Thursday, February 10, 2011

Not Easy But Worth It

Time to come clean: I’ve been having a difficult time writing about our time in Moscow. I’m thankful for the opportunity to have visited and to have had the chance to spend quality time with one of my favorite people – lovingly nicknamed Cold Snob – as well as meet one of the most energetic and entertaining young women I’ve had the pleasure to meet.

Indeed, the visual images and moments deeply touched me. Just to share a few of the best:

The imposing state museum:

The intricate ice sculptures built both inside and outside:

The majestic Red Square:

The newly rebuilt and exceedingly golden church in the center of Moscow:

The arresting changing of the Kremlin guards:

The still and impressing Kremlin:

But unfortunately three large themes also impressed me, and a not so positive way: media, equality of nations and races, and equality of women.

We arrived in Moscow shortly before the airport bombing that killed 36 people. With some very helpful translations, we experienced the initial Russian media coverage. The words “independent” and “free” didn’t and don’t spring to mind. Like one of the buildings dedicated to news coverage (next pic), the words “imposing,” “controlled” and “structured” do.

We might have missed experiencing Russian media completely or at least the emergency media coverage without the bombing tragedy. We might have also missed the underlying – and not quite so underlying – racism within the Russian society.

I need to add an disclaimer here: we were in Moscow for one week only and our contact to the average man was limited due in great part to language limitations. However, it did appear to me that the general populace holds the belief that the “pure” Russians deserve better pay, better treatment, and while beating the hell out of the “others” isn’t necessarily to be encouraged, it might not be all that bad either.

Which puzzles me because the best food we ate during our visit - and I continue to claim that cuisine tells us a lot about a culture, look at the American and German for proof points - were all absolutely not Russian. Georgian was the absolute best; if you haven't eaten it yet, run to the next resturant. Unfortunately we ate that meal so quickly there aren’t any pictures. So here’s a yummy and recommended Uzbekistani dish: fowl stuffed with lamb.

Lastly, while the women may exude a certain strength and remarkable beauty, it appears that they hold a second (at best) place in society. I can get really militant about this topic – so I’m cutting myself off.

With all that finally off my chest, lets return to the good stuff – did I mention Moscow is beautiful? Even at night and especially from above.

Summary: Moscow should definitely be on your list of places to visit, just don’t expect an easy experience if you think too much.


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