I wholeheartedly agree with Amy.
Moscow is dismal. Even when it’s sunny, it’s dismal. There is just no joy or life in this city. I don’t know if it’s a result of decades of Soviet rule, but I can’t wait to get out of here. I suppose the plethora of security personnel doesn’t help, either.
Amy and I escaped to the monastery at Sergei Posad, a small town about 90 minutes east of Moscow. It was a great chance to escape to something a little more sane. The monastery is an operating one — and has been that way since it was first founded. Even Stalin didn’t touch it (and he was famous for destroying churches just for the fun of it).
It looked almost the same as it had in 1989, though some of the buildings are undergoing renovation/restoration. (Apparently, prayer is more important than keeping a roof over one’s head.) Unlike many of the other places we’ve been, though, the only fee at the monastery is to allow you to take photos or use a video camera (a common fee, mind you — a lot of places have it). A lot of people were there — a single ruble from each of them would go a long way to ensuring the funding of the monastery.
There’s a McDonald’s in Sergei Posad, now, about 250 metres from the monastery. There’s just something wrong about that.
The tourist-only Berioska Shop that was on the outskirts of the plaza is gone, replaced with a series of small stores and a restaurant. The building is ringed by local vendors hawking their local wares (though I suspect a number of them are made in China).
The food, as Amy has pointed out, has generally been quite good. Although Russian cuisine isn’t quite as “neat” as North American. You have to be careful eating chicken — they don’t debone it, here. Georgian cuisine is very tasty, although spicy, and a little bit greasy.
We leave in about five hours, and it can’t go fast enough. I want out of here. I want to get on the road. I want to get past Moscow and into areas I don’t know. I want to head in the direction of home. Amy and I are homesick (Amy’s also actually sick, and I really hope I don’t catch her cold), so the sooner we get moving, the better.
Tomorrow morning, we’ll be in Kazan. There for the day, then off to Ekaterinburg.