July 8 - September 28, 2005
We got to spend three months or twelve weeks in Russia and for that we are very greateful. Nonetheless, our real wish was to spend six months, or if compromise were necessary, four. In the end we happily settled for what we were given, three months.
We had an apartment in Moscow that we should have been in from July 1 to August 31. Things got shifted a bit and we came a week late and stayed an extra ten days: in other words, we saw Moscow from July 8 to September 30, which may be the finest time to see it. In any case the weather was great and the masses were off elsewhere, leaving museums and metros relatively free.
From September 10 to September 20 we spent traveling to the small towns near Moscow that are dubbed collectively the Golden Ring. Then passing by Moscow we went off to St Petersburg for eight days, September 20-28. We admired churches, fortresses, and monasteries and got ourselves a pretty good grounding in Russian history.
We liked Moscow but we loved St. Petersburg, which is, yes, more European with its rivers and canals, palaces and gardens, museums and monasteries. We stayed in a private home and got to sample home-made blinis and pirogis courtesy of our hostess Lydia Nikolayevna.
Throughout our stay in Russia the Russian language was a passion for Jan. While Gerry read Russian history in French Jan struggled with simple romances and the TV news. These three months charged and frustrated her, excited and depressed her, and created in her a determination to finally, once-and-for-all, conquer Russian, a mere 35 years after she supposedly graduated in the subject. Before leaving Russia she bought a dozen printed books and a half dozen audio books and carried them to Greece where she is plowing her way through them. She's gone from reading about four pages a day when she arrived in Moscow to a current average of twelve as the year ends.
We are working as fast as we can to build more of Russia. Please bear with us.