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When winter slowly comes in... October - December 2003

October-December 2003

    This time I'll try to post here fresh winter pictures before the cold season is over and we are again facing colorful beauties of springtime. I do realize that it looks a bit weird to offer "Summertime fun" as the latest update in the middle of winter when I should be demonstrating famous Russian snow and cold.

Russian beauty in love with snowflakes
    However, the weather is getting less predictable and less matching traditional patterns. The snow starts falling in early in October instead of November, but it does not stay, washed away by the November rainfalls (and they are not supposed to exist, actually). The net result is that poor Moscow skiers have to wait until the last weeks of the year to open their season... But when the snow finally comes to mark the real winter, people are happy. And watch the overcast low skies smiling with happiness.

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.

Fishing among the beautiful landscapes Belltower in the middle of a reservoir, memory of old Uglich A street of Myshkin: past that lasts

Museum of old folklore, myths, and tales in Uglich is loved by visiting school students
Valenok that is a mouse - a true symbol of the town of Myshkin
   The time when summer heat is over but drizzles and winter cold are still far away are just perfect for lazy visits to places around Moscow. Banks of reservoirs, overcrowded and smelling of endless shishkebob stands in summer, now are clear, empty, and decorated with autumn colors of leaves.

   Most interesting and spectacular places are located north of Moscow. For example, famous Golden Ring of Russia all sits up there. But that's a well-known tourist attraction, while the most interesting discoveries are waiting off the beaten paths and roads. If you drive through well-known Sergiev Posad and keep going northwest, in a few hours you'll arrive to Uglich, an old Russian city on the banks of Volga river. The city itself is not very spectacular, most of its architectural treasures were destroyed after the revolution when a big reservoir covered most of the ancient city area with Volga waters. The bell-tower in the middle of still waters reminds of the days and places that are gone forever.

   Before leaving Uglich for the hidden treasures of Myshkin, you may want to visit the place recently opened but already attracting lots of young students from almost all Russia. It's a museum of folklore and tales - and here you will see all these starnage characters: from living corpses to mermaids and fortune-tellers...

Historical gear of local firemen in a museum of Myshkin Pre-WW II Russian truck from Myshkin museum A purse made of a valenok

View of Volga river from the banks of Myshkin
No bridges in Myshkin. only a local ferry - and my good old gray Hyudai on it
   Myshkin is worth all the hours and troubles of getting there (by the way, it has its own website with an English page, if you are interested). One of the smallest Russian towns, with population of only a few thousand, the place lives its quiet and traditional life - and makes its lifestyle open and visible to a visitor. Simple walk through its streets tells more about Russian history than some other museums - but at the same time Myshkin offers unique museums you will find nowhere else.

   The most popular is the Museum of Mouse (the name of Myshkin is derived from a Russian word mysh that means mouse). Hundreds of man-made mice from around the planet do look impressive… But the real jewel is the local historical museum where enthusiasts have collected items of different centuries, decades and walks of life. Old firemen's gear and hand-made glass, pottery and weapons, clothes and toys… Every single thing show how much people of Myshkin love their land and their history.

   And, finally, you will enjoy the museum of valenok, a unique Russian winter footwear made of heavy felt-like substance produced from sheep wool. It's very practical - but in the museum a visitor will see that valenok may be the not just a utility, but a piece of art - if creative mind and hands are applied. All of sudden a trivial valenok becomes a fashionable purse, or a statue, or a toy, or a wall decoration.

Magic light of the fall illuminates old suburb parks And then unexpectedly October snowfall overnight makes Moscow a winter city
   But let's gat back to Moscow and its nearest suburbs. On October weekend the low sun shines through bare branches of old trees and makes quiet parks slightly unreal. And then, one night a heavy snowfall starts and magically transforms dark paths into winter corridors filled with blue crisp light.

   Fortunately, there are plenty of places in Moscow - or very close to it - where one can enjoy the beauty of first winter decorations, strange shapes of ice, snow and cold hazy air.

In a few moments the train will leave Moscow to the bluish twilight of its suburbs Stange ice abstract art of the first days of winter Biserovo lake near Moscow after the first night frosts

A limo takes newlyweds to Vorobievy Hills overlooking Moscow
They come here to take first pictures of their family life and to drink some champaign
   First intense cold has no effect on hot feelings. Weddings happen every weekend, and thousands of happy newlywed couples accompanied with their friends make hazy and short days brighter. Vorobievy (former Lenin) hills are a popular place where the freshly born families come in all seasons. They do not care about matreshkas around, these souvenirs are for guests of the city who also like to come to this point overlooking the city. Young end happy are occupied with each other - but we can stop here for a minute and look around. Views from the observation point are what you may call Moscow at a glance - and are wonderful at any time of day. You may have seen them on some other websites and postcards - but I will dare to repeat them. They are worth watching again and again...

Sun spotlights Moscow center - as seen from Vorobievy Hills Evening Moscow lights from Vorobievy Hills Turn around and watch the building of Moscow State University - do not confuse it with a Mormon temple :-)

Chair lift can bring you from the top of Vorobievy Hills to the banks of Moskva river
Downhill skiers open here the season with the first snow
   In winter, Vorobievy Hills also become a sports center. Quite a few Muscovites traditionally open here their downhill season. Recently a nice chair lift was built - and it serves not only sportsmen, but anyone who is lazy to go down and up the steep bank to the river and back. A nice feature for the tourists coming to take a look of Moscow!

   Okay, time to finish the story, the last one of the year of 2003. Three pictures in a row below are, as often on my pages, a random selection. In the first misty one you see a place some 90 kilometers south of Moscow where the Moskva river ends by joining the Oka river. Not a very charming place, actually, since it is located on an industrial outskirts of Kolomna city… Still, it's somewhat interesting. Then you see a typical photo of a winter Moscow park on a weekend: fun for everyone :-)

   And, finally, one more photo from the skiing slopes - at this one, 50 kilometers north of Moscow, we were meeting New Year of 2004 on the night of December 31. There are no mountains around Moscow - but lots of locations for skiing, because we really love that winter activity!

The last meters of Moskva river - here it joins waters with Oka Take sledges, or skis, or swim in the icy water if you want New Year night on the slopes of Volen ski park

   See you soon again at these pages! First sory of the year 2004 is already available.

Andrey - asebrant@online.ru

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