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Memories of cold and snow - Moscow Life,  January-March 2003

January - March 2003

    This story has a nice and round number 50 in this project that started more than 8 years ago. Frankly speaking, the numbers sound frightening. Eight years by the Net standards means almost eternity. The landscape of the Internet has changed dramatically, digital imaging technology has improved beyond the wildest dreams. Instead of relatively rare slow color scanners we use now digital cameras with perfect quality - and available in shops at every corner.
...It's a bit funny - and somehow sad at the same time - to look back at all the years and pictures taken over them.

"Tower-2000" business center in a fog of Moscow winter night

    But I'm still here, and the stories are too, even if not always in accord with the schedule. Last time I posted a story about summer time in December. Now, when first green leaves of May-2003 decorate the trees, I offer you a few winter photos. Yes, it looks crazy - once more I promise to do my best to catch up and the next time to show more timely pictures :-) .

    Moscow and Russia have also been through changes and challenges. It makes sense, perhaps, to compile a story about these news, changes, and differences. Something like the picture you can see on the right: a new business center in the cold haze of winter that looks almost like an alien spaceship ready for launch at the banks of Moskva river. But not today. Winter is a time when things freeze, and the time, too. We'll mostly look here at the places that preserve look and feel of the ancient times.

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.

A bell tower in a Suzdal museum - a chance to listen to not noly official Orthodox melodies Inside one of Suzdal monasteries Landmarks of ancient Vladimir

XIX century tower in Vladimir, now a museum and a wonderful observation point
   The best place to see how perfectly traditional Russian architecture matches colors and shades of Russian winter is the area of Vladimir and Suzdal. These old Russian cities are located close to each other and it takes only 2 1/2 hours to drive there from Moscow (or one can choose a comfortable tourist bus when drinking and sightseeing is easier to combine). A nice weekend idea, popular among both native Muscovites and visitors: leave for Vladimir early on Saturday, enjoy the countryside landscapes for some time, spend the afternoon in Vladimir and stay overnight there. Next day, Suzdal and the trip back home.

View from steep river banks of Vladimir The Cathedral of the Assumption (Uspensky sobor) in Vladimir
    Here you feel the flavor of XII century, the time when Tartars invaded Russia, then a land of fragmented principalities, not densely populated, but with amazing architecture of white stone churches and cathedrals. Vladimir and around is the rare enough area where some of these landmarks survived through the centuries.

   The Cathedral of the Assumption (Uspensky sobor) is still the dominant part of the city's skyline. It sits on a steep river bank - when you are near it, you can enjoy not only the masterpiece of the old architecture - but also fantastic views of the land around, stretching far and flat.

The Church of Intersession on Nerl, a miracle of genuine ancient beauty The Church of Intersession after sunset in winter
   The Church of Intercession on Nerl is frequently described as a gem of old Russian architecture. It deserves this - and any other excited comment. Almost the same as nine centuries ago, it sits in the low fields a few miles from Vladimir. Here you see, feel, and almost touch the harmony between the nature, the lone building, and yourself. It looks strong and fragile at the same time, a magic combination. It's beauty is overwhelming at all times and all seasons - but different every hour. Look at the two pictures made right after winter sunset. Not the best time to enjoy the architecture, theoretically, but this particular church breaks the rules.

A typical Suzdal view. Wherever you stand, whatever direction you look Museum of wooden architecture in Suzdal
   Suzdal is famous not for only quality of the monuments it includes - but also for their concentration. In a small town there are several monasteries, lots of museums, and endless churches, domes, onions, bell-towers. Founded in 1024, the city has seen too much to get nervous about anything nowadays. The place is truly special: a tourist attraction that has all the means to attract people; you can learn here a lot, you can watch here a lot - or you can simply have here lots of fun without historical excursions.

Not a frequent road sign in Russia - but in Suzdal it does belong
Walls and towers remind of dangerous times
These songs sound like nowhere else
   Suzdal is compact and cozy - between breakfast and lunch you can cross it several time on feet and never even think about other means of transportation. Rolling fields around and a surfeit of monasteries radiate calmness we all miss in big cities. A very important feature of Suzdal is that the Russian Orthodox Church so far failed to garb all the monasteries - there are wonderful museums in them. The result is - you can feel and even hear old lifestyle, not just the history of the Church and religious hymns.

Snowmobile racers go to the track Special race for the little ones We are glad we rent this beast for our team

Huskies ready to run and to pull us through a sunny winter day
Here they go!
   But enough sightseeing - of course we like to spend a weekend in a historical place sometimes - but not every week, thanks! There are other ways to relax after a busy week, to get some fresh air and adrenalin for those who feel they need it. Snowmobiles are getting more and more popular in Russia every winter. Extreme Park near Moscow not only hosts spectacular competitions of professional racers, but gives everyone a chance to try out this machine. Bring your own with you or rent it here for an hour. In any case you'll have your winter fun. All our office team spent a Sunday at Extreme Park and we loved every minute of it.

   Most of all we loved it, when after noisy and powerful motorized devices we tried huskies… That's the way to move fast on the snow sitting in a comfortable sledge and listening to sounds of snow and breathing of dogs. And the dogs themselves are so friendly!

Modern apartment blocks reflect in a frozen pond Winter fishing: a hobby for some, food supply for others Downhill skiing in a residential area, Krylatskoe

   And finally, a few random pictures of Moscow with no special story behind. People fishing and skiing, new apartment blocks of slightly irregular shape that is now in fashion… Just a few glimpses of the city while I walk under the cold sun.

A walking covered bridge shines across Moskva River Small and fast rivers near Moscow are not frozen even in cold months Villages covered with snow

Moscow park in a winter snowfall
   Well - not only pictures taken inside the city limits are on the last screen of this story. Moscow bridge covered with shining snow looks interesting next to a small river some 20 miles out of Moscow. Winter sun and winter light play tricks with the landscape: a park may look like a deep forest, and a regular house in a village reminds of a fairy tale. It's all about winter: the time to tell stories by the fireplace.

   See you soon again at these pages - with a new story about warmer days and pleasures of spring and summer.


Andrey - asebrant@online.ru


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