Last Days of Summer in Moscow

Setting Sun on the Moscow River

Some people think it’s cliche, but I love walking through Gorky Park and then along the Moscow River to the university, which you can see in the distance in the photo.

Ping Pong is very much a big thing here!

There’s always time to stop and grab an ice cream cone

It’s considered to be very polite for a man to hold his girlfriend’s purse.

However, I’m not sure how this guy feels about it!

Regional Train Station

A young guy in uniform catching a Suburban train out of Moscow

Suburban Trains

One of the many Suburban trains zipping in and out of Moscow. It definitely helps to be able to read Russian if you intend on catching a train here! There’s not a lot of help available and during rush hour it’s definitely not easy to find someone to stop and help

Inside a Suburban train

The view at dusk in my neighborhood closer to home

One of moscow’s many universities lit up at night

Triumph Palace

This is a towering apartment complex in my neighborhood. I don’t even want to know what the rent is there! Moscow is still considered one of the world’s most expensive cities to live in.

Saint Basil’s Cathedral

Some of Moscow’s most photographed guys

These guys stand guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Kremlin in the center of Moscow. The changing of the guards always brings crowds of locals and tourists to watch.

Lenin’s lineup

The long line up on the right is the queue of people waiting to enter the tomb where Lenin is kept

Tverskaya

The city spent a kazillion dollars upgrading for Tverskaya Street in the center of Moscow. I have to admit that I think it looks fantastic. They actually took out car lanes to make more room for pedestrians and trees

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A Beautiful Day in my (Moscow) Neighbourhood

My quest continues to give my friends & family an idea of my life here in Moscow. And since a picture’s worth a thousand words, here we go….

My apartment block

It’s a pretty basic, traditional Russian 5-story building. I love it because I face a small park and schoolyard so whenever I’m home it’s generally super quiet

The Bare Stairwells

Whenever I’d see a stairwell like this in a movie I knew it had to be in Eastern Europe. Pretty typical in Moscow. Pretty bare but I mean: it’s a stairwell! As long as I can go up & down, I’m good!

The obligatory playground

Every apartment block in Moscow will have a courtyard & children’s playground nearby. On weekends they’re packed with kids, families, and grandparents chatting the day away….I was jet-lagged and out at the crack of dawn when normal people were sleeping!

My little pond

Not every neighbourhood has this! I love stopping to watch the ducks and to just relax here.

The Colossus!

This is an absolutely gigantically large apartment block down the street from me & I heard it costs quite a few rubles to live there!

Farmer’s Market

Every weekend this pops up down the street.

Bike Share

And yep: Moscow’s got a public bike share/rental program to zip around town.

Baku Movie Theatre

Moscow has its share of massive, glitzy movie theatres, but a few old neighbourhood movie houses are still around

The Homeless Cats

You generally don’t need to wander for long before stumbling upon one of these cuties

No Shoppers Drug Mart here!

Pharmacies are usually pretty small, but you can get a lot of medication without a prescription

Trip into Moscow

When at home, I had so many friends & family ask questions about daily life in Moscow. So I hope some new posts and pictures will help you get a visual of my daily life here.

This is the AeroExpress train which runs to and from two of the largest airports in Moscow (Domodedova and Sheremetyevo). No cars needed & they take you right to the centre metro stations in the city for about $10.

A random tower which I’d love to explore near the Aeroexpress station. Behind it stands a pretty standard Moscow apartment block.

And then there the Moscow metro! Some of the stations are gorgeous..sometimes travelling inside when it’s crowded isn’t! BUT there’s free Wi-Fi to keep you busy.

Vegetarian in Moscow: A New Russia

When I left Moscow in 2003, it was hard enough to order a salad with no meat let alone find a veggie burger in Moscow. Thankfully, times have changed.

There are now not only places to find vegetarian food, but also growing online communities to help the vegetarian in Moscow.Even regular supermarkets carry vegetarian lasagna, cutlets, burgers, etc.

Jagannath [my city-pick favourite!] locations have full vegetarian/vegan restaurants with small shops selling everything from meatless foods and supplements to all-natural soaps & toothpaste. And the Vegetarian Card gives members discounts to vegetarian-friendly businesses around the city.

Most mainstream restaurants have a way to go before I’d call them vegetarian-friendly. But Moscow is definitely taking a step in the right direction.

Returning To Russia

Of all the places I’ve visited, the only other place that has moved me & shaped my life as much as Russia has been Tibet. And maybe I’ll go back there someday. But right now: I’m moving back to Moscow.

Since finding out I’d been hired in Russia, I’ve had three types of responses when I tell people the news:

  • Outright baffled: “Oh, I don’t really know anything about Russia”
  • Outright confused: “Why on Earth would you want to go there?”
  • Outright overjoyed: “Oh my gawd that’s so exciting! Russia!”

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It’s been a decision fraught with self reflection. I’ve been slightly torn because I’m very well aware that I’m not skipping into a rainbow-covered land of unicorns, to put it lightly. But it’s a nation with an amazing history and a currently political climate that I find fascinating, with all it’s complexities.

Red Square & MeAbove all, ever since I reluctantly left Moscow in the winter of 2003, I’ve vowed to go back to live & work some day. I don’t have many regrets in life. But I know that if I didn’t give Russia one more chance, I’d get to the end of my life, look back, & regret that I didn’t at least give it a shot.

So here I am giving it a shot. 36 years old. A new teacher. And moving from Toronto to Moscow.

If you’re one that said “Oh I don’t really know anything about Russia” or “why on Earth would you want to go there” or “oh my gawd, that’s so exciting! Russia!” Follow along and I’ll do my best to show what my life there is like.DSC01232

People who have never been to Russia tell me that Russians don’t smile or laugh. But I know that they do. And I’ve seen them myself. And I look forward to more.

West T.O. Loses 3 Gems in 1 Week

WHAT AM I GONNA DO?!?!

Three of my favourite West End businesses in Toronto all closed in the same week. They were unique spots…little hidden gems in my neighbourhood. They’ll be missed in a downtown core that seems to be replacing character with condos. Farewell!

The Henhouse was the home of Tapette, my favourite gay French dance party each month. Tapette will survive in other venues, but the Henhouse gave it a nice, West End feel. And whenever I ordered a rum & coke there, it was RUM and just enough enough coke to taste it, the way a drink should be! None of this “are you sure there’s rum in this?” stuff!

 

 

Sadie’s Diner was my favourite vegetarian diner in Toronto. Their entire menu was vegetarian and they had a fantastic, affordable brunch menu…..all set in a cute, traditional diner atmosphere with cool, hip servers.

La Merceria is one of the cutest coffee shops I’ve ever seen in Toronto. It was a mix of coffee & gift shop with some unique, often hand-made, gifts for the home. The people who ran it were absolute gems. So friendly & always up for a bit of conversation, even on a busy day.

More Than Birds & Bees [Credit: Maclean’s Good News]

Starting next fall, schoolchildren in Ontario will learn more about sex, and at an earlier age. The update to the province’s sex-ed curriculum – the first since 1998 – covers societal changes such as the legalization of same-sex marriage and the rise of sexting, and puts a focus on abuse, gender identity, and risky behaviours. Some parents protest that the new information is too frank. But it isn’t anything that can’t be easily found – in far more graphic detail – on the internet. Talking honestly and openly with kids about sex and its complexities is a good thing, and an important step toward creating health and happy adults.