We have safely arrived from Geneva, both very tired (both of us had to get up at 5am). I am quickly having to learn the Cyrillic alphabet and a few words I can start recognizing (already knowing German, French and English is a big help -Russian, despite the different alphabet is a very much European language).
We found a bank to change money. Very well organized, very private booths for each customer, with a ticket system and large comfortable waiting room. Russian banking is way ahead of consumer banking than even Geneva, quite the surprise. Such a pleasant surprise from my memories of the Socialist paradise I saw in Bratislava in 1981.
The weather was wet enough to go out with the umbrella. and discover that the streets and sidewalks have no camber, making large puddles all over. Trying to keep one’s feet dry is a real challenge. Now I know why people spend so much on shoes :-)
From the canal we walked to Red Square, saw the Kremlin but it was too late to invite Mr. Lavrov or Mr. Putin for tea. We will have to invite them another time. There was a projection onto the walls of one of the nearby buildings, in preparation for the May 9th Victory celebrations.
Impressive computer graphics, and sound system. Very creative and competent technically, do not have to envy Hollywood.
I was overwhelmed by all the monuments to the soldiers that had died in WW2. The Partisan metro station is a memorial monument, with many sculptures. There is one, a soldier with a dog at his side. It is quite funny, compared to all the others. The dog’s nose is a bright shiny bronze from all the passersby touching its nose. It seems the dog brings out some very strong emotions, more than the sculptures of various heroic men and women. Perhaps a statement of the times? It is a true indicator of the power of art, to bring out the positive emotions from so many people. Both men and women would pat the dog sculpture as they passed by, it was almost a fetish for some.
Tomorrow it will be jeans and running shoes to continue the visit. The distances are considerable and there seems to be so much worth seeing.
The weather should be much warmer tomorrow, about 20 Celsius. It is very difficult to decide on how to dress at this time of year. We can report the first flowers in the park next to the Kremlin. The trees are just beginning to open their buds after a long winter sleep. The sense of spring is in the air. A few young women dare to go out wearing skirts and stockings, attracting admiring looks from young and old men alike.
Young men and women seem to prefer wearing jeans, with the pre-worn look. The women prefer tight-fitting to show their form. Most of the women have a long hair style, either drawn back or braided, with a refined makeup showing a great attention to detail. In contrast the men pay much less attention to their clothing and looks, often with ill fitting clothes and a five o’clock shadow, with a tired face after a
long day working somewhere. Noticeably absent was the smell of day old sweat when entering the metro. Personal hygiene for Russian men and women is a pleasure to experience on the metro at rush-hour – no bad smells, certainly a pleasant surprise from a number of other places I have been (no naming and shaming today).
There are still a few homeless people in a sorry state at the inside to the metro entrances. A few people panhandling to get enough for their next drink or whatever. No bums living in cardboard boxes under the bridges as in London though, thank goodness.
Thanks and best wishes