Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A lesson from the mountains

Ok, time out from Russia. I still have 4 more days to share, but first, this quote from the naturalist and preservationist John Muir:

"Few places in this world are more dangerous than home. Fear not, therefore, to try the mountain passes. They will kill care, save you from deadly apathy, set you free, and call forth every faculty into vigorous, enthusiastic action. Even the sick should try these so-called dangerous passes, because for every unfortunate they kill, they cure a thousand."

Phil has helped me to more fully enjoy the mountains of this beautiful country. We bought a year long National Parks pass and he uses it as an excuse to make detours to parks on almost every trip we go on. Although I do make fun of him and occasionally complain that the detours are too long, it is all in good fun because the truth is the mountains are helping me to be more alive. I am a safe person that doesn't like being frightened (the scariest movies I can handle are Hitchcock thrillers). No one has ever called me a dare devil and getting hurt from going on a rope swing is one of my biggest fears.

Phil has taught me how to be a little more worry-free. He has introduced me to the mountains and the John Muir quote explains so perfectly what is happening to me.

Last day in Mockba

Here are some of the highlights from our last full day in Moscow.

It began with this continental breakfast. Everything on this tray made me want to puke.

Then we saw the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by the Kremlin.

This is the interior of one of the metro stations. Moscow is known for having the most ornate metro system in the world.

This is a monastery we visited. It was really fun to see all the cute old babushka nuns walking around. I admire their devotion. And I love the onion domes on the top of the church.

Next door to the monastery was the Central Moscow Cemetery where many important Russian political leaders, artists, authors, and composers are buried. This is the grave of Prokofiev.

The Kremlin

This is one of my favorite pictures of the trip. It includes a sampling of Russian architecture with the onion dome as well as one of the best examples of Russian Gothic architecture from one of the Seven Sisters buildings in the background. I also love the sampling of lamps in this picture. The softness in the sky's coloring makes me want to go back!

Statue of Peter the Great. Many Muscovites see this statue as an eyesore. It is ironic that this grand statue is in Moscow since Peter the Great is responsible for moving much of the political power away from Moscow and taking it to St. Petersburg.

Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

The view from our hotel room. The crazy thing is that our hotel was on the edge of the city. This photo proves that there are high rises EVERYWHERE in Moscow. This looks like it could have been taken downtown, when in reality it is about a 30 minute metro ride to the center of town.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

First I went to Mockba

(St. Basil's)

Mockba is how you spell Moscow in the Russian alphabet. The Russian language and alphabet were partially responsible for making Russia the craziest place I have ever been. I have never been to a place were so few people spoke English and where I couldn't even sound out the metro signs. After being there for a few days I decided I should probably try to figure out how to pronounce the Russian words. After I figured out how to do that the world got smaller and I felt more comfortable being there. I got really good at saying the word for "English" in Russian which is "Angleeskee." Many people starting talking to me in Russian. When this happened I would get a petrified look on my face and would sheepishly say "Angleeskee," then they would smile, shrug their shoulders, and walk away. Not being able to communicate with people is so frustrating!

This whole trip was an incredible experience, the kind I never want to forget.

I spent the first week at a conference of the International Association of Music Libraries. It was a very interesting conference with some incredible presentations. I presented my paper "A Bibliographic Overview of Research on Music Copyists" on Monday. It was nice to get it over with so I could enjoy the rest of the conference without having to worry about putting more finishing touches on my PowerPoint presentation. I am pleased with how the presentation went. Monday-Thursday afternoon were spent at the conference events including a wonderful Baroque conference in the Russian National Museum in Moscow. My favorite part of the concert was of course the baroque oboes. The oboists inspired me to once again try my hand at the difficult instrument. I regret that I did not take very many pictures during these first few days of my trip. My one lame excuse: jet lag.

My dear Philip arrived on Thursday afternoon. He had just been traveling for about 24 hours, but he was still willing to go see downtown Moscow with me. Here are a few pictures from that evening:

Eclipse was playing!

This is me entering the Russian MTC.

Phil always looks so cool.

The best meal of our whole trip...

at a really cool outdoor restaurant!