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Sunday, August 23, 2015

First Impressions of Moscow, Russia

I get why women are at once mysterious and hard to live with.  My poor spouse, who had already been to St. Petersburg as a child and had no real desire to return, agreed to spend one of our precious vacations on just that, a trip to Russia, because it was one of the countries I felt I had to see before I go.  It was not something that was going to get better with time or go away all together.  Without much ado, he agreed to the plan. He did it as a favor to me.

I have always wanted to go to Russia, but I was also somewhat worried that it would kind of a scary place.  I love the onion domed architecture and the culture that produced such a rich literature, but I was wary of a place that had produced Stalin and Putin in recent years and a whole string of despots throughout it's history.  I decided up front that we would need a guide, that I couldn't just hope for the best, which is how we usually travel.  We like to go with a dictionary and a phrasebook and the kindness of strangers as a rule, but I felt like Russia would be an exception.
I turns out that I had it all wrong.  I wanted to see Moscow, but I wasn't excited about it.  The fact that I loved Moscow was my first hint that I had been wrong about it from the beginning.  One of the persistent questions was how they were being perceived in the press, and the answer was not well at all, of course, and it has had the inevitable effect on tourism.  This picture accurately reflects how I think about Moscow, a mix of new and old, ethnically diverse and all around surprising. 

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