Friday, 5 September 2008

Family Visit to Moscow (July 8 to 16)

Our two daughters and their husbands visited us in Moscow, arriving July 8 and going home July 16. We wanted to share with them some of our favorites, so we took them to many of the same places we had taken Jeff and Doug and their wives when they came in May. However, we didn't have a humanitarian reason to go to St. Petersburg this time; so instead of a train trip to that city, we did a day trip to Suzdal. I have already added a posting about our Suzdal trip (see 18 August 08 blog), so now I will include some photos taken on the Moscow part of their visit.

Narene, Curtis, Marla, Beth, and Todd
Photo taken at Novodevichy Convent.

Although Curtis & Marla missed their connecting flight in Cincinnati to Atlanta and thus did not come on the same plane as Todd & Beth as planned, their flight through New York arrived within half an hour of when Todd & Beth landed. It was exciting to greet them at the airport, and we had a fun time showing them Moscow.

On Wednesday, our walk took us across the bridge over the Moscow River where we had a good view of the huge Peter the Great statue in the river and the Kremlin wall and towers.

Narene, Beth, & Marla
Peter the Great statue in the background.

Narene & Sam
Photo taken on the bridge
with a view of
the Kremlin wall, tower, and palace.

The Great Kremlin Palace has an area of 25,000 sq. meters and over 700 rooms. The imperial family's private apartments and five "grandiose state reception rooms" are in the west wing. The palace is not open for visitors.

The Cathedral of Christ the Savior (Narene & Beth)

The Cathedral of Christ the Savior is the largest church in Russia. The church was demolished in 1933 on Stalin's orders, and it was rebuilt in the 1990s.

Marla, Narene, and Beth
These flower beds were planted to tulips when
Jeff & Rochelle and Doug & Shannon visited in May.

Flowers were planted all across Moscow this spring and summer. In May the main flowers everywhere were tulips. When they were no longer beautiful, they were discarded and replaced with begonias, petunias, dusty miller, marigolds, etc. Often the flowers were planted in various shaped containers, while many others were planted in flower beds. Russians do like flowers. All year around there are many flower shops, and it is not unusual to see people on the street or on the metro carrying home a large bouquet of fresh flowers, even on a cold winter day.

Todd & Beth in Izmaly Park.
This is a good place to buy souvenirs,
but it is also a fun place to walk through and look.

The Asian Market
(Sam, Narene, and Todd)

The Asian Market is huge with row after row of merchandise. It is an experience, but not so enjoyable to walk through the maze. If you should find something you want to buy, you had better get it when you see it, or you may never find your way back to it again. The young missionaries buy nice silk ties there for 100 rubles.

Tsaritsyno - Catherine's Palace
(Narene & Marla)

Catherine the Great ordered a palace built at Tsaritsyno, but she disliked the architecture and ordered it to be rebuilt. However, there were not enough funds to complete it; and so when she died in 1776, it was abandoned without her ever having lived in it. The present palace was finished in recent years and is open to the public as a museum. We walked for a long time to see as much as we could of the large estate.

Tsaritsyno (Narene, Beth, Todd, Marla, and Curtis)

A fountain in Tsaritsyno

An artificial ruin in Tsaritsyno. (Curtis & Marla)

Tsaritsyno (Todd & Beth, Marla & Curtis, and Narene)

Curtis, Marla, Beth, & Todd
Resting tired feet while Sam buys tickets

for a sightseeing boat tour.

One of many fountains in Moscow.
In the photo above, they are sitting near this fountain.

Sightseeing on a boat tour.
(left side: Beth & Todd, Marla & Curtis)
(right side: Greg & Chris Shepard and Narene)

Peter the Great statue
in the Moscow River, as seen from the boat.

One of the Seven Sisters buildings -
The apartment building on Kotyelnicheskaya
embankment in Moscow where the
Moskva River joins the Yauza River.

Portrait artists on Old Arbat Street.

It's interesting walking down the pedestrian street of Old Arbat. In addition to the restaurants and souvenir shops, there are artists ready to sketch your portrait, entertainers hoping their talent will invite you to drop some coins in their cup, and several statues.

The day before our family flew home, we went to Mu Mu's and ordered Russian food. I had borsch soup (red beet), and it was delicious.

We also had sharmas one day.
It is spelled in Russian on the
sign above
at the left in large cyrillic letters.
(Curtis, Todd, and Beth)

Of course, McDonald's has become
a Russian experience for us.

We like the price at McDonald's; and the food seems better than we remember it in the U.S., especially their chocolate shakes. What we don't like are the long lines and the wait to get a table. They have long lines inspite of having more cashiers than we typically see in the U.S., and they have more tables. In fact, we have heard that the one at Tverskaya is the largest McDonald's in the world. There are quite a few McDonald's in the city, and they are very popular here.

Friday, we planned to go to the Armory in the Kremlin. However, after twice standing in line for tickets only to be told they were all sold out for that time slot, we bought tickets for the cathedral tour inside the Kremlin instead. It was a rainy day, and it would have been a good time to be inside the museum; but we had umbrellas and didn't let the rain slow us down.

Standing by the outside door
into our apartment building -
Beth, Todd, Narene, Curtis, & Marla -

a little wet, but happy.

In other postings, I have included photos of Red Square and the Kremlin Cathedral Tour, so I will only include a couple here proving that Todd & Beth and Curtis & Marla were actually there. (See the blog posted on June 28 for more about Red Square and the Kremlin.)

The large canon - Todd & Beth

The large bell - Beth & Todd, Marla & Curtis

We enjoyed seeing the National Russian Dance Show
featuring ethnic Russian dance, music, and costumes.
(Friday evening, July 11)

It is an excellent musical show held during
the summer months
at the Cosmos Hotel.
(Curtis & Marla, Narene, Greg & Chris Shepard,
and Beth & Todd)

Saturday, we went by electric train
and bus to Suzdal; and those photos are on the
August 18th blog.

Curtis & Marla and Todd & Beth planned their trip to Moscow to include a Sunday, so they could attend our Yugo Zapadnya branch, which meets in the Moscow West Mission office building.

Yugo Zapadnya Branch
Elder & Sister Ireland and the Elders:

Hunter, Armstrong, Mills, Harker, Aiken, & Terrell

With walking shoes on
ready for another long trek,

we took a sack lunch and headed for

Novodevichy Convent & Cemetery.

Curtis & Marla at Novodevichy Convent

We paid for a tour at Novodevichy Convent.
These are the icons inside the
Smolensky Cathedral.

Before when we have visited Novodevichy, we only toured the grounds and cemetery, which is free. There is a lot to see at the convent and the cemetery is unique.

Peter the Great had his power-loving half-sister, Sofia, confined to the monastery in 1689 where she remained until her death in 1704. Many of Moscow's royal and nobel women either chose or were forced to remain in the safety and seclusion of the convent for the rest of their lives. Novodvichy was Moscow's richest convent. When wives and widows of tzars and boyars and their daughters and sisters entered the convent, they handed over all their jewels and wealth. Peter's first wife was also brought to the convent after his death in 1727. Prior to coming to Novodevichy, she had been sent by Peter to Suzdal Convent when he had tired of her. She and Sofia are buried in the Smolensky Cathedral. We went in several other buildings including the Refectory where the "bejewelled robes of the nuns" are on display.

Resting tired feet.
(Narene, Todd, Beth, Curtis, and Marla)

No visitor to Moscow should leave without having their picture taken in front of St. Basil's. We especially are fond of going to Red Square at night. At this time of the year, the daylight lingers long in Moscow. It was after 10:00 p.m. when we went back to Red Square for another look at this historic part of Moscow and to take these pictures. The only better time to see Red Square is during the Christmas season with the decorations, lights, and huge Christmas tree.

Curtis & Marla in front of St. Basil's.

Todd & Beth
It's hard to believe it is 11:00 p.m.

GUM Department Store on Red Square.

Red Square at Night.

Monday morning, July 14, Marla and Beth and husbands went to Victory Park while Sam and I went to the office. It turned out that the museum with the nice diaramas was closed, but they did get to see this area and experience the metro on their own.

One of the numerous metro stations in Moscow.

Some of the escalators in the metro are extremely long.

Church of the Ascension

(Todd & Beth, Curtis & Marla, and Sam)

This is one of my favorite churches we have seen in Russia. It was built between 1530 and 1532, commissioned by Vasilly III in 1529 in hope of being blessed with a son and heir to the throne. That son, Ivan the Terrible, was the one who later would have St. Basil's built. The estate is on the bank of the Moscow River and is surrounded by forest land, which is now a conservation zone and one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites. It has some of the oldest oak trees in the Moscow region, some dating back 600 years and some "planted by the young Peter the Great himself." We tried to find the log cabin of Peter the Great, but we missed it. However, we spent a long time walking through the estate and even stopped by a stream to rest where Marla soothed her sore feet in the cold water.

All Russian Exhibition Center
(Curtis & Marla, Beth & Todd, and Narene)

On the day before they flew back to the U.S., we took Curtis & Marla and Beth & Todd to see the All Russian Exhibition Center and to see a small part of the Botanical Gardens. (To see pictures of this interesting place, go to my August 28 blog.)

Getting ready to leave for the airport.
Photo taken in the living room
of our Moscow apartment.

(Curtis & Marla and Beth & Todd)

The view from our apartment.
Our apartment isn't anything to write home about,

but we do have a great view!

I wonder what our children who have visited liked best about what they saw while visiting us in Russia. For Sam and me, the best part is being able to share our Moscow experience with our family. It has been a memorable opportunity for us.

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