01.01.2018. The dust of 2017 just settled down and 2018 is just starting, so this seams like a good time to glance back on what this year has been. I am not super consistent with my blog and to be honest, I am not even sure if people want to see/read it, but writing things down helps me put my thoughts in order, solidify experiences and reflect on things. It is the way not to miss anything, when I write something down I get to relive all these moments one more time. So here we go.
Like any other year in anyone’s life it was a mix of up and downs, but I guess that’s what life is, it’s a wave and waves don’t die … People surprised me times a million and there were a good and bad surprises all together, some times I was left simply puzzled, not knowing what happened, how did it end this way, it’s like you want to ask all these questions, only there’s no one to ask. So i decided to just let things be and accept that it just the way it is, no chasing, no questions, no demands of explanations.
Lessons hopefully learned and I choose to keep focus on all the great moments of 2017 and there were plenty.
Last year January 1st i spend on a beach, the Brighton Beach - so no bikini necessary. I joked that I am like everyone else in my FB/IG feed and “blessed” because I am living this beach life, I was a little jealous of those who got to spend winter in sunny, warm places, ok, not little, let’s just say it - I was jealous, we all are… Little did I know that at the end of January I get to visit Bali! Looking back at 2017 now I am realizing that there’s sort of the theme to it. It is a year when many of mine long forgotten dreams came true. You know there’s a list of places you wanna visit, things you want to do and some of them you are wishing for for so long, that it moves to the back of your mind, because you think that it may not even happen, so you don’t think of it all the time, not to upset yourself. Bali was one of those thing and I still can’t believe how lucky I got… You can read more about my trip to Bali here - bit.ly/2zZZnMJ
Another awesome thing that happened last year happened in Los Angeles. I got to visit the Universal Studios and Six Flags. Growing up in Russia I wasn’t exposed to huge theme parks, I lived in a teeny tiny town after all. The only thing I knew about was Disney Land and only because they played the commercials before "Chip and Dale" would come on or "Duck Tales”, the commercials were always along the lines of - collect 10 yogurt cups for a chance to win a trip, etc,etc. I loved yogurt, I loved Disney cartoons but I never won…
So as far as Universal Studious goes, I couldn’t even want to go there, because I didn’t know that “there” existed. When I came to America, I learned about it, but I thought that I am too old to be bothered. I was wrong, a lot, like really wrong.
Universal was a blast and a splash and a hoot and a half. I loved all the rides and the studio tour, you are never too old for that,since it is simply magical and I got to be a child, who smiles so much his cheeks are hurting! Six Flags was a first too, but I was hot and scared and then hot again too many times to get the thrill of it. Still so happy I finally get to check it out.
I got to fly to Hawaii and even though I only spend a little over then 24 hours there, I still count it a huge win, because I just love it there…
My friends got married this summer and it was all together so special to me, because I introduced them to each other, what followed was totally there magic, but it makes me so happy that I, in my small way, helped them find each other, seeing them is seeing love in action and it always fills my heart. Moreover I got to be the flower girl at there wedding. Here is another dream, I didn’t know I had, come true. Again in Russia (I say that a lot) we don’t have a flower girl as a concept and later on I learned that usually it’s a role little girls from the family play, I was a 5 foot 10'' flower girl, not your ordinary wedding, huh? but considering that the groom wanter to ride in on a camel, anything goes. That’t one of the many reasons I love those guys, they live there truth and do what makes them happy. The camel didn’t happen though, the very tall, asian, twirling flower girl did :)
I got to ride in a fire department car and blow a horn! One more long time wish come true. The fact that it topped the end of amazingly fun and warm bachelorette weekend, was an icing on a cake!
I saw a super bloom at Antelope Valley, California. I grew up in a very remote town in Far East Russia, where winters are long and trees are skinny… Blooming anything was never a thing, so I am getting super excited every time I see a flower on a tree, or Good god an apple growing on a tree, to me it’s like a miracle, so seeing the whole valley of flowers, that was like magic.
I received Presidential Service Award and Letter of appreciation from President Barack Obama for my volunteering with New York Cares. I write about volunteering a lot. You can find other blogs under volunteering tag or read more here - bit.ly/2qKblGo
I got to practice art of Japanese Tea Ceremony and share my love and passion for it with my friends and family. bit.ly/2C63Lf8
I got to see The Metropolitan Museum before it opens to public. Walking through empty halls, chasing morning light is a wonderful feeling…
I reconnected with my homeland and discovered Moscow in a new light -bit.ly/2lDbFFG
I went to Spain at last. Barcelona… a dream,that I had since I was a teenage girl finally came true … - bit.ly/2C6i17N
I peeked at Vienna - a six hour layover, but still managed to find the absolute best beer and stuffed pita place, that was explained to me as a pizza with a hat on …
Even writing this list down I am overwhelmed by how good this year was and I owe many of these moment to my wonderful partner and I am thankful for him being in my life.
Don’t get me wrong, there were a lot of hard moment, a lot of sadness and uncertainty and some times doubt and fear, but I want to remember last year by all the glorious moments and I hope you would do the same in your life… Put a magnifying glass to all good that happen to you, relive it, feel it, multiply it.
I wish that 2018 will be a year full of amazing travel, adventure, new experiences for all of us, I wish it would be full of life, great worth living life.
First time I visited Moscow I was just a baby. Big City overwhelmed me, I remember insane amount of people and trying to keep up with my mum, she had this plastic bag with her (very fancy at that time, trust me) with “baton” (something like a fat Russian baguette) in it, so I kept my focus on it, because I was really scared to get lost. We only spend half a day in Moscow, since we were transferring from one train to another. Needless to say I didn’t like Moscow back then, it didn’t help that from my point of you I could only see legs and butts of passing by people, which is not that exciting, the amount of people was also overwhelming and they covered up all of the pretty stuff that you might see around, also train stations are not the best places in particular, so that’s that.
Last time I came to Moscow was about 10 year ago, although no longer a baby, but rather a formed adult, I was still overwhelmed, everyone seemed to be always in a rush, aggravated and downright rude, I took care of my business, rolled my eyes and got the hell out.
So this time around when I took my recent trip to Moscow, I was not expecting anything, having lived in NYC for the past 7 + years I knew that crowds won’t overwhelm me, people rushing somewhere is my jam now, and I can personally speed walked past anyone on a sidewalk any time a day, sarcastic is a new black, so I was prepared to handle any type of rudeness that way.
But when I got to Moscow this time, I was pleasantly surprised, I have discovered that it is in fact - beautiful, something I managed to missed during my “baton” chasing before
Moscow met me with the sea of green, I never knew how many parks it has and everything was blooming, so truly a great time of the year to visit (late May) although I got lucky, because just a week before my visit it snowed, because Russia…
If you want to visit parks you might want to start with Muzeon Park of Arts (http://park-gorkogo.com/en/muzeon) located outside of Krymsky Val building and shared by the modern art division of Tretyakov Gallery and Central House of Artist, it is an open space scuplture garden where you can stroll down look around and enjoy the view of Moscow river, Kremlin etc…
There’s plenty of things to do and you can take one of the designated lanes for bicycles and rollerblades and zip down to Gorky Central Park which moves onto Neskuchny Garden ( http://park-gorkogo.com/en/ns) which according to the web site is advertised as a home of romantic lanes and friendly squirrels, “Neskuchny” literally means not boring, so I am guessing the squirrels are also fun…
And if you feel like you still have some energy to explore, you can follow down the Moscow River and go to Vorobyovy gory (http://park-gorkogo.com/en/vg) where you can find an observation deck with the view of Moscow, it is also a hot spot for the biker community, so you can walk around and look at variety of custom made and not so much motorcycles.
Take a moment to appreciate Main Building of Moscow State University - it is indeed monumental.
Monumental is the world that was on my mind pretty much the whole time I was in Moscow. I have gotten so used to narrow streets of Manhattan and that everything is growing only vertically here, that I was shocked by the amount of space Moscow have, forget narrow streets, it is all about width, size does matter. I think it hit me most of all when I returned to the Red Square (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/545) an adult now, standing in a middle of it, you couldn't help but feel the magnitude of where you are at, you feel the power and strength, you also feel suddenly very small and insignificant, but I guess that was one of the points of it too… Unique is the other world that comes to mind, because this architecture reflects authentic Russian style…
Fun fact the name “Red Square” does not reflect colour (Kremlin used to be white at some point) but rather reflects old Russian world “krasniy” meaning beautiful, which it is.
Another thing worth mentioning is Moscow Subway (Metro). I have travelled around a world a bit and I can honestly say that Moscow subway is one of the most beautiful in the world.
It is also truly reliable, unlike NYC subway, trains in Moscow do not suffer from identity crises, you know when B suddenly decides it wants to run like Q today, or express train last minute start making local stops, but always manages to skip yours… and while usual past time when waiting on your train in NYC includes deciding the level of cuteness among subway rats, you won’t have this opportunity in Moscow, lack of rats is one of the reasons and also trains are coming every 2 minutes (2 minutes people!) and you can see a little countdown clock, so you know exactly when the next train is coming, pretty neat, huh.
Now regarding the rudeness, I might have been extremely lucky this time around but everything I met was extremely polite, I had a number of random pleasant encounters in different places, this might have something to do with the fact that tips are not mandatory in here (again hello NYC), so servers in a restaurants are interested in providing you with the nice experience, but I also had pleasant encounters with people where tips were not involved whatsoever, I tried to get my nails done at one of the salons, but they didn’t have an opening, nevertheless they helped me remove my chipped up nail polish and insisted on me staying over for tea/coffee, who does that??
Couple of other things that stood out to me:
the amount of flower shops, everywhere you look you will find one, or two, it seems like the entire nation is concerned with getting/giving flowers, to understand how important flowers are in this culture you need to know that at some point the was a service that would provide giant flower bouquets for rent, so the girls could take pic with it and post on social media, for some extra money you could also get a luxury brands shopping bags, I mean …
the amount of foreign currency exchange places and amount of foreigners (two might be somehow connected)
Uber is super active and so it Gett, Gett was especially surprising…
the construction - seems like the whole centre is under construction, which leads to infamous traffic … also it might take some time to realize where the hell you can cross the street if you are walking or taking subway
church’s and mosque’s domes are insanely shinny regardless of there sizes even small ones are all dressed up.
feminism is not as widely promoted, so man still think you need there help and not afraid to offer it, which I gladly accepted, because my bags were heavy and I am a delicate flower, but if I am being serious it was curious to see gender roles in action in Russia, which is still very really traditional in many ways.
I guess what I am trying to say here is that it took me some years and traveling all over the world to finally appreciate Moscow, to see it in another light and I am quite happy I was able to. Sometimes beautiful, exciting, unique things are right there and you are missing it, because you are starring at the “baton” picking out of plastic bag…
If you would like to see more images of Moscow Metro please go here - dailym.ai/1WjFPNb
Happy returning to Motherland.