Thursday, November 02, 2006

Arrival in Moscow

Monday, October 9, 2006
Weather: More of the same.

A leisurely morning as we sailed into Moscow. The Cruise Manager threatened us, yet again, against buying icons.

The building pictured here is the port building on the Moscow River where the boat was moored. John and I have determined the architecture style as "Soviet Gothic." It looks rather impressive from a distance, but if you look closely, you see that the styles are a mishmash of modern and classic elements that are rather poorly constructed. We took a walk around the building, which is showing significant signs of deterioration.

Our stop after lunch, the Monastery of Sergio about an hour northeast of the city. John and I both purchased new and very cheap icons, hoping neither will attract attention during our exit on Wednesday.

The monastery, also a fortress, is in remarkable condition compared to others we've seen on this trip. John thinks this crowd collaborated with the Soviets to avoid the destruction that occurred elsewhere.

Two of the churches we entered on the site turned out to be shops, but the Church of St. Sergius, complete with silver sarcophagus containing his remains seems to be the closest to what pre-Soviet-era Russians had. Dark, sooty and heavy with incense.

Picture taking was forbidden inside the monastery, so the distance clip above is the only image I have to post.

A couple of shots from the bus window as we drove through Moscow.

"Mamma Mia!" opening soon!

A new stadium.
Can't remember what building this is.

A taste of Moscow traffic (which was terrible everywhere).

When we stopped at the Moscow River, I got a couple of clips of the fountains.

The remainder of our evening was a concert from one of Moscow's Conservatories. The Mockba Orchestra, composed of traditional instruments, balilaika and doma, along with an accordion-like instrument supported by flute, piccolo, oboe and light percussion. We were more than trepidatious after our ballet in St. Petersburg, so we sat near the door in case a quick escape was called for. Our fears were quickly allayed. The featured soprano started out with a sloppy "Una Voce Poco Fa" from Il Barbera Di Siviglia, followed by a stronger "Habanera" from Carmen. Unfortunately, her dress seem lifted from a bad local production of "Beauty and The Beast" complete with Austrian shade skirt. (Austrian shades, they're not just for palace windows anymore!)

A shot of the concert hall - quite comfortable and lovely accoustics.

After the concert, I got another clip of the fountains lit up.

During our late dinner on board, the level of familiarity with the serving staff has gotten quite informal. As I reached for my spoon to start the soup, Nastja (who has really taken quite good care of me on this trip) swatted my hand away until she could double-check that the ingredients were consistent with my gluten-free diet.

More to come...

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