Thursday, September 24, 2009

Russia Where Everything is RED

All I can say about Russia is “wow”. We all saw a lot of famous church’s and our mom took us everywhere!?! In the Kremlin there were 9 Cathedrals, I said 9!!! And there were no seats in the church! The tour we took of Moscow was so so long… The tour at St Petersburg I think was more interesting. There was a lot of cool stuff in Moscow like the real Lenin in the grave underground and the red square it means the beautiful square. O MY GOSH the Metro in rush hour was horrible, I got crushed in like 5 different ways. At home we call it a subway. The last thing that was pretty awesome was the flames of WORLD WAR 2 memorial. There was a flame that came up from the ground and 2 soldiers standing next to it.

That is the end of Pearse’s BLOG!!!!


The past few days my family has been in Moscow, Russia. I have enjoyed every moment in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Yesterday my family went to the Kremlin (which translated into English means Fortress), and the Bolshoi which is a very famous opera house. When we went in the Kremlin we saw a museum called the Armory, BUT there are only two rooms that had armor and weapons. I was promised a tank and some missiles but that was not the case. There were many rooms that had religious items, like chalices and incense to go around the altar. I saw some really cool looking eggs by a family named Faberge. They had diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and sapphires on them. The patterns and designs on the eggs were magnificent. After we were done looking at churches and graves, the fortress was over. We went to eat dinner in GUM (goom is how it is pronounced). Then we were off to the Bolshoi to watch the opening night of an opera called Boris Godunov. It was in Russian. It was well preformed and there was a bunch of action during it. I didn’t think that the Opera house was as nice as Vienna’s but it was still beautiful.

Eamon’s goal of getting arrested did not work out, but our driver did get pulled over. on the way to the Airport!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Moscow, the Land of No Cows

On Monday we went on a tour around Moscow, and boy is it vast. Our tour guide took us to a graveyard, Red Square, and the highest point in Moscow overlooking the Moscow River. While on our tour the guide, (insert Russian name for woman here), always told us that everything is so expensive and school should be free. She was 60 some years old. That just screams out COMMUNIST!!! She said she "used" to be one. Old habits die hard.

Anyways.......the next day we got to go into the Kremlin and visited the Armory. All the boys went in expecting tanks and missiles. We could not be anymore wrong. There were carriages, gowns, a couple "Fraberge" eggs (not as many as Mom wanted), and gold plates and such. We all came out disappointed. then we walked over to what we call "Church Town." There were 9 churches within a square mile. Mom seemed to be in Heaven, churches inside a castle/fortress.

I am writing this in the airport just moments before we take off for our flight back to Vienna. After a week in Russia we are happy to be heading home (well our temporary home that is).

From the Kremlin to the Bolshoi, If Only These Walls Could Talk.

Every once in a while life provides you with chance to “bookend” a couple of dramatic life experiences. These past 24 hours Team Glavin did just that by visiting the Kremlin in the early afternoon and attending the Bolshoi for the Opening of Opera Season in Moscow.

We inched our way up to the entrance gate for the Kremlin Armory. I mean “inched” literally because the Octogenarian team arrived from one of the Cruise lines just before us. Is it possible that the whole ship wanted to see the Kremlin today? When I looked at Pearse in the line next to the smiling fella with his cane and hearing aid I think to myself “the alpha and omega of life” just enjoying the simple pleasures of life and travel. Pearse continues to be a “fan favorite” and I am thinking of renting him out for parties!!

The lads and dad saunter up to the first door of the Armory, mom lagging just slightly, after passing the strategically placed gift shop. Isn’t that what Disney perfected, a gift shop at the exit and entrance? As I look at case after case of snow globes, plates, eggs, Orthodox relics etc. etc. I am thinking “That’s odd for a military museum but hey they have a mall in the Metro so what do I know?” The anticipation of seeing the Big Red Machine (not the Cincinnati Reds) in all its glory was as exciting as the first trip to buy your model airplane or sports car. Our guide, a couple days ago, waxed poetic about the military parades on Red Square and where the tanks and anti-air craft guns and rocket launchers would ride through Red Square in pairs and split at St. Basils Cathedral as we’d seen it in many films and history book pages. I am a bit confused as we ascend a stair case to get to the first exhibit, tanks are heavy aren't they? Could it be that this will be the small armaments and historical information on the development of mechanized weapons etc.? you hear a collective "No No No No" (Pearse, Seamus, Eamon and dad) and Ann muffling a slight chuckle. It’s a Museum all right but as far as the eyes can see its dishes, nice dishes, but still just dishes. There are royal clothes and Coronation Robes and a room full of Carriages, not exactly rocket launchers if you know what I mean. Seamus said "Another 2 headed eagle just great!" Hey the difference between a summer carriage and a winter carriage is a nice “useless” fact but we came to see power argh argh argh as Tim the Toolman Taylor would say. Are you kidding me with Faberge Eggs and enameled Wine glasses? The closest we get to a fire fight is standing next to the many sprinklers and fire extinguishers. “Hey is that a gold throne?” Ann said we a straight face. She enjoyed her afternoon immensely and I am pretty sure the egg on our faces was as enjoyable as the eggs by the famed Faberge’. Lesson learned READ the BOOK before you go!! Ann 1 Lads and dad 0 if you’re keeping score at home.

Given our lesson from the afternoon I am approaching the Opera "Boris Godunov" a bit more skeptically. The kids were given a fair amount of information about the last opera we attended in Vienna. As I write this I marvel that in 2 weeks team ESP will have attended Operas in Vienna and Moscow, you can’t beat that with a stick. As our cruise line octogenarians say to us “Cherish this time it goes more quickly than you think!”.

We don’t prep the kids as well as we did in Vienna mostly because it is difficult to get the information in English. We are “winging it” and that’s risky. The Bolshoi is getting a “facelift” so navigating the construction is a challenge. Eventually we just follow the limousines and they guide us right to the door of the Bolshoi, we think. I do my standard, tap a guy on the shoulder, point to the tickets, point to the building and give the best “quizzical look” I can muster. He says “Speak English?” Are you kidding me. He’s from Washington DC and tells us we are in the right spot but he is a bit amazed that we have “orchestra seats”.

It is opening night and the crowd is noticeably excited and our boys “hmmmmm” not as excited. If they don’t see a tank today all will be lost. Once inside the grand building, we pay 350 rubles for an English program which is significantly better than the one in Vienna. We give a quick synopsis of the story line. Ann, “Does that say 5 acts?” oh crap I better get the M&M’s, peanut and plain, from my backpack and water bottle too!

The Bolshoi is like a Pushkin poem, compact and yet powerful in its slightly understated d├ęcor. The program tells us that this is the 234th Season at the Bolshoi. I’d need a facelift after 234 years too. Our seats are 10 rows and 15 rows from the stage. That getting 5 tickets together thing is still tough even for the opera. We split Eamon and I in row 10 and the others in row 15. We dare not put 3 kids together for a 4 act opera or Pearse might wind up on the stage at some point. The orchestra explodes into the first scene and the stage is filled with 150+ people singing about the Tsar. We know that because there is a flat screen in the corner prompting in English. I say a snmall prayer of thanksgiving and settle into my seat for almost 4 hours with a 25 minute intermission. There is so much action and scene change and set change that the boys are out of breath saying ”What about this?” and “Why did they do that?” It was rat a tat tat for the 25 minute intermission.
The departure from the Bolshoi is crowded and the kids are exhausted but happy. We make our way to the Moscow metro looking up in the sky and see the Kremlin’s brightly lit Red Stars. I wonder how many folks know that in Russian “RED” means Beautiful.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

From the Red Train to the RED SQUARE

There's something about trains and boys. The anticipation of getting on the night train from St. Petersburg to Moscow is energy filled. We have a sleeper car but you wouldn't know it from the ticket, actually you wouldn't know what anything on the ticket, the train station wall or the arrival departure board said because every symbol might as well have been from something on the Egyptian sarcophagus at the wing of the Hermitage. Imagine looking out to a crowded train station and walking up and asking 50 people "Do you speak English?"and "Is this the right train to Mockba? That was our last 1.5 hours in St. Petersburg. Someone said "It will be the red train" Is that a joke, I ask myself. We wind up on Platform 5 and the train is RED with a green Engine and the unmistakable Red Star on the locomotive.

Our sleeper car is simple yet effective. The family is split between 2 cars. Ann and Pearse wind up together with 2 other young girls. Pearse said "Eamon, I can handle it; you stay here with the smelly feet!" Eamon, Seamus and I bunked with a Russian. What a difference a couple of decades make. He was a well travelled train veteran and "showed us the ropes", literally the ones that hold the top bunks in place. We managed to communicate and I am confident that he took pity on me, the dad, managing 2 teenagers on the train each full of energy and an 8 hr ride to Moscow. We Americans laughed, guffawed and traded jokes as the 26 car train left the platform. Our hope is that in 8hrs the rail system of Russia will deliver us to the capital of Russia so we can mix with the 12 million folks that call Moscow their home.

Success is ours. We arrived at Moscow at 8:00 AM sharp. Our day is one of hotel check in and getting ourselves to Red Square and a short visit to the world famous Kremlin for a quick look see. As you can see from the pictures we had a successful day.

Life is good as long as I don't have to spell in Cyrillic!