I was right about Russia. The fur hats, gypsy cabs, tragically mulleted hairdos and mayonnaise on pizza ... all true stories I can confirm. Our stay was even concluded with a scary run-in with the Moscow police - and just like the rumors, no crime is above a good bribe (in our case, 2000 Rubles or $60 for a traffic violation.)
Moscow is beautiful and the countryside is even more so! It's a winter wonderland where woodland creatures are heralded in high regard as statues, carvings and door knockers. All of the buildings look like the bright and happy castle from Candy Land, and their stark contrast against the snowy city landscape makes for an eerie scene reminiscent of a vintage snow globe.
We played all of the games at a Soviet arcade museum, located in the bomb shelter of a college dormitory. The tour guide was a nervous, eccentric man with wild hair and a tee shirt with fluorescent boom boxes screen printed on it.
Like a children's book, fluff-faced wild dogs ride the subway, as if on their own little business outings. They keep tabs on which stops have the best garbage food, and they commute around the city accordingly. One famous stray, Laika, was captured by scientists and trained to became the first animal rocketed into space. We visited the space dog's memorial - a statue of a sprightly little pup in a tiny space suit, perched upon a giant hand shaped like a rocket ship.
Our trip fell squarely in line with my wildest expectations. Although I had a suspicion that we'd have a great time, I couldn't fathom exactly how great until I was there, jet lagged but giddy in the middle of the night, with my boyfriend in my best friend's Moscow apartment. I was with my favorite people, drinking canned cocktails and eating foreign candies, becoming possessed with that familiar pee-in-your pants laughter that only good friends can coax out of me. The language was impossible, the city was huge and exotic, but I never felt too far away from home.
I'm still filtering through our photos, but here are a few of my favorites.
More photos and stories coming soon ...