Happy Fourth of July to all my US Friends,
Another fine day in Moscow. Six of us set out to enjoy a boat tour of the Moscow River. Fortunately, the Metro stop for the boat trip was the same one I used yesterday so I got to feel like an expert riding the subway. We decided on the on-off option so we could get off the boat and explore along the way.
Fifty bridges cross over the Moscow River and I think we passed under ten of them today including the one I crossed yesterday. Now I have to start off with a confession. Yesterday I lied. Out of ignorance. Or misremembering. When I said I looked down river to the White House, today I realized I looked down river to the main building of Moscow University. So please accept my apologies for leading you geographically astray. I know this because Jeff was being a fine tour guide.
He had printed off route description for the boat tour and read it aloud for us as we passed the sights along the way. We got off the boat at the university stop and climbed the hill instead of riding the chairlift up. Yes, indeed there is a small ski hill on the banks of the river along with two all weather ski jumps. We had very good timing all day including arriving at the top just in time to see a ski jumper fly through the air (see the pictures at http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=275198&id=509940550&l=3a3e5e55e5
We also posed for pictures and I introduced Velma to the team. They were instantly taken to her and the story of how she came to be on the climb. Folks were eager to help capture the various pictures throughout the day. We saw at least 15 wedding parties and I thought the real coup of the day would have been Velma in a wedding party but I didn’t have the heart (or courage) to interrupt someone’s special day.
After the university, we went down river to Moscow’s oldest garden/park. We wondered around the forest for a time and everyone remarked about the large quantity of green space and trees that are present around the city. I’ll have another example to share with my outdoor recreation management class. We then got back on the boat and passed by a unique sculpture/statue in the river. Supposedly it was to be a monument to Christopher Columbus but we heard the US didn’t want to accept the gift. The folks here decided instead to mount another great sea explorer’s head on Chris’ body and kept it for themselves.
We boated by the Kremlin and St. Basil’s and it was unique to see them from the water. We passed the amazing glass building of the music conservatory and got off the boat. We walked back to Red Square/Kremlin along a river canal and got to see parts of Moscow that are being redeveloped with the strength of capitalism here. I hadn’t thought I’d see Red Square this time around but was glad that Velma got to see them. She enjoyed taking some pictures.
By this time, we were getting to feel like old hands on the metro (amazing what one day and having a group surround you will do) and we made our way back in time for the group meeting. Keith, our guide from BC, spent the day with those of us on the boat trip. I got to learn a lot about the pressures that heli-ski guides face in trying to keep clients happy and safe and their employers happy as well. He’s a very experienced all around mountain guide and I look forward to both learning from and climbing with him. He’s climbed Elbrus three times before.
Marie, Jeff, Isabel and Jean-Francois are from Quebec. Marie is a natural linguist and is light years ahead of the rest of us in her Russian speaking abilities. At times today I was learning to speak Russian in French…that was a bit of a stretch for my linguo challenged brain. Chris is from Calgary. Thomas from Halifax and Peter from Seattle. It’s great to have a small team this time around and I enjoyed spending the day out exploring with several of them.
We’re up early tomorrow to fly to Mineral Vode and then the four hour drive to Cheget. It was great to stretch our legs some today and Monday we will begin our acclimatization hikes in the lower valley. As I mentioned earlier, it’s likely this will be my last typed update and I’ll be switching to voice ones tomorrow (though you never know how much the internet may have spread in the last few years.)
Thanks for coming along and I’ll catch you next from Southern Russia,
Hope all is well with you,