportunities to do it where I like it most, right in the city of which I keep telling you stories year by year by year... So it is small surprise I like this portrait of myself taken a few weeks ago ;-)
Andrey - firstname.lastname@example.org
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