Are You Ready for Some Football?

29 Sep

Disclaimer: while “football” typically refers to soccer in European countries, in this case I do mean American football.

Ben and I aren’t exactly what you would call football fans, but the further away we are from the sport the more appealing it seems.  When we lived in Gainesville, it was impossible to avoid all-things-Gators, but in California it was less common and pretty fun to occasionally see a blue-and-orange sticker or t-shirt.  Here in Moscow, though, running into fellow Gators is pretty exciting.  And it does happen: at my school alone I have a co-worker, two parents, and two older siblings of current students who all went to UF.

So, two weeks ago Ben and I decided we were in the mood for some college football.  A little searching turned up that there was not one, but two bars in the city that were advertising the Gators vs. Hurricanes game.  We rounded up a small group of friends and enjoyed a little bit of American-culture here in Russia.

Apparently this intrigued one of our Russian friends enough that he went out and discovered that Moscow has an American football league.  This league means business: they offered Tim Tebow $1 million to come play two games, but he turned down the offer.

Naturally, we had to see what this was all about.  So, yesterday, we bundled up (it is COLD out!) and went to Torpedo stadium to see Black Storm take on the Moscow Patriots in a semifinals match.  It. Was. AWESOME.

American Football in Moscow

Pyrotechnics During Introductions

They weren’t necessarily the most skilled players, with few successful passes and players slipping in the mud before they could even be tackled sometimes, but the basics were all there.  I have never seen so many yellow flags thrown, sometimes they were even tossed when NO ONE WAS MOVING.  Ben mentioned that usually in Moscow we are in situations in which we have no idea what is happening, but this time we totally knew the rules.

American Football in Moscow

In Action

Not knowing anything about the teams, we all went in without allegiances.  Ben decided early on to support the Patriots because he liked their use of orange smoke in their intro.  I held off until halfway through the first quarter, eventually settling on Black Storm because they seemed more capable of catching the ball.  Plus, they have a total superhero name.  In the end, Black Storm was victorious and will advance to the finals.  I hope we are there to cheer them on to championship!

Go Black Storm!

Go Black Storm!

до свидания!

Advertisements

Two Years!

27 Aug

Ben and I have now been living in Moscow for two years.

A year ago, I posted about my hopes that year two would be easier than year one.  I can say without a doubt that this was true.  There were only a handful of things that we had to do for the first time and we were able to really enjoy life here without as much stress as we experienced during the first year.

During year two we took our bikes out, I started getting my haircut at a salon, Ben found a place to workout, we traveled so much that I became a frequent flyer, we had more visitors than I can possibly link to, I went DOG SLEDDING, we visited two of the three Baltic states, we saw tanks and various other military vehicles roll down the street on Victory Day, we survived ten days without any hot water, and so much more.  Basically, we really had the chance to fall in love with Moscow.

We don’t know what year three will be like.  That’s kind of the thing about Moscow: you never know what to expect.  I am, of course, hopeful that the trend continues and we will enjoy living here even more this year.  I am looking forward to sharing another year’s worth of adventures and anecdotes.

до свидания!

How I Spent My Summer Vacation: Part Three

26 Aug

This summer feels like it just flew by.  It was a bit shorter than last year, but it was also significantly busier.  It was filled with travel and visitors, family and friends.  I have split this post into three parts in order to share photos.  This is the third of the three posts!

The third, and final, big event of the summer was a visit from Ben’s parents.  We spent a few days in Moscow, a week in St. Petersburg, and then a few more days in Moscow while they were here.  We managed to visit a TON of museums in both cities including the new Tretyakov State Gallery, the Armoury Chamber in the Kremlin, the Hermitage, the Trubetskoy and Alekseyevsky bastions and the Museum of Torture at the Peter and Paul FortressKunstkamera, the Zoological Museum, the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, and the Russian Museum of Ethnography.  We covered A LOT of ground in those two weeks and I’m so happy that they were willing to make the trip over here and were up for so much site-seeing.

We happened to have good timing when we were in St. Petersburg.  Ben had previously heard that there is a day when paratroopers gather in parks, get drunk, swim in fountains, and maybe start fights.  Turns out that day is August 2nd, VDV Day, the celebration of Russia’s Airborne Forces.  We were in St. Petersburg for this and saw the gathering, drinking, and swimming, but, fortunately, not the fighting.  This holiday was actually only a few days after Navy Day which was a huge celebration in St. Petersburg given its location on the water.  We saw more gathering and drinking, and a bit of fighting that day, but not as much swimming in the fountain.

до свидания!

How I Spent My Summer Vacation: Part Two

22 Aug

This summer feels like it just flew by.  It was a bit shorter than last year, but it was also significantly busier.  It was filled with travel and visitors, family and friends.  I have split this post into three parts in order to share photos.  This is the second of the three posts!

After my trip to Florida, I had only one day back in Moscow before Ben and I headed off for a long weekend in Riga, Latvia.  Although it was about 10 days early, the trip was an anniversary celebration for us (nine years!).  We have managed to travel for the majority of our anniversaries, even if it was just a day trip to a nearby city.  It is nice to have a tradition that allows us to take time and do something just for us.

The weather was lovely and it was a great city to walk around and explore.  We visited the Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation and the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia to learn a little more about the country.  We enjoyed dinner at another medieval restaurant and drank so much delicious (and inexpensive!) beer.  We also tried Riga  Black Balsam which was quite interesting.

We also took advantage of the timing of our trip and went to the movies to see Pacific Rim since it was in English with Latvian and Russian subtitles.  It seems that seeing blockbuster summer films in foreign countries is becoming another anniversary tradition, last year it was The Dark Knight Rises in Copenhagen.  Honestly, I think this may have been the highlight of the trip for both of us, which just goes to show how perfect we are together.

We decided on Riga after visiting Tallinn in February.  We thought it would be nice to see all three Baltic states while we are living here.  We just have to get in a weekend in Lithuania now!

до свидания!

How I Spent My Summer Vacation: Part One

17 Aug

This summer feels like it just flew by.  It was a bit shorter than last year, but it was also significantly busier.  It was filled with travel and visitors, family and friends.  I have split this post into three parts in order to share photos.  This is the first of the three posts!

Like last year, I started my summer with a trip back to Florida.  It was a great two weeks spent eating, drinking, shopping, and relaxing with family and friends.  When I think about being so far away from my family during the year, I try to remember that being able to dedicate a full two weeks to vacation with them is one of the perks of living over here.

I did change my permanent residency in the States over to Florida during this trip.  I am now a licensed driver by the state of Florida.  Naturally, soon after I had that I signed up for a library card in my old county system.

One thing that my mom and I did this trip was to spend an afternoon at Vino Van Gogh painting owls and sipping wine.  It was so much fun and gave me a chance to paint for the first time in a few years.  Every time I sit down with a canvas I remember how much I love it and how much I have missed it.  I definitely would like to do this again.

It seems that I didn’t get all of the photos from my parents, but I don’t want to put this off any longer, so here are just a few photos from the trip.

до свидания!

Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics

21 Jul

Space travel is kind of a big deal here, so it’s no surprise that there is a museum dedicated to it.  Yesterday, we visited this museum, the Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics, here in Moscow.

The museum mostly walked through the history of the Soviet/Russian space program and included a section dedicated to worldwide space endeavors.  There were original artifacts, replicas, models, photos, personal belongings of scientists involved in building the first spacecrafts and cosmonauts/astronauts, and even the actual, taxidermy bodies of Belka and Strelka, the first dogs to go into orbit and safely return.

Belka and Strelka

Belka and Strelka

The Soviet space program boasted many firsts, including the first man in space (Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin, 12 April 1961) and the first woman in space (Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova, 16 June 1963).  Interestingly, Tereshkova’s flight occurred only two years after Gagarin’s, but it would be another nineteen years before a Soviet woman went back into space (Svetlana Yevgenyevna Savitskaya, 19 August 1982).  The third and only other female Soviet/Russian cosmonaut to go into space to date is Yelena Vladmirovna Kondakova on 4 October 1994.  In contrast, the United States did not have a female astronaut in space until 18 June 1983 (Sally Ride), but has had a total of 45 female astronauts in space since then.

I learned a lot from our visit and would highly recommend this museum to others.  There is a lot of history, science, and fun to be had there.  The bigger models and displays included translations in English, but some of the smaller bits of memorabilia were only in Russian.  We were with a Russian speaker, but I would still have enjoyed it without translation assistance.  See below for a few more photos (all photos in this post are courtesy of Ben).

до свидания!

Friendship Is Magic

16 Jun

Ben and I were fortunate enough to have some friends visit Moscow recently.  They are friends that we met when living in Southern California, though they have also found new homes outside of Orange County.  It was so much fun to spend time with them here and to show them the city that we now call home.

FriendshipIsMagic_03

Photo courtesy of Remy and Svetlana

We did some sight-seeing, hitting Red Square (I actually went into St. Basil’s and GUM this time and we saw Lenin!), the Arbat, the Moscow Museum of Modern Art, and the Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines.  Much food was consumed.  Many stories and laughs were shared.

FriendshipIsMagic_01

Horseradish and Honey Vodka!

Between this visit, my sister and brother-in-law’s visit, and my trips to London and St. Louis, year two has offered me the chance to catch up in-person with some really amazing friends and family.  We have definitely made incredible friends here in Moscow, but having time with all of these people has been really important.  During our first year I didn’t leave Russia between October 2011 and June 2012.  It was too much of a separation from life back in the States.  I am certainly anxious to get back to Florida again this summer to see more family and friends, but having time throughout the year to connect with people really has made a difference in my enjoyment of living here.

More photos below!

And, yes, I did reference My Little Pony in the title of this post.

до свидания!