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Thread: Russia

  1. #81
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    Awesome pictures and stories, Spidey! I love Russian Nesting Dolls - that picture is great!

    Sue
    Whatever I feel like I wanna do. Gosh!

  2. #82
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    Thanks, Sue - here's another one for you. It must be like looking at a family photo for you!!!
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    One more, because I'm getting hungry (it's 5pm here)...
    They don't have a drive-thru, just a walk-thru for pedestrians in the Arbat.
    Attached Images

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    dazedandconfused is offline Getting the hang of it. Copper dazedandconfused is an unknown quantity at this point
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    Glad you made it to Moscow and are having a great time. It sounds like you are able to navigate your way around very well. Thanks for the pics. They bring back memories for us as well. What hotel are you staying in? If you have time, take the Metro northeast to Ismailovsky Park. Follow the crowd out of the metro station to the biggest souvenir and flea market you've ever seen! It's worth the trip. You are to be commended. Many people are unnerved by the security guards, the crowds, the homeless, the language barrier, etc. You'll remember the experience for a lifetime.
    Dazed and Confused

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    Amazing pics! I never would have thought that place was so nice. I've always loved their architecture, but that's where it stopped. Maybe I can convince Javie to take a stop in Russia over our honeymoon!!!
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  6. #86
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    I was hoping you'd check in, Dazed. Thank you for your kind words. Tonight we went to a Russian tea room for dinner. It was fantastic. Supposedly famous but I didn't catch the name. It was incredibly expensive, though - that much I did catch.

    If we have time we'll try Ismailovsky Park; it sounds like fun! We're staying at the Swissotel, thanks to our business contacts who work close by. It's kind of far out from most of the sights we want to see, but it's not all bad to come 'home' and be so pampered.

    I haven't been intimidated by the language barrier at all. Not at all. Most restaurants offer an English menu. I was talking with a staff member here at the hotel and she told me that they take English class at the hotel once a week. Even on the streets the Russians seem embarrassed not to know how to communicate with me. I mostly love the folks who try and laugh with me.

    We found out more from our Russian host tonight. There are 18 million in the city, and he says 5,000 homeless children. More adults than that. He said the government decides when you have hot water - he's been without for over a month while they fix some pipes. They also decide when to switch on the heat. The tradeoff is that it's all free.

    I asked him if the biggest problem was alcoholism and he said, 'no, it's the economics.' He gave a very compelling argument about how Russia didn't want the social help from other countries because they fear the political control that comes with money. Basically, he said, the country is sacrificing its people for politics. He said the avg. expected age of a male in Russia is 59, partially due to alcoholism.

    The government gave a house to every citizen when Russia became its own country, and they used to pay for the repairs. What is happening now is that people are giving back their houses because they can no longer afford the repairs, so they are homeless because rent is so expensive. Also, the children of the people who got the free house don't have any money so there is an entire generation that is not self sufficient.

    I asked about the incredible shrinking nation - the term I've heard to describe the fact that folks aren't having babies anymore. He said even with illegal immigration, the nation is shrinking by 800,000 people every year. The problem becomes first that there will be no army, and even more significant when there is not a generation of women to birth the replacements in the army, in about 10 - 15 years. He said the country will go through another major crisis then. Already there are talks of giving money and assistance to women who stay home with their children. There's also talk of paying women $200 flat to have a second child. Already there are orphans here - can't imagine what would happen to those figures if this pay-for-babies plan goes through.

    Well, tomorrow we're working from 6am til 6pm, and then going to a work party til who knows when. The thing about it is that we're at least an hour away from the convention hall and we are relying on our host's driver, so we'll be there til the party is over. I imagine I won't check in tomorrow.

    Best to you all - thanks for the posts and for keeping me company today!

    Carol

    Net, it would be fun to come and check this out. I'm so glad I did!

    Carol

  7. #87
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    Have fun at the party!!!!!!
    take party pix
    Mimi

  8. #88
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    Dobre utra! (good morning)

    I'm facing day two in the convention hall but I wanted to check in. I can't post pics anymore but that's just as well, probably, considering the photos we have. The convention hall is as large as the ones in the US, and I'm sitting at one of a thousand tables in the cafeteria. They have pepperoni pizza, chicken, salads, lamb, and a whole lot of tomato salads for lunch. It was packed yesterday.

    Our 'product' arrived yesterday. It cleared customs exactly one minute after the show began, so there were some politics going on there. Even so, they got everything up and running pretty quickly. Tech managed his press conference quite well, which really was a feat with a Russian translator. Everything is going well for them now and it's fun to see the reaction to their product.

    We have all decided that this is the most overtly sexual place on earth. The underground really is underground, but it bubbles to the surface in everyday life and you can't help but notice it as a Westerner. The stiletto shoes are just one indication. I just noticed the woman that sold me orange juice, in a blue uniform, wears stilettos. I sat here for a long time yesterday and saw countless women wearing business suits with slits up their thighs, etc. It doesn't seem to be a big deal here, though, so you don't get the same gasps that you would in our offices. There's a lot more to describe but since it's a family forum I'll just leave it at that.

    With the family forum theme, it will be hard for me to describe the opening party we went to last night. lol Think Russian tycoon and you'll be very close. It was a beach party (but so cold!) and they were playing with beach balls around the pool. I kept thinking "playboy mansion" - and the girls were just as eager. There were women dancing (? lol) on top of the huts, with men beneath taking their pictures.

    The restaurant was next to the river, a sort of yacht club. Yachts might be stretching it, I think. There were big boats there. They had tents all around the pool, a stage with live bands, many, many bars, and tons of food. They had three pigs roasting outside on open pits, and two woks the size of a small bathtub. It was technically a buffet, but we rated a table inside the restaurant so the buffet was a little different. Basically inside you got a plate and filled it with as much filet mignon as possible (or pork satay or salads or fried rice...) and took it to your table to share. I was in line and saw 50 yr old men take a dozen filets at once. The salads were great, and they had grilled vegetables. Not much bread last night. It's a bit of an oxymoron to watch that, because abundance with food is clearly a sign of power here, but at the same time, the platters and bowls on the buffet table just weren't that large by US standards. We've given a few parties in our time and we have trays that are much larger. Portions generally are just smaller here.

    And yes, LadyHope, I'm svelt now. lol... My skirt is most definitely hanging on my hips today. I hadn't noticed the loss until today, but apparently there is some. Which means, of course, that I'm now only twice the size of these Russians. (Seriously, you cannot believe how thin these women are. It's not just one or two of them; there is an entire sector of the population whose legs are as thin as my arm. At home we'd diagnose something or another to treat them!) On the whole I have probably seen fewer than fifty overweight Russian women. The men are also sleek (at least the ones in suits) but they tend to be heavier on the whole. They remind me of Fiddler on the Roof in stature, if you know what I mean.

    But I digress! haha Back to the party. Every table had its own bar, and every table depleted the entire selection. As the night went on, it became a game to steal each other's vodka. The men were very loud and the women were very drunk. They were all warm and friendly and inclusive, much more so than the US. We all played a game where we each had to think up a top three something or another... best books of all time, best entertainers, fave movies, etc. Somebody finally shut us down by screaming, "Save me from the competitive people of the world!"

    At our table 15 languages were spoken and I made everybody say something to me in another language. Our host 'won' by telling me I was beautiful in 6 different languages. Very, very cool. Very. At the end of the night they were all totally surprised to hear that I had never been outside the US before, ("this must be blowing your mind, sheila!") and that I work in a church. One man from the UK said, "how did you end up in this den of thieves, my lady?" This, as he poured me more wine. They were also very surprised to hear that I am 41; they're much younger.

    I really didn't want to go when we did, but we had to get up this morning to come back to the hall. The sun set finally somewhere around midnight, and I hear it rose again around 3:30am. I think we left around 1am which meant we got home around 2am? Something like that. A few members of our party stayed all night and they are very quiet this morning. (They reported on the sunrise.) Poor things!

    I know this sounds weird but one of the things I want to remember is how these folks in Russia say OK. It comes out oh-key. This company has a driver and his life is to take folks where they need to go. He is very protective of our host and almost freaked when a second car took half an hour longer to get to the restaurant a few nights ago. Andre is one cool cat.

    I'm avoiding another walk down around the halls, simply because there are scantily clad models every two feet throughout. I'm just kind of tired of it. I'd really like to sit in my sweats and eat fritos today, and watch a good movie. I know at least three that are really good now...

    Best to all.

    Special hugs and kisses to my kids and to my mom, who is so graciously hanging out with them so that I can be here. I miss you all!

    Spidey

  9. #89
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    One more thing I want to remember: when you ask for water, you need to tell them whether you want carbonated or still water. They ask, "Gas? No Gas?" The first time they said that we almost fell over laughing.

    That's it for now!

    Spidey

  10. #90
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    Everytime you post I get more and more jealous. I'm soo glad you are having an amazing time. It is a vacation that has been long overdue!
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