zdrastvuytye from Moscow.
After 17 hours of flying and some minor problems with our hotel Jim and I enjoyed the day roaming around Red Square. We had some amazing Russian cuisine today for lunch/dinner at the State History Museum. The Red Square was fun. We didn't go into the Kremlin yet and will do that with the rest of the group when we come back to Moscow after our climb. We walked all the way around the Kremlin and took a lot of photos which I'll have to post when I get home. It's a pretty amazing structure. Across the Red Square from the Kremlin is a huge shopping mall that used to be an old Soviet store for common goods, etc. Now it's totally decked out like something on 5th Ave in NYC. Lot's of designer fashion stores, etc. Very ironic considering it's beginnings.
Moscow is a very interesting city. There are lots of Soviet area buildings - big, plain, efficient - definitely a style of its own. Everyone seems to live in these 30-40 story apartment complexes clustered on islands of cement in a sea of green. Supposedly more the one third of Moscow is green space - parks, forests, gardens, etc. It was incredible to see it when landing - no suburbs with big box stores. There are a lot of really old buildings in Moscow too - stuff from the 1600's. Moscow had it's 850th birthday in 1997. I didn't realize it was that old. Then there's all the capitalism and conspicuous consumption that's shown up in the last decade. There are billboards and stores selling Western brand names everywhere. The women all seem to dress fashionable - with 3 inch heels with big leather purses. Strangely the guys usually just have jeans and a t-shirt on but wear these funky shoes that are super long and pointed. It's fun people watching.
Sushi and fusion food seems to be the big rave here although we're focusing on Russian food since I can get plenty of sushi in Portland. We had Borsch, Beef Stronganof and a type of Pork Stew today - very tasty. We've also tried a couple of Russian beers which were very good. Still haven't tried any Vodka, but that's on the list. It's warm and super muggy here, like being in the mid-west or south during the summer. We leave tomorrow to meet the rest of the group in St Petersburg so hopefully it'll be cooler and less humid up north.
Anyway, that's it for now. Internet access at the hotel is roughly $16 per hour, so check back in a few days...