Why you should walk down Varvarka, the oldest church filled street in Moscow

Ulitsa Varvarka, inthe South-African language of Afrikaans, this would mean street pig. So naturally when I read this I just had to go down this street. The street is just around the corner from the Red Square and I ended up visiting this steeet more than once during my stay in Moscow. Here is why you should walk down this street.

  1. Varvarka Street was once the dwelling place of the artisans who sold their wares on the Red Square and holds a claim to being the oldest street in Moscow. Although this street is very short, it actually has the most churches of any street in the city. It took us some time walking down it and exploring all the churches on our way. Some of these old churches are hidden down alley ways or behind other newer buildings and you can see that most are in the middle of being restored.

If you visit in spring or summer you have to buy a glass of ice cold kvass from one of the small carts in front of the Red Square. Kvass is a fermented drink made from black rye bread which makes the drink black. It is classified as non-alcoholic by Russian standards because the alcohol content is between 0.5 and 1%.

2. Ulitsa Varvarka takes its name from the Church of St. Varavara. St. Varvara, who was killed by her father for her Christian beliefs somewhere in Asia Minor around the beginning of the 4th century, is considered in Moscow to be the patron saint of merchants. Next to the church is the English Court, which was originally a palace built for the wealthy merchant Bobrishchev and is one of the oldest buildings in Moscow.

3. The Church of St. Maksim whos bell tower is famous in Moscow for being visibly off-center. It is known as the city’s ‘leaning tower’. I think this is a stunning church but we couldn’t go inside, it is locked up and not in use any more. It’s sad but at least they have restored the outside, it looked like they were working on the inside though. Most churches and Cathedrals in Moscow are undergoing restoration after they were left unused during communism.

4. The next section of the street is linked with the Romanov family, Russia’s rulers for three centuries. Before Mikhail I was elected Tsar by the Boyars’ Assembly in 1613, the family had long been prominent Moscow aristocrats, and this area was their domain. After the family moved into the Kremlin, the area was given over to the Znamensky Monastery.

5. Znamensky Monastery home of the first printed bible in Moscow.The most noticeable feature is the monastery’s red-and-white bell tower which is separated from the rest of the monastery by the Rossia’s elevated ramp. The monastic quarters, which stand by the monastery’s main entrance, date from the 1670s and are now used as a shop selling Orthodox icons and religious souvenirs and worth a quick snoop.

6. Visit the Palace of the Romanov Boyars which now houses a museum showing the lifestyle of Moscow’s medieval nobility. Next door is the Cathedral of the Sign, a large brown-brick church topped with four green domes, which was erected in 1684. Unfortunately this church has been locked every time I have tried to go inside which is a shame as these old churches are extremely beautiful.

7. The Church of St. George stands, which dates from 1657, was built with contributions from wealthy merchants. This pretty church with its slender towers and spangled cupolas is typical of the period. The pale green bell tower was added in 1818. The church now houses another shop selling icons and Orthodox souvenirs. It seems like every church or Cathedral in Moscow has a small shop inside selling religious goods.

8. The hiddeen 17th century Church of the Trinity in Nikitniki .Situated between modern buildings down an alley way it has been beautifully restored and is now a working church again after being turned into a museum during communism. We were lucky enough to attend a short part of a service when we went for a look inside. There are no seats inside, everyone stands for the whole duration of the service so you constantly have people entering and leaving during the service.

It’s amazing how many treasures you can find walking down one short street in Moscow.

Published as part of Throwback Thursday,  a weekly reminiscent movement where you re-post past events or photos. They can be from years ago or from just a few days ago. Its a great way to look back fondly on some of your favourite memories…… 

Tsaritsyno, Catherine the Greats’ Park in Moscow

I think there is no better way to spend your summer mornings in Moscow than walking around and enjoying the sunshine and the many parks it has to offer. The parks were all filled with brightly coloured flowers and loads of people out to soak up the sunshine.

As I entered the park the smell of flowers and the sound of the big water fountains gave it an eerily tranquil feel even though the park was filled with people.

As I entered the park the smell of flowers and the sound of the big water fountains gave it an eerily tranquil feel even though the park was filled with people.
The huge fountain found near the entrance of the park

In 1775, the estate was bought by Empress Catherine the Great, and named Tsaritsyno, which means “Tsarina’s” (Queens). In 1776-85 architect Vasili Bazhenov built a new palace for the Empress here, but in 1786 Catherine ordered it to be partly pulled down.

Until 1797 architect Matvey Kazakov was working on the construction, but the palace remained unfinished. The palace was then left in ruins but restored in 1984 and is now a very popular tourist attraction.

Tsaritsyno, Catherine the Greats’ Park in Moscow
Standing in front of the Grand Palace

As we crossed the bridge and walked through a beautiful archway to enter the palace grounds there was a tiny blue church. The little church was quite plain on the outside but true to Russia it was filled with gold and icons on the inside.

Tsaritsyno Park and Estate is located in the South-East of Moscow and I couldn’t believe we were still in the city after we entered the park. It was quiet and peaceful, a quiet haven away from the busy city. While I can’t say much about that neighborhood, the park itself is a real beauty with a rich historic legacy. I would advise packing a picknic as walking through the Palace grounds can take quite a while and the park is a beautiful place to spend a whole day.

We had a stroll through the huge park, all around the lake and then sat down on a lovely grassy spot for the afternoon. We had packed a picnic and enjoyed the sunny day by having some Russian vodka and blowing bubbles!

I just love watching and feeding squirrels. But I am always a bit scared to get too close, what if it actually bites?

  Published as part of Throwback Thursday. It is a weekly reminiscent movement where you re-post past events or photos. They can be from years ago or from just a few days ago. Its a great way to look back fondly on some of your favorite memories…… 

Weekly photo challenge: Transformation through Seasons

It is true that Nature is notoriously inconstant and often comes to mind when I hear the word transformation. The transformation of Nature through the seasons in Russia is marked quite drastically and each has its own magic.

Seasonal change is, on the surface, marked by loss: the fall of spent flower blossoms in summer, the loss of leaves from trees in autumn, the final snowmelt in spring. But all of these changes mark a transformation.

Here are four photos depicting the transformation that takes place in Russia as the seasons change:

You know it is winter when…

Winter in Moscow is ice-cold and the perfect time to build a snow man!

…the whole world outside is covered in snow and looks like a fairy wonderland!!

When your days get short and gloomy, filled with cold ice winds it is the beauty of everything covered in snow that makes it bearable.

You know it is spring when…

Tulips are found all over Moscow in spring time!

….all the parks in Russia is filled with tulips and colour.

You know it is summer when…

Summer is hot and beautiful in Russia

….the fountains in the parks are turned on and you would rather be sitting in it than looking at it!!

You know it is autumn/fall when…

Autumn in Russia is rainy and cold but the colours of autumn are so warm

….the leaves all turn orange and you suddenly need a scarf and hat against the icy wind that start blowing all over Russia.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Temporary Tulips in Moscow

Winters in Moscow are harsh and very long, but knowing that they are only temporary makes them bearable. You know Winter is over as soon as the first tulips start appearing all over the city.

I love how the city explodes in colour after the long cold winter!

All the parks and flower beds all over the city is covered in bright tulips come spring time!! These tulips are also just temporary and would soon be replaced by other flowers.

Wordless Wednesday: Donskoy Cemetary

When burials in central Moscow were banned after the 1771 plague, the Donskoy Monastery became a graveyard for the nobility, and it is littered with elaborate tombs and chapels.

 

Seven Orthodox cemeteries were established around the city, and the Donskoy Cemetery became the most prestigious. Among the great families that began to use the cemetery were the princes Golitsyn and Zubov, who built private chapels – the Alexander Svirsky Church and the Archangel Church respectively – within the grounds of the monastery.

 

The monastery’s hospital became the city’s first crematorium, and a branch of the Shchusev Architectural Museum was established at the monastery to house (in semi-secret) sculptures and ornaments from destroyed churches.

Wordless Wednesday: Moscow Monastery

One of my favourite Monasteries to spend summer afternoons at was the Donskoy Monastery. It is Moscow‘s youngest and was founded in 1591 as the home of the Virgin of the Don icon.

Most of the monastery, surrounded by a brick wall with 12 towers, was built between 1684 and 1733 under Regent Sofia and Peter the Great.

Published as part of Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday: Donskoy Cemetary

Donskoy Cemetary
Donskoy Cemetary

Published as part of Wordless Wednesday

Donskoy Cemetary
Donskoy Cemetary

Wordless Wednesday: Donskoy Monastery

Published as part of Wordless Wednesday

Monasteries and Churches of Moscow

Moscow is a city that draws in flocks of visitors each year with its culture, its history, and its beauty. The best of Moscow‘s beauty can be seen in the stunning churches and graceful cathedrals that are dotted among modern skyscrapers and apartment blocks in the city’s iconic skyline. There are so many different churches in Moscow that you could visit one each day and not have seen them all within 3 years. Walking along the  Moskva River there are a couple of monasteries, nunneries and churches that were part of the cities outer defenses.

The architecture of these religious buildings exhibits a variety of styles: from traditional Russian, to lavish Italian Renaissance, to Moscow’s own take on Baroque.

Some of these structures date back to 1645 and sadly is in chronic need of restoration. But they are still beautiful, each with its own charm. Even though they are in need of repair, most of these buildings are still being used, and are slowly being restored to their former glory.

Throwback Thursday: Cathedrals of the Red Square

As you enter the Red Square and just before you walk through the Resurrection Gate there is this super tiny Iberian Chapel.

The Iberian Chapel is a tiny little chapel, no bigger than a small room where royalty used to pray before entering through the gate. It was locked and I dont know if it is open to the public at any time.

As I entered the Square through the Resurrection Gate, the Kazan Cathedral was right on my left. This is small but charming Cathedral that was built in the 17th century and is painted an ice-cream pink colour.

Kazan Cathedral just as you enter the Red Square
Kazan Cathedral just as you enter the Red Square

The building is a small square topped with a cluster of domes and encircled by a gallery. In the one corner there is a bell-tower, and has luck would have it the bells started ringing just before I entered. The cathedral is still in use today so you are not allowed to take any pictures inside. This doesn’t bother me as I always feel uncomfortable taking pictures inside churches.

Entering the small cathedral I had to cover my head as a sign of respect. I learned quickly to carry a head scarf with me in Moscow whenever I went church or monastery hunting. Inside the church I was greeted by incense and lit candles, people were standing around praying in front of all the gold and wood icons that adorn the church. I stood around watching and then followed their example by buying my little candle and lighting it in front of the icon of St. Christopher, the patron saint of travelers.

I love sitting in churches and looking at all the icons, smelling the incense and just enjoying the peaceful atmosphere. In this little church there were no benches though as the people stand during services so I stood around for a while just observing the people.

  Throwback Thursday, is a weekly reminiscent movement where you re-post past events or photos. They can be from years ago or from just a few days ago. Its a great way to look back fondly on some of your favorite memories…… 

Kazan Cathedral
Kazan Cathedral at night

Throwback Thursday: Moscow’s Koskovo Estate in autumn

I thought I would go for a nice relaxing walk all the way to Koskovo Estate at the beginning of autumn in September. I checked the route on a map and it looked like it would take me about 20 minutes at most to get there from the metro station. But the walk took a considerable bit longer than expected. I arrived at the estate after more than an hour of walking. The only thing that made the walk enjoyable were the autumn tree covered lanes of the area. The leaves have all started to turn orange or red creating a mystical autumn world to walk through. There was a bit of a cold wind in the air, just hinting at the cold that lay ahead in the weeks to come.

Moscow’s Koskovo Estate in autumn
My first glimpse of Kuskovo Estate across the lake
I entered the estate through the back entrance so had to walk through the forest and around the lake before I got to the palace. All along the path through the forest there were artists selling their paintings, people walking their dogs and some fruit sellers so it felt like walking through a mini market. In Russia it is common for foreigners to pay more to enter places than foreigners. But the ticket seller mistook me for a Russian so I got to pay the local entry price, about half of the foreigner price. I just kept my mouth shut, nodded thanks and walked off before she could realize she had made a mistake.

Kuskovo is almost unique among Russian aristocratic country houses in that it has all its original interiors to match its glorious facades. Kuskovo, built in the mid-18th century, was the summer country house and estate of the Sheremetev family. 

The exterior was made of wooden planks, which were plastered and painted in soft pastel colors. The palace looks out onto a court of honor, formed by the palace, the church and the large lake. The six-column portico at the front of the house was designed with a ramp so that carriages with as many as eight horses could come directly to the front door.
Moscow’s Koskovo Estate in autumn
The back of the Palace is a soft pink
Moscow’s Koskovo Estate in autumn
The palace gardens were filled with brightly coloured flowers

The palace is a single-storey, salmon pink-and-white structure (it looks like an ice-cream cake!). As I entered the palace I was quite surprised that there were few people inside, it seemed like everybody was out enjoying the huge palace gardens. The first room was hung exclusively with exquisite Flemish tapestries, an abundance of silk wallpaper and an impressive collection of 18th century European and Russian paintings.

Between the tapestries, the windows looked out onto the lake and gardens of the estate.Inside the palace I couldn’t take any pictures but it was definitely worth seeing the luxury in which they lived.
Moscow’s Koskovo Estate in autumn
Walking through the Palace Gardens

The palace gardens were filled with wedding parties and I counted about 5 wedding couples all having their photos taken and walking round the estate. The palace gardens were really very beautiful, even this early in autumn it was still filled with flowers.

Moscow’s Koskovo Estate in autumn
The Hermitage pavilion.

There were eight park alleys that all converged at the circular Hermitage pavilion.

After walking around for a couple of hours I was too tired to do the hour walk back to the metro station so took a local bus to the nearest metro. Luckily I could get onto any bus as all the buses in Moscow eventually stop at a metro station somewhere.
  Throwback Thursday, is a weekly reminiscent movement where you re-post past events or photos. They can be from years ago or from just a few days ago. Its a great way to look back fondly on some of your favorite memories…… 
One of the many buildings dotted around the Garden

Throwback Thursday: Moscow’s RED State History Museum

The Red State History Museum on the Red Square
The Red State History Museum on the Red Square

 April in Moscow, and probably the whole of Russia is still wet and cold, with no sign of spring. My friends and I needed an activity away from the cold so decided to visit the RED State Historical Museum of Moscow. On the way to the museum my umbrella broke in the strong wind,which was probably inevitable as my umbrella was a couple of years old. I stopped at one of the little Russian souvenir stalls on the way to the museum to purchase a new one so that I didn’t arrive completely drenched and shivering. In the end I walked away with a bright pink Moscow tourist umbrella to keep me dry. Nobody can miss me and it shouts tourist!! Bit I cant wait to use it when I travel to other cities!

Approaching the Red Square from the metro station
The statue of Marshal Zhukov infront of the State History Museum. He was a Soviet military commander who, in the course of World War II, led the Red Army to liberate the Soviet Union from occupation, to advance through Eastern Europe, and to conquer Germany’s capital, Berlin.

This imposing building stood to our right as we entered the Red Square through the Resurrection Gate. The building is a mass of jagged towers and cornices; it is a typical example of Russian Revivalism, the Eastern equivalent of the Neo-Gothic movement. The building looks great with the black and white setting with focus on red colour!

The State History Museum in the background during a military parade on the Red Square

The museum was opened in 1894, to mark the coronation of Aleksander III, and was the result of a 20-year-long project to consolidate various archaeological and anthropological collections into a single museum that told the story of the history of Russia. Each hall of the museum is designed to correspond to the era from which the exhibits are taken.

The Red Museum is hard to miss and you notice it even before you enter onto the Red Square

They do advertise that information inside the museum is in English as well, but their idea of English is having the name of the object in English and nothing else. Before you enter a hall there is a short information sheet in English that explains what the hall holds. Unfortunately this explanation only gives an outline and is translated directly from the Russian so not always understandable. Actually the direct translations turned out to be quite entertaining at times. Thus the exhibits are not labeled with any English descriptions so most of the time we didn’t actually know what we were looking at. There are English-language guide books and videos available in the lobby but we thought that we would get along fine without it. This turned out to be a bit more challenging than we thought so in the future I have to remember to carry my Russian/English dictionary with me.

Have you ever come across places that say they do have translations available and found that they are inadequate?

Throwback Thursday, is a weekly reminiscent movement where you re-post past events or photos. They can be from years ago or from just a few days ago. Its a great way to look back fondly on some of your favorite memories…… 

Throwback Thursday: Inside the Secretive Kremlin

Moscow Kremlin
I am going inside the Moscow Kremlin!!

The Moscow Kremlin is a symbol of the Russian State and probably known as one of the most secretive places ever! This beautiful building is one of the greatest architectural complexes in the world, and I got the chance to walk around inside these red walls!

After moving to Moscow I couldn’t wait to explore the wonders of the Kremlin, to see this place that I have heard so much about. The Moscow Kremlin includes four palaces and four cathedrals all enclosed by the red Kremlin wall and Kremlin towers. The complex still serves as the official residence of the President of the Russian Federation, but I didn’t get to glimpse him or any other famous officials during my visit.

Walking along the red brick walkway I could hardly contain my excitement as I  entered the Kremlin through one of the towers.

The Kremlin’s wall length is 2235 meters in length, and I think it would have been great if you could actually walk on top of the wall and view the city that way, but unfortunately half of the Kremlin is still in official use and not accessible to the public.
Inside the Secretive Kremlin
Row of cannons at the entrance
On our way to the Cathedral Square, which is the heart of the Kremlin, I passed a whole row of old war cannons. I wonder if these cannons were actually used during the war or if they were here just for decoration?
My favourite place in the Kremlin was definitely the Cathedral Square which is surrounded by cathedrals and other beautiful buildings. I love Cathedrals and this was like a playground for me, each Cathedral was unique with a different history and story and we spent quite a lot of time exploring them.

The first Cathedral I entered was the Cathedral of the Dormition which was completed in 1479. This is where all the Tsars of Russia were crowned! Several important dignitaries and patriarchs are buried here and their stone coffins stand along the one wall on the inside of the Cathedral. I couldn’t actually photograph these but they were elaborately decorated and covered in gems and gold.

The Cathedral of the Annunciation was my second Cathedral and it is magnificent gold a gilded Cathedral built in 1489. This magnificent gold structure kept my attention for quite a while as it has very detailed work and paintings of all the saints on it. The cathedral is actually famous for its magnificent iconostasis (screen) which shields the sacred part of the church from view.

The Cathedral of the Annunciation was originally the domestic church of the Grand Dukes and Tsars and was connected by passages to the private quarters of the royal family. The Cathedral was used to celebrate name-days, weddings and baptisms. There was no sign of these secret passages otherwise I would definitely have tried to make my way into the Kremlin.

On the South-East side of the square looms the much larger Cathedral of the Archangel Michael , where almost all of the Muscovite monarchs from Ivan to Alexis I of Russia are buried. The Archangel Michael, the heavenly figure for war, was chosen as the patron saint of the rulers of Moscow and stands as protector above all the tombs in this church. With all the stone coffins that fill the church it does feel a bit more like a cemetery than a church. I had to squeeze between the tombs that covered the Cathedral floor just to get to the other side.

The inside of the Cathedral was dark and decorated with an abundance of rich, earthy colours. I would have loved to take photos of all of the Cathedral’s frescoes…maybe someday.

One of greatest treasures here is the burial vault of Ivan the Terrible. Ivan was the first to take the title of Tsar and therefore merited a special burial chamber, the construction of which he oversaw himself.  He also had the Ivan the Great Bell Tower named after himself. It is said to mark the exact centre of Moscow and resemble a burning candle.

The Tsar Bell is the largest bell in the world and stands on a pedestal next to the Ivan the Great Bell Tower. This bell unfortunately broke while they were transporting it and was left standing right where it fell.

 

There was still so much to see in the Kremlin that I had to come back another time as it is too much to take in all in one day!

Throwback Thursday: The Socialist Sculpture Park in Moscow

Moscow has countless churches all over the city, but not all of them are open to the public
I love exploring the small churches dotted all over the city. Moscow has countless churches all over the city, but not all of them are open to the public

I explored the Tretyakov gallery area a couple of times during the first sunny weeks of May 2012. It was lovely just getting out of the small flat  after the long harsh winter, and spending some time outside in the sunshine.

As I walked through the numerous side streets of this district I eventually reached the Moscow River. The whole of Moscow is filled with countless of beautiful old buildings and small churches hidden between them. I don’t know what this church is named , as I couldnt find it on the map, but it was lovely inside and smelled of incense and rose oil. I love that most of the churches are filled with icons and candles, makes it feel very mystical inside.

Close to this little church I came across the Socialist sculpture park. I didn’t realize you had to pay to enter the park so I just walked in and it must have looked as if I belonged because nobody stopped me. It was only on my second visit here that I was stopped and made to pay the entrance fee. Luckily for me I had my head phones in and didn’t say a word as I handed over my money so the lady took me for a Russian and I ended up paying half of what foreigners pay to enter.

The Park was established by the City of Moscow in 1992 and currently displays over 700 sculptures that had been brought here from all over the city when they tried to get rid of all the communist statues.

The Socialist sculpture park.
Almost all the statues are name-less

In October 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed, smaller socialist realism statues of Soviet leaders and unidentifiable workers and peasants were removed from their pedestals, hauled to the park and left in their fallen form. The park became a big statue dumping ground.

Most of themse starues were turned upright later, although they were all missing their original pedestals and some were broken beyond repair.

The Socialist sculpture park.
The park is filled with sculptures that have nothing to do with politics

In 1995, Muzeon added a World War II section – these sculptures, of the same socialist realism vintage, were never displayed in open air before then. In 1998 the park acquired 300 sculptures of victims of communist rule made by Evgeny Chubarov, and was installed as a single group.

I think the most stunning of these fallen statues is a bust of Stalin (whose nose has been broken off). There are a couple of statues of Lenin and some Soviet emblems. The saddest part is that they have a whole section that is filled with the heads of statues that were destroyed while being moved here.

The Socialist sculpture park.
Some forgotten revolutionary

I don’t understand how they classify what statues are communist as there are even statues of fairy tales here. I also couldn’t believe it when I found a patch where statues of t animals were displayed, never thought animals were communists.

The Socialist sculpture park.
Huge sculptures found at the exit of the park

This park is right next to the Moscow River and I love just sitting here with a book or just to walk around whenever I have the time.

The Socialist sculpture park.
Make across this sculpture as I was already leaving the park

Tulips, Pigeon poop, Water and Church Bells.

Kolomenskoye is one of tMoscows most beautiful parks. Especially in spring when it is covered in colourful tulips.

The park is only a short metro ride from the center of the city, but once you are here you forget that you are surrounded by high rise buildings and only a stones throw away from Moscows industrial area. As I walked from the metro station at Kolomenskoye I thought I might have the adress wrong as I was surrounded by drab Soviet tower blocks, that looked as if it would go on forever. Before I reached the park I was confronted by a rather gaudy collection of souvenir booths, filled with the usual tourist memorabilia. But like magic this touristy tackiness disappeared as I stepped through the gate into the tranquil, rugged beauty of the park.

It was a beautiful sunny day but as it was during the week, the park did not feel crowded and there there werent that many people walking around taking photographs. The park is filled with beautiful wooded buildings, the above church being one of the many dotted along the river.  Parts of this park date as far back as the 15th-17th centuries but a lot has only rescently been restored. 

Moscow’s Kolomenskoye Park
One of the gates that lead to the churches in the park
Tulips is spring to me!!!

It was the start of spring the park was covered in colourful tulips and flowers, absolutely stunning. It amazed me that throughout Moscow all the flower beds were filled with brightly coloured tulipsand daffodils. 

Unfortuanetly with Spring comes the pigeons who take the opportunity to take revenge on unsuspecting people. As I bent down to take the picture on the left here one of these pigeons took aim and fired. He actually pooped all over my hand and my camera!!!

As I looked up, im sure I heard the pigeon chukkle just before he flew off, knowing there was nothing I could do. My whole camera was covered in pigeon poop. It even got into the buttons, all over the screen and into the zoom!

On the bright side, he did miss my head. They say its good luck if a pigeon poops on you, I do hope this means my pictures will turn out good!

Moscow’s Kolomenskoye Park
This was my last shot of Tulips before the pigeon pooped on my camera!!
The gate way I walked through to get to the Church of the Ascension of the Lord

I walked with my pigeon poop covered camera to a stream close by and tried my best to clean it all off. As I was bending down, cleaning my camera, my bag slipped off my shoulder and fell into the stream. Great. Now I had a filthy camera and a wet bag, dripping water everywhere.  I sat down on a bench, spreading out the contents of my bag trying to dry it in the sun.

I hoped that this was the end of my mishaps for the day and after drying most of my bags contents and cleaning my camera I felt I definitely deserved an ice cold ice-cream!

I sat down in the cherry orchard with my ice-cream, enjoying the peace and quiet around me and trying to get myself back into a good mood.

Moscow’s Kolomenskoye Park
Church of the Ascension of the Lord

 The Church of the Ascension of the Lord, is right next to the Moscow River and definitely one of the parks more striking buildings.

Moscow’s Kolomenskoye Park
The church is right next to the Moscow River
The church bells started ringing while I was standing next to it

This church was constructed in 1529-1532 to commemorate the birth of Ivan the Terrible. The mystique and stark beauty of this church is only enhanced by its contrast with the modern cityscape that spreads in the distance.

It was while standing here that it felt like my luck for the day had just turned. As I stood admiring this church the church bells started ringing. It was amazing to listen to the church bells as I gazed out over the Moscow River and the city spread out in the distance.

Moscow’s Kolomenskoye Park
Moscow’s Kolomenskoye Park
Moscow’s Kolomenskoye Park
Church of the Icon of Our Lady of Kazan
I just love the blue and gold onion domes of this church

Personally I think that the most beautiful church in this park is the pretty Church of the Icon of Our Lady of Kazan – with its bright azure domes and gold stars. This beautiful church, built in 1644, is a familiar image of Russian religion. Especially the onion shaped domes that can be found decorating churches through out Russia.

Unfortunately, for some eason I could not enter the church, so will have to come back to explore the inside another time.

Moscow’s Kolomenskoye Park
This church was definitely a highlight of the park

Throwback Thursday: The Amazing Saint Basil’s Cathedral!!

St Basil's Cathedral
St Basil’s Cathedral

The first week I was in Moscow I couldnt wait to explore the iconic Red square and my wanderings took me into St Basils Cathedral with its ice-cream coloured onion domes. This Cathedral represents Moscow on so many postcards and photos that it has become one of the first things people think of when Moscow is mentioned.

This beautiful and very colourful Cathedral was erected over the spot where Basil the Blessed, a Muscovite ‘holy fool’ was buried. According to legend he used to run around the red square naked and tell everybody their fortunes! That must have been a very funny site indeed, and quite weird that Moscow would name a Cathedral after a crazy naked dude.

 The building of the Cathedral was ordered by Ivan the Terrible in1552 and was only completed in 1560. Taking into account that everything has to be done by hand, 8 years is probably not that long.

 Walking up to this colourful Cathedral I could hardly contain my excitement. I was about to enter one of the most famous sites in the world!! I stood staring at the cathedral for quite a while as it took my breath away. The Cathedral chapels is a riot of colour and shapes, each unique and dedicated to a specific saint. I can truly believe that Basil’s Cathedral is unmatched anywhere else in the world.

I found this quote from a French diplomat that perfectly describes what the onion domes look like:

“the scales of a golden fish, the enameled skin of a serpent, the changeful hues of the lizard, the glossy rose and azure of the pigeon’s neck” and wondered at “the men who go to worship God in this box of confectionery work.”

There are no cars allowed on the Red square, but I think there once must have been as there is a zebra crossing painted in front of the Cathedral. I made sure to get a photo of me sitting on this zebra crossing. And had a failed attempt at getting a photo of me jumping in fron of St Basils.

A huge bronze statue commemorating Dmitry Pozharsky and Kuzma Minin, who rallied Russia’s volunteer army against the Polish invaders in the late 16th century dominate the front garden of St Basils.

I found that the inside is a maze of galleries winding from chapel to chapel and level to level through narrow stairways and low arches. I soon found out that it’s easy to lose your bearings and end up in the same little chapel more than once while attempting to walk through this maze. Unlike most of the other Cathedrals found in Moscow, St Basils is not a working Cathedral anymore, which is quite sad as it is so beautiful.

As I got to the top of the first flight of stairs and entered the huge round chapel I was greeted by beautiful choir music. Although its not a working Cathedral, a small choir singing the most beautiful songs can be found here every day. Having the Cathedral filled with their beautiful music creates a warm atmosphere and adds to the feeling of the place being holy. I stood listening until they finished their set and then even bought their music CD. Its the [perfect music to play on a cold rainy night and will always bring back very fond memories of Moscow and my Russian adventure.

In my wanderings I found a little empty chapel and inside where they were showing a video that depicted the demolishing and then re-construction of St Basils. Although it was in Russian, like most of the signs inside, it was worth watching.

On my way out I got a coin stamped with the image of St Basils as my souvenir of the day and crossed the Red Square again to continue my exploration of Moscow.

Definitely going to visit St Basils again!!!

Throwback Thursday, is a weekly reminiscent movement where you re-post past events or photos. They can be from years ago or from just a few days ago. Its a great way to look back fondly on some of your favorite memories…… 

My struggle for my first cup of coffee in Moscow

My apartment building, it looks exactly like the 20 other surrounding it!

My Russian adventure officially started September 2010!

The unknown, the secretiveness of Moscow acted like a magnet for me. Since I can remember I have always been interested in finding out what actually goes on behind the “iron curtain”. I grabbed at the chance to work and live in Moscow and couldn’t wait to start my adventure. Although I was already scared of the cold winters that I knew lay ahead.

I soon found out that Moscow is a city of superlatives. It boasts the most billionaires, the most expensive cups of coffee, at £4 a cup this is definitely true, and the most churches located in one city!  It has also been voted the most unfriendly city in the world, although I have to disagree with that last statement. The more I got to know the Russians, the more I realized they are actually friendly and helpful in their own way. It just takes them a while to warm up to strangers.

The View from my room over the park

Not prepared for KONKOVA, the suburb where my flat was situated.

I knew that I was going to be living in an old Soviet flat but was still very shocked when I actually walked into my flat. The apartment complex looks like it should have been demolished years ago. It is one of 5 identical apartment blocks all a row. It’s going to be easy to get lost was one of my first thoughts. As predicted during that first week I tried to enter the wrong apartment block a couple of times! Personally I think each apartment block should at least have a different coloured door to make finding your apartment a bit easier.

My flat looked like something out of a horrible 60’s movie – brown wallpaper and some squishy orange stuff that covers the doors and the cupboards. The toilet was wallpapered in some yellow and blue 50’s motive that gave you a headache every time you had to go in there. I had no kettle or microwave and my fridge wasn’t working. It suddenly dawned on me that I was all alone in this strange flat and in this foreign country. Causing me to question my sanity for a moment.

The flat’s Toilet with yellow and blue 50’s motive wallpaper

I definitely needed a cup of coffee to cheer me up and so my first buying adventure in Moscow started. I walked to the nearest grocery store which was about  15 minutes away and bought some coffee and what I thought was milk and sugar. Seeing as nothing has any English written on it I had to trust that I was deciphering the pictures correctly. Nobody in the store spoke any English so I couldn’t even ask for help. I should probably have studied a bit of Russian before coming over which would have made life a lot easier for me.

My very shabby looking Soviet kitchen with an “outside fridge”.

 Got home, boiled some water in a pot on the stove and discovered that I bought salt and some sour yogurt stuff. So I headed back to the store, this time I found some sugar in a clear plastic bag and bought some new “milk”. Back in the flat again, I proceeded to make myself another cup of coffee. I soon discovered that yet again I did not buy milk, this time it was something strawberry flavoured. I really did not understand why they have all these flavoured milk. I had picked the white carton with a cow on, you would have thought that it would have been milk.

By this time I really needed some coffee so I took the cup of black coffee and walked all the way to the store with it. I then continued to ask the clerk to help me by pointing at my coffee and the milk rack. I took her to the milk isle and then pointed at the cartons and asked which one I could pour into my coffee, she did laugh at me but at least helped me out.Third time lucky I guess.

Must add that after the milk incident whenever I came into the store the clerk was standing close buy to help me, which I admit helped a lot since my Russian was nearly non existent at that time and trying to decipher what a product is from the pictures on it does not always work.

I quickly made an effort to learn the Russian alphabet and some basic words so things got a little bit easier after my first failed shopping experience.

Small bedroom with very ugly wallpaper that really does not work.

  Throwback Thursday, is a weekly reminiscent movement where you re-post past events or photos. They can be from years ago or from just a few days ago. Its a great way to look back fondly on some of your favorite memories…… 

Wordless Wednesday from Moscow

The Red History Museum of Moscow.

This is published as part of Wordless Wednesday

Weekly Photo Challenge: Nighttime in Snow covered Moscow!!

Winter in Moscow is truly beautiful especially when everything is covered in snow.  I just love walking around the neighborhood late at night when everybody is wrapped up warmly in their apartments and the streets are quite deserted.

Nighttime in Snowcovered Moscow
Does not look very inviting to take a seat
Nighttime in Snowcovered Moscow
Nighttime in Snowcovered Moscow

During winter I suffered from insomnia and sitting still inside my little apartment was not an option. So I wrapped up warm and went for walks in the snow covered streets, hoping that this would help.

Nighttime in Snowcovered Moscow
Nighttime in Snowcovered Moscow
Nighttime in Snowcovered Moscow
What a lovely lane to stroll down
Nighttime in Snowcovered Moscow
A cold winters night out in Moscow

These are some random photos I took while out on my nightly walks.

Nighttime in Snowcovered Moscow
The sidewalks were covered in a layer of ice

The streets were covered in a layer of ice which made walking quite a challenge for me.

Nighttime in Snowcovered Moscow
On a chilly night like this a warm fireplace sounds like heaven
Nighttime in Snowcovered Moscow
Everything is covered in a fresh layer of snow
Nighttime in Snowcovered Moscow
Nighttime in Snowcovered Moscow

A fresh layer of snow covering everything.

Nighttime in Snowcovered Moscow
Walking through the park near my apartment block
Nighttime in Snowcovered Moscow
This car is definitely not going anywhere in a hurry

Writing 101: A Room with a View of Snow

If you could zoom through space in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now?

The spaces we inhabit have an influence on our mood, our behavior, and even the way we move and interact with others. 

The seasons in Russia change drastically and each has its own magic. But winter will always hold a very special place in my heart. Moscow was my home for more than 2 years and it is here that I learned what winters are actually all about.

Winter in Russia is a time for snuggling up with a warm cup of mulled wine with the scent of cloves and oranges fill your warm apartment. It is a time for hot soup and lovely hot fruit tea served in every restaurant or cafe in Moscow. Its a time for ice-skating and snow ball fights! Winter is when you build snowmen and eat pancakes, its one of the best times of the year to be in Russia and I would love to be there right now.

I wake up on a winters morning and the world outside is covered in a blanket of white snow and there is a chill in the air. I wrap myself up in a warm Russian winter coat, wrap a beautiful scarf around me and put on my fur lined boots just to go for a walk through the fresh snow. I open the front door and am greeted by sunshine although its -25 degrees Celsius outside. The snow crunches under my feet as I step onto the sidewalk.

There are kids playing in the snow in front of our apartment building and they have already built the first snowman of the season. I felt like I was transported to a magical world of fairy-tales, a land where magic happens and even Father Christmas might really exist.  

I miss the fairy wonderland that awaited me every time I stepped out of my little warm flat on cold winters days. 

Standing on the Red Square, a dream come true!

My first glimpse of the Red Square left me breathless!!!

I couldn’t wait to go and stand on the Red Square; this has always been one of my dreams. I couldn’t believe I was about to realize this dream.

Me walking through the market leading to the Red square
Arches into the Red Square…check out the teeny tiny green church!

 

When I got out of the metro I was greeted by loads of Russian souvenir stalls lining the way to the gates. I loved walking through them, having a look at all the brightly coloured matryoshka dolls and all the fur hats that are sold here. It also looked like each and every stall sold tot glasses and flasks with the old SSSR emblems on them.

Before you walk through the gates and enter the Red Square you cross a plaque that marks the middle point of Moscow. From here all distances are measured and it is seen as good luck to stand in the middle of this circle and throw money into the air.

Me throwing my coin and hoping to definitely come back to Moscow again!!
Little old ladies running to pick up the coins thrown

This apparently also means you will definitely return so I made sure to wait my turn to stand on the middle point of Moscow and to throw a coin into the air and over my shoulder. There were a couple of really old ladies (they are called “babushka” which means granny in Russian) standing around the middle point and as soon as my coin hit the ground they scrambled to pick it up. This definitely beats begging and I am sure they have an endless supply of tourists standing there having their pictures taken while throwing coins.

On my list was not just to stand on the Red square but to have a coffee on the Red square so I stopped at a small stall at the entrance and bought a coffee for myself.

I couldn’t contain my excitement as I walked through the gates and onto the Red square, I felt like a little kid in a candy store.

What a beautiful sight!! I wanted to spend the whole day here!

As I walked across the Square it took a while to take in the grandeur of centuries gone by. This was my first look at the Kremlin which was on my left. I stood there like a real tourist just staring at the Kremlin towers and its surrounding red wall. Standing right in front of the Lenin mausoleum staring at the Russian guards guarding it was awesome. Here I was surrounded by hundreds of years’ history having my first cup of coffee of the day on the Red square!!

Moscow is getting ready for a Huge Military Parade on the Red Square
The Russian History Museum is such a prominent sight on the Red Square

I read somewhere that the square’s name has nothing to do with communism or with the colour red, although the history museum and the Kremlin walls are all red. In fact it derives from the word ‘krasnyi’, which once meant ‘beautiful’, and has only come to mean ‘red’ in contemporary Russian.

GUM shopping centre right on the Red square
At night the whole Shopping centre is lit up and looks like a fairy tale castle!
Wow the inside of GUM is sooooo beautiful, its hard to believe its a shopping mall!

As I continued my slow walk across the square I had the famous GUM shopping centre on my right. This is the most expensive shopping centre in Moscow and in its time it was the biggest in Europe!

Crossing the Red square towards St Basil’s Cathedral!!

But the sight that took my breath away was when St Basil’s Cathedral appeared in front of me at the end of the Red Square. Setting eyes on the Cathedral and its onion domes for the first time took my breath away. It is truly an amazing cathedral.

Lenin’s mausoleum on the Red square

I found that the Red Square remains, as it has been for centuries, the heart and soul of Moscow. Few places in the world bear the weight of history to the extent that Moscow’s central square does.

No matter how many times I walk across the Red Square, it stays mystical.

Kremlin wall guard tower

Wordless Wednesday: Spring time in Russia!

 

Spring time in Russia!
Spring time in Russia!

Published as part of Wordless Wednesday.

Spring time in Russia!
Spring time in Russia!
Spring time in Russia!
Spring time in Russia!

 

My penguin shuffle through Moscow’s snow covered streets

My first winter here in Moscow was a huge shock to my system. As I grew up in sunny South-Africa I have never experienced cold like this before and was definitely not prepared.

View of the snow covered park from the window in my room, could just see that it was cold outside

When the cold of October arrived my co-workers asked me if I have enough warm clothes for the coming winter, I told them I was ready for winter and pointed out that I have 2 lovely warm coats that I bought in England. My co-teachers just laughed at this and said that they meant for winter not for autumn.

By the time November arrived I understood what they meant, the colder it got the more afraid I got of what lay ahead. I thought to myself, if I’m already freezing to death in -15 how the hell am I going to survive -35 degrees?

My first experience of -27 degree weather was quite comical. The wind was blowing outside and you could see that it was a cold day but I felt confident that I could wrap up warm enough.

I got dressed in 2 warm vests, a long sleeved top, 2 sweaters, a jacket and then over all this put on a warm coat. I had on stockings and jeans over them, thermal socks and even some fur lined boots that I bought the previous weekend.

I put on a warm hat, folded my coat’s collar up and wrapped a scarf around so that in the end only my eyes and nose stuck out. I felt that now I was ready to brave the Russian cold.

I looked and moved like the Oros man (the South-African version of the Michelin man) and got into the lift with one of my neighbours, they just stared at me, said something in Russian and laughed all the way down. Secretly I was hoping that he commented on how cold it was today but I suspect he might have said something about me looking like an idiot dressed up like that and that it’s not even that cold outside.

The sidewalk was covered in ice so I did my penguin shuffle, where I hardly lift my feet and move forward with small shuffles and my arms straight out to the side so that I can balance. An old lady of about 70 sped past me with her shopping but did turn and laughed at me before speeding along again.

By the time I reached the metro my eyes were watering from the cold wind, my nose felt frozen and ice had formed where I was breathing against my scarf.

Inside the metro another old lady of like 70 gave me a very funny look before actually sitting down next to me. Before we got of at our stop the little lady took a bottle of vodka out of her bag and took a couple of big swigs. Couldn’t believe that someone would drink clean vodka at 9am!! But I totally understood why as I headed back out into the cold, she was probably still warm and not feeling like an ice cube after 2 minutes outside.

Back outside the penguin shuffle continued. I was so wrapped up that I couldn’t even turn my head, so before I could cross the road I had to turn my whole frozen body left and right before continuing. As I was shuffling my way down the street a car stopped in front of me, with great difficulty I shuffled around the car, the car then drove on and stopped in front of me again. I looked up and inside the car sat one of my students looking as if he is having a laughing fit.

He said that he saw someone dressed up like an Eskimo and walking like a penguin and just assumed that it would be me.

I never knew that in -27 degrees ice actually forms on your eyelashes and by the time we got to the class I looked like a raccoon with my mascara running down my face.

Never thought I would actually reach that point where I wish it was -10 again!!

From Fur Hats to Hand Painted Chess sets at Izmaylovo Russian market

Me  braving the cold at Izmaylovo market
The wooden walkways of Izmaylovo market
The wooden walkways of Izmaylovo market

Izmaylovo market in the East of Moscow with its huge collection of souvenirs and Russian memorabilia is a must on a weekend! I have spent many weekends walking around here and exploring every nook and cranny of the market and its surrounding area. It is located near Izmaylovsky Park which is another lovely place to explore.

When I got off at Patrizanskaya metro station it was easy to find the market as I just followed all the people, as most were headed in that direction. It’s also actually easy to spot with its wooden-fortress-like encasement thats filled with crowds of shoppers.

I just love the colourful matryoshka dolls at Izmaylovo market
The market is filled with a huge selection of Matrioshka dolls!
The market is filled with a huge selection of Matrioshka dolls!

The market is packed with art, handmade crafts, antiques, Soviet paraphernalia and just about anything you might want for a souvenir. I found Moscow’s biggest original range of matryoshka dolls here and got myself a beautiful one that depicts a Pushkin love story when it is opened up. There are also loads of different fur hats in different colours and styles. When I brought my parents here for a visit my mom and I bought ourselves the coolest fur hats. Believe me in the Russian winter it is a must as it is freezing cold over here and the temperatures reach -35 degrees Celsius on average.

My mom and I with our brand new fur hats and the seller
There are even coloured fur hats!
There are even coloured fur hats!

The market has a great food section with a big choice of either meat or fish kebab barbeque with freshly baked bread. This is a great place to have lunch and rest after a morning of souvenir shopping. During winter months you can even get a glass of hot glint wine (mulled or spiced red wine) here to warm up.

Me and dad having lunch at Izmaylovo market

Another thing that caught my eye was the beautiful hand painted chess sets that they sell. I got myself a chess set with tiny matryoshka dolls painted with the Russian and American presidents. Russia vs. America on a chess board!

Handmade chess sets
This Fake Wooden Kremlin houses a small vodka museum
This Fake Wooden Kremlin houses a small vodka museum

 They have a variety of Soviet posters and I even bought a set of the SSSR propaganda posters. I found that you actually do have to negotiate a bit, but that the vendors don’t come down more than 10% most of the time.

Izmaylovo Market  is quite big as it has a ground level and two upper levels. The ground level is where all the typical Russian souvenirs are sold. The next level up has loads of odds and ends. Here I found some stalls that sell oil paint and canvasses so I found myself carting some home on the metro as I left.  The third tier of the market contains some hardcore antique dealers as well as original artwork. I think that here you would need the help of a local Russian otherwise you could end up paying way too much.

The fake wooden Kremlin right next to the market
Looking out over the rooves of Izmaylovo market
Looking out over the rooves of Izmaylovo market

Right next to the market there is a fake wooden Kremlin that was lovely to explore and I also found a small but very informative Vodka Museum on the side. Inside this museum I got to see the whole history of vodka development in Russia and even got to taste some Russian Vodka. I must say that Russian vodka is actually very good; it doesn’t burn or leave any after taste in your mouth.

They had the most amazing vodka bottles here and the best one was shaped and looked like a matryoshka doll. Needless to say this was added to my Russian shopping list.

Me at the vodka museum
Spotting the entrance to the little vodka museum

After the shot of vodka I was ready to brave the cold again and went for a walk to Izmailovsky Park which is just opposite the lake in front of the market.

On my way to the park with the market in the background

The park is actually very beautiful with huge birch woods that I had to walk through to get to the beautiful Pokhorovoskiy Cathedral.

The beautiful Pokhorovoskiy Cathedral.
Pokhorovoskiy Cathedral in the evening

As I entered the Cathedral I realised that there was a service in progress so I stood there for a while listening to the choir singing. It was amazing even though I didn’t understand a word of it. The priest came out and everyone prayed with him, he then walked through the crowd blessing people and even stopped in front of me to bless me. Wish I did understand what he was saying to me.

My first trip to Izmaylovo Market left me a little dazzled, so I had to go back several times to explore more and purchase some more souvenirs.

Pokhorovoskiy Cathedral

Moscow’s fabulous Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

Me an Riena in front of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

I walked along the river from the Kremlin and was greeted by one of the most imposing and controversial buildings in Russia, the resurrected Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.

 

The Cathedral close to sun set

It was originally commissioned after the defeat of Napoleon and construction began in 1839.

Unfortunately it was singled out by the Soviet government for destruction and, in 1931, blown to pieces to make way for a proposed Palace of Soviets, one of the most influential pieces of architecture never to be built.

The project was abandoned, and the site turned over to become an open-air swimming pool, the largest in the world, which was kept at a temperature of 27°C all year round. The result was a thick covering of fog that shrouded a number of gruesome deaths (and murders) among the swimmers.

After the fall of the Soviet Union they decided to resurrect the cathedral in a $360-million reconstruction project.

The entrance to the Cathedral has magnificent doors with bronze angels above it

I had to walk through metal detectors to get inside and they search your bag through as well. Luckily it was cold outside so I already had a hat on as woman have to cover their heads out of respect and you are not allowed in if you are wearing shorts or very short skirts.

The Cathedral from the river

I was still very excited as I walked around inside this magnificent cathedral. It is just breathtakingly beautiful inside and the church choir was standing on the upper level singing and setting the peaceful atmosphere.

There is a set of winding stairs that took me down to the bottom level. Even down here I could still hear the singing of the choir through the metal grating placed everywhere. I sat down and listened for a while before I lit a candle and went into the cathedral museum and icon shop that they have here. There was a small sign saying that all icons and artifacts bought in this little shop have been blessed by the priest. The museum changes its exhibition from time to time, this time it was displaying photos of the destruction and reconstruction of the cathedral.

What a beautiful church to explore. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity. 

My crazy Russian Neighbour in Moscow!

I love walking around the neighbourhood I live in

At first when I moved to Moscow I lived alone in my old Soviet flat for 3 weeks before I eventually got a flat mate. I was busy settling in, getting to know the area and spent a lot of evenings at home watching a bit of TV and studying some Russian after walking around the neighbourhood. Most nights I went to bet quite late and then my neighbour from downstairs would bang against my floor with something.

Apartment buildings in my neighbourhood

This scared me a bit so I tried not to make noise and was really quiet; I made certain that my music was turned down low but still most of the time he would bang as I was getting into bed. According to me I gave him no reason to complain.

Scarcely here for a week and one night after getting into bed the neighbour comes and bangs on my door, shouting and nearly breaking down my door. I thought someone was attacking me! I ran into the kitchen and got the biggest chopping knife I could find. I then called the school emergency number but there wasn’t much they could do so I ended up sitting on my bed with a huge chopping knife as my defense, listening to the crazy Russian guy shouting stuff at me and hoping that the door holds. At the time I didn’t know who he was or why he was trying to break down my door.

A little church I found hidden behind some apartment blocks while out walking

He gave up after half an hour and stomped off, but I didn’t get any sleep that night as I was scared he would actually come back.

Not even a week later a policeman came and banged on my door, while I was already in bed half asleep, shouting that I should open up otherwise he would break down my door. I was told never to open the door, even for a cop in Moscow so wasn’t planning on doing anything of the kind. I kept asking him what he wants, all he kept shouting was “I don’t speak English, you open door or I break it!” Really not something I want to hear while in my Pajamas and all alone in this old flat on the other side of the world. Again I called the work emergency number and this time they called the police for me. The policeman kept on banging and shouting and finally he got a phone call and then left. I was left all jumpy and scared, had the huge chopping knife as bed buddy yet again.

More apartment blocks

The housing administrator called the police the next morning and they explained to her that it was my neighbour complaining about me because I walking around in my flat and according to him I walk like an elephant which  makes his chandelier below swing so he called the police on me. I couldn’t believe it; it was too ridiculous to be taken seriously.

My apartment complex

At least after this I got a flat mate who could speak a bit of Russian. The neighbour started calling us on the phone complaining every time we walked around, or moved in the flat. This banging on the door in the middle of the night and calling us kept up for a while, He actually asked us to please watch where we walk and to make sure we don’t walk over the area where his chandelier is, as if we could see through the floor.

He also suggested that if this is not possible that we should please refrain from walking in our flat. So not only does he expect us to have ex-ray vision, we should also miraculously acquire the ability to float or fly.

Lovely wall art along the way

One evening I ran to pick up the phone and was busy talking to my mom when the neighbour came banging again. He actually banged the door open and charged into the kitchen shouting at me. I put down the phone, picked up that huge chopping knife lying next to the sink and then charged at him. He shouted and looked as if he was going to attack me.

I shouted back at him and in my anger switched over to some Afrikaans words that I knew he would not be able to understand. I then made stabbing motions at him; I just wanted to get him out of my flat.

My neighbourhood
My neighbourhood

He left screaming that I was crazy and that he was going to call the police because I attacked him!

The nerve, I told him to please call the police I want to tell them he broke in and attacked ME!

My neighbour left me alone after this; I never heard another peep out of him! I think he was convinced that he had one VERY crazy South-African living up stairs, and was not going to get her mad again.

Some old ladies enjoying the sunshine outside our apartment block
Some apartment blocks have lovely decorated entrances
A little grocery store on the corner

Weekly Photo Challenge: One Goat in a Coat in Moscow

Goat in a coat

This week the photo challenge is to focus on one thing. Here is definitely one thing that fascinated me while living in Moscow.  On my way to work I would often pass by this old man with his goat in a coat. He would usually be standing close to the metro collecting money for his goat come sunshine, rain or snow.

The old man standing along side the road with his pet goat

Wordless Wednesday: Russia

All through out WordPress, bloggers post a photo without an explanation, it’s called Wordless Wednesday!

Moscow, Russia
Moscow, Russia

Published as part of Wordless Wednesday.

Travel theme: Transportation – Tram rides during Moscow’s winter

This weeks Travel Theme from Where’s my backpack? is Transportation and I immediately thought about my winter tram rides in Moscow. I agree that Transportation is an integral part of travel and whatever mode of transport you choose will affect your experience of the journey.  I come from South-Africa and we don’t have trams in our country so I was quite excited to go on my first tram ride through snow covered Moscow. 

Moscow's trams in the snow

Spotted my first tram in Moscow!!! 

Its too cold during winter and autumn to walk around for too long so taking a tram through the city was definitely the way to go!!

Bought my first ever tram ticket and couldn't wait  to explore Moscow.
Bought my first ever tram ticket and couldn’t wait to explore Moscow.
Going on my first ever tram ride!!
Going on my first ever tram ride!!

Moscow's trams in the snowI fell in love with trams and every once in a while I would go out and jump on a random tram to view parts of the city I would never have seen otherwise.

Moscow's trams in the snow