Foto Friday – November Edition

If only there was a way for WordPress to batch load all these photos. 🙂 I’m sure there’s a way, but I’m not smart enough to figure it out. Sigh…

Anyway, I’m taking the easy way out tonight and just posting some more overdue photos of my trip to Russia. I won’t even have time to label them all. 😦  If you want to know what an image is, let me know!

Jack and I had friends over for pizza (and wine!) so we’re both tired. Jack was up very late last night because I took him to see the Rockettes in NYC. We didn’t get to bed until 11. Gasp! And tonight he got to bed at 10. GASP!! So, yeah, he’s running on fumes. Which is maybe why he flipped out on the kid who was singing on his bus. Can hardly blame the poor kid. You know how annoying singing can be when you are NOT IN THE MOOD! So yeah…yawn… and stuff.

Jack: Can we do something fun in New York?

me: We’re on the train to see the Rockettes. That’s the fun.

Jack: But what about something else?

me: You wanted to see this, so we’re going to see this. There’s not a lot of extra free time. Train, Rockettes, eat, train, bed. That’s kinda it.

Jack: But there’s this cool restaurant that I want to go to. (sounds like a New Yorker)

me: We’ll eat, don’t worry.

Jack: I don’t want to eat at your “we have to rush so we’re grabbing some crap at an awful place to eat” place.

me: Nice. Really?

Jack: Sorry. Can we go to Central Park.

me: It’s dark out.

Jack: WHAATTT? Why is it SO dark now. OH I know it’s because the daylight savings time which DOES NOT SAVE ME ANY TIME!!! (whole train got an earful of that rant)

me: Settle down, people are trying to relax.

Jack: Can I have my flame thrower now?

me: Sigh.

Sergiyev Posad
Assumption Cathedral in Vladimir, one of the medieval capitals of Russia. This cathedral is one of only 936 World Heritage sites.
Cathedral of St. Demetrius, Vladimir
Sergiyev Posad - NIght
Sergiyev Posad - Day
Russian highway. We pulled over so someone could throw up. Yeah you go THAT fast.
Sign in a walkway in Sergiyev Posad. Reminded me of Jack.
Little playground in Vladimir
Paintings in a restaurant in Sergiyev Posad
Market in St. Petersburg

I like this other shot of the market.



Russia – Day 11 – Kolomenskoye Park

Yesterday was our last full day in Russia. We visited a historical site/park called Kolomenskoye. Peter I had a log cabin that was transferred to this site. It also contained a large church and several bell towers. We were lucky enough to be at the park when they performed a very grand bell ringing ceremony. Very cool!

The park was far away from our hotel and involved at least three subway transfers. Coming from someone who gets intimidated by New York subways…hello in my OWN language…trust me when I say Do Not try this unless you have a native speaker with you. We would have gone down the first escalator, looked around, gotten crushed, and then just sat on the floor crying with our hand out for rubles. Because we would never find our way out.

After the long ride, it was good to get out and walk a bit. The park is situated next to a river, name lost to me, so we jogged down some steps to take in the view. Lots of ducks and seagulls, with factories in the distance. But still, it was nice. The weather had finally turned cold and we could smell snow. It didn’t actually snow yesterday, but it did on our way to the airport today, where I sit writing this. And looking at the frighteningly long line that I think we should be in. Sigh…


Russia – Day 9 – Hermitage Museum

Photos will be posted tomorrow. Be patient okay? I’m lucky I even have a connection here people!

Today was museum day. That needs an exclamation point. Museum Day!! Our hotel is within walking distance of The Hermitage so of course we set out early to pay it a visit. We grabbed a quick breakfast in the hotel which consisted of a hard boiled egg, bread and cheese, fruit juice and tea. Then we hoofed it to the central square. It’s only about a 15-minute walk. Good exercise!

The Hermitage is big. Beyond big. Huge. Massive. We could only view the 2nd and 3rd floors which consist of Italian, Dutch, French, Spanish and English painters. And even that was done at a brisk pace. You could easily spend 8 hours per floor if you want to take the headphones and take it all in thoroughly. I chose to go to my favorites like Renoir, Matisse, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Monet, Pisarro, Brueggel and a few others. Whew…amazing. I took so many photos I feel like I could give a pretty thorough tour.

Jack likes Cezanne and Matisse, especially the cutout paper works. I guess he learned about Matisse in art class. He was surprised that I knew who he was. I think that Jack thought he had just learned something completely new.

Jack: Was Henri Matisse alive when you were little?

Me: No, we studied him in school, just like you.

Jack: But how did you know about him if he wasn’t born yet?

Me: He was already dead sweetie.

Jack: Then how did he keep on painting?

Me: Sigh…

We’re currently in the hotel getting ready to pack up for that train back to Moscow at 1:40 a.m. We never stop moving!! I’ll say this… St. Petersburg is unreal. Every street has a view to die for. The sun actually peeked out for a bit today and people squinted up helplessly without any sunglasses on hand to pull out. Poor things. It’s been cool out but not very freezing cold like I expected. No rain at all. Woo hoo! Been lugging that damn umbrella for nothing. My purse weighs a holy ton, what with the water bottle, iPad, passport wallet, pile of Russian bills and coins, mini hair brush and hairspray (windy!), “batty” Jack’s stuffed animal, Russian phrase book, a few lipsticks and chap sticks, (windy!!), camera, damn…maps, tissues, napkins (sal fyetkas). And some other things. Freak, it’s heavy.

So, the other day as we entered the Kremlin, we met a couple from…somewhere…they spoke English and we bonded and took photos of each other. Then today, a 9-hour train ride later, in the Hermitage, in a random tiny room in the Dutch wing (remember, this museum is HUUUUGE), we bump into them again. “Heeeeeyyyyyyyy!” Point, wave, laugh. How random!

9:58 p.m. Yawn. This guy on TV looks like a Russian Liam Nieson.

Haraschol. Okay.

Paka. Bye.


Russia – Day 8 – St. Petersburg vs. Moscow

Some things became apparent when we arrived in St. Petersburg yesterday. Though Moscow is a very big bustling city, and everyone is dressed very stylishly (enough to make me feel like a slob even though I tried to look okay), and the cafes are nice, and it feels like NYC… well, St. Petersburg just feels … younger somehow. There is as much history here, but everything has a more upscale feel. St. Petersburg has cafes, but they are every 10 steps or so. We’ve eaten so much in the day and a half that we’ve been here, that it feels gluttonous. My brother and I lost serious weight in the last week in Moscow, and it’s not because they don’t eat. They do! We did! I’m not sure what it is exactly. We walked a lot more, ate less frequently, took in more sights and therefore had our days crammed with history and tours. Maybe that’s it.

In St. Petersburg, it feels a bit like Moscow on steroids. Everything is just a bit shinier, bigger and more plentiful. It’s sort of more metrosexual and there are iPads EVERYwhere.

We’ve eaten in 3 restaurants so far, and each time we’ve claimed that THIS place is our favorite. From yesterday’s meal at the Indian style restaurant, which I LOVEd by the way, to the early afternoon lunch we had today at a cafe called ZOOM…which was delicious, even though they were confused with our Russian/English crap talk and insisted that pasta carbonara was indeed the pasta with chicken, le sigh, all the way to our dinner tonight at a sushi restaurant, which by the way had the BEST waiter on the planet…we tipped that boy well, damn, we are eating well!  Even the lights are brighter here.

We took our boat cruise last night (see blurry photo at top!)…everyone fell asleep but moi, because I was hopped up on a month’s worth of caffeine. We saw the seven famous draw bridges and had cheesy saxophone music played for us while we sipped beer and couldn’t possibly order food beccause a) it was 1:30 a.m. b) we had just eaten the equivalent of 2 full meals each for dinner, and c) we realized we were out of cash. And not just rubles. American cash. Well not completely out. But at that “omg we’re going to be stuck here forever because we won’t have enough money to pay the cab driver to the airport” kind of panic. So we found the “bankomat” or “ATM” and figured out how to rack up serious fees in America. Can’t wait to come home to those statements! Actually I heard it’s not that bad. But we’ll see.

We took a bus tour around the city today and I really enjoyed it! The pre-recorded tape had lots of interesting tidbits about the city. Did you know that St. Petersburg has on average only 35 sunny days per year? Me either! It’s been cloudy both days so far. Kinda makes sense now. And Russians don’t wear sunglasses when it’s “off season”. So in Moscow, even when the sun is blinding, no one wears them. Hmmm…


I’m going to post only one or two photos, but please go back and visit my earlier posts because I photo’ed those biotches up! It’s about (yikes!) 1:13  a.m. here. I had NO caffeine today people, but it’s working its way out of my system.  Tomorrow we visit the Hermitage  museum. We were in the square today, and the museum was right in front of us, and how stupid are we…we don’t realize it, so we’re like “yeah, tomorrow we’ll have to figure out how to get to the Hermitage museum…it’s totally on the other side of the city I bet. We’ll have to take the subway…Heyyy what’s this cool green building here? Let’s get some pictures…” Duhhh!


I was able to talk to Jack at 12 a.m. Yayy! He seemed a lot happier and so did I. Only 4 more days until I get home.

Jack: Hi Mom, I went up to “great day” today.

me: Wow! That’s great! I’m proud of you. What have you been doing?

Jack: Dad’s on a call and hold on I have to get the cereal box. (he runs to the kitchen and comes back munching)

me: (straining to see through the skype window) Uh Jack? I think that’s the cereal that I was throwing out to the birds. It’s stale.

Jack: Eh, it’s okay. (munch munch)

me: Have you been taking good care of the kitties? Food, water and litter I mean?

Jack: Uhh…I’m not so sure about the water.

me: Hmmm, maybe go change it after we hang up.

Jack: Eh, it’s fine.

me: What do you want to do when I come home?

Jack: Go to the movies!!!

me: That’s a good plan!

Jack: And we can sleep in the hallway with sleeping bags.

me: ???


Russia – Day 7 – St. Petersburg

Could it be… I’m current???

Our hotel

We arrived on the night train, well, this afternoon…but that’s what its called. Our hotel is right in the center of town…very nice actually! We spent the afternoon walking in the local market, and we were the only tourists, or so it seemed. We saw apples and grapefruits for less than 10 cents each… Tons of shoes and sneakers for $9, this is American of course. I bought Jack some cool gifts for less than $3 but I don’t want to write about them because I want to surprise him. 🙂

Right now were in an Indian-type cafe waiting to eat. The menus are great because they show pictures of everything even if its not even exactly what you will get haha. We booked a boat excursion for, get this, 12:30am. LOL! So you drink caffeine all day, stay up all night and then sleep all morning. Wait, am I complaining?? The cruise lasts until 2:45am and takes us to the seven famous draw bridges in the city. The reason the cruise leaves so late is because that is the only time they raise the draw bridges. Apparently it’s the shizzet!! Okay I’m having piña coladas in the Indian restaurant in the Russian city. Hmmm. Will continue later!

Happy Blinchki!

Ok it’s later. Omg we ate sooooooooo much. Usually I don’t eat very much but everything was so good I had to try it. Chicken, potatoes and tomatoes in an amazing sauce came in a skillet. Pasta with Parmesan and julienned veggies…yum. Chicken Kiev. Even yummier. Blinchki with chocolate. Awesome bread and two (dva) pina coladas. Cant move. This restaurant is called Kalikiya something something galoost. We can read Russian! Oh yeah! Ok, back to the hotel and then the boat. I swear we never stop moving. I’m realizing now that unless jack is at home on skype now, I probably wont see him until tomorrow. 😦


Russia – Day 5 – Kremlin Cathedrals

(That’s “Batty”…he is a friend of Jack’s who joined me on my trip!)

Privyet! Hi!
We saw the Kremlin on our first day in Moscow but yesterday (remember to use that term loosely because it’s Sunday now!) we went inside the walls. Oooohhhh…I didn’t realize how much more security they had there. Metal detectors, bag searches, etc. Going through customs was actually easier…they just kept asking me to smile because of my passport photo. Plus it was 10 years ago so i looked a tad different. The officer was confused…you could tell. 

Inside the Kremlin walls we saw the armory, the giant bell (not it’s official name), the bell tower, some more churches and then we went to a big art museum in the center of Moscow. Name to be inserted here later! Lots of amazing portraits and landscapes plus a huge showing of religious icons. The gift shop had just closed so I wasn’t able to buy any souvenirs. 😦


I missed Jack’s 7am skype (3pm here) because the wifi situation at the cafe didn’t want to cooperate. Sigh. Very depressing. I had to wait 9 more hours to talk with him at midnight Moscow time. He cried a lot, then I did. I could have easily gone right to the airport to fly home. Sighhhhhhhh. He’s still confused as to why I would go so far away and not take him with me. I know I’ll be home on Friday but it seems a long way off right now. 

The weather has been very kind to us because this is supposedly when it rains a lot in Moscow. So far it’s only rained at night. The days have been sunny and cool. It does get cold at night but only low 40s as far as I can tell. 

Jack: After this trip you’re not allowed to go away again.
Me: I know…
Jack: Ever. I’m hiding your passport.


Russia – Day 4 – Vladimir

Koshka (Cat)

I’m realizing that no matter how diligent I think I’m being about posting…yeah…I’m going to fall behind. Sooooooooo this post is from Wednesday. I don’t even want to say “yesterday” because of the time difference. I think it’s already tomorrow here. Or there. Shtow? What?

Okay, today we woke up in Sergiyev Posad and then had another new friend drive us by car to the town of Vladimir, which is more North East. It was a beautiful 2-hour drive through some smaller towns, the countryside and even the deep woods. there were lots of trees similar to our white birch tree, plus some other varieties that I didn’t recognize. Pines were plentiful!

We had a professional historical tour guide take us on a walking tour of the town and it’s various churches. Amazing photos! I will do my best to post them below. We’re flipping through the photos now and I’m quite impressed! 

So here’s a little bit of how our routine works. We wake up and enjoy the free breakfast in the restaurant. It has typical American type foods like yogurt and pastries and eggs, and also Russian foods like deli meats and cucumber salad etc. Then we go back to the room and unplug our various electronics from the mouse maze of converters we have set up. There’s one 2-pronged thing that goes directly into the Russian wall socket. Then a big converter box that turns that into a 2-pronged American socket. you have to set high or low power for either a phone or a hair dryer. Don’t ever forget to do that! Then there’s a converter that turns our 3-pronged cords into 2-pronged. It’s like 6 inches long when you’re done so you have to prop it up with a water bottle or else it unplugs itself. Fun!

Then we gather our gear for the day and walk to the Metro. OMG if we didn’t have a Russian native tethered to us at all times we would probably die down there. And not just lose a leg like I almost did when the door closed on it. The escalators go down about five stories and there are tunnels everywhere with trains whizzing past at a million miles per hour. Or “a million miles for an hour” as Jack likes to say. :). This is HIS blog isn’t it? shoot…

We stop at cafes for snacks or zakuska. Usually coffee. Then see the sights, walk for miles and miles, then reverse it all back to the hotel and plug everything back in. We have iPods, iPads, laptops, cameras, and I think that’s it. Our phones are useless. 

We’re feeling more comfortable with the language and now ask for non-sparkling water, the check, the bathroom and other things with complete confidence. Except for the time that I called myself a sheep instead of saying I’m hungry, or something. Yikes. 

More photos for you to enjoy, now posted below!


Russia – Day 3 – Sergiyev Posad

We’re in a new town today, which is just outside of Moscow, called Sergiyev Posad. My brother’s friend lives here and took us to a small but nice tourist hotel which promptly spotted us as Americans and put us in their most expensive suite. Oh well… not like we had the language skills to argue. 🙂

We have an hour or two of down time until we all meet up again later. John and i are going to walk around town and get pictures of the amazing churches. We ate at the local McDonalds, just because!

I have to say it was a LOT better than in the U.S.because it tasted really good for fast food and looked just like the pictures of the food on the posters in the restaurant. That never happens at home. Then we walked around town and went to the actual Matryoska factory and of course loaded up on souvenirs. They had dolls, wooden sculpture toys, paintings and traditional Russian jewelry. We of course bought a lot of goodies…see below for a picture of some of it.

We then went to a nice little cafe for coffee and snacks, which consist of the traditional plate of Russian pickled foods such as cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, a whole head of garlic, mushrooms, sometimes squash. They had borscht and some other soup, and I had a cafe latte (more caffeine…I’m almost an addict).  

We went to this particular cafe at 3 pm Moscow time so that we could use their wi-fi to call Jack when he woke up at 7 am his time. Gotta love the free Internet! McDonalds has it also. We talked with Jack for a little while and showed him our food and the source of the loud booming music in the background, which was a giant flat screen blasting the Marc Anthony and Pit Bull video. haha.

Jack was cute because his hair was all messy from just waking up. He missed us a lot and then told Bella that I was on the phone. Haha. Bella said meow. 

It’s so good to skype with him because it recharges my own battery. 🙂 We had a nice talk and Jack was happy to see his uncle also.

After walking around town all afternoon, we were hungry for dinner. Pasta! Mine came with pesto sauce…so good. Wine of course…red. And a healthy dose of second hand smoke (cough). 

At midnight we went back to McD’s for wifi so I could skype with Jack. He was very sad and wanted me to come home. 😦 I was talking in the bathroom because there was such loud music playing. Then Jack got my eyes watering…you can guess what I looked like in the bathroom crying into an iPad lol!!! Then they kicked us out because they were closing. 

Right now we have the beat pumping loud from the basement disco right under our room. Guess I’ll need more caffeine to wake up. Sigh…

Jack: Can you come home tonight?? Please?
Me: Awwww I can’t because our ticket isn’t until next week.
Jack: (sad at first, then perks up) Then I’m not doing my homework!! 


Moscow looks a bit like the Bronx

I’m here! In Moscow. Now I’m homesick…Wahhh…
Luckily our friend has arrived to help us translate! So far I’ve asked for or said the following things IN Russian mind you:
A phone card (no luck)
How far is it to the hotel (our nice driver Evan said 25 kilometers)
What’s your name
My name is
Do you speak English (many people do! The ones that don’t are very apologetic.)
One bottle of water (my brother can ask for his own, ha!)

So yeah, we haven’t eaten yet. It’s 8:05pm. Still very tired…
Jack got pretty upset yesterday when it was time for us to finally leave the house.

Jack: Waaaaahhhh, why didn’t you buy me a ticket!!! (pitiful sobs, then they immediately turned off as this thought occurred to him)…Sniff, but you’ll buy me some extra special presents right? like a megaphone??


So, what time is it in Russia?

Jack: Is it getting dark already??

me: Yep. Shorter days and longer nights…

Jack: I used to LOVE when it was still light out after Tae Kwon Do.

me: Me too.

Jack: (thinking) Well what if we reverse the polarity of the sun and make it daytime all day?

me: Polarity?

Jack: (waving me away) Yeah yeah, so like it pulls the earth around and the sun shines on us ALL day.

me: When would we sleep?

Jack: Moommmmm, you can sleep in the daylight, just close the curtains. Sheesh. Then we would have flowers all year and it would be beautiful.

me: Nice idea. What about the rest of the world?

Jack: What’s on the other side? Moscow? Is that where you’re going?

me: Yeah, so it would be dark there all the time?

Jack: And cold. It would always be night…nothing would grow, then they might starve…

me: Hmmm, I don’t know.

Jack: That is a very cruel thought.

me: It’s YOUR thought not mine.

Jack: But what time is it there?

me: It’s 8 hours ahead, so it would be nighttime there now.

Jack: Eh, then they’re used to the dark and the cold. I won’t worry about it.