May 31, 2010

Moscow - Sergiev Posad

I was a bit surprised to see how devout and religious Moscow could be, considering they weren't really allowed to be religious for 80 some years. This monastery that we went to felt the most sacred, I guess you could say, out of any of the places we went. This time it was just me and seth. AG was in Germany for a few days while we were there so we watched cannon and went to some places on our own while he was at school. Since AG wasn't there and since we didn't have a tour guide, I didn't really know much about the place. Also we couldn't really figure out which churches we could go into and which ones we couldn't. We saw some people going into one of the churches and when we tried to go in the doors were locked. We kind of waited around and another big group went in so we just followed them. Once we were inside we realized it was a tour group, so I think only tour groups can go in, it isn't a working church. We kind of just acted like we were part of the group and took a look around. That's what we do, we take risks. We're risk takers.

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These were the arches you come in through, every inch painted (like many things in russia) and it was very pretty.

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These are some details, this dude on the left is St. Sergius, who this place is based on. I don't know much about him except that he was way righteous and devout.

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This fountain contains holy water, some believe it has healing powers.

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I wish this picture had turned out better. It was a bright day so the sky is blown out and I couldn't really fix it. I couldn't believe this woman was letting these pigeons sit on her head and fly around her! It was really kind of amazing.

May 29, 2010


I don't have any new pictures for you today and when I realized it will be a while before I do I thought maybe I should give you an update on things. First though, the reason I don't have any pictures is because I haven't had the time to sort through, edit and post them. It's not that we've been so busy everyday that there isn't a minute to spare, but all of our free time is spent on our etsy shop. Sometimes we get behind, and then we have so much to do that we have to spend a whole day catching up. Once our conversations got up to 50, 50! I thought I'd never get through them. We've even lost some clients because we didn't get back to them in time, bummer.

But the shop is doing great so I can't complain, we wouldn't be here if it wasn't for that. A couple of months ago we were asked by one of the editors of Martha Stewart magazines to send in a few samples to be photographed for the June issue of Martha Stewart Weddings magazine! We were so excited, obviously, so seth got it in gear and made the record invite that has brought us so much business. He had the idea for a while and we finally got around to making it. It has been featured a lot and gets more hearts than any other item (though it doesn't sell as much because it's a bit pricey). So we sent it in, and find out a few days ago that we're going to be on the show, !!! We just happened to be on the website and saw we'd be on the show the very next day. One of the editors was showing Martha some etsy wedding finds and she showed the record and said, isn't that cute? And Martha said, very. Ha! Anyway we will be in the magazine too so if you don't want to buy it just look at it while your in line to get groceries. It's all about DIY, Do it Yourself.

So we are now in Switzerland, our first day here. The train ride here was magical (pardon the cheesiness) it was so green. We went from Amsterdam to Frankfurt and then to Bern. Towards the end of the trip I would see green hills sprinkled with houses, and in the center a cute little church. I want seth to do an illustration of it, how cute would that be? Germany looked really cool, I wish we could have stopped there. But I will give you all the details later when I have pictures to show for it. We've had some ups and downs on this trip, Amsterdam wasn't so great, we didn't like it very much, and we're not sure how much we're going to do while we're here in switzerland since it costs so much (I don't have any complaints about Paris, that trip was perfection and I already miss it so much) but even though it's been hard and very stressful at points, so much so that we often wished we had gone with our original plan to go to russia and then paris and then home, but this trip has been amazing because of the time seth and I get to be together. This is going to sound cheesy as hell but, it's like we have fallen in love all over again.

This last semester was not a good one for us, like I've mentioned before. We didn't get very much time together, and that has been by far the most amazing thing about this trip, is how much we get to be together, not just sitting by each other on our laptops doing our own thing, but really together. It has strengthened our relationship and marriage in so many ways.

There are days when I'm disappointed because we didn't do what I had planned for that day, and we get lazy and spend the day in our apartment instead of going out and seeing things. But as I told seth, the best most important times are the times that we're just together, whether we're in front of the Eiffel tower or still in bed.

I think today we'll take it easy, and who knows maybe I'll get around to finishing up my posts about Russia. I took the most pictures here and that's why it's taking so long to get through them! But don't loose faith in me dear friends, someday they will all be posted and you'll know more than you ever wanted to know about this crazy trip.

May 19, 2010

The Banya

No trip to Russia is complete without a stop at the Banya (boy, I sound like a guidebook don't I?). This was a true Russian experience and we loved it! Usually people will go in public rooms, but we got a private room just for us which was nice. It conisisted of three rooms, the first room had seating and and a table, The second room has a shower, a bucket of ice cold water, and a cold pool. The third room is like a sauna, but much, much hotter. You first go in the sauna, and you have to wear a wool hat so your hair doesn't burn. It was very, very hot, so hot I was too scared to go in at first, your body has to accumulate, so you go in for a bit, come out and sit down, then go back in. Eventually a guy comes in and you go in one at a time and he beats you with some branches that have different leaves, that have been soaked in some kind of herbal water, not sure what it is, but it smells amazing! You lye down on your stomach, the dude whacks you, not too hard but hard enough, with the branches until you get too hot and you tell him to stop. Then you come out and either dump the bucket of cold water on you or get in the cold pool. I had a hard time immersing myself in the cold pool, but I did pour the bucket of water on me once.
We brought tea, sandwiches, cucumber salad and some other snacks to munch on during the process. It was so fun! And it felt really good too, it's good for your body, you sweat out toxins and all that good stuff. I loved it! I wish we had something like that in the states. After it's all over you feel so relaxed all you can do is go home and sleep. We were all too embarrassed to have our picture taken so these are all of cannon.

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Novodevichy Convent and Cemetary

Novodevichy cemetary and Convent is surrounded by a fortress and one side is a convent and one side is a cemetery. The convent gets tons of tourists, even though it still works as a convent today, we saw several nuns. It was built by Peter the Great.

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On the other side there is a cemetery, and quite a unique one at that. It's full of Russia's beloved artists, poets, politicians, ect. Almost every grave has a statue of the person who is buried there. Some were sad and mournful, others were lively and joyful. I don't know if other cemeteries exist like this one, but it was really cool.

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I thought this grave on the left was really sad, it was of Stalin's first wife who was very young when they got married, and killed herself after a few years of marriage. It's not hard to guess why.

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Brides of Moscow

Like I mentioned before, I loved taking pictures of the people here, but what was especially fun was getting pictures of these Russian brides. We saw quite a few of them. Apparently the bride and groom will ride around in a decorated limousine (I didn't get a good picture of it but it usually has two large gold rings on the front of the car, and is decorated with flowers and ribbons) and take pictures at the big sites, such as Red Square. We also some saw in St. Petersburg.

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I love this bride and her pink boots!

May 8, 2010

Moscow - Red Square

We have already been in Paris for about a week, and have done so much here! Russia is very different from France, and I'm guessing all of Europe. A lot of people will say the french are rude, we haven't noticed this so much, we had one really snooty waitress, even though we were speaking french, but it seems like people in Russia are much more closed off. You don't smile at people when you walk down the sidewalk, they don't smile at you. I think that Paris is more friendly than people give it credit for, but more on Paris later.

Red Square was our favorite place to go in Moscow, we went about 4 times total. I already talked about the Kremlin, but there is a lot going on in this square in the center of Moscow. The first place we went to was GUM, which is the huge shopping mall with all the fancy shops. It was fun to walk around, but you wouldn't ever buy anything there, at least not on our budget. We ate the sushi place right outside of the mall twice. It was surprisingly cheap for Red Square, let alone Moscow.

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I love this, the girl was dressed like the model in the ad.

One of the places we went to that was really cool was a high end grocery store, a lot of neat stuff here, except for the piglets...I don't think I'll get that image out of my head anytime soon...But other than that they had amazing pastries, chocolates, teas (fun packaging), ect.

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Red Square is sprinkled with churches, one of which is St. Basils, probably the most famous church in Russia, at least it's pictured on all the guidebooks.

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Seth being totally sacrileg

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Inside the Kremlin, there is a square with a bell tower, and three churches. I wish I could remember the names of them, but each had a specific purpose for royalty. One for birth, one for the reign, and one for death.

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I love this little church!
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For sure the strangest thing we've done so far, and probably the strangest thing we'll do, is visit Lenin's Mausoleum, where they have Lenin's embalmed body on display. Of course no pictures were allowed but this is the outside,

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When you walk in it's very dark, and there are guards all around, it sort of feels like a haunted house, I kept expecting the guard to jump out at me. Once we got in to see the body, it was in a glass case and Lenin looked very waxy, he's been dead for 85 years or so. I kind of expected his body to jump up too, haha. They probably won't have him displayed much longer, which I think is a good thing. How awful would it be to have your body displayed to millions of people, most of them tourists like us? Not only that, but I Russia really needs to move past the communist thing, and I think finally burying Lenin will help with that.

Taking pictures of the people quickly became my favorite thing to do, and I love the kids! The Russian mothers are very protective and though it wasn't too cold, the children were always in hats, I don't think they let them leave the house without one. Sometimes they would be in full on snow suits.

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Babushka on the right.

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Ha, I love the poses people will do for pictures. I think these girls are Russian too. In the states you don't see a lot of posed pictures like this in front of monuments, at least I haven't noticed it.

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See? I'm not the only one that likes jumping pictures (seth). By the way, one of these birds totally flew in my face and it's wing hit my cheek, these Russian birds have no fear and they are scary!
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Poor monkey! I felt so bad for it, I think it's cruel to use animals that way.
Homer Simpson, gotta love the American culture you see throughout Europe, most of it is 50's stuff, like diners, Elvis, that kind of thing.

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Boots, boots, and more boots. Boots are huge in Europe, but in Russia they are high and pointy.

Kremlin and Gum again:
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